In one of his latest public addresses, President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines owes a big debt of gratitude to China and justified its occupation of islands inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone at the West Philippine Sea. His remarks received widespread condemnation from the Filipino people, including segments of the military.
“We can actually demand China accountability for its relentless occupation and plunder of West Philippine Sea. China’s monetary liabilities to the Philippines are indeed far greater than the loans and assistance that it would extend to the country.” — Fernando Hicap, National Chairperson, Pambasang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas
In his latest late night prerecorded address to the nation on Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte said it is China that is in possession of portions within the Philippines’ 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone and that Filipinos could only go there to fish meekly.
“We are not in the possession of the sea…Ang China, kung hanggang diyan lang, huwag ka lang magulo…kanila talaga…para sa isip nila (China), kanila..Even if you go there…wala ring mangyari,” he said.
Critics said Duterte’s statement is an admission of cowardice and treason.
President Rodrigo Duterte confessed to being a traitor in his latest late Monday night address, his former professor and National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said.
“In all seriousness, Duterte confessed last night to being a traitor to the Philippines and the Filipino people by admitting that he had deliberately allowed china to violate the sovereign and maritime rights of the Philippines in its exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea,” Sison in a statement said.
In his address, Duterte said he is afraid that China would wage war on the Philippines if he would insist on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in asserting the country’s sovereign and maritime rights within its exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte said it is China that is in possession of the territory and that Filipinos could only go there to fish meekly.
The President blamed the previous Benigno Aquino government for agreeing to the United States of America solution to back off from a previous standoff with China, to which the Chinese government refused.
“The constructive occupation was completed by the singular act of China not retreating. That is how it is with the international law,” he said.
“You left. That means it is not yours,” Duterte said in Filipino.
“We can retake it only by force. There is no way we can get back what they call the Philippine Sea without any bloodshed…. You know the cost of war, and if we go there and really to find out and assert jurisdiction, I said it would be bloody. It would result in a violence that we cannot maybe win,” Duterte added.
The President said he will only send ships to the area to lay claim when China starts to drill for oil.
Sison said Duterte’s statements are those of an utterly stupid leader who is a shameless coward to China.
“In utter stupidity, coupled with unabashed cowardice and shamelessness, Duterte declares that it is alright for China to take over the maritime features in the West Philippine Sea and turn them into artificial islands and military bases so long as China merely engages in fishing and exploiting the marine resources and does not yet extract the oil and other mineral resources under the West Philippine Sea,” Sison said.
Sison said it is not true that only through war would the Philippines be able to assert its sovereignty in the area.
“The Philippines is not limited to either waging a war or making related or making diplomatic protests to China. It can file complaints to and demand rulings and action from the concerned UN agencies and international courts against China’s acts of aggression, invasion and occupation of the maritime features in the West Philippine Sea,” he explained.
He added that the Philippines can demand China’s withdrawal from the West Philippine Sea, compensation for damages to the marine environment and rent for the duration of their occupation of the artificial islands and use as Chinese military bases.
“In particular countries where China has fixed and liquid assets, like the US and Western Europe, the Philippines can take legal action to obtain compensation for the damages committed by China. Such compensation can far exceed the amount of onerous loans that the Duterte regime has so far obtained from China,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
“Hindi tayo naniniwala na ang Balikatan Exercises ay gagawin para resolbahin ang isyu sa West Philippine Sea. Gusto lang pakalmahin ni Duterte ang isa pa niyang amo, ang US, dahil halata na ang pagma-manikluhod niya sa Tsina.” — Jeann Miranda, National Spokesperson, Anakbayan
A media group strongly reacted to an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) statement blaming an ABS-CBN news team over an incident with Chinese military vessels at the West Philippine Sea last Thursday.
Reacting to AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgar Arevalo’s statement issued Friday, April 9, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) took exception to AFP’s suggestion the incident was caused by the “journalists’ insatiable desire to be ahead in reporting.”
A Chinese Coast Guard and two missile-bearing People’s Liberation Army-Navy boats engaged a civilian Filipino vessel with the news team on board in an extended high-speed chase near Palawan Thursday.
