Filipinos can only heave a
sigh of relief when the tense standoff involving the country’s
newest warship, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, and two Chinese surveillance
vessels, at the Scarborough Shoal ended with not a single shot fired.
Had shots been exchanged between the two sides, a far graver scenario
would have erupted. And the Philippines will be in a very dangerous
situation because it does not have the capability to sustain a battle
with a military giant.
In an attempt to resolve the impasse, the Department of Foreign
Affairs had summoned the Chinese ambassador to the negotiating table.
This is a good way to start dousing the tension.
But as a diplomatic solution to the problem is being eyed by both
countries, it would also be important for the country to reiterate
its sovereignty over the offshore area called the Panatag Shoal,
which is only 120 nautical miles from Zambales. The Philippine government
should also demand explanation from China why Chinese fishermen
continue to intrude on the country’s territorial waters.
China is claiming the shoal as part of its territory with the Chinese
embassy explaining the two Chinese surveillance vessels were just
“fulfilling the duties of safeguarding Chinese maritime rights
and interests.” But that claim will never be justified as
far as the United Nations agreement on Exclusive Economic Zones
As it has been said a million times, it’s really useless to
engage the Chinese with force in our territorial disputes with them.
Militarily, and economically, they are a thousand times mightier
than us. The best way to fight them is through diplomacy.
The Philippine government should vigorously bring its territorial
claim before the UN. It has a strong case based on the agreement
on the Exclusive Economic Zones. It can even tap the ASEAN –
whose three other members are also claiming some islands in the
Spratlys – in its effort to seek for a peaceful solution to
While we all know that China refuses to recognize the UN agreement,
it cannot just ignore any UN inquiry into the territorial disputes
because it is one of the signatories during the 1982 convention
in Jamaica. (The Freeman)