Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 22 April 2017


One is not sure why lawyer (for Marcos and cronies), former solicitor general and former Pampanga governor Estelito Mendoza has jumped into the conversation on the Philippines’ maritime issues with China, especially since he was quoted as saying that there are currently “too many conversations” on the issues. But he has jumped in with a big splash, launching a “primer” (his description) titled “The Ocean Space or the Maritime Area of the Philippines” in a press conference held at the House of Representatives.

How did he manage that location given that he is not a member of the House? Well, because his costar was none other than former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, who was in turn supported by her erstwhile executive secretary, Eduardo Ermita.

That press conference, from the quotes in the media reports, essentially blamed Arroyo’s successor, P-Noy Aquino, for China’s buildup of infrastructures (island-building) in these here parts. How? According to Mendoza, China itself said so. It categorically stated that the Philippines’ case against China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (in The Hague) had provoked its island-building. Mendoza said there was “relative quiet and peace” during the Arroyo administration. In apparent support of Mendoza, Arroyo chimed in three times that China’s artificial islands were all built during P-Noy’s term.

Get the logic?  If the Philippines hadn’t brought up the case in the first place, China would not have done what it did (spending all that money to build all those structures, reclaiming the land, and destroying the environment). Thus, it was all P-Noy’s fault. We shouldn’t have challenged China at all.

Gott im Himmel. The gospel according to Arroyo/Mendoza. China’s actions have all been in reaction to the Philippines’ actions. It had no global strategy at all. So if we had just kept quiet, there would be peace now, and President Duterte would not be facing this “most difficult problem.”

This scenario is not only logically flawed (e.g. post hoc: The buildup started after P-Noy, so he must have caused it), there are factual errors, too.  The Trump-Duterte syndrome is spreading very fast.

Thank heaven we have Justice Antonio T. Carpio’s new e-book, “The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea.” It is going to be launched soon, and it can be freely downloaded. And it tells you everything about the matter, in a very simple, understandable manner, so there is no excuse for not reading it, and getting the facts straight. The best of research.

Let’s see what Carpio’s book can tell us about the Arroyo/Mendoza gospel:

Well, it turns out that China first brought to the world’s attention its nine-dash line (which it adopted in 1948) in 2009—in protest against Malaysia and Vietnam’s extended continental shelf (ECS) claims. Notice: 2009 was during Arroyo’s watch.

What are the ramifications of China’s nine-dash line? Asean countries would lose anywhere from 30 percent to 80 percent of their exclusive economic zones (EEZs). The Philippines, in particular, would lose 80 percent of its EEZ comprising about 381,000 square kilometers of maritime space including the entire Reed Bank and part of the Malampaya gas field, and 100 percent of its ECS.

Malaysia and Vietnam lost no time in protesting this. Arroyo didn’t do anything about it while she was president. The note verbale was sent only during P-Noy’s time (2011). No wonder there was relative peace and quiet with Arroyo.

The problem, Reader, is that “silence or inaction can be interpreted as a state’s acceptance of a factual or legal situation.”

By the way, it was in the Philippines’ case against China that the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China’s nine-dash line was baloney (although not in such graphic terms). Asean, I think, has yet to thank us.

Carpio’s book also discusses China’s objective: economic and military control of the South China Sea, not a fit of pique versus the Philippines.

Is it a case of nothing-can-be-done? No. Carpio suggests, among other things, lawfare (with specific examples), and missiles. Read his book.