Duterte has to deal with the South China Sea mess Aquino left unresolved

A decision issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague finally came out early July 2016 and rejected China’s claim that all of the South China Sea including the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal is part of its territory. While it was the Philippines that filed the case with the international tribunal, other neighbouring states like Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also claim sovereignty over the territory.

Other nations laying claim to these islands and maritime features have yet to issue their statements about the ruling but China and Taiwan have quickly rejected the decision saying the tribunal does not have jurisdiction over the matter. According to China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang, “China will never accept the absurd argument that the illegal conclusion of an unlawful arbitration court is legally binding”.

The disputed areas include the Spratly Islands consisting of two island chains and a dozen-odd rocky outcrops, atolls, sandbanks and reefs, such as the Scarborough Shoal, which is only about 160 kilometres from the Palawan Island, Philippines. Geographically speaking, Filipinos think it makes sense for the Philippines to lay claim over the islands since China is 800 kilometres away from it. Technically speaking, China’s claim is based on a map they presented in the 1940s, which does not even have coordinates. It only shows a dotted boundary, what they refer to as the a nine-dash line, that may have been a mapmaker’s idea of China’s territorial claim, which they say is based on ancient Chinese history. Suffice to say, their claim is too unrealistic. It doesn’t jibe with how nations have formed in today’s world. One can be forgiven for saying China’s map is too ridiculous to even be taken seriously.

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

The Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands held by China now appears to be militarised.

The Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands held by China now appears to be militarised.

Whether China’s claim is ridiculous or not, doesn’t really matter to the Chinese. Since 2012, they have reportedly reclaimed at least 1,295 hectares in the Spratlys. The only thing the other claimants could do was watch in outrage from a distance while China developed the disputed islands into some kind of military zone. Chinese President Xi Jinping defended the move by saying that “The Chinese government must take responsibility to safeguard its territorial sovereignty”.

What is equally outrageous is the fact that the Chinese have forbidden Filipino fishermen from fishing in the surrounding waters since taking over the disputed islands. This has of course greatly affected the livelihood of Filipinos who have fished around the surrounding coastline for centuries. It remains to be seen if the arbitration court’s ruling will give Filipino fishermen the same privilege back soon or ever again.

In its ruling, the international tribunal declared that China’s nine-dash map had no legal basis, that China had acted unlawfully by violating the Philippines’ sovereign rights within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) which extends to as much as 200 nautical miles out from its nearest coastline. The court also declared that China interfered with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration. Furthermore, the court also ruled that China did not have the right to build artificial islands there. Any government who had respect for its neighbours disputing the territorial claim would have stopped the reclamation while there was a case filed in the international court. The Chinese government obviously did not respect the Philippines. They ignored the objection and went ahead with their reclamation of the reef without any regard for the damage it was causing to the coral reef environment.

President Rodrigo Duterte has to work with the mess he inherited from the previous administration.

President Rodrigo Duterte has to work with the mess he inherited from the previous administration.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the newly-elected President Rodrigo Duterte will be carrying the heavy burden of dealing with China’s hard stance. It has become apparent that the international tribunal does not have the clout nor any power to enforce their ruling on China over the disputed islands. It can condemn China for snubbing them but the Chinese knows that words cannot break their bones. The superpower has probably been working on consolidating its territory for decades. Men in suits from The Hague cannot stop them.

Yes, aside from the headache of dealing with the country’s drug epidemic, high crime rate and cleaning up corruption in government — a legacy of his predecessor former President Benigno Simeon Aquino — the hard work of dealing with the reality that there is not much the Philippines can do but to work around the international court ruling on the islands and China’s hard stance over the disputed islands now rest on Duterte.

The easy part of filing the case with the international tribunal was done by Duterte’s predecessor. The BS Aquino government just had to convene a group of “experts” on the matter, hire an international lawyer, pay the bill, file the case and wait for the outcome. Compare that to what Duterte is facing now after the ruling. What he will do next will be judged harshly. There will be some who will say not to be too soft on China lest we be perceived as weak. Some don’t even want to consider a joint exploration with China; as if the country is drowning in options. And there will be some who will say that he cannot be too eager to antagonise them considering that the Philippines does not have the means to go to war if a conflict erupts. The countries that Filipinos assume will back the Philippines over the sea row are now down to issuing lame statements like “China should respect the international court ruling.”

This is a situation that could have been avoided had BS Aquino been more of a diplomat than a nuisance to China. BS Aquino did not appreciate how fragile the country’s relationship was with China when he was at the helm. The relationship between the two countries went pear-shaped on his first year in office. We recall how he refused to apologise for the deaths of eight Chinese tourists after his government bungled a rescue operation during a standoff between the Philippine police and a disgruntled ex-cop who hijacked a tourist bus and held the tourists as hostage at the Luneta Grandstand in Manila in 2010. The Chinese did not forget how he was smiling during a press conference immediately after the tragedy and said he lacked empathy and acted ridiculous.