ABS-CBN reporter Chiara Zambrano and her team were headed to Ayungin Shoal in Kalayaan, Palawan and was intercepted by Chinese ships while inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Arevalo implied Zambrano was simply hungry for a scoop and did not exercise prudence in doing her job.
“While we understand the journalists’ insatiable desire to be ahead in reporting, we appeal to them to exercise prudence in the course of their job,” Arevalo said.
The NUJP pointed out however that the journalists were on board a civilian boat sailing in Philippine waters and were not doing anything illegal.
“It is almost like the military is asking the Filipino journalists ‘what were you doing there?’” the NUJP said.
“[T]he better question might be aimed at the AFP: What were you not doing there? An even more important question is what the Chinese military was doing in our waters and how the (Rodrigo) Duterte administration plans to address this incident,” the group retorted.
The NUJP said Zambrano and team should instead be praised by the military and the Duterte government instead of being blamed.
“We commend them for going the extra nautical miles to try to get a better perspective on the situation in the West Philippine Sea,”
Chinese presence within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone had been on the news since last month as hundreds of Chinese vessels had been discovered to be overstaying at the Julian Felipe Reef. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
The CPP’s appeal is directed to all forces, as well as the military and police, opposed to Chinese encroachment into Philippine territory.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) called for unity against the continued presence of armed Chinese maritime vessels within the country’s exclusive economic zone on the West Philippine Sea.
In a statement published on its website on Wednesday, April 7, the party called for the establishment of a “national united front” against what it calls the Chinese imperialist marine annexation.
The CPP’s appeal is directed to all forces, as well as the military and police, opposed to Chinese encroachment into Philippine territory.
“[The CPP] calls on all forces, from the mass-based democratic forces to the conservative political oppositions as well as elements within the ruling regime and in the military and police forces, to exert all effort to assert the country’s sovereign rights and drive away the Chinese imperialist aggressors,” it said.
The underground group said a growing number of military and police officers are increasingly disgruntled that fighter planes and attack helicopters are being used for aerial bombing of farming villages and mountain communities instead of being deployed to defend Philippine territory.
It asked activist organizations to mobilize its forces to manifest the strong united position of the Filipino people demanding respect for Philippine sovereignty and an end to Chinese economic plunder of Philippine natural resources.
‘Stop kowtowing to China’
The CPP blasted President Rodrigo Duterte’s continuing silence on the presence of Chinese boats moored, fishing or extracting marine resources in and around the Julian Felipe Reef and other areas within the Philippine EEZ.
“The Party denounces the continued kowtowing of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to China. He has quieted the just protestations of some of his key officials and downplayed the outright armed encroachment into Philippine territory by Chinese militia vessels and its negative implications on Philippine sovereignty by insisting that Philippine-China relations are on a ‘positive trajectory,’” the group said.
Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana and foreign affairs secretary Teodoro Locsin have both protested the extended presence of Chinese vessels in the area.
Duterte is clearly persuaded by China’s “vaccine diplomacy,” false promises of “economic investments” and by the numerous bribes he has received and relations with Chinese drug syndicates cultivated over the past few years, the CPP added.
“It must be clearly declared that, in line with the struggle to attain genuine national freedom, it is the patriotic duty of all Filipinos to defend Philippine sovereignty against all forms of foreign encroachments in the country’s marine, land and air territories. In the face of outright Chinese annexation of Philippine territories and plunder of resources, the country must rise and resist together as one,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
“Humantong po tayo sa ganitong kalagayan dahil sa kapabayaan ng mga nakaraang taon sa ating mga karapatan at hurisdiskyon sa Kanlurang Karagatang Pilipino. Naging sobrang mapagbigay ang pamahalaan sa Tsina dahil sa mga pangako nito na pera at imprastraktura na napako lamang at halos wala namang katotohanan, ngayon naman ay bakuna ang kapalit ng ating katahimikan.” — Atty. Jay Batongbacal, Director, UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) urged the Philippine government to summon the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China and demand an explanation for the Chinese Embassy’s continuing disrespect of the country’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
In a reaction to the Embassy’s statement claiming the Julian Felipe Reef as Chinese, Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said Ambassador Huang Xilian should be expelled if his explanation is unsatisfactory.
“The statement of the Chinese Embassy claiming the Julian Felipe Reef as well as dismissal of our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the arbitral court decision of the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS) is unacceptable,” Reyes said.
