Friday, March 31, 2017

Philippines’ Duterte seeks alliance with China but defense officials warn of strategic threat

Philippines’ Duterte seeks alliance with China but defense officials warn of strategic threat

Dissonance in Philippine foreign policy as president backs China while military nurtures US ties
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 March, 2017, 6:47pm

21 Mar 2017

Since his ascent to power, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has overseen a remarkable shift in his country’s foreign policy, particularly towards China. The tough-talking Filipino leader, who is as notorious abroad as he is popular at home, has described China as a friendly and generous nation, a partner for national development and a potential military ally for the Philippines.

During his high-profile state visit to China last year, when he snubbed both Washington and Tokyo in favour of Beijing, Duterte declared his “separation” from the United States, the Philippines’ sole treaty ally, and offered to realign his country with China’s “ideological flow”.

Not short of hyperbole, he sought a “new world order” where the Philippines is in alliance with China and Russia “against the world”. Along the way, Duterte even claimed Chinese ancestry to impress his hosts, who rolled out the red carpet and lavished their guest with utmost respect and a generous package of economic aid.

[President Xi Jinping, left, and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte view an honour guard in Beijing in October. Photo: Simon Song]

Duterte’s friendly comments towards China went hand in hand with his blitzkrieg of insults and threats against top US officials, including then President Barack Obama.

This stands in clear contrast to Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino, who went so far as likening China to Nazi Germany on multiple occasions, while fortifying defence ties with the US. Under the Aquino administration, communication channels with China effectively collapsed, while the Philippines became the first country to take China to international court over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Duterte’s over-the-top rhetoric, however, hasn’t fully translated into actual policy. This has been more than evident in how key officials, including Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana, have been constantly contradicting their principal by striking a more orthodox tone and tirelessly preserving the foundations of the Philippine-US defence alliance.

Duterte says Philippines can’t afford oil rigs, open to sharing resources with China in disputed sea

While Duterte enthusiastically plays up Chinese economic assistance, his deputies in the security establishment often underscore the perceived threats from Chinese maritime assertiveness in the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, particularly near the Benham Rise. Given the historically profound influence of the (American-aligned) Philippine military, it would be foolhardy to ignore the opinion and sentiments of senior defence officials.

In effect, the Philippines currently has three different foreign policies simultaneously: first, Duterte’s own pronouncements, which tend to be more reflective of his personal preferences and emotions; secondly, the defence officials’ more conventional world view, where China is seen primarily as a strategic threat; and finally, the foreign affairs department and press officials, who, through an excruciating exercise in semantics, constantly try to synthesise blatantly contradictory statements between Duterte and his generals.

[Anti-China protesters demonstrate in front of the Chinese consulate in Manila on Friday, to protest China's alleged incursion within Benham Rise, an underwater landmass 250 kilometres off the east coast of the main island of Luzon. Photo: AFP]

The festering dissonance in Philippine foreign policy has been more than evident in recent weeks, as Duterte and the security establishment offered very divergent positions vis-à-vis reports of growing Chinese assertiveness on the country’s western and eastern shores.

Earlier this month, defence officials accused China of engaging in suspicious activities within the Benham Rise, part of the Philippines’ continental shelf in the Pacific Ocean. In particular, Defence Secretary Lorenzana suggested that Chinese vessels could have been engaged in illegal oceanographic research within areas that fall under the Philippines’ exclusive jurisdiction.
It is far from clear whether what we are witnessing is part of an elaborate “good cop, bad cop” double game by the Duterte administration

His comments, which were flatly refuted by Chinese officials, provoked a torrent of media coverage and rekindled deep public mistrust towards Beijing. They came amid visits by high-level Chinese officials to the Philippines, who offered large investment deals to the Southeast Asian nation.

Duterte quickly tried to downplay the situation by claiming that he gave China the permission to conduct marine scientific research in the area. In response, both defence and foreign affairs secretaries rebuffed the president’s statement by claiming no knowledge of such a purported arrangement, which, per the Philippine constitution, requires a formal agreement under supervision of proper government agencies.

China dismisses Philippine concerns over marine activities

Just as the dust over the Benham Rise issue began to settle, Filipino defence officials raised concerns over the possibility of Chinese construction activities on the disputed Scarborough Shoal. Philippine defence officials were quick to describe it as an “unacceptable” scenario, emphasising the indispensability of the US to its prevention.

Influential figures such as Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio immediately called for doubling down on defence ties with America and a vigorous diplomatic response to China.

[A protester displays a caricature of President Rodrigo Duterte in front of the Chinese Consulate in Manila on Friday. Photo: AP]

Duterte, however, was quick to dismiss any suggestion of pushback, arguing the Philippines “cannot stop China from doing its thing,” while, in a clear contradiction of his own defence minister, he stated that, “Americans were not able to stop them [anyway].”

At this point, it is far from clear whether what we are witnessing is part of an elaborate “good cop, bad cop” double game by the Duterte administration. A more plausible hypothesis, however, is that the Philippine foreign policy is the product of constant bargaining and contestation between an unorthodox yet popular president and a very orthodox and powerful defence establishment.

The upshot is a classic case of policy dissonance, leaving Filipino diplomats and press officials the impossible task of presenting a coherent and sensible picture of Philippine foreign policy to a bewildered domestic and international audience. Welcome to the age of Duterte.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as:
Duterte’s duel with top officials leads to incoherent foreign policy

The Truth About Vaccines - Free Online Event

Chomsky: Trump May Stage False-Flag Terrorist Attack To ‘Rally Support’

Chomsky: Trump May Stage False-Flag Terrorist Attack To ‘Rally Support’

'Incident could be blamed on vulnerable people'.

