It is a good development that the President has subsequently corrected himself by saying that he cannot prevent incursions of foreign fishing vessels within the Exclusive Economic Zone because even if he wants to, we don’t have the capability nor the capacity to do it, not to mention that the arbitral ruling is unenforceable in the first place; and that the Philippines merely exercises sovereign right, not sovereignty over the areas within the EEZ. I agree with the President in this regard. Having said that, to allow is not the same as not being able to prevent.
Further, calling on the United States – with whom we have a Mutual Defense Treaty – and other western allies to help check China in the WPS is proper given the prevailing circumstances, contrary to some narrow-minded critics that such move is a sure formula for war.
On the other hand, maintaining the balance of power in the WPS will prevent rather that ignite war. Why? No two superpowers would go to war in this day and age of nuclear technology for the simple reason of its ‘zero-sum’ outcome.
The 2016 Hague ruling expressly states that Recto Bank is part of the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and therefore cannot be claimed by China. Having said that, allowing a joint investigation with China and a third party may be interpreted as a waiver of our sovereign rights over Recto Bank.
While the intention of this administration may be laudable in trying to preserve our country’s bilateral relations with China, presumably for political and economic reasons in order to uplift the living standards of our people, we should also consider the more important issue of sovereign rights as expressed in the arbitral ruling.
At the very least, that must be clearly addressed during the conduct of the joint investigation.
In an interview on DZRH, Sen. Lacson answered questions on: – DOH Sec Duque’s possible conflict of interest
– need for ‘overhaul’ at PhilHealth
– 22 fishermen abandoned by Chinese crew at West PH Sea
– Senate independence in the 18th Congress
At the Kapihan sa Senado forum, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
– irregularities involving the PhilHealth board and Chairman Francisco Duque III
– maritime ‘hit-and-run’ at the West Philippine Sea
– dealing with ‘critics’
In an interview on CNN Philippines, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
– President Duterte’s take on the ‘hit-and-run’ at the West Philippine Sea
– newly discovered irregularity involving the PhilHealth board
It is disappointing to say the least, not much by his insulting remark but his self-limiting course of action which disregards an effective ‘weapon’ in our arsenal. It is found in the Mutual Defense Treaty.
No less than US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said as much very recently – that the US and the Philippines have an obligation under such treaty to respond accordingly if a vessel belonging to either party, military or civilian is attacked in the West Philippine Sea which according to him is within the area of the Pacific.
As I said in my tweet, I am not praying for World War III, but at least a strong presence of the US Pacific fleet in the WPS can make China feel the balance of power in that area.
On Claims that the Mutual Defense Treaty Requires an Armed Attack for the US/PH to Act
Nevertheless, as a result of the Reed Bank incident, the Mutual Defense Treaty can be used as a proactive and preemptive measure to justify US presence in order to avert whatever possible armed hostilities that could take place in the West Philippine Sea.
As I said earlier, the incident last week has already happened. But it serves as an eye opener for possible armed confrontation between our Armed Forces of the Philippines or Coast Guard and the Chinese military.
Hence, the presence of US military in the West Philippine Sea can still accomplish the balance of power that I am talking about.
That kind of backward thinking by Sec. Nograles and Mr. Panelo is why we are in this situation. We should not wait for an armed aggression against our vessels to occur before we invoke the treaty.
Proactive thinking by way of increased US presence in the area is logical because of the prevailing situation in the West Philippine Sea. As I said, what we are trying to accomplish is balance of power.
We don’t treat our friends like that and we don’t expect to be treated that way either.
Nothing short of a hard and serious punitive action by the Chinese leadership against the Chinese crew responsible for the cowardly act against our fishermen could assuage the majority of our countrymen’s strong apprehension about the sincerity of China towards us.
This incident calls for a leader-to-leader talk. As I said, nothing short of a serious punitive action by the Chinese government against those responsible can convince us of a real friendly relationship between our peoples.