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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Dissonant notes

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Senators have our hand for supporting Justice Secretary Crispin Remulla’s plan to file “environmental” charges against China, based on international laws like the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas or UNCLOS.

We are sure authorities are carefully studying the matter after China was reported to have destroyed corals in the West Philippine Sea which China continues to claim, arrogantly in the eyes of analysts, as part of its recently updated but mythical Ten-Dash Line to make territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Never mind that the Philippines was pulling out its request for official development assistance from China worth P83 billion for a railway project in Mindanao, which definitely must not derail the implementation of the government’s infrastructure program.

We are aware Chinese banks have kept Manila “in suspended animation” with delays in the country’s loan applications which put in limbo several government projects.

We are also mindful a party-list lawmaker has called for the swift approval of a measure seeking to establish archipelagic sea lanes to bar the unauthorized passage of foreign vessels within the Philippines’ territorial waters and airspace.

“While China continues to disregard our freedom of navigation within our own exclusive economic zone, we should act quickly to ensure that such actions do not embolden them to encroach on our territorial waters and conduct any kind of activity without the permission of our government,” Bicol Saro Party-list Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan said.

Which brings us to the meeting between President Marcos and China’s leader Xi Jinping, where the latter assured his guest he would look into Manila’s proposal for a hotline to check any miscommunication or an unfriendly face-off in the disputed sealane.

But as quickly as the sun set in that meeting, the China Coast Guard directed a military-grade laser toward BRP Malapascua, temporarily blinding Philippine Coast Guard personnel.

We salute Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. for standing up to the Chinese and described Xi’s efforts to reach out to President Marcos as “false pretenses” since China’s harassment and intimidation of the Philippine Coast Guard and fishermen in the West Philippine Sea belie China’s assurances of bilateral close ties and deep friendship.

While the Philippines is a defense ally of the United States, under then president Rodrigo Duterte it set aside a territorial spat over the South China Sea in exchange for Chinese investment.

Beijing claims much of the South China Sea, where about $3 trillion in ship-borne trade passes annually, with the area becoming a flashpoint for Chinese and US tensions around naval operations.

In a previous address, Mr. Marcos vowed he would not lose an inch of Philippine territory to any foreign power, drawing cheers from advocates of a 2016 arbitral ruling invalidating China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.

China’s syllables make disquieting dissonant notes.


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