Comment by Alex Jones: “The real false flag is opening Europe up to Islamic invaders and then using that crisis to revoke the liberties and freedoms of the people in those nations who are fighting for their very survival. The real false flag is allowing thousands of unvetted Islamist “refugees” into the United States with the same aim – to merge the left with Islamofascism.”
Leftist professor Noam Chomsky has charged that it is possible President Trump will stage a terrorist attack in order to offset initial policy problems and quell opposition.
Speaking with left-wing website AlterNet, Chomsky suggested that Trump could organise a false-flag incident to rally supporters who are discovering that his “promises are built on sand”.
“We shouldn’t put aside the possibility that there would be some kind of staged or alleged terrorist act, which can change the country instantly.” Chomsky stated.
“In order to maintain his popularity, the Trump administration will have to try to find some means of rallying the support and changing the discourse from the policies that they are carrying out, which are basically a wrecking ball, to something else.” Chomsky said.
The professor also hinted that such a staged attack could be blamed on “vulnerable people” in order to bolster Trump policies.
“Maybe scapegoating, saying, ‘Well, I’m sorry, I can’t bring your jobs back because these bad people are preventing it.’ And the typical scapegoating goes to vulnerable people, immigrants, terrorists, Muslims and elitists, whoever it may be.” Chomsky added.
It isn’t clear why Chomsky believes terrorists should be viewed as “vulnerable”.
Chomsky said that Trump’s “rhetoric is about helping the working man and so on, but the [policy] proposals are savage and damaging”.
The liberal intellectual has previously spoken about the possibility of the September 11th attacks being a false flag operation, saying that while he acknowledges the full truth of the attacks has not been told, he does not believe they were staged by elements of the US government.
Revered on the left, Chomsky now seems to be keeping questionable company, given that an army of liberal moon-bats, in particular those following Hollywood actress Patricia Arquette, have recently suggested the very same thing, that Trump could stage attacks.
Arquette, an ardent anti-Trump voice on social media, recently suggested that Trump could stage an attack to distract from the stories of Russian collusion.
The response from her followers was to suggest that Trump may also implement martial law and even start a nuclear war in an attempt to distract his supporters from negative press.

Brexit: It’s Now Reality

Brexit: It’s Now Reality

It’s been nine months since Britain stunned the world by voting to leave the European Union.

After decades of accepting the European Union’s burdensome regulations – one after another – the British people finally said enough is enough.

Now, the EU’s days of stifling the economic growth of Britain – and other countries that joined the union but not the currency – are finally coming to an end.

Last week, Britain moved one step closer to taking back its sovereignty, and escaping the burdensome regulations of the EU, when it was announced that Prime Minister Theresa May plans to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on Wednesday, March 29.

Article 50 is the mechanism for quitting the European Union, thus launching a chess match: Pitting the U.K.’s desire for a trade deal – while regaining power over immigration and lawmaking – against the EU’s view that Britain must not benefit from Brexit.

Britain is the world’s sixth-largest economy, and it’s been more than 40 years since the U.K. joined the European Union. So this separation won’t be a piece of cake.

The constellation of the European Union is about to lose one of its biggest stars.
In fact, the U.K. will have to pay a bill of about $62 billion when it leaves the European Union, warned Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch. While Britain prepares to start Brexit negotiations, the EU has already been tallying the U.K.’s share of liabilities such as pensions for EU officials, infrastructure projects, and the bailout of Ireland.

I don’t know about you, but $62 billion is a heck of a divorce settlement!

Once Article 50 is invoked, the two sides have two years to come to terms on a trade deal.

And a lot can happen in two years.

In fact, if the negotiations collapse, May says she’ll walk away without a new commercial framework in place rather than accept a bad deal. All this makes the likelihood of a disruptive breakup “troublingly high.”

Brexit is just the beginning

The EU is already on borrowed time, same goes for the euro.

And the U.K.’s exit is just the beginning. There are still plenty more disruptions looming …

==> The elections in France – along with right-winged political rhetoric gaining strength in other countries across the eurozone – has the EU on life support.

==> And don’t forget about the debt problems: Once again, the Greek government is set to run out of money. In a few months, it will need a fresh bailout from the EU and the International Monetary Fund. After nine years of trying to fix Greece, the situation has only gotten worse. Even if the Greeks do end up with another bailout, it will only be another stay of execution.

==> The EU also has an identity crisis – and it’s not just the refugee crisis causing the divide. There is also a political bias between the Northern and Southern European countries. Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem recently inflamed the hostilities by making insulting remarks about Southern European culture. The remarks provoked former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to demand Dijsselbloem’s resignation as president of the Eurogroup, a coalition of eurozone finance ministers.

Bottom Line: The Brexit fiasco is finally coming home to roost. And that’s going to continue to wreak havoc on the European Union. Mark my words: There will be pitfalls ahead for investors who don’t know what they’re doing. Do you?

Good investing,

Mike Burnick

Brexit’s Impending Impact: Assessing ASEAN’s Exposure

RSIS Commentary is a platform to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy-relevant commentary and analysis of topical issues and contemporary developments. The views of the authors are their own and do not represent the official position of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced electronically or in print with prior permission from RSIS and due recognition to the author(s) and RSIS. Please email: for feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentary, Yang Razali Kassim. 

No. 057/2017 dated 29 March 2017
Brexit’s Impending Impact:
Assessing ASEAN’s Exposure
By Aédán Mordecai and Phidel Vineles


This week, the UK government will finally start the process for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The rest of the world is assessing how exposed other countries are to the almost inevitable economic fallout that will follow Brexit. How will ASEAN be affected, given the region’s globally-connected export content?


