Why we should protest China’s military build up in the West Philippine Sea

The Duterte regime has refused mounting calls to protest China’s military build-up in the disputed islands, relying instead on the non-existent “good faith” of Duterte’s Chinese benefactors. 

The aerial photographs obtained by Inquirer.net from their source “show that China is almost finished transforming seven reefs claimed by the Philippines in the Spratly archipelago into island fortresses”. China is squatting on our pristine coral reefs, dredged and ground up to build artificial islands, and the ransacking of their wildlife, from endangered sea turtles to giant clams, ultimately destroying marine life . The photos are shocking.

This is not acceptable. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque says that “We are not being too soft [on China],” when reacting on the concern raised by Southeast Asian foreign ministers about China’s “militarization” of the South China Sea.

Security analyst Jose Antonio Custodio questions Malacañang’s playing down China’s militarization of the South China Sea in exchange for economic assistance. BAYAN in a statement added “so while the the Philippine government builds foreign-funded bridges and ports, it will be ceding our islands, waters and vast resources to China. It is an utterly shameful situation. It is a betrayal of national interest. ”

President Duterte is not working for the national interest of the  Philippines. Worse, he is working for China’s national interest, at the expense of  our beloved country.

What is at stake?

According to Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, “if the Philippines does not assert its legal victory, it stands to lose “80 percent of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea, covering 381,000 square kilometers of maritime space, including the entire Recto Bank, or Reed Bank, and part of the Malampaya gas field off Palawan, as well as all of the fishery, oil and gas and mineral resources there”.

My estimate is 40 percent of water in the Philippines is in the West Philippine Sea, so that’s 40 percent of the fish that we can catch and we will lose that as a food source.

What happens to the future of our country?

We must be conscientious objectors

We must protest.

A report released late last year showed that many structures were installed during the Duterte administration. The protest is for the new installations that weren’t there when Acting Department of Foreign Affair (DFA) Secretary Manalo was at the helm of DFA. In international law, inaction or silence means we agree with what China is doing, that China has uncontested sovereignty over that portion of the high seas.

China will use the silence of the Philippines to mean we do not contest their sovereignty over these areas, the Philippines’ 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone and the extended Continental Shelf. We should be persistent objectors otherwise we will totally lose these. It is one reason why China is aggressively and overtly resorting to these actions, especially land reclamations. They are attempting to establish customary international law through State practice , the assertion of sovereignty over the contested West Philippine Sea as “internal waters” of China.

All we need to do is to be a conscientious objector to all its actions so it will not ripen to legitimate State practice. In the light of the new installations not seen before, we  need an official government statement. In international law, statements by the President or the Foreign Secretary, or the Department of Foreign Affairs  (DFA) carry great weight on State practice. The President and the DFA Secretary’s patriotic duty to speak up on this. They must protect the national interest, and establish the State’s official position.

Meanwhile, the Filipino people can and must protest China’s military build up. “The people can and must protest the Duterte regime’s subservience to foreign powers like China.”

Stop China’s militarization of the South China Sea!

Stop the illegal reclamation activities and construction of military facilities!

Respect the Philippines Exclusive Economic Zone!

Uphold the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration!

Oppose Duterte’s subservience. Fight for a truly independent foreign policy!