The issue about Philippine patrimony being on the crosshairs for some time now has become, more than ever, an urgent issue the national government must address.
So far, the strongest and most credible voice to emerge from the mishmash of arguments on issues affecting our national territory is that of Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio who urged Malacanang to make Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off limits to any Chinese development, whether for weather monitoring or any other alibi.
Obviously, after having devoured most of the islets the country’s claimed islets in the West Philippine Sea, China now plays a dangerous ‘carrot and stick’ diplomacy with our country, considering us as a helpless weakling that can do nothing against foreign bullies.
In a statement that surprised many and directly opposes Malacañang’s position, Justice Carpio advised President Rodrigo Duterte to accept the US offer to conduct joint military exercises in the contested area under the long-standing Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty to deter China’s bullying.
Since the Philippines threatened to move away from its US alliance and pivot towards Beijing and Russia, China has intensified its incursion attempts, which Malacañang seems to ignore, apparently in favor of the promised billions of dolalrs in economic infusion to the Philippine economy.
China’s supposed good gesture, however, is negated by its blunt disrespect of the integrity of the Philippines, something that has been aggravated in recent weeks by the seemingly helpless posture the President has taken when he said the country cannot stop China “from doing what it should be doing in our own territory.”
Without directly impugning the President Duterte’s stance on Panatag, Justie Carpio advised the Chief Executive to desist from making any statement, declaration or action that expressly or tacitly yields our sovereignty on any territory that clearly belongs to us under international laws and our own Constitution.
By not surrendering any part of our national territory, Carpio said, the government will be able to “preserve for future generations of Filipinos their national patrimony in the West Philippine Sea,” adding that any avowal “the Philippines cannot stop China from building on Scarborough Shoal actually encourages China to build on Scarborough Shoal.”
With the US being a sidelined ally now, it is obvious the Philippines is slowly losing its grip on its submarine areas to Chinese incursion. Panatag tomorrow, Benham Rise next week. (Johnny Dayang)