AS THE United Kingdom formally starts its exit from the European Union, a clearer picture is emerging of how Brexit might unfold. The new Prime Minister Theresa May has pushed her Brexit bill through parliament and is poised to invoke Article 50 today, 29 March 2017. She also went some way to resolving the often repeated question of whether the UK will pursue a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit, by indicating that Britain will not be looking to remain in the single market, with control over immigration winning that particular battle.

The British economy has largely done better than expected since last June’s referendum, with growth accelerating at the end of last year and growing by 1.8% overall in 2016. The fall in the pound sterling has given a boost to exporters while raising costs for the many products imported, pushing up inflation quickly. Nonetheless most economic actors are considering their options before they commit to the UK economy; they are either hesitant to invest or are looking to potentially move their operations out of the country. As the UK is a significant member of the world economy, all eyes are on the fate of Britain, as well as the rest of Europe, while assessing the potential impact of Brexit on other regions of the world.

ASEAN’s exposure to the UK and Europe

ASEAN, for one, is not immune to the Brexit fallout, given its economic exposure to both the EU and the UK economies. The common method to assess the degree of exposure is to measure the volume and flow of exports going to the EU from ASEAN and the foreign direct investment (FDI) heading in the opposite direction.

According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and International Trade Centre (ITC Trademap), Vietnam and Thailand were the largest exporters from ASEAN to the UK, which amounted to USD4.8 billion and USD3.6 billion, respectively in 2014. Overall, however, the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) estimated that the UK only accounted for 1.5 percent of ASEAN exports in 2015.

ASEAN is significantly more exposed to the EU as a whole, particularly via trade channels, compared to the UK. The EU is ASEAN’s second largest trading partner, which accounted for around 13 percent of ASEAN trade in 2014. The European Commission states that the largest exporters to the EU in ASEAN were Vietnam, which amounted to more than EUR33 billion, and Malaysia (EUR22.2 billion). With regards to foreign direct investment going into ASEAN, 16.7% of FDI comes from the EU totalling more than USD19 billion, with one third of that coming from the UK.

Beyond Exports and FDI: The Global Value Chain

Analysing exports and FDI alone, however, provides an inadequate picture of ASEAN’s exposure to Brexit. While it is true that ASEAN is an export-oriented region and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, there is an increasing reliance on 'importing to export’ with imports making up a portion of the final export product. Production has become more fragmented in the age of globalisation, with products less and less likely to be manufactured wholly in one country, by one firm alone.

The result is that much more of global trade is not in finished products but also in components and parts (intermediate goods). The World Bank estimated that 20 per cent of global trade was in intermediate goods in 2015. ASEAN is no exception to the growing level of production networks that span multiple nations with high levels of trade of unfinished products coming in and out of the region. The Global Value Chain (GVC) participation rate was at 56 per cent for East and Southeast Asia in 2010 according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). This illustrates the degree of fragmentation within the region.

In the case of ASEAN, 28.4 percent of its total exports’ value was produced from outside the region in 2011 according to statistics collected by the OECD and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), with the EU being a major contributor to the region’s 'foreign value added’ content of exports. In fact, a total of 16.3 percent of foreign value added embodied in ASEAN exports originated from the EU.

The share of EU value added within exports is particularly high in Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia. Digging further into the trade data of ASEAN member states highlights how crucial the share of EU value added in ASEAN exports is to some key industries. Malaysia's most important export industry – electronics - owes almost 10 percent of its total gross export value to the EU. Elsewhere, ASEAN’s largest automobile exporter, Thailand, has the EU contributing 6.4 percent to the industry’s total exports, while 4.4 percent of Vietnam's important textile export industry originates from the bloc.

What Does this Mean for ASEAN?

There are two main takeaways from this analysis of ASEAN’s exposure to Brexit.    

Firstly, and as already widely known, ASEAN has most to worry from an economic slump spreading from Britain and causing significant damage to the rest of the EU. A slowdown in the EU would negatively affect the demand for ASEAN’s exports much more than a consequent economic downturn limited to only the UK.    

The data also brings to light an aspect of vulnerability that has not been seriously considered, which is the potential disruption in the production networks that ASEAN export industries rely on. The complex fragmented nature of global trade and ASEAN’s movement up the value chain means assessing the region’s exposure to external shocks is becoming an increasingly inter-connected and comprehensive exercise. 

It is therefore necessary to go beyond the standard examination of gross exports and FDI when assessing the potential fallout from Brexit on ASEAN, or Southeast Asia. It is equally crucial to consider the importance of foreign value added content when analysing ASEAN’s exposure to the impending impact of Brexit.

Aédán Mordecai and Phidel Vineles are Senior Analysts with the Centre for Multilateralism Studies (CMS) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Click HERE to read this commentary online.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

London March 2017: ISIS “Weaponisation of Everyday Life”

RSIS Commentary is a platform to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy-relevant commentary and analysis of topical issues and contemporary developments. The views of the authors are their own and do not represent the official position of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced electronically or in print with prior permission from RSIS and due recognition to the author(s) and RSIS. Please email: for feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentary, Yang Razali Kassim. 

No. 054/2017 dated 27 March 2017
London March 2017:
ISIS “Weaponisation of Everyday Life”
By Kumar Ramakrishna


The recent low-tech attack by a lone wolf in London may well be a harbinger of things to come in the struggle against ISIS extremism. Singapore must be prepared at several levels to meet the challenge.


