Victor Corpus, retired general of the Philippine Army and instructor at the Philippine Military Academy who defected to the communist New People’s Army in 1970, floated a “win-win” solution to the Spratly dispute with China.
“Talk with China one-on-one with both sides setting aside sovereignty issue first but not surrendering their claims,” he told The Manila Times recently.
Corpus said the Philippines will gain from a proposed joint exploration of fishery resources in “disputed areas” in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) with China, as well as oil, gas and other mineral resources.
“Then the Duterte administration may make China agree to include Manila as the easternmost terminal hub of the Maritime Silk Road of the 21st century that will start in Manila and end up in Madrid,” he added.
The former intelligence agent said China should assist the Philippines in developing the Silk Road by modernizing communication systems like broadband Internet and fiber optics, as well as ports, airports, expressways and railways; utilizing wind and solar energy; and establishing industrial and manufacturing economic zones.
China, according to Corpus, is not really interested primarily in exploring natural resources but in guarding the mainland from US Tomahawk missile attacks from submarines that could annihilate its more than a billion population in only two hours.
“So, a win for China is for the Philippines to agree on the status quo, that both countries continue occupying and developing the islands they each maintain at the moment [in the South China Sea],” he said.
Meanwhile, in another recent forum, Magdalo party-list Rep. Ashley Acedillo, also a former military officer, proposed to Manila and Beijing to copy the treaty that solved the squabble of several countries over Svalbard Island sometimes called Spitzbergen, which was demilitarized in 1920 although it was placed under the administration of Norway but was explored jointly by Russia, Denmark, Sweden and France, among other nations.
The treaty ended 40 years of tension among the claimant countries.
“We will write the Department of Foreign Affairs and concerned offices of the government to propose the solution, which is a permanent and sustainable solution,” Acedillo said.
Under his proposal, both the Philippines and China will have the right to explore commercially the disputed waters, declaring them a free economic zone, and demilitarized, aside from making them a free fishing area.
He advised Filipino fishermen to continue going to Scarborough Shoal in the contested waters because it is well within the territory of the Philippines.
Acedillo urged the government to order the Coast Guard to return to the shoal and give security to the Filipino fishermen.
“China will think twice if they see our Coast Guard in the area,” he said.