Manila Times columnist Rigberto Tiglao believes that it was BS Aquino’s adventurism that may have triggered China to rapidly act on their claim on the disputed islands. According to Tiglao, when BS Aquino ordered the frigate BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the country’s only “warship”, to confront the Chinese fishermen at Panatag in 2012, it gave China an excuse to retaliate by sending its own warship to protect its own fishermen. Apart from that, BS Aquino also sent Senator Trillanes to China when the senator “volunteered” to deal with China since he claimed to have had high-level contacts with the Chinese government. Nothing came of the talks between Trillanes and his Chinese contacts though. The discussions remained a secret.

Noynoy Aquino handled the easy part of the South China Sea situation -- filing the case at The Hague.

Noynoy Aquino handled the easy part of the South China Sea situation — filing the case at The Hague.

Fast-forward to today, BS Aquino and his minions are patting themselves on the back for what they think is a “historic” and “monumental” win against China after the international arbitration court ruling. Never mind that the ruling did not stipulate that the Philippines (nor China) has sovereignty over disputed islands — only fishing rights and the right to proceed with petroleum exploration. The ruling did not say that the Philippines can lay claim to the disputed islands. BS Aquino and his supporters should keep that in mind. They should hold off on popping open the champagne. Muntinlupa City Representative Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon should not be too eager to file a resolution to give BS Aquino recognition for what he thinks was a successful endeavour in defending the country’s interest in the West Philippine Sea. The irony that seems to escape them is that the international tribunal does not even call it the “West Philippine Sea”. The international community still calls the area the South China Sea.

BS Aquino supporters like Biazon who are calling him a “true patriot” seem to have forgotten or perhaps turned a blind eye to the time BS Aquino was trying to give away parts of Mindanao to the Malaysia-backed terrorist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the fact that he already gave up on claiming back Sabah. That’s not what some would call a “true patriot”.

The fact is, it was during BS Aquino’s term when China’s reclamation on disputed islands happened. It is even alleged that the soil China used for reclamation came from different parts of the Philippines like Surigao province and Davao Oriental. This activity went on quietly into the night under BS Aquino’s watch. This means Filipinos actually helped the Chinese build the infrastructure the latter is illegally occupying now.

Those who were quick to celebrate the international tribunal ruling remind me of people who celebrated after EDSA people power revolution in 1986. They didn’t realise hard work involved after all that. They do not have the foresight to see what lies ahead. Frankly, if they had any vision, they would have clamoured for prioritising the upgrading the country’s navy and other branches of the military. That way, the Philippines would not be bullied so easily. Bullies only succeed when their target is weak. Unfortunately, that is the case with the Philippines.

16 Replies to “Duterte has to deal with the South China Sea mess Aquino left unresolved”

  1. BS Aquino and his Yellowtard minions reputations are so out of our control that it’s laughable how much time and effort so many of them put into trying to “control” them.

  2. Aquino simply bungled the situation of the Philippine claim. Sending a World War I warship to the disputed island, is an Act of War, already.

    Sending a moronic Aquino ass kissing Trillanes, who knew nothing about international law and diplomacy, aggravated the situation.

    The Chinese must had thought: these people are clowns !

    The Chinese has a five thousand years of civilization. They are economic superpower. Most of their new crops of leaders, graduated from foreign universities in Europe and the United States.

    So, they look the Aquino’s decisions and diplomacy as stupid, if not insane !

    Pres. Duterte , may do a better job now, to talk and get a good result of the diplomatic negotiation…we hope !

    We request the Chinese, to give us a way to resolve the conflict. We have been good trading partners, for many centuries; even before our Spanish colonization… China, did not invade the Philippines, inspite of being a large country. They were our good neighbor…

    However, their Chinese Pirate, named Li Ma Hong, came to hide in the Philippines; and some of these Chinese Pirates intermarried with the natives.

    They may have look us at, as Chinese Pirate Bastards !

  3. there’s no complict in the south china sea fishing. everybody can fish there before until pnoy filed the case and he thinks he could incorporate the claims for his BBL agenda which includes Palawan.

  4. 1. miriam wants the abolishment of EDCA. miriam doesn’t want our country to be weak militarily (she will provide all equipment to afp/pnp so they can function as law enforcers and protector of our sovereignty).

    2. in regard to WEST PHL SEA, she will raise the diplomacy level to 2 together with ASEAN against China.


    continue the joint exploration with China


    include adjacent ASEAN countries in the exploration together with China.

  5. Why didn’t PNoy go for diplomatic negotiations which is the very thing he should have done first? Is it because he lack diplomatic skills, don’t know what are the real issues underlying the South China Sea dispute and maritime rights – wasn’t given the best advice by his advisers or being a haciendero, he thrives on tyranny? All of the above?

    He provoked China then went to The Hague after.

    Kinda like this joke:

    JUAN: Sino MATAPANG dito, lumabas!!
    MATON: Ako bakit, may problema ka??
    JUAN: Wala po sir, SURVEY lang po!