ON WEDNESDAY  22 March 2017, Adrian Elms alias Khalid Masood, a 52-year old British convert to Islam, drove his rented Hyundai 4x4 at high speed onto the sidewalk of Westminster Bridge in London, mowing down terrified pedestrians, killing three of them in the process. A fourth victim later died in hospital. Masood crashed his vehicle into the perimeter fence surrounding Westminster Palace, emerged with two large knives and entered the British Parliament grounds where he stabbed a police officer to death before being shot dead himself by other on-site security personnel.

The self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) through its Amaq news agency eventually claimed responsibility for the attack, calling Masood a “soldier of the Caliphate” and claiming that he had “carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of the coalition”. The early consensus appears that Masood had carried out the attack on behalf of ISIS, having been inspired – but not explicitly instructed - to do so by immersion in ISIS propaganda. Masood in short is very likely another example of the so-called “lone wolf” terrorist inspired but not necessarily directed by an organised terrorist network whose cause he had become ideologically committed to.

A Disturbing Recent Trend

In particular, the mode of Masood’s action – a vehicle-ramming attack, sometimes accompanied by an on-foot gun and/or knife assault – appears to be in the process of becoming an ISIS trademark. On 14 July 2016, for example, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhel, a Tunisian who was resident in France, drove a 19-tonne cargo truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, killing 86 people and maiming 484 others, before being shot dead in an exchange of gunfire with police. 

As in the latest London incident, ISIS claimed responsibility for the Nice attack, saying that Lahouaiej-Bouhlel had answered its "calls to target citizens of coalition nations that fight the Islamic State". Then on 19 December 2016, Anis Amri, a failed Tunisian asylum seeker, drove a truck into a Christmas market next to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at Breitscheidplatz in Berlin, killing 12 and injuring 56 people. 

Amri had commandeered the truck after killing its driver but was shot dead by Italian police near Milan four days later. Yet again ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the attacker had answered its calls to target the citizens of states that are fighting against it. That this vehicle-ramming-plus-knife assault tactic may well be coming into current ISIS vogue was further suggested by an incident occurring just hours after the London incident. 

A 40-year old French national called Mohamed R. was arrested by police in the northern Belgian city of Antwerp for trying to enter the main pedestrianised shopping street at high speed. The police also found a rifle and bladed weapons in his car.

Cars, Trucks, Knives and ISIS: Nothing Very New

Some observers argue that the latest apparent shift in ISIS tactics is borne out of necessity. As the United States and Russian-led coalition continues to put the squeeze militarily on ISIS positions in Iraq and Syria, the ISIS leadership may be expected to take the strategic decision to begin preparations for a shift from a territorially-based entity to a global insurgency.

That is, instead of being physically concentrated around Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, the ISIS meme will be kept alive in the form of what FBI Director James Comey has called a “terrorist diaspora” - where thousands of foreign fighters will ultimately fan outwards from the Middle East, heading back towards Europe, Africa, as well as East Asia and even Southeast Asia.  

One operational consequence of this strategic shift would be that complex, multiple-assault type actions like the devastating attacks on Paris on 13 November 2015 which were basically coordinated from ISIS Central, will become less likely.  While returning foreign fighters may tap local black markets to secure the weapons needed for fairly sophisticated attacks, tightened security measures in the wake of Paris and Brussels may make that option less appealing.

Hence relatively low-tech measures – like what we witnessed in London – may make more tactical sense. Worse, one need not even be a trained fighter to perpetrate such low-tech attacks – merely a fanatical lone wolf-type commitment to the ISIS creed would do. This is why the Soufan Group has warned of the “weaponisation of everyday life” - as exemplified by the use of cars, trucks and knives for terrorist purposes – as a dangerous emerging trend.

Genesis of the Lone-Wolf Idea

Reinforcing such an operational trend is the fact that ISIS and its Al Qaeda cousins have long prepared themselves doctrinally for such a shift towards decentralized action by a mix of trained local cells and lone wolves. In the mid-2000s the Syrian Al Qaedaist ideologue Abu Musab Al-Suri had famously argued against centralised direction from the core Al Qaeda leadership, favouring instead action by independent small cells acting on their own initiative to exploit local opportunities to strike at enemies.

Furthermore, capitalising on the rise of social media platforms in the mid-2000s, organs such as the online English magazine Inspire, the brainchild of the late “bin Laden of the Internet,” Anwar Al-Awlaki, the chief ideologue for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen, promoted lone wolf action, calling on supporters to "do your own terrorism and stay in place".

In 2010, moreover, Inspire urged followers to choose "’pedestrian only’ locations and make sure to gain speed before ramming their vehicles into the crowd in order to ‘achieve maximum carnage’". Hence, when the late ISIS spokesperson Abu Muhammad al-Adnani called on ISIS supporters worldwide in September 2014 to “single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of their allies”, and amongst other things, “slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car,” he was really stating nothing new. 

What we witnessed in London last week was always going to be part of the ISIS terror toolkit.  We are likely however to see more of such low-tech attacks.

SG Secure: Now, More Than Ever

Even the most casual observer will recognise that the densely populated urban city-state of Singapore is not immune to the type of low-tech attack London just experienced. While physical measures like concrete barriers and bollards are certainly part of the defence against such threats, they are insufficient. This is where the recently launched SG Secure national movement with its emphasis on promoting community cohesion, vigilance and resilience is timely. 

At one level, the wider community must be prepared to know what to do in an emergency, and act as the security forces’ extra eyes and ears to detect suspicious activity suggesting terrorist incidents are about to occur. At a second level, being aware of telltale signs of radicalisation into violent extremism on the part of family members, friends and colleagues, is equally important to enable early intervention to prevent a vulnerable individual from acting out any lone wolf terrorist fantasies. 

