China is inciting war; Filipinos must prepare

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - February 3, 2021 - 12:00am

China has authorized its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels in waters it illegally claims. A new law directs sea patrols to destroy other countries’ structures in islands it encroaches.

“[This] is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies the law,” Foreign Sec. Teddy Locsin protests. “While enacting a law is a sovereign prerogative, this one... involved the open South China Sea.” Failure to challenge the law “is submission to it,” he says.

We Filipinos want peace, so we must prepare for war. Si vis pacem, para bellum, the ancients taught. Conditions for peace are preserved by readiness for war.

How to gear up for war to keep peace? One way is by informing. Let us tell our countrymen and the world what’s happening. Beijing fears world opinion. As propaganda it feigns benevolence. It loathes exposure as a duplicitous bully. By spreading the truth we can rouse international awareness. Global isolation will push back Beijing’s aggression.

Let’s hold talks in schools, workplaces, clubs and churches; among friends, neighbors and relatives. Use social media and chat groups. Discuss the effects of Beijing’s hostility on our liberty, our food and other resources, our future. Those of us overseas can brief our foreign bosses, workmates and host-country press and officials. Let all know that:

China’s expansive claims trespass the West Philippine Sea. The WPS is our 200-mile exclusive economic zone under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. China has its own 200-mile EEZ. Yet in breach of UNCLOS it overreaches four times beyond its sea limit into ours. That is not benevolence but malevolence.

China’s law imperils Filipino fishermen and researchers in our own waters. The China Coast Guard can dismantle buoys in our oilfields in Recto (Reed) Bank. China covets Recto, 145 miles off Palawan within our EEZ yet 800 miles from China. The CCG can seize our Malampaya offshore gas rigs 43 miles off Palawan. Malampaya supplies half of Luzon’s electricity. Luzon will plunge into darkness; our industries, homes and hospitals will crumble.

The CCG can board our vessels. Days before the law took effect Feb. 1, seven CCG ships blocked a Filipino fishing boat at a sandbar off Pagasa Island, Kalayaan, Palawan. At Recto in 2019 a Chinese maritime militia steel trawler rammed an anchored Filipino wooden boat, then abandoned the 26 men thrown overboard. In Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, 123 miles off Zambales, the CCG escorts Hainan poachers. Stolen are sea turtles, fan corals and giant clams propagated by Filipino marine biologists decades ago. The CCG water-cannons and machineguns Filipinos venturing near the traditional fishing grounds. What more now that a law rewards harming of unarmed civilians.

The CCG is militarized. Its white civilian sea craft are adjuncts of grey warships of the People’s Liberation Army-Navy. Like the PLA, the CCG reports directly to the Chinese Communist Party-Central Military Commission. President Xi Jinping, as CCP general secretary, chairs the CMC.

With more than 500 gunboats, CCG is the world’s largest. Most have deck cannons and machineguns; some have missiles. Two of the ships are gigantic, at 12,000 tons, dwarfing the 8,000-ton destroyers of neighbors. CCG gunboats are stationed at Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, 120 miles off Palawan yet occupied by China. From there they chase away Filipino mineral explorers at Recto Bank.

China’s law all the more prevents us from fishing in the WPS. Already 350,000 Filipino families suffer from CCG-backed poaching since 2014. Theft of tuna, mackerel and other high-value fish reach 1.2 billion kilos a year. At least 270 trawlers spotted by satellite haul in 3.24 million kilos a day, says international maritime lawyer Jay Batongbacal, PhD. Short of fish, we import round scad (galunggong) from China likely stolen from us. Sea life is killed by China’s concreting of seven reefs into island-fortresses. Total damage including lost minerals: P231.7 billion. That’s in the past seven years, says former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario, summing up data from University of the Philippines marine scientists.

China’s law threatens as well Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. China claims their EEZs and reefs in the South China Sea too. It is taking advantage of ASEAN distraction by the pandemic from Wuhan to escalate hostility. Beijing is ignoring a 2016 international arbitral ruling that outlawed its baseless “nine-dash line”.

Inciting violence against any state violates the UN Charter, former Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio reminds. Only the UN Security Council may authorize armed strikes. China knows that as a UNSC permanent member. Yet like a rogue state China scoffs at UN principles.

In telling our countrymen and the world all this, we can research the studies of Batongbacal, del Rosario, Carpio and other patriots. As well, the reports of various specialists and think tanks overseas. Handy are Carpio’s videos, “Ang Laban ni Juan sa West Philippine Sea”:

• Episode 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DK8sfOHlop8&feature=youtu.be

• Episode 2: https://youtu.be/xY84laL_u9U

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Paperback copies of “Gotcha: An Exposé on the Philippine Government” can be delivered to you by 8Letters Bookstore and Publishing. To order: GOTCHA by Jarius Bondoc | Shopee Philippines

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