We should defend our territorial integrity

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - May 5, 2021 - 12:00am

A sovereign state, like the Republic of the Philippines, has the inherent obligation to defend its territory, and should not unabashedly make an admission against such interests, that it has no military capability to stand up to a bully, like the People's Republic of China. Any freshman Law student knows that a state has four elements, namely: people, territory, government, and sovereignty. A government, which is unable to assert the sovereignty of the State, and gives up its territory without a fight, in effect betrays the trust of the people.

Our own Admiral Tomas Cloma, who “discovered” the Spratlys gave up his rights over the territories in 1970 in favor of the Philippine Republic. The Philippines constructed an airport in the Spratlys, the Rancudo Airfield in 1975, with a runway extending to 1,300 meters. China constructed its airports only in 2016 or 41 years later. To counter its being too late, China built a 3,300-meter airport on Fiery Cross Reef, and a 3,000-meter airport in Subi Reef as well as a 2,700-meter airport in Mischief Reef, all in 2016 only. This was after the Philippines won a historic legal victory before the International Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands. China is using the policy of might is right, while the Philippines adheres to the doctrine that right is might. In 2022, we should choose a president who shall assert our historic right to Spratlys.

The Spratlys, named after British navy captain Richard Spratly, who first saw the territory in 1843, is a small archipelago of 750 reefs, islands, and cays claimed by six countries, namely the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei. Its total land area is 425,000 square kilometers. There are seven territories now occupied and controlled by the Philippines, namely: the Pag-asa (Thitu Reef), 32.20 hectares; Likas (West York Island), 18.6 hectares; Parola (Northeast Cay), 12.70 hectares; Lawak (Nanshan), 7.93 hectares; Kota (Laotia), 6.45 hectares; Patag (Flat), 0.57 hectares; and Panata (Lam Kian Cay), 0.44 hectares. On July 12, 2016, immediately after President Duterte took his oath and assumed office, the Permanent Court of Arbitration released the landmark decision unanimously in favor of the Philippines and against China.

The decision declared that there is absolutely no evidence that China has ever exercised historic rights over the islands and thus it has no basis to enforce its so-called nine-dash line. The Tribunal also strongly criticized China's hurried acts of reclaiming and constructing artificial islands, which inflicted tremendous damage to the coral reef environment. The following countries supported the decision: Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, India, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, UK and the USA, as well as the other claimants, Vietnam and Malaysia.

The policy of the Duterte administration to distance itself from the US and warm up to China is not generating positive results for our country and people. We have unwittingly antagonized a long-term powerful ally, the USA, and opted to befriend a treacherous, lecherous nation that openly and frontally insults our national dignity and robs us of what rightfully belong to our nation and people. It is time to come to our senses before we wake up becoming a vassal of Communist China's dragon empire. Are we then jumping from the frying pan into the fire? We should know the answer by now.

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