“China is claiming it, we are claiming it. China has the arms. We do not have it. So, it’s simple as that. They are in possession of the property. Unless we are ready to go to war. Inutil ako diyan. Wala akong magawa.” — Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, Republic of the Philippines
A fishers’ group is up in arms over reports of another collision incident involving a Chinese vessel that led to the disappearance of 14 Filipino fishermen off the coast of Occidental Mindoro Sunday, June 28.
“We strongly condemn this collision incident in our territorial waters involving our Filipino fishermen and a Chinese vessel. We call on the authorities to expedite the search and rescue operations for the missing fishing crew and, as much as possible, must be returned to their families safe,” the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) in a statement this morning said.
The group also demanded that the Hong Kong-registered cargo ship Vina Moon be held accountable for endangering the lives of the missing fisher folk.
Other reports however said the name of the Chinese ship is MV Vienna Wood.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said the 14 crew members of the local fishing boat Liberty Cinco, including two employees of the Irma Fishing Corporation, owners of the vessel, remain missing.
The PCG also reported that the capsized Liberty Cinco, with a badly-damaged hull, was found off the coast of Cape Calavite in Mindoro Island but the crew are nowhere to be found.
It was not indicated whether the Vienna Wood/Vina Moon has reported the incident to the coast guard after it happened.
The Chinese crew professed ignorance of the incident when questioned by authorities, the PCG reportedly said in interviews by the media.
PCG however said the Chinese vessel also sustained damages on its prow, indicating it rammed the capsized local fishing boat.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap likened the recent incident to the ramming and sinking of the F/B Gem-Ver1 by a Chinese vessel that endangered the lives of 22 fishermen in Recto Bank last year.
Hicap said it is the very same month last year that another Chinese vessel almost killed 22 Filipino fisher folk in a hit-and-run incident at Recto Bank, an underwater reef formation in the West Philippine Sea that is internationally-recognized as part of the exclusive economic territory of the Philippines.
Hicap lamented that the 22 fishermen who hail from San Jose, Occidental Mindoro have yet to be fully compensated by the Chinese vessel Yuemaobinyu 42212 that hit and abandoned them last year.
“One year of no justice and yet another tragic incident happened,” PAMALAKAYA said.
“We do not want a repeat of the injustice against our fisher folk. The owner and captain of the the Chinese ship must be held into account for ramming them and for their violation of the rights of our Filipino fisher folk in our own seas,” the group added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
by IBON Media
Research group IBON said that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s stance on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue, as expressed in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA), is not about avoiding war with China, but is about avoiding offending the Chinese government and losing all its promised funds.
Last July 22, Pres. Duterte highlighted the possibility of China attacking the country if the government took a strong stance on its claims in the disputed WPS.
According to the president, “more and better results can be reached in the privacy of a conference room than in a squabble in public”.
IBON, however, said that the administration is only using the possibility of war to conceal the agreements reached “in the privacy of a conference room” between the Philippine and Chinese governments which seem to be at the expense of the Filipino people’s interests.
IBON noted that while other claimants to the disputed area, like Vietnam and Indonesia, are taking a more aggressive stance to defend their claims, China has yet to declare war against these two countries.
The group said that the administration should see this as an opportunity to foster unity between the Philippines and its other neighbors to defend their respective claims against China.
But the government is not doing this, nor is it asserting the July 2016 ruling of the international tribunal, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, that was in favor of the Philippines.
The decision upheld the country’s rights over the 200-nautical miles exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The President instead has claimed to be proud of his friendship with China, IBON said.
Rather than defend his fellowmen, he has insulted Filipino fishermen by implying that they should be thankful that Chinese Pres. Xi Jin Ping allowed them to fish in the WPS.
He also reduced the ramming and sinking of the Filipino fishing boat Gem-Ver 1 by a Chinese ship in June to “a mere incident”.
IBON said that the reason for the Duterte administration being overly accommodating is most likely due to its desire for Chinese financing.
IBON estimates that the government is seeking as much as Php673.2 billion from China for its 75 flagship projects aside from Php204.7 billion more for infrastructure and other projects – for a total of Php877.9 billion.
According to the group, the terms of the loan agreements that the administration enters into with China for its infrastructure drive are onerous.
These include only using China’s goods and services, including for payment of Chinese contractors and even hiring of Chinese workers; stringent loan payment schedules; contracts being explicitly governed and construed in accordance with the laws of China and disputes having to be settled in the courts of China; and the Philippines waiving its sovereign rights over its patrimonial assets in connection with any arbitration proceeding.
The last is synonymous with the collateralization of the country’s assets, like natural and strategic resources.
IBON said that instead of being concerned with stepping on China’s toes and losing financing, the Duterte administration should implement a truly independent foreign policy.
Such a policy should defend and uphold Philippine sovereignty, ensure domestic development, and prioritize the welfare of all Filipinos, said the group. #
Activists held a protest action in Quezon City last June 19 and asked motorists to honk their vehicle horns to show solidarity with 22 fishermen whose boat was rammed by a Chinese ship and President Rodrigo Duterte’s obvious pro-China stance in the controversy.
In his speech during the rally, former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares asked Duterte to side with the Filipino victims, adding the Philippines’ victory in the international tribunal gives the country a strong foundation to assert its rights over Recto Bank.
Progressive groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) held a rally in front of the United States Embassy in Manila last October 4 to support President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to stop the joint US-Philippines military exercises and patrol over some portions of the South China Sea.
Duterte announced after his return from his recent Vietnam trip that he will no longer allow the joint exercises and patrol after the next one scheduled later this month. Read more
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines,
and Chief Political Consultant, National Democratic Front of the Philippines
July 13, 2016
THE PHILIPPINES is now in an overwhelmingly superior or far more advantageous position than ever before in legal, political and material terms after the clear-cut judgment of the Arbitral Tribunal in favor of the Philippines against China’s spurious claims of historic rights over more than 90 per cent of the South China and in particular over more than 80 per cent of the exclusive economic zone and 100 per cent of the extended continental shelf of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea. Read more