Reyes added that the Embassy’s assertion that the Philippines has no rights over its EEZ is disrespectful.
“We have sovereign rights over our EEZ. Chinese fishing vessels must not be allowed there. They should not decimate the riches of the sea that should only be for the benefit of Filipinos,” he said.
Bayan’s remark came after the Embassy dismissed Saturday demands by Philippine defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana for Chinese vessels to leave Julian Felipe Reef off the coast of Palawan province.
‘Chinese fishing ground’
In a statement, the Chinese Embassy said Lorenzana’s statement are “perplexing” and “unprofessional remarks.”
The Embassy added that what the Philippine calls the Julian Felipe Reef is called Niu’e Jiao that is part of China’s Nansha Islands.
“The waters around Niu’e Jiao have been a traditional fishing ground for Chinese fishermen for many years. The Chinese fishermen have been fishing in the waters for their livelihood every year,” the Embassy said.
“It is completely normal for Chinese fishing vessels to fish in the waters and take shelter near the reef during rough sea conditions. Nobody has the right to make wanton remarks on such activities,” it added.
More than 200 Chinese boats have been reported to have stayed near the reef for several weeks since March, raising howls of protest across the Philippines.
The Chinese said the boats have only sought refuge in the reef due to rough waters.
Lorenzana on Saturday said the remaining 44 Chinese vessels that are in Julian Felipe Reef should leave.
“I am no fool. The weather has been good so far, so they have no other reason to stay there. These vessels should be on their way out. Umalis na kayo diyan,” Lorenzana said. (You should leave.)
In a later statement Sunday, Lorenza said the utter disregard by the Chinese Embassy in Manila of international law specially the UNCLOS is “appalling”.
Lorenza pointed out that the PRC is a party to the UNCLOS.
“Its nine-dash line claim is without any factual or legal basis. This, together with its so-called historical claim, was flatly and categorically rejected by the arbitral tribunal,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
The loan agreement for the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Low Dam Project (NCWS-Kaliwa Low Dam) is onerous and should be cancelled. President Duterte has reportedly ordered a review of loan agreements to determine if any are onerous and disadvantageous to the Filipino people. Yet the Kaliwa Dam project which has come under fire for its unfavorable Chinese loan agreement has already started.
The Php10.2 billion (US$211.2 million) loan agreement financing most of the Php12.2 billion NCWS-Kaliwa Low Dam has the following questionable provisions:
1. Costly to pay. The commercial loan agreement has a 2% annual interest rate, commitment fee of 0.3% annually, management fee of US$633,600, and a 20-year maturity with a 7-year grace period. The nominal interest rate is higher than other recent loan agreements with Japan or Korea which range from 0.08-0.26 percent. The loan is also not necessarily the cheapest loan even if US dollar equivalent interest rates are used.
2. Project is exclusive to Chinese contractors. While a Philippine project,only Chinese contractors are qualified to bid and Philippine corporations were excluded from the process. The China Energy Engineering Company, Inc. (CEEC) bagged the project. The contract is between the Metropolitan Waterworks Sewerage System (MWSS) and Chinese corporations.
3. Loan agreement is biased for Chinese laws. Article 8.4 of the loan agreement stipulates that Chinese Law will govern disputes pertaining to the agreement. Meanwhile, Article 8.5 says that disputes will be dealt with under the auspices of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Court.
4. Philippine patrimonial assets and property may be compromised in case of default on the loan. In the Article 8.1 Waiver of Immunity, the country “waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereignty or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration proceeding”.
The loan agreement is financially disadvantageous, tied to Chinese contractors, and an affront to Philippine sovereignty. These issues are also on top of other issues raised by the Dumagats and Remontados, farmers and community folk, environmentalists, engineers, hydrologists, scientists, public servants, consumers, and many more. The dams projects will displace communities, inundate ancestral lands, and destroy the environment.
The Philippine government should not enter into loan agreements having such terms whether with China or any other sources of official development assistance (ODA). The Filipino people bear the burden of paying these onerous loans. This is even getting worse under the Duterte administration which is imposing new and higher consumption taxes while lowering taxes on the rich and on corporations. #