China must leave Panganiban, not our Navy from Ayungin

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

It’s China that must vacate Panganiban (Mischief) Reef. Not the Philippine Navy from Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

Both seamarks are within the 200-nautical mile Philippine exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea. They’re well beyond China’s own 200-nm EEZ.

Panganiban is 189 nm from Palawan mainland; Ayungin, 170 nm. Both are more than 650 nm from China’s nearest Hainan province.

The 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea grants each coastal state up to 200-nm EEZ. Archipelagos like the Philippines also have 150-nm extended continental shelf. Example: Philippine (Benham) Rise, within 200-nm EEZ and 150-nm ECS of East Philippine Sea, Pacific side.

Even if China has a 150-nm ECS in addition to its 200-nm EEZ, Panganiban would still be beyond its legal jurisdiction under UNCLOS.

The Hague verdict of 2016 state those facts. The Permanent Court of Arbitration decided on the basis of UNCLOS.

The PCA reiterated UNCLOS’s provision that only the coastal state has the right to use the resources in its EEZ – fish, reefs, undersea minerals and petroleum.

China illegally occupies Panganiban, the PCA ruled. China also violates Philippine sovereign rights in menacing Filipino fishermen and oil drillers in nearby Recto (Reed) Bank.

The PCA rubbished China’s “nine-dash line” sea boundary as unfounded and contrary to UNCLOS. It chastised China for irreparably damaging the marine ecosystem in transforming Panganiban into an island fortress. Also for paving airstrips on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) and Zamora (Subi) Reefs farther west.

China began annexing Panganiban in 1992. It built huts as supposed storm shelters of Chinese and Filipino fishermen.

Phooey, fú y?, h?o xiào! Chinese fishers shouldn’t even be in Philippine EEZ. If they’re there, it’s to poach. They used to trespass in wooden craft. Now they ride trawlers that haul 76 tons of fish per day. Double steel-hulls are for ramming Filipino wooden boats.

By 1995 China had concreted Panganiban. Military buildup ensued: canons, helipads, naval ports. Beijing ignored Philippine demands to depart.

China’s military aggression threatened nearby Recto’s petroleum reserves. Sampaguita Offshore field is estimated to hold 5.4 billion barrels of oil and 55.1 trillion cubic feet of gas.

To defend Recto, the Philippine Navy beached BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin, 20 nm east-southeast away. Today China harasses civilian bancas that resupply nine Marines on the rusty vessel.

China has the temerity to claim that it’s the bancas and Philippine Coast Guard escorts that trespass its imagined territory. Its Filipino puppets echo that China’s “kindness” has allowed our Marines to stay there for 24 years.

(In 1994 Malaysian frogmen planted their flag on Rizal or Commodore Reef. Our Navy shelled the flag. No more intruders thereafter.)

From its naval base in Panganiban, China dispatches its coast guards to surround Escoda (Sabina) Shoal, 56 nm to the east. Also Rozul (Iroquis) Reef, 58 nm north.

Recto is in the middle of Panganiban, Ayungin, Escoda and Rozul.

If China grabs Ayungin, Escoda and Rozul, it would then drill our petroleum.

*      *      *

One hundred forty-seven retirees of Intercontinental Broadcasting Corp. (IBC-13) have yet to receive P500 million in benefits since 2002. Most of them had served the company 20-30 years. Twenty-five have passed away.

IBC-13’s new president Jimmy Policarpio is asking Congress to settle the claims once and for all. Or else, it will continue to rise six percent per year, as ruled by the National Labor Relations Commission.

Previous heads of the Presidential Commission on Good Government had failed to recompense the retirees. They kept banking on purchase by private investors, which never materialized.

During the 2023 budget deliberations, JV Ejercito convinced fellow senators to allot the full retirement pay. But the House of Representatives panel in the bicameral conference committee had it scrapped. Likely transferred to public works-cum-pork barrels.

Ejercito will try to budget it again in 2024. Policarpio, once a Presidential Legislative Liaison Officer, must get his House contacts to support it.

IBC-13 needs another P523 million for capital expenditure. It must digitalize its ten stations by 2024. If it remains analog, it will face penalties from the National Telecoms Commission.

*      *      *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., dwIZ (882-AM).

Follow me on Facebook: https://tinyurl.com/Jarius-Bondoc

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