Home     Forum     Education     Forex Rate     RP President     Archives     Contact Us      RSS

Export Shipping Company

 MORE News Headlines
 Manila Standard
 Daily Inquirer
 Philippine Star
 Manila Bulletin
 Manila Times
 Asian Journal
 Filipino Express
 Malaya Online
 Daily Tribune
 ABS-CBN News
 GMA News
 TV5 Interaksyon
 Solar News
 Philippine News
 Kababayan LA
 MindanaoTimes
 Sun Star
 Negros Chronicle
 Bohol Chronicle

Advertisement

Miscelleneous Links
 Yehey Search
 RP President
 Phil. Senate
 Phil Hse of Rep
 Peso Exch Rate
 Buy & Sell
 Phil. Weather
 Filipino Channel
 Phil History
 Phil Business
 Phil Basketball
 Make it Cebu
 BuWorld Online
 Trabaho.Com
 Gintong Lahi
 DueñasWrldwde
 FILGLOBAL
 PHL News Links

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Treasure Our Sierra Madre

n the1948 John Houston movie, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, three destitute Americans working as gold prospectors mining the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico are confronted by bandits posing as mounted police (“Federales”). When they are asked to produce their badges, the chief bandit's response is classic: “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!”
BRP Sierra Madre (LT-57), deliberately run aground on Ayungin Reef (Second Thomas Shoal) by the Philippine Navy in 1999
Whenever China is asked to prove its ownership of all of the South China Sea, all 1.7 million square miles of it, including all of the islands and outcrops within the 200 mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines, its response is virtually similar: “Proof? We don’t need no stinking proof?”

That may be a better response than the “stinking proof” China actually presented to the United Nations on May 7, 2009 - a map of the South China Sea drawn by the Kuomintang government on December 1, 1947. Originally an 11-line map, it was later reduced to 9 lines by the Chinese Communists in 1949 and then recently increased to 10 in 2013.

China’s multi-line map does not contain any specific geographic coordinates and does not explain how it would be connected if it was a continuous line. Prof. Yin Wenqiang, a senior Chinese government maritime law expert, candidly admitted in a US Embassy cable in 2008 that he was unaware of the historical basis for China’s claim.

This preposterous claim would be akin to a four year old child with a box of crayons using them to draw several lines on a piece of paper and the imperious parents requiring everyone to indulge the fantasies of their spoiled child and accept the lines on a map as a legitimate claim of ownership.

Unfortunately for the Philippines, this spoiled child's lines on a map formed the basis for China's illegal 1995 occupation of Mischief Reef (Panganiban Reef) – located just 130 miles from Palawan. In the years since then, China has constructed a 4-story military garrison with a helipad on the outcropping shoal of Mischief Reef.

China has also planted buoys in Sabina Shoal, which is just 70 miles from Palawan. It is China’s “well-rehearsed routine” when laying claim to a shoal to first put down buoys, then place concrete markers, then build temporary wooden or bamboo shelters, and if unchallenged, to then erect permanent military installations.

Recognizing that China was seeking to occupy the Ayungin Shoal, which is only 13 nautical miles from Mischief Reef and just 108 nautical miles from Palawan, the Philippine Navy deployed its mothballed ship, the BRP Sierra Madre (originally built as a tank-loading US warship in 1944), to the Ayungin Shoal and then deliberately ran it aground to serve as a marine outpost to guard the Ayungin Shoal which is uninhabitable. Ayungin's real value is its strategic proximity to the oil-rich Recto Bank.

There was little action in the Ayungin Shoal from 1999 until May of 2013 when three Chinese ships appeared on the shoal’s horizon to signal the beginning of China’s naval blockade of the Ayungin Shoal. Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin assured the Filipino people at the time that the Philippine Navy will defend Ayungin “to the last soldier standing”.

China’s Major General Zhang Zhaozhong previously explained China’s “cabbage strategy" to occupy Ayungin Shoal, the same strategy successfully employed in securing Mischief Reef and the Scarborough Shoal.

“In the area around the island, fishing administration ships and marine surveillance ships are conducting normal patrols while in the outer ring there are navy warships. The island is thus wrapped layer by layer like a cabbage. As a result, a cabbage strategy has taken shape. If the Philippines wants to go in, in the outermost area, it has first to ask whether our navy will allow it. Then it has to ask whether our fishery administration ships and marine surveillance ships will allow it.”

“For those small islands, only a few troopers are able to station on each of them, but there is no food or even drinking water there. If we carry out the “cabbage” strategy, you will not be able to send food and drinking water onto the islands,” Zhang said. The Filipino troops stationed there will be forced to leave and China can then occupy the territory without firing a shot, Zhang predicted.

With only a few Philippine marines stationed on board the Sierra Madre, China thought it was only a matter of time before Ayungin would be fully occupied by China.

