China has stopped bullying Pinoy fishermen?
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - August 11, 2020 - 12:00am

Finally, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella has issued an executive order allowing churches to increase Mass attendance. Mayor Labella met with church representatives, including pastoral guards, to discuss the details and safety protocols among churchgoers. This after the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has finally approved the request increasing the seating capacity of churchgoers to 10 percent of total capacity of the church.

Of course, this means that all religious denominations should strictly observe minimum public health standards set by the IATF. This further means the wearing of face masks and social distancing are a must and the need for hygienic necessities on the premises are also advised. Visits to open air memorial parks and cemeteries are also allowed but are limited only to a maximum of 10 people per group. At least this is a good start.

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Long before the world suffered a tragic pandemic due to the coronavirus, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) declared its Nine-Dash Line way back in 2010 claiming 90% of the South China Sea, which is also claimed by its neighbors. The contested area in the South China Sea includes the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands, and various other areas, including the Pratas Islands, the Macclesfield Bank and the Scarborough Shoal, all of which are being claimed by Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Since that declaration by China in 2010, China has been bullying many Filipino fishermen who have been fishing in Philippine waters by the South China Sea since time immemorial. However, on July 12, 2016, an arbitral tribunal constituted under Annex VII to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ruled in a case brought by the Philippines that China has no legal basis to claim “historic rights” within its Nine-Dash Line.

The tribunal judged that there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or resources within the line. The ruling was rejected by both the PRC and ROC governments because they could not produce any physical evidence to strengthen their territorial claim to the Nine-Dash-One and they knew that they could never win in that international tribunal. But China disputed this ruling and built an artificial island to bolster its claim.

Fast forward 10 years later, the Chinese Communist Party (CPP) has insisted on this illegal claim and continued to bully Filipino fishermen. Suddenly, the world has been brought to a standstill by this coronavirus that came from Wuhan, China. The PRC somehow asked the World Health Organization (WHO) to tell the world that this virus had no human-to-human infection but only to admit a few weeks later that this was a contagious virus. This situation has caused a huge rift between the CPP and US President Donald Trump. More so that China’s Xi Jin Ping has created a National Security Act (NSA) in Hong Kong, thus asking for democracy in Hong Kong could put you in a Chinese jail.

With China’s belligerent attitude in the South China Sea, US Defense Secretary Mike Pompeo declared that the South China Sea is now owned by China and to strengthen his call, there are two supercarriers patrolling the South China Sea today with the help of the other claimants like Vietnam and the Philippines, but also non-claimants like Australia and Taiwan.

However, lately, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Defense establishment in the country to guard against taking part in joint maritime drills in the South China Sea as it was in line with his independent foreign policy and was meant to avoid tensions with other countries. While this is a political way to avoiding any clash with the CCP, many critics of the president believe that he has not studied the current situation inside the Chinese politburo or why China has stopped bullying our Filipino fishermen in the seas near Zambales.

To be totally honest about it, there is already trouble inside the CPP with people against President Xi openly declaring their displeasure in the way he has handled things within China. Add the fact that China today has the worse 60 days of rains and flooding almost everywhere and the Chinese people are already unhappy with the CPP. This is something that I can only hope President Duterte should study and learn what is happening to the CCP.

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@mozcom.com  or vsbobita@gmail.com . His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com .

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