    GMA blamed E-RAP, Aquino blamed GMA and now Duterte will blame Aquino ? OMG, BULLSHIT !!!

    There is not ONE SINGLE thing the Philippines can do about stopping China, NOT ONE. It doesn’t matter who the President of the BANANA REPUBLIC of the Philippines is, NO !Duterte is a lame duck as far as CHINA is concerned, just like Aquino,GMA and E-RAP when it comes to dealing with CHINA, so who are you kidding IL-DUH ?

    The problems with government did not start with Aquino either, GMA, ERAP and every other President since 1948 has been a criminal….so STOP THE BULLSHIT !!!

    1. This must be a YellowTard, who is affiliated with the Chinese Triad Mafia syndicate. He cannot accept the stupidities of Aquino and Trillanes.

      The China issue was aggravated, because , the Chinese perceived Aquino is a weak President. He was hiding , when the Chinese tourists , were massacred in Luneta.

      Aquino’s high ranking officials, in the government, were affiliated with the Chinese Triad Mafia Drug syndicate. They operated freely in our country. They turned the Bilibid Prison into: Shabu Mfg. Co…they corrupted Aquino and almost all of the Aquino high ranking government officials and the Police with their drug money !

      1. @333HT….Look MORON, it doesn’t matter who the President of the BANANA REPUBLIC of the Philippines is when it comes to China, GET IT ?


        1. TAKANOORI GOMI:

          Idiot YellowTard, lost his Shabu Drug earnings. He is now outraged ! His master Aquino is no longer in power … wala nang trabahong mapasukan. He cannot sell Shabu, anymore. He is on high with Shabu , while blogging!

  7. BOW DOWN TO YOUR CHINESE MASTER’S, Filipino’s. Your CRIMINAL POLITICIANS have stolen every bit of money that could have been used to outfit a Military that could have been reasoably respected by foreign bullies ,like China…BUT NO ! The criminlas put their faith, while putting the public pursein their pockets, in the USA Military to come to the rescue. Uncle Sam has already decided what will be done with the spoils of the Spratly’s and all other islands riches under the sea…and guess what ? THE PHILIPPINES will not be getting any of them/it.

  8. @ IIDA ask ko lang kung ang PCA ay isang UN Agency?

    and BTW you forgot to mention that Filipino Fishermen and the Chinese Fishermen are having a good relationship doing their fishing in that atoll until that fateful day that BS Aquino sent her newly refurbished warship to apprehend a bunch of Chinese Fishermen which is a no no sending in a military vessel to militarize the area. The Chinese responded by sending around nine of their civilian Fesheries vessels to confrong the MH del Pilar under the command of Commodore Pama. What happened next ay katawatawa kasi umurong ang yagbols natin at bahag ang buntot na umatras papuntang La Union yung barko de quera natin na kesyo mag rerefuel daw at mag rereplenish ng provision. After that wala na tayong narinig sa Heroism ng magigiting nating sundalong pangkatihan. Ang sumunod na pangyayari ay nag umpisang mag tayo ang China ng mga infra doon na pinanood lang ng magiting nating Commander in Thief.

  9. On my opinion, Death Penalty must be back and the first one to be hit must Ex president Aquino for what his doing in our country.. HE is the worst elected president in our country. This will also served as warning to all!!

  10. I remember that iconic lone protester courageously blocking tanks at the Tianamen Square demonstration. Think it’s like our tiny Filipino fishing boats against the Chinese warships, impossible odds to overcome except by God’s miraculous, might and mercy.
    But guess that’s Biblical prophecy being fulfilled today when it says, “…mens’ hearts will fail them for fear of what is coming.” Because Christian Superpowers are in decline militarily and economically. Admit it, the US, UK, NATO and their allies, us included now worship Satan through occult rituals. Obama imported giant idols of the Egyptian underworld god Anubis, Filipinos are guilty too of mixing pagan practices like Chinese Fengshui (stupid huh?), into our faith which is disgusting to God. Even the Pope and Cardinal Tagle flash the hand sign of the beast.
    So now God will not restrain the Anti-Christ, his surrogate powers like China will do Hitler’s Lebenesraum in Asia, there will be genocide over the entire world, look at what is happening now in the Middle east, can you deny it.
    Be it known that Satan will only be allowed a short period of liberty, Jesus Christ is returning and when he does he will deal with bullies like China whose race are of the blood line of the Amalakites, ancient Biblical enemies of God’s people.

  11. >> Be it known that Satan will only be allowed a short period of liberty, Jesus Christ is returning

    Filipinos should be quaking in their boots then. Bunch of Godless heathens the lot of them. Especially the Catholic “priests”.

  12. Hmmm…I’m a 4th generation chinoy and not so long ago quite a few “true” and “full-blooded” Filipinos both online and on the streets were telling me to go back to China when all that trouble in the West Philippine Sea was going on, even though I’m was born and grew up in the Philippines. I guess now I’m gonna some kind of anti-western imperialist ally…strange that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.