Beacon for world help

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - April 4, 2021 - 12:00am

Among the very first questions that a student of Public International law faces in Law school is whether or not international law is a true law. In my third year College of Law, 1974-1975, under Judge Conrado Seno, (may his soul rest in peace) I too, had to grapple with it. That question had to be asked because of the very definition of law itself. In my failing memory, a law is a rule of action, promulgated by men of competent authority which has to be followed because disobedience entails punishment. Whew! Considering that all states are deemed fundamentally equal, who will then enforce the penalty if a state is perceived to have violated Public International law? There is no super body to enforce the tenets of transnational legal order. When states become members of the United Nations Organization, for instance, they do not surrender their sovereign status. The UNO is not a ruler of some kind. It is just a forum where equals meet. This is quite unlike the case of a municipal law, where people, by some contract, form into a juridical body, install a system of government to rule over them and where its violator is sanctioned by the agencies of the state.

We also learned that early in our studies that no state, no matter how rich and powerful, can continue to exist in complete isolation. Theoretically, it cannot remain an island on its own. It has to have deals with other states for it to survive. For instance, the bamboo curtain with which the People’s Republic of China isolated itself from the rest of the world when Mao Tse Tung rose to power in 1949, had to yield later as it began to engage in international relations.

While states are supposedly equal, power and strength are major factors. Countries that are militarily strong and economically mighty are first among equals. Primus inter pares. They almost always get what they want in their international relations even sometimes in derogation of the rights of the weak and less powerful.

This is what is happening to our country, the Philippines. There is a big and powerful international bully named Communist China. This communist (and therefore ideologically godless) nation has seen our vast and rich resources located in the West Philippine Sea. It salivates and no sooner invades and occupies some parts of our land and in fact, establishes military installations there for no other obvious reason than to intimidate us into surrendering our land. I refer to portions of territory declared by the International Arbitral Tribunal as within our jurisdiction.

What appears to be worse in this situation is that the constitutional chief of all Philippine armed forces allows this communist usurpation of our land. To me, President Duterte’s failure to assert our sovereign rights is a ground for his impeachment. When the president said, one time, that we are in no position to confront these chink-eyed monsters, he might have taken the natural definition of law that I have given above as a cover to his dereliction of duty.

We are not without any weapons, Mr. President. There is the decision of the International Arbitral Tribunal, won by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, that you can use. Let us bring this ruling to the international forum and ask the assistance of other states to help defend us. Multinational opinion of support is available. But, to highlight this need for the help of other states, let our government make the initial stand. Our armed forces may be inferior but led by you on your promised jet ski, let us demonstrate to the world our will to protect our land from foreign invaders. Send our small navy to drive the vessels of the communists now surrounding the Julian Felipe Reef. If any volley has to be fired, it has to be done and let it be the beacon for world help.

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