Filipinos of all people should know that you need strong and capable enforcement to ensure compliance to the law. They, after all, form a society of people that don’t generally abide by the law unless subject to a big stick. Look at Manila’s streets and you will find multiple layers of redundant enforcement measures — traffic lights, cops directing traffic underneath them, concrete barriers where lane markings would have sufficed, and the word “strictly” to punctuate various traffic signs among others. This attests to the reality that Filipinos don’t follow rules unless kicked in the ass.
Thus it comes across as quite baffling that Filipinos would now regard with scorn the supposedly “friendly” relationship Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte cultivates with China and then use it as context to criticise his government’s handling of the Reed Bank incident involving a reported collission between a Chinese vessel and a Filipino fishing boat. It seems Filipinos are banking on China to take action against the crew of the Chinese vessel that, it is alleged, “rammed” the Filipino fishing boat.
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The fact is, the onus is on the Philippines to mobilise an on-going capability to respond swiftly, decisively, and effectively to these incidents. Onus is on the Philippines to give chase to crooks and haul them back in to face Philippine courts. So far the Philippines has exhibited no such capability — which is why its “activsts” and “thought leaders” are lashing out against externalities to sidestep this elephant in the room.
Not surprisingly, the Philippine Opposition’s allies in Western liberal news media jumped at the opportunity to support this position. The Washington Post, for example, “reports” the cherry-picked opinion of a certain Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines’ Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea…
“If the action taken by China on this incident is unsatisfactory — if they ignore or downplay it — we can expect it will be repeated in the future,” he said. “Or that China will further abuse the friendship the Philippines has shown to it.”
Of course it may be repeated in the future, professor. That’s because, in the future, the Philippines will still lack the capability to patrol its waters and project a credible enforcement presence against perpetrators of illegal activity within Philippine territory.
It comes across as astoundingly naive that Filipinos would expect a government to turn over its own citizens to the courts of another. Nonetheless, it is interesting to note that the Philippines is subject to an existing extradition treaty with the People’s Republic of China (PROC) that came into effect in 2006. Back in 2011, no less than then President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino supposedly invoked that treaty when he ordered the deportation of 14 Taiwan nationals to Red China despite their government’s objections. However, the proper procedure for extradition requires that “Philippine authorities determine that the extradition request complies with the terms of the treaty and that the documents provided are authentic, then the Philippines does indeed have to carry out its obligations to China under the treaty.” Back then, however, the Taipei Times reported…
The truth is that when the Philippines put the 14 Taiwanese on board a direct charter flight to Beijing on Feb. 2, disregarding a writ of habeas corpus issued by the Philippines Court of Appeals, the procedure used was not one of extradition, but a simple deportation — and the two procedures are quite different.
As the debacle raged, Aquino had pretty much dug in his heels on the position he had taken handing over these Taiwanese nationals to Beijing…
President Benigno Aquino III reiterated Tuesday that the Philippine government made the right decision in deporting the 14 Taiwanese nationals to China, and that he will not apologize for sticking to that decision. “I did give instructions na medyo me problema tayo sa [that we see some problem with] apologies. Given the facts available at that time, the decision I believe was sound,” he told reporters after attending activities at Camp Aguinaldo in connection with the 25th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power uprising. Taiwan officials warned that they will impose severe measures on Filipinos seeking work in the island-state “if the negotiations on the deportation row are not going as well as expected.”
To be fair, Aquino trod carefully as the circus transpired just as, today, Duterte treads and chooses his words carefully as more information surrounding the Reed Bank issue comes to light. The trouble is that troublemakers amongst the so-called “thought leaders” and “activists” of the Opposition prefer their government to make and take uninformed decisions and actions. Worse, the Philippine media, in their quest for profitable scoops, are further inflaming the situation by publishing and broadcasting irresponsible reports as well as content meant to sensationalise information and turn the debacle into popular entertainment. Just recently, what seemed to be an ABS-CBN News camera crew happened to be at the right place and the right time to cover a phone call between Lani Insigne and her husband Junel, captain of the fishing boat that was allegedly rammed by a Chinese vessel at Reed Bank. For what? Evidently the intent was not to inform but to subvert public opinion on the incident. Chalk one up for the predatory nature of ABS-CBN “news” reporting.
As usual, rather than contribute clarity to an issue, the self-appointed champions of “truth” amongst the Philippines’ activists and “woke” journalists are, instead, perverting it. It also attests to just how criminally selective today’s Opposition leaders are in the way they fulfil an otherwise critical role in a modern democracy. The fact is, Duterte is acting no differently to (if not exhibiting an improvement on) the way his predecessor handled a similar situation back in 2011.
The Opposition continue to fail to appreciate the underlying reason why the broader Filipino public had lost confidence in them at such a massive scale as to see them suffer a complete rout in this year’s elections. This latest debacle where statesmanship on both camps — the incumbent and the Opposition — was to be expected.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.