Reassuring words from incoming DFA Secretary Yasay


EXPERTS are agreed that the dispute in the South China (West Philippine) Sea will become more complicated once the international arbitration court makes its ruling on the legality of China’s “nine-dash line” claim.

Our government brought the case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague. Most experts believe that the PCA will rule in our favor. That the international court will decide, as sought by our government, that Beijing’s claims violate agreements made under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) governing territorial seas and exclusive economic zones (EEZs).

Both China and our country are signatories to UNCLOS but China has shunned the process and thus rejects the agreements reached by the international community. So any ruling made by the PCA will not make China budge from its position that the reefs and islets it claims and the reclamation and island-building it has done in Philippine seas and territories are legal—and done within its sovereign territory, never mind if these are indeed Philippine waters.

China’s strategy is to insist that everything within its map with the nine-dash line (which was, in fact, first proposed by the Republic of China before the birth of the Communist-Party-ruled People’s Republic of China in 1949) in the disputed waters belong to China. This makes everything, including reefs and islets belonging to us, the Philippines, appears to be Chinese territory. It also seems to bolster China’s claims to EEZ of 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) and territorial seas of 12 nautical miles (22 km) from the islets it has turned into islands.

As a result of the Philippine case, the PCA will make it clear exactly what the territorial claims are and, at the same time, make itself more authoritative in being the arbiter of international disputes.

But a decision favoring our country and declaring the China nine-dash line illegal or none-existent will surely anger Beijing.

China, which says it has thousands of years of history behind its ownership of the South China Sea (which includes Philippine waters) because it has used these waters and sailed to our archipelago and the other Southeast Asian islands, will not accept any international court decision.

Chinese scholars related to the PRC Foreign Ministry wrote a 17,000-word defense of the PRC position. The Manila Times published that article.

Incoming Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, who has written commentary pieces in The Manila Times, has made encouraging remarks that seem to augur peaceful relations with China under the Duterte administration.

Unlike the about-to-end Aquino administration’s DFA, Mr. Yasay has announced that he would “make sure” that “we are able to resume bilateral talks because these are necessary. I don’t think there is any other way of resolving this except by talking to each other.”

That, we understand, is basically also the Chinese point of view.

The incoming Philippine Foreign Secretary also said (as quoted in a story in the Inquirer based on its interview with Mr. Yasay) that under incoming President Duterte and with him as foreign secretary, our country will “not distance itself from its longtime security ally, the United States, but neither will it be a lackey to any foreign power.”


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  1. I think the best thing is wait for the arbitration decision and consult advice from all sdctors like the intelligence community, experts in foreign policies and academia to come out with the best strategy. If arbitration side with us then we can still proceed with bilateral talks with now stronger bargaining chip based on our interests. We should also try not to disappoint our allies like Japan and USA.

  2. sa multilateral field ng u.n. ang sinasabi ni dfa secr yasay, sa tingin, ko ay bunga ng practical ng pag-iisip. Kumalas ang china sa usapan sapagkat ayaw niyang maigapos ang kanyang paa at kamay. Pero hindi ibig sabihin na hindi siya bukas sa pag-uusap. Naniniwala si dfa secr na mas practical ito kaysa “hiyain” ang china internationally na wala namang end point kundi lalo lang ginalit ang china. Napakaganda ang statement ni “Mayor” sa isa sa kanyang press statements na “We cannot afford to wage war …” Naiintindihan ni Pres Digong ang kanyang sitwasyon na “mas-maliit” siya kaysa sa China. Syempre, hindi ibig sabihin nito na kumbinsido tayo sa “old claims” na sinasabi ng China.Ang pinag-uusapan ay kung ano ang mas-magaling sa alok na “take it or leave it”. Para itong mundo ng trapiko. Dito sa Pilipinas, kahit tama ka sa disiplina ng trapiko, ang susundin mo na lang ay ang “defensive driving”. Kung ipipilit mo ang iyong alam na tama, either mababangga ka o hindi ka makakarating sa iyong paroroonan. Di ba mas magaling ang makarating ka sa destinasyon kaysa maabala ka sa pagpunta sa presinto, sa hospital, sa talyer at sa insurance. ha ha ha ha.

  3. Kapitan Kidlat on

    Yasay doesn’t fit for DFA.
    abnOY tried bilateral talks with China and it failed.

  4. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    05 June 2016

    If this June 5 Editorial of the Manila Times considers incoming DFA Secretary Perfecto Yasay “reassuring,” I and probably millions of other Filipino close observers of the sea row in which China and the Philippines have been stuck in for a long time now, disagree.

    I disagree with Mr. Yasay’s obviously knee-jerk suggestion that he would “make sure that we are able to resume bilateral talks because these are necessary. I don’ think there is any other way of resolving this except by talking to each other.”

    First of all, he must know that the Philippines has lodged a formal territorial dispute case against China with the Permanent Court of Arbtration in The Hague, which is the legal, lawful, amicable and civilized way nations are expected to resolve territorial disputes. It is possible that the PCA may hand down a ruling in just a few weeks from now–and the consensus is that the ruling could favor the Philippines.

    With that statement of his, incoming DFA Secretary Perfecto Yasay has just “thrown a monkey wrench” into what must be the continuing deliberations of the PCA on the case, over which it previously declared it has JURISDICTION. What justification would there be for the PCA to continue, when Mr. Yasay has already declared that he, as the incoming Secretary of Foreign Affairs prefers ‘BILATERAL TALKS” with China on the pending issue?

    The “fly in that ointment” is that China’s iron-clad PRECONDITION for such “bilateral talks” is that the Philippines must acknowledge China’s HISTORIC SOVEREIGNTY over those disputed maritime structures in the Philippine Sea.

    Once the Philippines does so, China will have turned the tables completely on the Philippines–and will probably demand that the Philippines then respect China’s assertion of historic sovereignty over those maritime structures [rocks, reefs, atolls, isles, islets and islands] in the West Philippine Sea [the South China Sea].

    What is a DFA Secretary Perfecto Yasay to do in that eventuality?