Slap in the face*

SOME people are urging the government to file a diplomatic protest against China for reportedly threatening the Philippines with war if we start to drill for oil in the West Philippine Sea.

No less than President Duterte revealed the supposed threat in a speech last week in Davao City. Duterte said that in a dialogue with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he asserted the Philippines’ right to its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

China, however, warned his administration of war if Manila would insist on its ownership of areas in the disputed territorial waters. Xi was not only disrespectful but being an outright bully in front of Duterte when he issued the warning. Some people saw this as a slap in the face from one head of state to another.

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario pointed out that China disregarded the law with its warning. He said the use of force and even threats of use of force are serious violations of the United Nations Charter, thereby prompting the filing of a protest with the UN General Assembly.  

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s advice was to bring China’s threat of war to the United Nations and revisit joint patrols of our EEZ with the United States and other allies.

Undertaking joint patrols with our foreign allies would be a tactical move for our government in defending our national interest. It would also bring relevance to our security agreement as provided for in our treaty alliance with the United States.

Carpio revealed that Xi’s threat not only violated the UN Charter, but the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia to which the Philippines and China are parties as well.

But if we did bring China’s threat of war to another UNCLOS arbitrary tribunal and win the protest anew, the question would be: How do we implement it?

The victory in our initial protest undoubtedly brought cheers to the Filipino people but sadly, we had no means of asserting our rights to our own territory lest we incur China’s wrath. We might end up losing our rights to our waters sooner than we think.

Perhaps, we should pay more attention to the advice of concerned people regarding China’s oppressive behavior and rekindle our friendly ties with the US to put an end to all this.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View.

* The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

Robert Roque Jr.
Robert B. Roque Jr. is a veteran journalist who started out as a correspondent for Manila Bulletin's tabloid TEMPO in 1983. In 1989, At age 27, he rose to become the youngest associate editor of a newspaper of national circulation. In mid-2000, he took the helm of the paper as its editor until his voluntary retirement in 2012. He currently writes a syndicated column for TEMPO, Remate, and Hataw newspapers, and for this site, Beyond Deadlines. A former journalism lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas from 1992 to 2002, Roque is also an active member of the Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world, having served as head of the Philippine Lions (council chairperson) in Lion Year 2011-2012.

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