“When the Philippines unilaterally voided the joint exploration agreement with China, in effect the country was blaming China for failing to implement the agreement.”
The closing of the Duterte administration has been characterized by many political analysts as one that could be judged rather indecisively.
Like a child, the Philippines is one who could not decide on what it wants.
In that, many suspect the Duterte administration does not seem to know that Philippine government is playing with the sovereignty of the Republic. This is bad and does not reflect well about our image.
An instance is the decision by President Duterte to abrogate the country’s pact with the US regarding the US visiting forces agreement (VFA).
It is not that we decided to terminate the agreement. But from the standpoint of the country’s sovereignty, nobody can question our right to terminate the agreement.
Protocol demands we have to cite our reason. Valid or not, nobody can question our right to abrogate our agreement with the US. As they say, our right to abrogate is an attribute of our sovereignty. It may not give other countries the right to wage war, but certainly they will reflect much our character in the field of diplomacy and foreign relations.
Maybe the Visiting Forces Agreement cannot be said obligatory to us that the other party can invoke the principle of “pacta sunt servanda.”
But certainly, it will affect our future relations with other countries. This explains why our relations with other countries, especially with those where we attach special and strategic relations, is something we should never trivially take for granted.
Should we fail to handle the issue carefully, this could eventually affect our relations with China over the South China Sea.
All these will be reflected in the eagerness of private service contractors to participate in what originally is an agreement between China and the Philippines.
Besides, there was something sinister about the invitation made by US President Joe Biden.
First, he knows there are pending issues between the Philippines and the US.
The abrupt decision by former Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin to abrogate the long-delayed Philippine-China joint oil exploration agreement in the West Philippine Sea should have given the Philippine side a hint about the delay.
Many interpreted the hasty decision made by Locsin as impulsive and childish.
It was his coup d’ grace to wreak havoc to the incoming BBM administration.
Fortunately, BBM did not pay attention to the troublesome move of Locsin to spoil what BBM expected as the pinnacle of his administration. As one would put it, the election of Marcos administration, Philippine-China relations can only grow strong and firm.
Maybe the joint oil exploration agreement has long been pending. That was the fault of nobody.
The Philippines and China both failed to issue an implementing rules and regulations on how to go about the details of the agreement.
Surely, if both parties tried to explore on that possibility, the disagreement that could have been avoided.
Zeroing on who should be the proper parties to the agreement, the areas to be explored, entry of foreign oil corporations acting as service contractors offered by PNOC in the same area to be covered by the agreement, and how much will each of the foreign service contractors get as their share in line to the main agreement concluded by the two original parties are issues that now reap fruit to the disagreement.
When the Philippines unilaterally voided the joint exploration agreement with China, in effect the country was blaming China for failing to implement the agreement.
Yet, the Philippines could not cite any valid reason to discontinue the agreement.
Maybe China knows what we have in mind, that the Philippines was about to insist on those private service contractors to join as parties to the agreement but would rather complicate the agreement, fearing it would traverse the issue of interfering into our internal affairs.
Nonetheless, the Philippines should have threshed out the differences instead of abrogating the agreement.
On another issue, the invitation made by US President Biden was symbolical because a visit by our newly elected president to the US could be interpreted that the Philippines remains beholden to US influence.
It will appear that the Philippines is the one seeking the renewal of the VFA, much that it was Duterte himself who ordered not to implement his termination order.
There is nothing BBM can argue in the proposed invitation made by the US President except to raise the issue about the VFA. BBM would not raise that issue much that it the Philippines that first broached the idea of terminating the VFA.
Most important, a visit by BBM to the US means that the US remains our most important ally with China possibly ranking second.
Note that the US made sure it will be BBM to visit the US ahead of any foreign visitor.
To this day, the President has not affirmed what the former Secretary of Foreign Affairs has decided which was to terminate the joint oil exploration agreement between China and the Philippines.
It seems, he could not affirm because he knew there was no reason given by Locsin.
BBM should put this into his mind that his father started it all when he opened the country’s diplomatic relations with China.
It was a historic landmark in the relations between the two countries.
China, to this day, still cherishes the visit of the first couple because it surpassed all the historic visit made by leaders of other countries.
The kissing by the First Lady of the hands of the venerable leader, Chairman Mao Zedong remains memorable to China.
BBM would simply not allow that historic visit to be thrown into the bin of history all because of the tantrum exhibited by one known to be a pro-American lackey.
BBM cherishes that historic visit in the same way, and hope it will serve as a permanent landmark in the relations of the two countries.