The Filipino people must be wary of the joint exploration in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the sovereign nation, the Philippines. A united Filipino people can defend and uphold national sovereignty of the Philippines. Though China as a superpower is a strong force to reckon with, the resilience and correctness of the Filipino people’s patriotic aspirations and struggles will prevail.
In the report related to the recent visit of President Rodrigo Duterte in China, Duterte signed an agreement for a joint commission, “to deal with the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas resources in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.” This commission will be co-chaired by the Chinese foreign minister and by the Philippine foreign secretary.
In light of this recent agreement, can the Filipino people trust Duterte?
It is very clear that China does not recognize the sovereign rights of the Philippines. China has been refusing to respect the final judgment of the Permanent Arbitration Commission under the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS).
The Filipino people including church people should clearly understand China’s sustained and systematic economic encroachment and military intrusion in the Philippine territory. The Filipinos need its country’s territory, exclusive economic zone, environment, food security and people’s livelihood.
Freedom loving-Filipinos must assert the sovereign rights of the Philippines in its EEZ. Any exploration in this EEZ must be solely managed by the Philippine authority. The people should not trust with China, which did not extend its hands to the Philippines in a friendly manner as it extends loans with high interest, building of military structures on our territory and other encroachments. The Filipino people should defend the country’s sovereignty and national freedom against the intrusion and intervention of China.
Studying some articles on China’s economic encroachment and military intrusion, there are many reasons why Filipinos should defend and uphold the country’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Some of these reasons are:
- The “nationhood” of the Philippines had been paid by hundreds of thousand lives of Filipinos during the 1896 revolution, 1899 Filipino-American war and Second World War.
- The sovereign rights of the Philippines have been part of the present struggle of the Filipinos to achieve genuine national independence and social justice.
- The country’s sovereignty is being eroded by China as it challenges US imperialism for dominance in the Philippines and the rest of Asia-Pacific.
- The struggle of the people is to regain full sovereign control of the West Philippine Sea and all the resources within the country’s EEZ. The struggle to wrest back control of the Philippine seas—the country’s territorial waters and EEZ, is currently one of the crucial battlegrounds among interested countries.
- This struggle also demands the Duterte regime to disclose in public the terms of all loan agreements with China and those deals that are detrimental to the interests and welfare of the Filipino people must be cancelled.
- The Filipino people should also demand the revocation of the franchise of state-owned China Telco license to operate a telecommunication company in the Philippines.
- Furthermore, the struggle also demand to stop the environmentally-destructive infrastructure projects such as the Chico River and Kaliwa dam projects, as well as to stop large-scale mining of black sand and other minerals.
It is only right and proper that the demand of the people to China includes the following:
- a. China must withdraw its Coast Guard vessels from the Panatag Shoal so that Filipino fishermen can freely fish in the area, together with Chinese fishermen;
- China must dismantle all Chinese military facilities in the Spratly islands and withdraw all Chinese forces from these artificial island
- In the same way that the US was made to pay $1.97 million for damage caused by the USS Guardian to 1,000 square meters in the Tubbataha Reef in 2013, China must pay a $105 billion remuneration for the 124 square kilometers of damaged corals caused by their land reclamation, and in the same way that the Philippines demanded the US in 1988 to pay rent for the US military bases, China must pay at least $70 billion in back rent for the years of illegal occupation of sea features in the Philippine maritime territory and EEZ;
- China must submit to the pertinent UN bodies and have its assets in the US and elsewhere seized in favor of Philippine. China’s liabilities of more than $175 billion owed the Philippines are indeed far greater than the onerous loans it has extended to the Duterte regime’
- China must pay its accountability for the Recto Bank incident and push for the removal of all Chinese fishing vessels from the country’s EEZ;
- China must stop its overfishing and an end to the large-scale catching of endangered marine wildlife; and
- China must stop to the display of force by Chinese war vessels in Philippine seas and stop its exploration activities within the country’s territorial waters and EEZ.
China’s incursions and encroachment on the Philippine seas and the Philippine EEZ will surely strengthen the Filipino people’s struggle for national and social liberation.
The prevailing socio-economic-political system in the Philippines, in which for several decades, the US had imposed neocolonial rule and made this country economically backward and militarily dependent to the US. US domination in the Philippines has made the country vulnerable and susceptible to Chinese drive for imperialist domination.
The Filipino people must declare firmly and clearly, that this struggle is primarily a fight of the Filipino people.
This struggle must draw the Filipino fisherfolk and fishing boat operators to unite and act in large numbers and be at the forefront of this struggle. The Filipino patriots must support the collective actions of the Filipino fisherfolk.
The Filipino people must draw international support for their cause. They must call on the Chinese people to support the Filipino people’s resistance to defend sovereignty against affronts by their repressive and expansionist regime.
They must encourage all peoples and their governments to give all forms of support—diplomatic, political, legal, moral and material, to the struggle of the Filipino people to get back their seas from China. But the Filipino people must forewarn any country against military interference in the Philippines
The Filipino people must challenge the Filipino young intellectuals to serve as the inspiration of Filipino patriotism and be the force of nationalist struggle against foreign intervention.
The Filipino youth can study, popularize and propagate the writings of the stalwarts of Filipino nationalism and help unite the Filipino people.
How big is the military force of China and the US, if the Filipino people are united they will triumph in this struggle? The Philippines must be liberated from all forms of foreign domination.
The Philippine churches must be part of this struggle. The Filipino clergy in 1896 revolution participated in the struggle for national liberation and democracy. During the Marcos dictatorship, church people offered their lives for democracy, human and democratic rights of the people. Until now church leaders and church people are aspiring that the Philippine society will experience a genuine and lasting peace. The struggle is both prayer and action. It is in word and in deed that Christ taught his disciples to do so.