Yasay: Duterte is being blamed for China’s military expansion in Scarborough Shoal - The Daily Sentry

Tuesday, June 19, 2018



Yasay: Duterte is being blamed for China’s military expansion in Scarborough Shoal



Former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Perfecto Yasay, recently wrote an essay tackling the issue of increased Chinese power over the conflicted islands and waters in the West Philippine Sea.
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In his post, he said that China’s rise through increasing their military power across Asia already started before President Rodrigo Duterte came into the picture.

According to him, it started in 2002, and the filing of the case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) was there to speed up the process to prove what is the Philippines’.
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Duterte was the one who change tactics in dealing with China. Before, there would be standoffs between militaries. Duterte shifted this into peace talks with China. There has been reports of Duterte getting on the Prime Minister of China’s good side.
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According to Yasay, Duterte knew that the United States, which is an ally of the Philippines, has the resources to stop the militarization of China on those islands, but they chose not to do anything about it. 

Instead, the USA chose to have the Philippines assert the ruling of The Hague in their favor, even though China does not see this ruling as valid.
 Photo credit to the owner
Photo credit to the owner

Yasay said that the aggressive stance of the previous presidents is what pushed China to continue on with their building in the conflicted area. The United States, according to him, used the Philippines to be a pawn in getting the ruling of The Hague, in order to see that China’s defense was baseless.

Concluding his post, he says that the President is simply being used as a fall guy in not “nipping the issue in the bud” by not pushing the ruling of The Hague. However, Yasay questions how the Philippines will be able to do this considering that we lack in resources and military in case the conflict escalates.

Read his full essay here:

"PRRD AS A CONVENIENT FALL GUY by Perfecto Yasay Former Secretary Department of Foreign Affairs
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The building of military facilities by China within our EEZ in the SCS, began long before Mayor Duterte assumed office as President. Despite repeated protests, in sum, all previous presidents since 2002 failed to stop China from pursuing its reclamation activities.

In fact, the filing of the case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague also served to hasten the conversion of these features into artificial islands on which the military bases or facilities are built. .
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Photo credit to the owner

In the face of this reality, President Duterte as the chief architect of our country's foreign policy changed our tack and instead dealt with China in a non confrontational manner in order to stop further reclamation and other provocative actions, without eroding or compromising an inch of our sovereignty and territorial rights.

He understood that the U.S. could have early on prevented the construction of the artificial islands and more forcefully assert its right and duty as a superpower to defend the freedom of navigation and overflights in these international waters.
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But instead, the U.S. took the easier way out in prodding the Philippines to assert her EEZ rights under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas, notwithstanding that China refused to submit itself to the jurisdiction of the international tribunal and declared its intention not to recognize or respect its ruling. The Filipinos were made to believe that we could only expect support from the international community if we asserted and fought for our rights more strongly and decisively.

But what is significant is that the Philippines, without need of going to the PCA, could have simply continued patiently to assert through bilateral or multilateral engagements its EEZ rights that is undisputed and clearly spelled out under UNCLOS. The expected arbitral ruling confirming that the area disputed by China is within our EEZ would merely be superfluous because China’s claim is evidently baseless and arbitrary under international law.

But why did we initiate the case before the PCA and provoke China to fast track its reclamation and construction activities in the SCS, when our rights under UNCLOS were solid and firm and never placed in doubt? In fact we already knew before hand that the PCA had no coercive power to force China to comply with its ruling.
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The answer lies in the fact that the U.S. and other members of the international community felt threatened by the resurgence of China as an aggressive military power. For this reason the Philippines had to be used as the pawn to get the PCA to rule that China's claimed territorial sovereignty over a vast expanse of the SCS under the so-called "9-dash line", has no legal basis whatsoever.

Thus, in a real sense, our victory in obtaining a decisive and favorable ruling before an international arbitral tribunal, is not so much about the recognition and legitimacy of our EEZ rights, which has never been under serious question. It was a victory of the entire international community including the U.S. against China because of the invalidation of the 9-dash line doctrine as being repugnant to UNCLOS.
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Under these circumstance it is clear that PRRD is simply being used by critics as a convenient fall guy for the mistake in not nipping at the bud, so to speak, China's revival of an expansionist policy. 

Obviously, President Duterte is being blamed for not stopping China from completing its military advancements in the SCS by allegedly not giving full weight to the July 12, 2016 ruling of the UN Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague.

But, may I ask our experts on this issue how our Government on its own can enforce the illegitimacy of China's 9-dash line claim without provoking a war we are not prepared for?