At a third and final level, security forces, no matter how well trained, cannot be everywhere at once. Hence perhaps the call in some quarters for suitable and willing able-bodied members of the public to volunteer for training in self-defence techniques may be worth further exploration. After all, there have been low-tech terrorist incidents overseas where alert and courageous members of the public collectively disarmed lightly armed individual attackers before help arrived. 

If Singaporeans can demonstrably live up to the moniker of “Lion City”, a layer of psychological deterrence may well be added to the SG Secure mix, further enhancing our nation’s security in the face of the emerging low-tech “weaponisation of everyday life”.

Kumar Ramakrishna is Associate Professor, Head of Policy Studies and Coordinator of the National Security Studies Programme in the Office of the Executive Deputy Chairman, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Click HERE to read this commentary online.

Monday, March 27, 2017

How to defend Panatag Shoal


How to defend Panatag Shoal

SUPREME Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who contributed immensely to our winning our arbitration suit against China’s “nine-dash line” maritime claim, wants President Rodrigo Duterte to shut up.
He didn’t put it that way, but it was part of his point. Justice Carpio asked the President to take care in speaking on territorial issues, to avoid explicitly or implicitly relinquishing sovereign claims and rights.
As head of state, President Duterte speaks for the Republic. Hence, if he says, for instance, that the Philippines can do nothing about construction and other actions by China on Scarborough or Panatag Shoal, it could be construed as giving up our claim.
And if the Duterte government actually does nothing, not even protesting Beijing’s building plan or work, it may further buttress the claim that we’re not interested in asserting territorial rights.
Plus: The President may be shirking his constitutional duty to defend the national territory and patrimony — an impeachable offense.
Another expert in international maritime law, however, begs to differ with His Honor the Senior Associate Justice.
Legal luminary Estelito Mendoza was Philippine representative in global negotiations decades ago forging the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the legal regime for maritime sovereign rights, freedom of navigation, and other provisions governing the high seas.
The Marcos-era justice secretary and solicitor general also advised in crafting the 2008 Baselines Law and claiming the 130,000-sq km Benham Rise undersea plateau, which the UNCLOS declared part of our extended continental shelf, with no nation objecting.
The ECS confers exclusive rights to harness resources in the seabed, like offshore oil, while the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) covers use of the waters, like fishing.
Mendoza believes President Duterte has not said or done anything weakening territorial and maritime claims, even in declaring: “We cannot stop China from doing its thing [on Panatag]. Even the Americans were not able to stop them.”
Or when he disclosed that he allowed China to do marine research at Benham Rise, amid concern over a Chinese vessel staying there for three months last year. (Notably, Justice Carpio also said research on the waters is fine, but not on the seabed.)
So, which legal opinion is correct? We won’t know for sure until President Duterte’s actions and statements are cited by a rival claimant in some international tribunal on conflicting territorial claims. But it’s wise to be careful, as Justice Carpio urged.
Asserting sovereign rights
He also suggested five ways for President Duterte to fulfill his constitutional duty of asserting territorial claims, even without force. One is to avoid statements and actions undermining sovereign claims and rights. The government can also strongly protest violations — “the least the Philippines can do,” said Carpio. And Duterte can send vessels to patrol our claimed areas.
Third, the government can ask Washington to declare Panatag Shoal as part of territory covered by the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty, Carpio argued, since it was part of the country when we were under American rule. And he urged accepting the US standing offer of joint naval patrols in disputed areas, which President Duterte stopped.
The Palace has not been utterly silent on territorial issues. Last week, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella raised concerns over the Chinese vessel in Benham Rise. He also asked Beijing to clarify reports that it plans to build a environmental monitoring station on Panatag Shoal.
Yesterday, China’s Foreign Ministry denied it just when the Justice and Foreign Affairs Departments said they would file a strong protest.
On Carpio’s proposals, one hopes the President would mind his tongue on maritime matters, despite his refusal to be silenced on other issues.
Despite his amicable policy toward China, downplaying disputes, there should be room for protests even between friends. But sea patrols, especially with the US, seem unlikely for now. The Navy will secure Benham Rise, which isn’t disputed territory.
Regarding the defense treaty, President Duterte reiterated during his Myanmar visit his aversion to military activities with the US, which may provoke China, even though he saw much improved ties with President Donald Trump’s administration.
Time to get a real stick
So, is that all we can do about territorial encroachments — speak softly, since we don’t have a big stick?
In fact, there are defensive capabilities we should develop, but never did, due to our excessive dependence on the US alliance.
In April 2012, when the past regime lost Panatag Shoal, the Washington security think-tank Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) urged: “The United States needs to help the Philippines develop its own set of ‘anti-access/area denial’ capabilities to counter China’s growing power projection capabilities.”
Those A2/AD assets include maritime surveillance planes to survey the high seas, anti-ship missiles to deter intruders, and anti-aircraft systems to protect the projectiles, argued the CSBA report, “The Geostrategic Return of the Philippines” <>.
Former National Security Adviser RoiloGolez has long advocated acquiring 200 BrahMos supersonic anti-ship missiles made in India with Russian know how. The truck-mounted hard-to-find rockets, with their 300-to-400-km range, can protect our entire EEZ and most of our ECS.
Since the BrahMos would secure offshore oil deposits, their deployment could be an energy-related undertaking funded with Malampaya gas royalties, now well over P150 billion. Vietnam is buying the BrahMos, along with that other key A2/AD weapon: submarines. (President Duterte should mention both when he visits Moscow.)
Why didn’t Washington follow CSBA advice and provide A2/AD gear, as Tokyo is doing with two surveillance planes recently turned over? Just a wild guess, but maybe it’s because if we could defend ourselves, we wouldn’t let American forces escalate deployment and use bases in our country.
What if we’re attacked or invaded for sinking intruding ships? Then the US alliance kicks in. And despite Duterte’s cussing, America will fight to keep the Philippines from falling into enemy hands and becoming a vast hostile military platform dominating Asia.
So, Mr. President, you’re right for us to bide our time until we’re strong enough to defend what’s ours. Now, let’s get those A2/AD armaments pronto.
Mabuhay ang Inang Bayang Pilipinas!

