THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

The Group of Seven (G7) cited China's disturbing actions in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, and reaffirmed that China's extensive claims in the ocean are baseless. The use of water cannons and risky blockades of Philippine ships were also criticized. The group also opposes China's militarization of artificial islands. It also insisted that all countries with territorial issues and disputes should respect the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration decision where China’s then Nine-Dash-Line was deemed baseless. China has since upgraded it to a 10-Dash-Line.

China has also started implementing a new law stating they have the right to arrest and detain anyone who enters their claimed territory without permission. Sixty days of detention without trial for those arrested. But even so, our brave fishermen still sail to Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal to eke out a living. They were advised to avoid the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG). But how can they do that if their boats are slower than that of the CCG? Good thing the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ordered two of its vessels off the coast of Panatag Shoal to protect the fishermen. I hope there isn’t a repeat of the 2012 standoff.

If China implements and arrests our fishermen, they will surely draw criticism from all over the world. We know that China is numb to such things, but if they do arrest any of our citizens, that might be a different matter for the Philippine government. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) cannot be stopped from performing their duty to protect our maritime rights. Additional patrols were sent to protect fishermen. In fact, as of this writing another collision between a Philippine resupply vessel and a CCG has occurred at Ayungin Shoal with both sides blaming the other, as always. It remains unclear as to what exactly happened.

President Bongbong Marcos Jr. calls this new law alarming. This only adds to the tension in the West Philippine Sea. But the country will still go through the diplomatic routes and channels. Better for the world to see China as the villain and not us. We will continue to get support from many countries if we don't stoop down to China's bullying. But I am worried for our fishermen. They are the ones who have to sail the waters and face the CCG and its harmful actions. They have no defenses against water cannons and even being boarded, arrested, and detained possibly under threat of arms. The AFP should not only protect maritime rights but our fishermen as well.

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