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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Why promise not to give an inch of the country’s territory?

“Except for the limitations imposed by UNCLOS, and by international law, the navy of the People’s Liberation Army in the South China Sea has every right to remain there”

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Many could recall the speech of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in his State of the Nation Address last July 25, 2022 when he said, with much bravado, that his government would not surrender an inch of the nation’s territory.

Maybe it was meant to alley the suspicion of those sectors who continue to cling on to the invincibility of the American glory; that the Philippines would remain a faithful comrade-in-arms of the US in this part of the globe.

It was a stunning rhetoric addressed to reassure more the US of our continued support against China in our row with the latter in the South China Sea.

Indeed, many were surprised what compelled the President to make that statement when the occasion did not warrant and there is no direct and visible threat against us, except for the simmering tension in the area often created by the US and its hirelings in Asia and the Pacific.

The continuing patrol of Chinese navy in the South China Sea should never be interpreted by us as a threat to our security.

Their presence there is because China is geographically in the whole South China Sea peninsula.

Except for the limitations imposed by UNCLOS, and by international law, the navy of the People’s Liberation Army in the South China Sea has every right to remain there.

(Editor’s Note: UNCLOS, or the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was adopted in 1982 and lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world’s oceans and seas establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources.)

South China Sea will forever remain a territory of China, and all we have to do is to accept that reality that China is there to stay as our “unwanted” neighbor.

Yes, there was a decision made by the Permanent Arbitration Court in our favor but we cannot do something to enforce that decision.

We are not saying the decision of the PCA is right; that China is wrong and we are right and it is our fault for failing to enforce that decision made in our favor.

Nonetheless, the greatest mistake we committed is to allow a third party not exactly to poke its nose in an area that could also be interpreted as tantamount to interfering into the affairs of countries that have legitimate and indelible rights to be in that area.

Even if the US stands as the most powerful nation on earth and possesses a naval power to enforce what BBM sees now as a diminution to our territory, still it cannot enforce the decision of the PCA because it sees the incalculable toll it will demand from any power that may recklessly resort to adventurism.

At most, the US can only reassure its allies hoping for the so-called proxy war to come give them justification to intervene.

To be precise, China has no intention of depriving us of an inch of our territory.

To deprive a country of its territory is to initiate war and it violates both the UN charter and international law. That would constitute a violation of the country’s territorial integrity.

Such calls for war are within the military awareness of both China and the US.

Frankly speaking, it is the Philippines that is trying to deprive China of its right to exercise sovereignty over an area which everybody knows is identified and integral to China’s territory.

We ask ourselves what right do we have to invite a foreign power to squat in our territory then openly declare it to the whole world that their stay in the Philippines is for the defense of the country?

Between the Philippines and China, who has the greater right to be in the South China Sea?

The world will never understand if the US will be fighting China in the South China Sea even if circumstance show that the US would allege it was China that provoked the war.

World opinion will simply ask what is the US navy doing in the area engaged in a war with China?

It is anachronistic to hear from our president that the country will not surrender an inch of our territory to China when truth China is not threatening us of anything.

His visit to China now comes with ambivalent motivations that China is having a hard time trying to decipher.

The visit appears to suggest many things. One is the visit would help us speed up our economic development.

Take the case in our inexplicable delay in ratifying our membership with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The bloc has been practically ratified by all the members of ASEAN except the Philippines.

The same economic favors we have lined up for China — only to hear at any instance that some tension has once again been heightened because of incursion by Chinese warships and fishing boats in the South China Sea although data about this incursions are usually supplied by the US navy.

Notably, RCEP was sponsored by China, and was ratified by all countries from Japan to Australia.

Yet, the same RCEP remains pending ratification in our Senate for no apparent while the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA was hastily ratified by it.

When our Senate ratified EDCA and did not even bother to explain that the agreement is a mere executive agreement that violated our Constitution and the country’s diehard supporters refuse to make a haul though the implication is it could drag the county into war with China because of the increased number of US military bases in the rim of the South China Sea.

Would our membership in RCEP not hamper our quest for a faster economic development which everybody knows only China can offer?

All the ASEAN member countries are bragging that RCEP represents 30 percent of the world’s global domestic trade and hope could accelerate economic development pace for Asia and the rest of the world.

The Philippines, on the other hand, continues to sound out the fear that the country’s agricultural sector will be left out from its competitive edge for, accordingly, we have the usual lack of agricultural inputs, fertilizers, feeds, mechanization, training and financing to improve our productivity and competitiveness.

Marcos was truly farsighted to foresee all these items needed to boost our economy.

Aside from implementing the land reform program which was primordial to subdividing the lands, agricultural lands need to be irrigated and the cost of irrigation has to be subsidized by the state by nationalizing and by building fertilizer plants intended to boost production cost while increasing the profitability of the former.

These are the unwritten rules to people engaged in the farming industry.

But what did we do to all these projects that Marcos started?

The oligarchs went on to corner the country ‘s irrigation system.

They see the capture of the country’s irrigation as exempt from nationalization.

The country then proceeded to privatize the irrigation system by increasing the cost and those left out to increase the cost saw the lessening of their agricultural harvest.

The same monopoly class captured and cornered the industry that helped increase the price of the commodity beyond affordable level.

The Marcos fertilizer plants, intended to caution the impact of high price caused by the use of inputs, was no sooner disposed to private hands.

Initially it was privatized by Cory. It was sold to known top oligarchs, and later the proponents argued that privatizing the fertilizer plant would be cheaper than by subsidizing the fertilizer to maintain the cost of rice.

Because other factors have set in to cause the increase to the price of ammonium sulphate and oil, the owner of the plant eventually had to close it down, we are back to square one so to speak.

We are now back to our original quest to attain self-sufficiency in rice production because our production is much higher than before the program was implemented.

For instance, our rice production admittedly increased and this is due to the increase in the value of our currency and the increase in the cost of inputs.

All these factors add up to the high cost of the commodity.

(rpkapunan@gmail.com)

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