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Our waters, our fish

The most recent incident involving the Chinese navy stealing the catch of Filipino fishermen in Bajo Masinloc near Scarborough Shoal (Panatag) is more than alarming. It is a brazen violation of our territorial waters and deprivation of our fisherfolk from their livelihood.

Have we become a province of China because of the government’s weak stand in protecting our sovereignty? As usual, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana blamed the previous Aquino administration that made the Chinese navy rule the sea.

But former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay pointed out it was the Aquino government, with him as part of the Philippine panel, that filed and won our case against Beijing in The Hague arbitration tribunal. The Hague court ruled that the Chinese had no legal right to claim nearly the entire South China Sea. Hilbay said it was during the two years of the Duterte administration that China began and completed its militarization of the area. This the Chinese did by building artificial islands from the shoals, reefs and protruding rocks. Through ingenious engineering, China built military bases now used by their warships and planes.

What a reversal of fortune. The whole dispute started on April 8, 2012 when Philippine navy patrol vessels apprehended several Chinese fishing boats poaching in waters near Bajo Masinloc off the Zambales coast. But the Philippine Coast Guard were prevented from boarding the poachers’ boats when armed and bigger Chinese ships came to rescue their countrymen.

Known later as the Scarborough standoff, the incident prompted the Aquino administration in filing the case against China in The Hague tribunal. China, however, still rules the South China Sea despite the favorable ruling for Manila.

No matter how the Duterte administration plays down the Chinese bullying, plain folk like Filipino fishermen know better. The Philippines is being taken on a piecemeal basis.

The latest breach of national security was the landing of a Chinese military aircraft in Davao, Duterte’s hometown. Defense Secretary Lorenzana said he did not have prior knowledge of the Russian-made Ilyushin military plane of the Chinese People ‘s Liberation Army. Former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez, just before he passed away Monday, raised questions on the Chinese landing allegedly to refuel.

The plane could have refueled on one of the military bases the Chinese built in the Spratly Group of Islands. But it did not fuel speculation that China was testing our defense capability. First our territorial waters, now our air space.

‘The kiss’ lingers

Having written about it once already, I wanted to leave behind the Seoul smooching incident involving President Rodrigo Duterte and an overseas Filipino worker.

It was just a split-second kiss but the incident is lingering longer than it should.

Why? Because the president’s apologists keep defending President Duterte’s act as no more than part of political play. Kissing the married woman on the lips, albeit only for a split second, does not justify the impropriety. What if she were your wife, daughter or sister? Even if they were willing and see no malice in it, would you still say “It’s okay, there was no malice.”

We doubt that you would still be as detached or nonchalant about it. But this is not about one’s personal feelings. The issue here is clearly the impropriety of the Philippine president asking for a kiss from a married woman and demeaning the dignity of his office. She may have been thrilled about it but Bea Kim’s Korean husband for sure had a different.

Presidential communications official Mocha Uson, taking a cue from the President saying “Inggit lang kayo,” posted photos of former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino being kissed on the cheek minutes before he went down the plane and later assassinated by a lone gunman at the Manila international airport tarmac.

May we point out to Ms. Uson that there is a stark difference between the farewell peck on Ninoy’s cheek and the lips-to-lips kiss between Digong and Mrs. Bea Kim.

In its editorial the other day, the Manila Standard wrote that Mocha Uson is proving to be more a liability than an asset to President Duterte. Yet, the President insists she will stay in office as long as she has his confidence. The President is already his own worst enemy but now he has a Mocha Uson doing him further harm.

This President has gained a reputation for being a foul mouth for his remarks against women. Recall he said that he should have been first in line in the gang rape of an Australian missionary in Davao. He also told Filipino soldiers to shoot between the legs captured female members of the communist New People’s Army. The list is long and the militant women’s group Gabriela can provide us with more details.

The President and his minions, including some misguided members of media, should stop talking about this kissing incident. They are the ones fanning the flames that make that kiss linger longer than it should.

Having said that, I now seal my lips on that note and just let the President’s devoted defenders out-nonsense each other.

Topics: Bajo Masinloc , Scarborough Shoal , Delfin Lorenzana , Florin Hilbay , Rodrigo Duterte , China , Mocha Uson , New People’s Army

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