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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Teodoro and Chinese bullying

“I am glad that President Marcos and Defense Secretary Teodoro have drawn the line”

Incidents have been documented where China’s Coast Guard has engaged in troubling interactions with Philippine Coast Guard vessels and military resupply ships en route to Ayungin Shoal.

The United States Department of State has expressed the recent instances of Philippine vessels being harassed by the Chinese Coast Guard pose a direct threat to peace and stability in the region.

Philippine senators have likewise criticized the actions of the Chinese Coast Guard, which targeted both the Philippine Coast Guard and a military supply ship headed for Ayungin Shoal.

Through individual declarations, senators expressed their discontent over the employment of water cannons by the China Coast Guard against Philippine Coast Guard vessels that were transporting provisions to the military personnel stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, the proponent of Resolution 659, which calls for the Department of Foreign Affairs to present China’s intrusions to the UN General Assembly, asserted the China Coast Guard lacks the authority to obstruct or assault the nation’s supply shipments.

This interference ultimately seeks to deprive the inhabitants of Ayungin Shoal of their essential necessities.

Previously, the Philippines lodged a protest against China’s hazardous maneuvers and deployment of a military-grade laser aimed at a vessel belonging to the Philippine Coast Guard.

This laser temporarily impaired the crew’s vision and disrupted their mission to provide supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre stationed in Ayungin Shoal

If ever, this will be in addition to the long series of diplomatic protests by the Philippine government against Chinese illegal activities in the West Philippine Sea.

Under the leadership of President Marcos, the Philippine government has submitted a total 77 formal objections against China’s forceful actions in the West Philippine Sea, as revealed by the Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday.

DFA spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza conveyed in the year 2022 alone, 195 diplomatic protests were formally submitted to the Chinese government, and an additional10 diplomatic protests have already been lodged this year.

Daza stated, “The Philippines consistently voices its opposition to China’s continuous and illicit presence within Philippine waters, including areas in proximity to Ayungin Shoal.

“The Philippines has officially protested China’s infringements a total of 77 times during the era of the Marcos administration, with 10 of those protests being initiated this year.”

A panel of arbitrators established according to the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention dismissed China’s extensive assertions in the South China Sea.

These included regions that the tribunal identified as belonging to the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone, continental shelf, and resources.

Amid growing instances of Chinese intimidation and risky maneuvers in the South China Sea, the United States emphasized its strong dedication to its alliance commitments with the Philippines.

At this point, I don’t think we can expect China to respect The Hague Arbitral ruling which it does not recognize.

Neither can we expect China to refrain from doing hostile acts short of initiating armed confrontation against Philippine Navy, or stop the bully from harassing our fishermen within our maritime territory. Its relentless determination to pursue its goals, irrespective of others’ opinions, poses a significant threat to regional security.

China’s aggressive behavior, combined with the expansion of its military capabilities, might lead to a “military mishap, or even a military confrontation.”

China, being an economic and military superpower, cannot be expected to voluntarily desist from its “errant” ways and voluntarily rein in its aggressive behavior.

The neighboring claimant nations, including the Philippines, must explore effective methods to exert and intensify pressure on Beijing to adhere to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, exert international pressure to such an extent that it will become costly on their part, economically, diplomatically, and militarily, if they continue on its present course of action.

This involves confronting its aggressive behavior and unjustified maritime assertions.

I am happy that we have defense secretary —my UP Law classmate and friend Gilbert Teodoro — who is able to do this.

What a relief compared to some of his predecessors.

Secretary Teodoro also has been strategic in his response to Chinese bullying.

For example, there is need for a collaborative maritime operations with nations whose territorial claims intersect with China’s nine-dash line.

This could involve coordinated patrols alongside countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, and Indonesia.

There is also the need to enlist the cooperation of like-minded nations, like the United States, Australia, Korea and Japan; strengthen our alliances with these countries, including making appropriate arrangement to strengthen the country’s defense capability to protect our maritime territory while continuously pursuing diplomatic avenues, including negotiating a “Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.”

At some point, this bullying by China must stop. Any self-respecting and patriotic Filipino must take this to heart. I am glad that President Marcos and Defense Secretary Teodoro have drawn the line.

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