‘Why is Aquino government suddenly engaging China over Spratlys?’

“It is as clear as day,” declared Terry Ridon, chairman of League of Filipino Students, “that it is only when US interests are served shall it extend assistance to its semi-colony.”

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – When US Ambassador Harry Thomas seemed to contradict this week the earlier statement of the US embassy about not intervening in the Spratly Islands issue, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III immediately welcomed Thomas’ statements. For weeks now, the Aquino administration has been loudly complaining of Chinese “intrusions” in parts of Spratly which the Philippines has been claiming as its territory. But to back up that claim the Philippine military installations and deployment in the disputed islets seemed puny against those of rival claimants. And so, the Aquino government’s solution has been to invoke its treaty partnership with the United States and expect support from US troops and military hardware.

“It is as clear as day,” declared Terry Ridon, chairman of League of Filipino Students, “that it is only when US interests are served shall it extend assistance to its semi-colony.”

“The Aquino government is allowing the Philippines to become the battleground of a US proxy war with China,” said Vencer Crisostomo, chairman of national youth group Anakbayan. Not only that, they called attention to the way the Aquino and the US governments have been insinuating the possibility of more US troops and arms arriving in the Philippines.

While the group Akbayan protested the Chinese “intrusions” in front of the embassy of China, the progressive labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) protested the way the Aquino government has been playing into the US’ “desperation to expand its military presence in the country and the region.”

The Aquino government’s assertion of sovereignty over the Spratly Islands is “hypocritical,” charged the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), considering that the Aquino government is at the same time “allowing the US imperialists to blatantly trample on Philippine sovereignty.”

Pro-US war-mongering

Aside from the Philippines, six other countries are laying claim, wholly or partly, on the Spratly group of islands, a group of tiny, rocky islands in the South China Sea believed to be rich in oil and natural gas. These islands were “discovered” under former strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who decreed that it would then be part of Philippine territory. This week, as Noynoy Aquino engages in a word war with China for parts of the Spratly, namely the Recto Bank (Reed Bank to China), Aquino has also ordered the renaming of South China Sea as “West Philippine Sea.”

All these claims to Spratly are unilateral, said Roland Simbulan, a UP professor and expert on geopolitics.

Prior to Marcos’ declaration which China regarded as an “invasion” of their Nansha islands, the Philippines, said China, has never referred to the Spratly islands as part of its territory, whereas China can boast of a long historical claim to it. The other claimants to Spratly are Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. In 2002, these countries including China and the Philippines signed a Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) .

Since then, resolving the dispute has been on deadlock, and erupting from time to time with charges of “intrusions” as the deployed soldiers of each claimant, from time to time, confront fishermen from each other’s countries. Last month, Vietnam and China, two countries that have military installations in Spratlys and who are also wrangling over sovereignty in another archipelago, have agreed to set out a framework for talks aimed at settling the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, in line with the UN conventions.

This state of affairs has gone on for years, but why the Philippines under Aquino is now “suddenly” making noises has become more suspicious to critics of US intervention, especially now that the US is reportedly in danger of losing a military base in Okinawa, Japan.

A new US military base in the Philippines?

A day after the US embassy in the Philippines reiterated its usual no-intervention line in regional territorial disputes, US Ambassador Harry Thomas “assured” an audience that included President Aquino that “in all subjects, we the United States, are with the Philippines.”

Thomas did not say that the US will automatically retaliate in the event of an attack on the territory being claimed by the Philippines, a key provision in the US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). He just promised that as “partners” and “strategic treaty allies,” they “will continue to consult and work with each other on issues, including the South China Sea and the Spratly Islands.”

Based on its track record and past declarations, there is little reason to expect the US to actually side with the Philippines against China in the matter of claiming Spratlys, said Simbulan. He cited as example the fact that in past Philippine skirmishes for certain territories, for example Sabah where the Philippines has “stronger legal basis for claiming it,” the United States has not lifted a finger to help the Philippines and risk angering Malaysia, another US ally.

There is smaller hope today that the US will court the ire of a bigger trading partner such as China, for a territorial claim that is not as yet recognized by international law and is in fact still vying for that recognition along with five other rival claimants, explained Simbulan.

In the past when the US was not suffering from an economic malaise, it had not given the Philippines military aid for advancing its territorial claims, how much more today when the US is “too over-extended?” Simbulan asked.

He reckoned the US is probably after some concessions from China, given that a big bulk of US foreign debt, investment and market comes from China.

As such, contrary to what Aquino and Ambassador Thomas are implying about the Philippines fighting side by side with US against China, the US could just as easily sacrifice the claim of the Philippines rather than anger China, Simbulan said. He also doubted the US will fight a war with China for the Philippines, for a mere “claim” and not for a clearly and legally defined as part of its territory,” when the US is already “spread too thin” and slugging it out in Aghanistan and Iraq.

If the Philippines has little to none to gain then from its treaty partner and strategic ally in the matter of bolstering its claim to part of the Spratly Islands, what lies behind this latest war-mongering show of the Aquino government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)? As the progressive youths suspect, it all boils down to the US and the Aquino governments reopening US military bases in the Philippines. ()

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15 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Tama, super bias at walang nationalism ang writer ng article na ito. Hindi nya nakita ang distacia ng china sa pinag agawang territoryo. ang layo ng china ky sa atin na ilang milya lang ang layo sa Spartly. Sa ganong assumption nlang my karapatan tayong umangkin sa mga territoryo na ito. Kahit mahina ang militar natin huwag tayong padadaig sa china. Lalaban tayo hangang kamatayan kahit hindi tayo sakloklohan ng mga amrerikano. Yung mga chinese-filipino naman na nag comment sa article na ito ang masasabi ko sa inyo uwi na kayo sa china kasi alam naman namin na lalayas kayo pagnagkadigma. pera lang gusto ninyo dito sa pilipinas. alam namin na wla kayong malasakit sa bansa na ito. at sa mga komunista naman, sana hihinto na kayo sa inyong mga gawain. hindi kayo nkatulong sa ating bansa na nag hirap….. pabigat na kayo tinatakot ninyo ang mga would be investors at tourists na gusto sanang mamohunan sa bansa natin.

