Dindo Manhit, President of the Stratbase ADR Institute
During the second anniversary of our nation’s victory at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague, the Stratbase ADR Institute gathered international experts, key stakeholders from the academe, government, and the private sector to discuss the consequences of the policy of appeasement that the administration had taken, in addition to the threats against and opportunities within the international rules-based order.
Brahma Chellaney, professor of Strategic Studies at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, said that “compliance with or defiance of international rules has no correlation to state size.” He noted that China’s defiance has heightened international concerns about the security of maritime domain.
The Philippine victory at the Arbitral Tribunal is concrete proof that small nations like the Philippines can make our voices heard in a rules-based regime.
He said that as far as China was concerned international law matters only when it serves their interest.
The current administration has failed to use the landmark ruling that invalidated China’s “historic claims” on the South China Sea as a leverage to claim what is ours and fully explore and use the abundant resources in the West Philippine Sea.
Instead, amid friendlier relations, China continued its military build-up in the South China Sea. They continue to destroy our marine resources, dictate the rules of the sea and bully our poor fishermen who are just making a livelihood in the Scarborough Shoal.
Dr. Go Ito of Meiji University asserted that the Philippines can better enforce the award by engaging like-minded partners like the United States and Japan to support the 2016 decision. He also noted that issues related to environmental protection in the South China Sea and maritime areas can also be raised to counter China.
What Filipinos want
In its effort to appease China and generate much-needed capital to finance its ambitious infrastructure program, the Duterte administration has adopted “silent diplomacy,” which prevents it from protesting the belligerent behavior of China in the South China Sea.
This is against the wishes of the majority of Filipinos, who clamor for a different approach. They want the Duterte administration to protect its territorial integrity and defend its claims in the West Philippine Sea. The results of a recent Pulse Asia survey showed that 73 percent of Filipinos want the current administration to assert our rights and protect our territorial sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.
On the other hand, 36 percent of the Filipinos want our government to file a diplomatic protest against China amidst the reports of its continued militarization of the South China Sea. In addition, 22 percent believed that there is a need to strengthen military alliance with other countries such as the United States, Japan and Australia.
The national survey by the Social Weather Stations likewise confirms these findings with four out five Filipinos or 81 percent saying that it is not right to do nothing about China’s intrusion in claimed territories.
The Filipinos are now taking their stand to protect our territorial integrity. Moreover, they want our government to do what it should do—use diplomatic protests as an expression of our dissatisfaction on various cases.
While the president reiterates that we need China to boost trade, tourism and infrastructural development, a small percentage of Filipinos believe that friendlier relations will promote stability in the South China Sea.
The surveys affirm a strong patriotism among Filipinos, that they want to protest against all unlawful and coercive practices of other states.
The Philippines is for the Filipinos to enjoy, benefit and explore. We should never allow others states to enhance its political and economic power at our expense.
We must protest what is unlawful, coercive and contrary to the correct principles that govern relations between states. Our people deserves a government that is willing to fight for their citizens’ future and not a government that is helpless and weak.
We must defend what is ours now before it is too late.
Image Source: philstar.com