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Most Pinoys think alliances to defend territory a must

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Eight out of 10 Filipinos agree that the Philippines should form alliances and strengthen its relationships with like-minded countries to defend its territorial and economic rights in the West Philippine Sea, the latest commissioned Pulse Asia survey showed.

Results of the survey, commissioned by international think tank Stratbase ADR Institute, were released at its forum, “The 7th Year of the Arbitral Victory: Defending the West Philippine Sea, the Indo-Pacific, and the Rules-Based Order.”

Pulse Asia conducted the survey from June 19-23, 2023, and asked 1,200 Filipinos nationwide whether or not they agree with the statement: “Alliances should be formed and relationships strengthened with other countries that have similar beliefs to the Philippines to defend the territorial and economic rights of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea and protect international order.”

Protesters wave flags and hold placards in front of the Chinese Consulate in Makati on July 12. AFP

Eighty percent said that they agree, while 17 percent said they are undecided.

Moreover, when asked to identify measures the Marcos administration should prioritize to effectively address issues in the West Philippine Sea, seven out of 10 Filipinos, or 72 percent said the government should strengthen the military capability of the Philippines, especially the Navy, Coast Guard, and the Air Force.

Sixty-four percent said the government should conduct joint maritime patrols and military exercises with allied countries, and 61 percent said the government should shift the focus of Philippine defense institutions, and allocate more resources to strengthen the ability to defend the country from external threats.

In his speech during the forum, Stratbase president Dindo Manhit emphasized the importance of building and strengthening the Philippines’ alliances with like-minded countries in defending the West Philippine Sea.

“We are here today marking the anniversary of our victory at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, but the real test is for us to continue in the struggle to actualize this victory… We are happy to have our friends here with us today from Australia, the United States, Japan, European Union, France, the United Kingdom, and India. We are thankful for everything we have done together, and we look forward to future areas of collaboration as we deal with traditional, non-traditional, and evolving threats on various fronts,” Manhit said.

“The decision of the arbitral court assures us that we are on the right side of history and provides a solid foundation for our acts.

The challenge for us moving forward is how we can build on this foundation. We must commit that we will never allow this victory to be diminished and trampled on. We at Stratbase ADR Institute support all forms of cooperation with countries who share our ideals, values, and reverence for a rules-based order,” he said.

Among those who participated in the forum were Australian Ambassador Hae Kyong Yu PSM, US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson, Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko, Delegation of the European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron, French Ambassador Michele Boccoz, British Ambassador Laure Beaufils, and Indian Ambassador Shambhu Kumaran.

In a Pulse Asia survey, 89 percent of Filipinos said they trust the United States, 79 percent trust Australia, 78 percent trust Japan, and 64 percent trust the United Kingdom.

“Defending our territory, asserting our sovereignty, and committing to uphold a rules-based international order in this dynamic, multipolar world is the right thing to do. It is the only thing to do. Together, let us defend the peace and stability of the West Philippine Sea, the Indo-Pacific, and the rules-based international order,” Manhit said.

Manhit highlighted the need for a Philippine Strategic Initiative, which will explore the interplay between geopolitics and geo-economics development and focuses on cross-sectoral concerns revolving around the global economy, security, governance, energy, and the environment.

“This initiative will bridge the gap between geopolitics and economic development and highlight the importance of shared democratic values and a rules-based order in a multipolar world,” he said.

Meanwhile, the former Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, who led the Philippine legal team that won the arbitral ruling against China over the maritime dispute in the South China Sea,called on legal advisers of the Marcos administration to considerlooking into the possibility of filing another case that would buttress its effort to enforce the Hague ruling.

Jardeleza also opposed the proposal calling the Philippine government to bring the issue before the United Nations, saying it would not work considering that China has veto power in the UN Security Council.

While the Philippine government can go before the UN General Assembly to debate China’s actions in the WPS and possibly get the support of the majority of the member countries, Jardeleza said this would still not be binding as far as China is concerned.

“Under all circumstances, another case before another ad hoc tribunal constitutes under the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) or perhaps ITLOS (International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea) but managed solely by Office of the Solicitor General of

Philippines without the heavy cost of hiring foreign counsel,” Jardeleza told reporters.

“Essentially litigation options would be a better way for the country,” Jardeleza added.

Jardeleza said the OSG can choose from a menu of possible claims, damages, or other provisional reliefs against China.

“The advantage of a case or an arbitration, is it can be commenced and finished within about ultimately around three years,” he said.

However, Jardeleza said the decision on what options to take falls on the shoulders of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., as the President is considered the main architect of foreign policy.

Jardeleza appeared before the media Wednesday to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Hague ruling that invalidates China’s nine-dash line claim that covers nearly the entire South China Sea.

China did not participate in the arbitration proceedings and refused to recognize the 2016 ruling.

On the other hand, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands, affirmed the country’s sovereign rights in areas within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

Jardeleza declined to give his assessment of the current administration’s handling of the issues involving the WPS.

In other developments:

* The Department of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday launched a microsite featuring relevant materials and information on the Philippines’ victory against China in the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration. The launching of the microsite coincided with the commemoration of the seventh anniversary of the arbitral award favoring the Philippines in its case against China.

The microsite provides the public with a central resource for official information and positions on the award and its contributions to the rule of law and peaceful settlement of disputes through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and international law.

It includes the material submitted to The Hague Tribunal made available by the Permanent Court of Arbitration; the statements of the DFA on the South China Sea Arbitration; the legal and geographic scope of the West Philippine Sea; answers to frequently asked questions; and links to other resources relevant to the subject.

* To commemorate the 2016 victory of the Philippines before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in Hague, Netherlands over the West Philippine Sea (WPS), July 12 should be declared as the National West Philippine Sea Victory Day, said Senator Risa Hontiveros. She said commemorating the victory can help weaken China’s spurious claims over Philippine territories.

* Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Wednesday urged the Marcos administration to insist on China’s compliance with the July 12, 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidating Beijing’s expansionist territorial claims in the South China Sea, including a big part of the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

He made the call on the seventh anniversary of the country’s victory at the United Nations-sanctioned arbitral tribunal. “Our government should mark this day with more vigor and the more forceful assertion of the ruling and our victory,” he said.

* Senator Jinggoy Estrada said the Philippines must persist in asserting its claims and defending its rights in accordance with international law. “Let us remember the sacrifices of our fishermen, who rely on the bounties of the sea for their livelihoods, as well as the brave men and women in the uniformed service who patrol our waters in the West Philippine Sea,” he said. “It is our duty to protect them and ensure their safety.”

* Senator Francis Tolentino on Wednesday said he was saddened by the decision of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to allow the movie Barbie to be shown, arguing that there were scenes in the film that portrayed China’s “nine-dash line.”


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