Are you for the PHILIPPINES or CHINA? Re: How About Acts of Filipino Honesty an

How about you, don't you care about the Filipino fishermen?

So what if the Filipino elites don't care about our fishermen? They are just about one percent of the population.

The remaining 99% among us, whether we care or not, we are adversely affected by the Chinese prohibition of fishing by Filipino fishermen in the disputed areas within  our EEZ. Prices of fish rose in the local market owing to reduce fish supply from the Chinese ban on Filipino fishermen, in our own EEZ recognized by the international community. Big ayungin fish is liked by many among us who are familiar with it, but it is now gone in the local market since China prohibited fishing by our fishermen in Ayungin shoal. 

What you believe or not is irrelevant because nations--let alone China--don't listen to you. The Philippines has to anticipate and react to what China and other nations actually think and intend to do, not by what you believe.  

Both China and the Philippines agreed to leave Panatag shoal during PNoy's time. The Philippines dutifully left but China did not! Is this the kind of country we should trust to honor any agreements we may enter into with it? 

If we claimed the Spratlys and took possession  of it, we were the first to do so. Had we not done that, China would have eventually done it and claimed as EEZ the surrounding sea, overlapping our own EEZ, resulting in unavoidable differences and much bigger problem for the Philippines. Is that what you want? 

 Mar Tecson

Sent: Saturday, March 25, 2017 1:55 PM
Subject: [MOONGLOWPLANET] Re: [Worldwide-Filipino-Alliance] Re: How About Acts of Filipino Honesty and Integrity?








































So, you are in favor of China staying permanently in the Philippine EEZ area and preventing Filipino fishermen from fishing there?  

(When China prevented Filipino fishermen from fishing in the Ayungin shoal, the supply of ayungin fish (lukaok in Tagalog) stopped in a local market I know.)

Sent from my iPad

How about a show of Filipino honesty and integrity?
Filipino elite positions on the SCS are characterized by parochialism and proprietarism. “That rock is mine. God gave that rock to me.”
Common Filipino people avail of nature’s gifts by employing their labor and meager capital to draw fish and other goods from the sea. Filipino social elites in 1956 and 1978 declared the Spratlys as their property and part of Philippine territory. Filipino masses look at the sea as a means of livelihood, while Filipino elites look at the sea as something to own and collect rent from those living off the sea.
There is the ever persistent Filipino elite pretense that the massive Orca in the room, the USA, is not involved in the SCS dispute. Yet the pretense is accompanied by the contradictory feeling that the US is bound to defend Philippine rocks in the SCS, despite consistent denials by American officials.
The bigger picture is much less parochial but much more proprietary. The truth is the US is deeply involved in the SCS dispute because imperial America sincerely believes it owns the world – from sea to shining sea. To prove how serious US proprietary claims of the Asian world are, the US constructed and maintains 400 military bases in the Asia Pacific region. Every year, the US/South Korea crime partners conduct war games for 2 months involving close to half a million soldiers with provocative objectives like (North Korea) regime decapitation, blockade of Malacca Straits threatening Asian freedom of navigation and trade, and use of nuclear-armed B2 stealth bombers threatening human existence itself.
In defense of its own existence, China reclaims a few rocks in the SCS and builds airfields, radar facilities, missile sites, submarine bases, and other military installations to counter the US Godzilla. The US throws a tantrum at China’s audacity like delinquent Democrats who refuse to accept defeat in the 2016 presidential elections. The new US Secretary of State even threatens to stop further construction and prevent China’s use of completed facilities in its own front yard – the South China Sea. What better proof of imperial US ownership claims of the world than these?
Once invested in a lie, the US must remain consistent by repeating the lie about the PCA piece of toilet paper. The PCA is not the legal venue to settle territorial disputes over land, sea, and air. The UN and ICJ are the legal adjudicators of international law, not the PCA. Both the UN and ICJ categorically stated the PCA is not part of the UN/ICJ, and both had nothing to do with the PCA ruling over the Philippine case about the SCS. The PCA ruling is not international law because the PCA has no authority to issue binding legal judgments. Only the UN/ICJ has legal international authority to do so.
The PCA is a mere administrative and secretarial service provider to parties in an arbitration case. It provided only rental space and secretarial services to the Philippine panel, its American and British lawyers, and hired judges hearing Philippine arguments. The whole charade was initiated, organized, led, and managed by the US State Department and CIA. In particular, CSIS and AMTI whose governing board includes Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and ex-generals and admirals of the US empire. The PCA venue was chosen by the Americans who were not after a binding international law judgment but an impressive propaganda club to beat China’s head with. And all expenses paid for by America’s doormat in Asia – the Philippines led by Noynoy Aquino and Antonio Carpio.
So the Philippines is back in square one. China occupies Mischief Reef and Scarborough Shoal inside Philippine EEZ but well out there in international waters. A limbo case of being inside but outside. The Philippines must be honest with itself and the world that it occupies some rocks in the Spratlys that are beyond its EEZ and in international waters. China and other Asian countries also claim those rocks as theirs.
The Philippines can reduce SCS tension by ceasing to behave as US doormat and deny Philippine territory to US military forces. It should declare its commitment for a regional agreement to recognize the Spratlys as international waters. Also pursue a regional agreement to demilitarize the Asia Pacific as a nuclear weapons-free zone and dismantle all foreign military bases in the area. Immediately begin serious bilateral negotiations with China over EEZ matters, Spratlys occupation, AIIB/New Silk Road Development participation, SCO membership, regional defense cooperation, and other social/political acts of genuine independence. No more American Macabebe Scout policies.
Allan T.

