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TURNING POINT: Ending an Endless Protest

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NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 11 July) – The Chinese incursions and aggressive activities within our exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which by international law is our sovereign territory, have become more pronounced and intense over time.

(It should be known that, for reference point, the Philippines named its EEZ, located and is a portion of South China Sea, as West Philippine Sea [WPS] per Administrative Order No. 29 of President Benigno Aquino III issued on September 5, 2012.)

Swarms of Chinese maritime militia, aka fishing vessels, have intensified their destructive extraction of the marine resources in our EEZ. Chinese Coast Guard vessels deliberately fired water cannons to Filipino fishers to drive them out of their traditional fishing grounds. In one occasion, a Filipino fishing boat sunk and broke into pieces when rammed by a Chinese maritime militia-fishing vessel.

Worse is that in several occasions, Filipino vessels ferrying supplies to the Philippine marines stationed in the BRP Sierra Madrid in Ayungin Shoal were blocked and water-cannoned by Chinese Coast Guards. A Chinese Coast Guard ship also fired a military-grade laser at a Philippine Coast Guard vessel, temporarily blinding some of its crew.

All these coercive harassments and dangerous operations against our patrol vessels are no less than a military aggression. 

Lamentably, we could only file diplomatic protests and have done nothing beyond.

As of the first half of 2022, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had filed a total of 388 diplomatic protests against China over its aggressive behaviors in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines, under the administration of President Marcos, has filed a total of 97 diplomatic protests over China’s presence and activities in the West Philippine Sea, including 30 lodged this year, says the DFA.

But time and again, China simply shrugs off these paper protests, insisting that all those contested activities were done within its sovereign territory. It continues to refuse to honor the arbitral tribunal decision that invalidated its claims to ill-defined historic rights throughout the nine-dash line in South China Sea. It seems the communist Chinese believes that because the sea south of their land is called South China Sea, it is their sea. Historically, the name of a sea is only a reference point, not an entitlement.

The diplomatic protests show to all and sundry that we continue to assert our right over the WPS, which constitutes our EEZ; that we are not sleeping on our right that is backed by the Hague Arbitral Tribunal ruling.

Because the Chinese aggression in the WPS has become graver and graver by the day, it’s high time we go beyond paper squeaking to express our great displeasure. We need to do something palpable and eye-catching to get internationally attention and pressure to our protest.  We may recall, for instance, some of our diplomatic personnel, every time our national sovereignty is violated by China.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental)

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