• EDITORIAL

    South China Sea by way of Pandi

    1

    Adding fuel to the fire is easy: Just pour more gasoline into the flame and you’re ready to go.

    Our man in Atlantic City could have chosen to do the fiery job, literally, by egging on two young men to strut their stuff but who instead, according to a report, stepped in, “stopping [the fight]between [the]two teenagers in New Jersey and refusing to leave until the boys shook hands.”

    The incident that was captured on video, also according to the report, has garnered 20 million views that showered the “referee” –who turned out to be Ibn Ali Miller–with praises since being posted on Facebook on March 20.

    Miller “had walk[ed]up, [got]between the two [teenagers who were slugging it out]and [told]onlookers that they’re cowards for recording the scuffle [on their phones].”

    The proverbial cooler heads who intervened, this time in an issue that is an ocean or two removed from the consciousness of the United States’ “Garden State,” also deserve to be commended for giving peace a chance in Southeast Asia.

    This coming May, China will host a dialogue with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations where Beijing and the Asean will try to arrive at a framework on a binding Declaration on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea or DOC.

    This initiative comes nearly 14 years after China and the regional bloc signed on November 4, 2002 a DOC that bound the signatories only to exercise of self-restraint and prevention of militarization of any territory within disputed waters in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

    The intervening years saw tensions, particularly between Manila and Beijing, rising over “sovereignty” over the sea that is supposed to be harboring mineral and marine riches and posing as a potential flashpoint that could drag to a bigger conflict the bigger powers, including the United States.

    In 2016, an international arbitral body upheld a memorial of the Philippines that had disputed China’s sweeping claims to all of the South China Sea, a contention that has not gained favor with other claimants to territories in this body of water — Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

    To acting Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, the China-Asean dialogue two months from now is a big deal, perhaps for both Manila and Beijing, which had insisted on bilateral talks, a mode that goes against the collegial nature of the Asean and the Philippines being a member of the supposedly “non-political” bloc is expected to respect that character.

    The DOC should be promoting “cooperation” instead of “raising” or “escalating” tensions and “all countries will have to behave and deal with each other in a way that doesn’t lead to conflict,” Manalo said on Wednesday during the state visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to Thailand.

    Here’s to hopefully seeing a fruitful Asean-China dialogue in the lusty month of May when peace was reigning in Camelot and love was in the air for Guinevere and Lancelot.

    There’s a place, though, where passion of a potentially violent kind could be unleashed over a territorial row, on land this time and over abodes where not a soul has lived for years.

    The homes located in Bulacan province, north of Manila, being empty was a “reason” for an urban poor group to occupy them starting on March 8.

    The government’s National Housing Authority (NHA), the identifiable cooler head this time, has refused to be drawn not even into a war of words with the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay).

    The NHA on Wednesday said in a paid newspaper advertisement that it was going “legal” and “adhering” to the rule of law but added that it is not backing down especially if Damayan members and leaders will insist on being awarded the houses for free.

    The occupiers do not own and are not the legitimate owners of the houses, so why would the authorities hand them over to the “claimants” on a silver platter?

    Whether at the South China Sea or Pandi municipality in Bulacan, the law is the law: What is not yours can never be yours but, who knows, a dialogue would be able to end the stand-off without anyone or anything being sunk, torpedoed, wounded, shot or worse, killed needlessly.

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    1 Comment

    1. Ernesto Dela Cruz on

      Occupying and claiming as yours anything, be it a house or a stretch of land under the sea is, to say the least, very bad. Doing so takes a lot of guts (kapal ng mukha).

      China is a bully and an opportunist. Kadamay is just a group of opportunist being led and paid by politicians and their rich friends working desperately to destabilize the present government.