  Sent: Friday, 24 March 2017, 20:29
Subject: [Worldwide-Filipino-Alliance] HOW DO WE WRIGGLE OUT FROM OUR NATIONAL SHAME? Re: Puzzling show of defeatism


The international rule that the areas occupied by Chinese military facilities in the West Philippine Sea is mere Philippine EEZ but not our national territory does not justify at all the permanent Chinese military facilities built there. If it is not our territory, neither is it China's territory. Therefore, China, or any other country for that matter, has no right to build such military facilities in the area because that act constitutes act of OWNERSHIP applicable to owned territories alone, not to international waters or sea lane, especially if it is part of EEZ of another country, like the Philippines in this case.  Further, China's ownership claim over the vast south China sea, including the disputed area, has not been accepted by the community of nations.  
As further proof of OWNERSHIP, the Chinese military do not allow Filipino fishermen to even go near the military facilities, thereby preventing us from exercising and enjoying our EEZ rights over the area. Definitely, these acts of China are valid object of protest in the UN. What is our UN membership for if we will not even seek its aid to save us from international embarrassment as a helpless nation against the bully China? In fact, what China did is not just bullying or empty threat--it is actual grabbing and permanent possession and occupation of part of our EEZ.  
The happening of this national shame probably did not occur to the Magnificent 12 who kicked out the US military bases in 1991. They were complacent and did not think that other military power will fill in the void left by the US military when the opportune time comes. They underestimated the ability of other nations to do the unexpected once the irresistibly tempting opportunity arises. They did not lift a finger during their time to anticipate this contingency which turned today into reality. They were legal experts but not visionary who prepares for potential future problems. Worse, they would not lead the nation now in taking the initiative toward saving us from our present national disgrace rooted from their act. 

The difference between the US and China:  The US left when told to leave. China does not budge an inch even if  we complained against them.     

How do we wriggle out from our present national shame? Why not ask the surviving members of the Magnificent 12?   
Mar Tecson

At one point, not only the Chinese thought that they can impose their will on everyone by sheer military might over little defenseless enemies. The Germans did  so in the early 20th Century, when they looked invincible. The Japanese did so as well in the 1930s and had a plan, as again did the Germans at the same time, thinking the Axis was simply unbeatable.

Well we know what happened to those two international bullies, don't we? Geopolitical rivalries run through decades as Otto Von Bismarck knew instinctively, and this play is far from over. Anyone who thinks the UNCLOS decision is worth ZERO is either Chinese or a traitor, and we all know that. 

This dispute is in the second inning, using a sports metaphor, and already, the Philippines had scored a home run. That is the basis of a spirited defense that will unfold. Scarborough Shoal is the third inning, and already plans are being developed at the Pentagon and Rand Corporation, among many others. The World Series, was never EVER won in the second or third inning. This game has a long way to go.

We know that bullies without real military muscle are hot air until the stronger country rises up finally. Krushev found that out, as did Gorbachev. We all know how those plays ended.



On Thursday, March 23, 2017, 8:24:24 PM EDT, Eduardo Gimenez
There is another and far more important element to the dispute.  That element is “capability”.  The disputed areas are in small unpopulated islets spread out over thousands of square miles of ocean surrounding us.  Most of those islets go in and out of existence depending on the sea level and the presence of storms.  Unless Filipinos have learned to walk on water, they do not have the capability of defending that territory.  I disagree that Filipinos are “cowering in fear”.  This description is completely inaccurate.  Much more accurate is the fact the nation has gone as far as it could go by taking the case before a toothless arm of the UN and won its legal case. 
But having won and does not mean the ability to impose on China the fact we won the case.  Because China did not participate in the case so it believes correctly that IT HAS NOT LOST.  We went to UNCLOS alone without any opponent.  Given the lack of an opponent, that we would win was a foregone conclusion.  But China has one of the world’s largest navy and it has created bases for them in those shoals and is continuing to create more bases.  They are creating GROUNDS ON THE SEAS as well as FACTS ON THOSE GROUNDS that belie the Philippine claim… and that the Philippines can do nothing about.
Every sensible analyst who looked at the Philippine vs China position when the dispute started in the early 2000s could have foreseen this present state of affairs and would have gone the route of negotiation instead of confrontation.  I was one of those.  Had we done that, there would be a thousand offshore drilling rigs pumping oil out and generating some negotiated income that would have substantially changed the Philippine economic condition today.  Instead we descended into one of the worst aspects of our Spanish colonial masters namely “Quixotismo” derived from that great Spanish classic Don Quijote de la Mancha.  Quixotismo is a false sense of pride.  “IF I CAN’T HAVE ALL OF IT, YOU CAN HAVE NONE OF IT”.  The silliness of this position is our complete lack of capability to impose our part… “YOU CAN HAVE NONE OF IT”. 
The patient Chinese knowing the quixotismo ingrained in the Filipino nature, played us to the hilt.  We bit on every lure they threw our way.  So we won our case.  But what do we have to show for it?  NOTHING! 
The Chinese will end up owning it all.  Our having won at UNCLOS is irrelevant after all because we cannot impose our win nor can we get anyone to help us against China.  Every day that passes makes that win a more vague and distant memory to the rest of the world. 