  2. it is clear na communist ang writer sa column nato. Hindi pa ba nyo alam na if e allow natin na sakupin ng mga intsik ang spratly ang susunod diyan mainland philippines na? at kung sila na maghahari dyan paano na ang resources natin sa karagatan…dyan nalang ang mangigisda natin sa shoreline natin? ANO BA NAGAWA NG MGA COMMUNISTA SA ATIN? VERY CLEAR NA WALA…AY MERON PALA PUMAPATAY SILA NG MGA INOSENTENG TAO BASI SA KANGAROO COURTS NILA…AKALA MO MGA DYOS…TAPOS NA HO ANG PANAHON NG KUMUNISTA SA PILIPINAS…MAUBOS NALANG BUHAY NYO WALA PA RIN MANGYARI SA IPINAGLALABAN NYO NA DI NAMAN TANGAP NG NAKARARAMI!!!!!

  3. Spratly Islands are all rightfully part of China. The Philippines should join a co-prosperity sphere with China and leave the colonizers of the US behind!! Asia for Asians!! The Islands can then be shared between China and the Philippines, as long as all Chinese military vessels are allowed free passage. China will help defend the Philippines from the exploiting Americans. If Philippines follows the wrong route, they should not be surprised when China gives arms and support to Marxist rebels in the Philippines!!

  4. I do believed the writer of this column why the govt. of Pnoy suddenly engaging in spratly i think this guy he was very correct in the wrong way, he never think that spratly is the main flash point in invading the Philippines, if you are Pilipino try to visit freedom island as a whole why the Philippines need to assert the territorial integrity,i am Palaweno and i am so worried that one day we will open our eyes we are already occupied by chinese Palawan was so near in spratly island,I dont know why the Govt slowly in deciding to purchase of some naval destroyer and jet fighter that could depend the palawan in any substantial aggression from external treat and that involved the spratly island, Meaning this person is not a pilipino but a puppet of china maybe? he object US/and as well assertion of the territory may he is also involve in selling the recto bank area with GMA.

  5. Dapat mag rally ang taong bayan LABAN sa Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, CPP-NPA at kay JOMA Sison!!!! Mga pabigat lang kayo sa bansa!!!! Wala kayong ginawa kung hindi mag rally! May nagawa na ba kayong maganda para sa bayan?! Meron nga kayong ideas na naepresenta, but naisip nyo ba ang CONSEQUENCES? Marami na kayong PINATAY na SMALL BUSINESSES!!!! Kayo ang reason bakit maraming unemployed!!! You IDIOTS are scaring off foreign investment as well as tourists!!!! PUPPETS!!! Hypocrites!!!

  6. Biased and BRAINWASHED PUPPETS of the COMMUNIST CHINA!!!!! HYPOCRITES!!!! Alam na ng buong bansa na PUPPET kayo ng China mga HIPOKRITO!!!

  7. Full disclosure: I am Philippine born American with Chinese heritage.

    I read this article and a few others about the territorial dispute over Spratly Islands.

    I see no bias in this article. The Philippines has always liked to posture about its claimed territories. It has neither the resources nor the political will to actually wage wars over those lands.

    It seems to me that this write-up was pragmatic and realistic.

    Just my two cents.

  8. Intsik sigurong itong editor na to. Super bias!!!

  9. bullshit……………

    mga kasama ginagawa nyong bobo ang mga kababayan natin.
    napakababaw ng inyong pag-unawa sa isyung spratly’s. bakit hindi tayo makiisa sa ating pamahalaan na ipagtanggol ang sa atin….tama na ang prinsipyong makamao zedong…..ang kumunismo ay hindi susi sa kahirapan, ito ang nagbabaon sa atin sa hukay ng pagiging maralita…

  10. paranoid naman itong article na ito. as always, lfs, kmu and other communist fronts would protest moves that would strengthens the Philippine military. You guys are dreamers and idiots rejected by the common pinoys for over 4 decades – it is 2011 already kailan ba kayo titigil at marami na kayong naperwishyo..

  11. asserting “our national sovereignty on our terms” ??

    Just like you did when the Japanese came in 1941? LOL!

  12. Bakit ba may mga taong walang pagmamalasakit sa bayan kagaya ng editor na ito. magkano ba bayad syo ng mga chinese? puro ka kontra at gawa ng gawa ng kwentong kutsero para lang sa pera, kahit sariling mong bayan ay ipagkakanuno at kinabukasan ng ating bayan ay bali wala sayo. hindi na mga NPA o MILF ang kalaban dito na pwede tayong mgpatumpik tumpik dahil sa mga sarili nating silang kababayan, mga ibang lahi nato at kung mananahimik tayo ay aangkinin na ang lupa natin. sana maging tunay na pilipino ka di ung puro ka kontra, imbis ay tumulong ka.

  13. Puro salita. Salita. Salita. Mura lang iyan. May iba ka bang solution? Bring it on! Huwag puro daldal.

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