Subject: Re: [Worldwide-Filipino-Alliance] Puzzling show of defeatism
Ricky, the Vietnamese are a different breed altogether from us Filipinos. They have seen victories against the mightiest armies the world has thrown at them - the Mongols, with Chinese conscripts, under Kublai Khan; the French legionnaires at Dienbienphu in 1955; and the Americans in 1975. We Filipinos, on the other hand, have only experienced defeat - at the hands of the Spaniards, the Americans and the Japanese. The Vietnamese are standing their ground back against the Chinese bullies while we Filipinos are cowering in fear, surrendering without firing a single shot. It is no wonder that the Vietnamese have even overtaken us economically; next to overtake us will be the country that Duterte just visited and handed aid to the tune of $300,000, Myanmar. That country is growing at the annual rate of 10%; if it continues to do so, it will overtake the Philippines in 15 years or less. The first time we were bypassed by our neighbors was during the Marcos regime, the second time will be under Duterte.

Subject: Re: [Worldwide-Filipino-Alliance] Puzzling show of defeatism
Joe, the latest - "The Chinese have a right to hang out at Benham Rise".......Duterte, so now we are encircled between the West Philippine Sea, and the Philippine Sea in a pincer maneuver by the Chinese. He says the Philippine soldiers will be slaughtered. Well tell that to Vietnamese who stood their ground even though they were so outarnumbered, out armed, outtechnologied, and out everythinged by the Chinese in the SCS, but they fought back to defend their country from Chinese bullying and thieving.
On Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 12:55:51 AM EDT, Jose Tabbada 
There must be a million reasons for Duterte's defeatism. This is the same candidate who boasted during the campaign that he would jetski to one of the contested islets and plant the Philippine flag and die a hero if need be. Maybe Duterte meant the Chinese flag. Everything that he has done since assuming the presidency has been to hand over Philippine territory to China and behave like a vassal to his Chinese overlords.

[Attachment(s) from Rodel Rodis included below]
Puzzling show of defeatism
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:12 AM March 21, 2017
Glance at a map and see if you aren’t startled at how close Panatag Shoal is to the Philippines—and why there is a so-called dispute about its ownership in the first place. The triangle-shaped outcropping of rocks and reefs, also known as Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal to generations of Filipino fishermen, is merely 220 kilometers (124 nautical miles) from Palauig, Zambales—the nearest landmass to it. That distance is about the same as from Manila to Daet, Camarines Norte. By contrast, the nearest Chinese port, in Hainan Island, is a whopping 550 nautical miles away.
The 3-century-old map Carta Hydrographica y Chorographica de las Yslas Filipinas—drawn by the Jesuit priest Pedro Murillo Velarde, published in 1734 and obtained by Filipino businessman Mel Velarde from a Sotheby’s auction in London—definitively shows Panatag Shoal as part of Philippine territory. The map formed part of the supporting documents the Philippines submitted to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that heard the country’s protest against China’s claim on the territory. The tribunal decided in favor of the Philippines last year, saying that China’s supposed historic claim on almost the entire South China Sea by virtue of a “nine-dash line,” which would include ownership of Panatag, the Spratly Islands and other coral reefs and atolls in the region, is without legal basis.
Unfortunately, despite the ruling China has continued to exercise effective control over Panatag since at least 2012. Previous to that, the Philippines exercised occupation and jurisdiction over the area, even putting up a lighthouse there in 1965. But China wrested it from Philippine hands basically by trickery, when it broke an agreement to jointly withdraw from the area until the ownership row is settled.
The Philippines complied but China stayed, erected a barrier to the shoal, began policing the area, and, in 2015, even used water cannons on Filipino fishermen attempting to fish in what had been their traditional fishing grounds. The fishermen were able to return only in October last year, after President Duterte went on a state visit to
China and, in effect, got that country’s permission for his countrymen to fish in the area. Suddenly, the Chinese Coast Guard wasn’t intercepting Filipino boats anymore; it had clearly gotten the memo.
Now comes the disturbing news that China is building radar facilities on Panatag. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio says such a station would further militarize the area: It would enable China to impose missile-supported air control over the South China Sea, and to eventually require any aircraft to seek permission from it to fly over the area. The fact is that China has already built military installations on other disputed atolls such as Mischief Reef, Subi Reef and Fiery Cross Reef. The grand plan, it appears, is to impose the discredited “nine-dash line” by sheer muscle.
Dishearteningly, President Duterte’s response to this latest provocation has been a puzzling display of defeatism: “Wala tayong magagawa dyan (There’s nothing we can do),” he said. “What do you want me to do? Declare war against China?”
Let’s make it clear: No one is advocating a war to solve this row. But, for a start, how about mobilizing the consensus of Asean, a number of whose members are also disputing China’s claims in the region? The Philippines holds the Asean chairmanship this year; can’t this administration put this urgent matter on the table? How about mobilizing the tools and opportunities of international diplomacy to pressure China to ease up on its expansionism?
How about, as Carpio says, desisting from issuing any suggestion that the Philippines is yielding its claim on parts of the South China Sea? How about exploring every other peaceful but determined option available to a sovereign nation whose territory is being gobbled up, and not behaving as though one couldn’t care less, or worse, as though one were a loser?