The cabbage strategy was working in Ayungin until November of 2013 when Supertyphoon Haiyan/Yolanda struck the area forcing the Chinese vessels to return to China. This silver lining of Yolanda allowed the Philippine Navy to replenish the troops and food supplies on board the Sierra Madre.

But the Chinese ships returned back to Ayungin Shoal in early 2014 and when two Philippine vessels arrived in the Shoal with fresh marines to replace those who were stationed there in November of 2013, the Chinese ships barred them from reaching the Sierra Madre on March 9.

Undeterred, on March 28, the Philippine Navy deployed another civilian vessel (AM 700) on a 30 hour voyage from Palawan to the Sierra Madre filled with marine replacements, 10 tons of food and water supplies and a dozen representatives of the foreign and local media.

As their vessel neared the Sierra Madre, two Chinese coast guard ships appeared in front of them to block them. A Chinese coast guard ship marked “1141″ crossed the bow of the smaller Philippine vessel to stop it from proceeding forward. Another tailed the Filipino boat.

The Chinese radioed the Filipinos, telling them to stop. “You will take full responsibility for the consequences of your action,” the voice said in English.

“This is the Republic of the Philippines,” Philippine navy Lt. Ferdinand Gato, who was in charge of the supply mission, replied. “We are here to provision the troops.”

Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter Nikko Dizon described the event in a hurried phone call to the Inquirer news desk.

BRP Sierra Madre (top); onboard flag ceremony (middle); Chinese Coast Guard ship prevents a much smaller Philippine Vessel from resupplying the Sierra Madre (bottom)“Chinese coast guards are now harassing us. They are blowing their horns, ordering us out of the area, saying we are conducting an illegal operation,’’ Dizon reported.

But the Philippine boat successfully maneuvered through a shallow approach to the shoal where the larger Chinese ships could not follow and successfully docked alongside the Sierra Madre. LINK

The fresh crew of Philippine marines and the members of the media boarded the Sierra Madre and watched as the marines who had been stationed for four months on the ship dressed in their military fatigues, with their scraggly beards, proudly raised the Philippine flag in a "relieving the watch" ceremony. The photo of this ceremony went viral and may yet be the iconic photo of the “Battle of Ayungin”.

At virtually the same time that the flag was being raised on the Sierra Madre, the Philippine government was submitting its memorandum to the Arbitral Tribunal of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) at The Hague in the Netherlands challenging China’s territorial claims over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert Del Rosario described the Memorial, consisting of 10 volumes, including more than 40 maps, in nearly 4,000 pages, as being “about defending what is legitimately ours… about securing our children’s future…about guaranteeing freedom of navigation for all nations… about helping to preserve regional peace, security and stability. And finally, it is about seeking not just any kind of resolution but a just and durable solution grounded on International Law.”

For now, the Philippine flag still flies over the Sierra Madre with its contingent of fresh Philippine marines to protect the Ayungin Shoal from a hegemonist China fully determined to seize it.

Will China wait until the term of office of Pres. Aquino ends in June 2016 and a new president more supportive of China’s claims is elected? China does not actually need to pour billions of pesos into the coffers of its preferred presidential candidate; it can simply ask the Chinese Filipino Taipans – with enormous investments in China - to financially back a more pro-China candidate, someone more like former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Or will China be unwilling to wait that long and just increase the number of its ships surrounding the Ayungin Shoal to prevent the next Philippine resupply ship from slipping through?

In the meantime, a group of US Pinoys in San Francisco is asking the Philippine Navy to set up a special fund to raise the money needed to paint the dilapidated and crumbling Sierra Madre ship, perhaps with bright Philippine flag colors of blue, white and red.

“That way, every time the Chinese invaders see our Sierra Madre, they will know without doubt who owns the Ayungin Shoal,” said Esther Aure Asercion, one of the project's organizers.
Published 04/20/2014

(Send comments to Rodel50@gmail.com or mail them to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 or call 415.334.7800).

Archived Comments

Name: Manoy D Oragon
City/State/Country: Oregon
IP Address: 121.54.92.138

Comments

Some guy thinks that the sight of RPS Sierra Madre purposely left aground was a pitiful sight. No, it was not a sign of defeat but a barrier against China's intrusion in the uninhabited island of Ayungin. A pessimist looks at it as defeat; an optimist sees it as an inexpensive yet smart tactical move.


Name: Sam "The Mercenary
City/State/Country: San Diego California
IP Address: 66.27.52.158

Comments

We now rely, depend on and "treasure" a junk ship to defend our territories. Something's wrong with the picture. In my opinion, very embarrassing. To think that we actually allow our troops to live there and fend for themselves.. On the other side of the coin, you have the Enrile's, Revilla's and the Estrada's with their national issues in these issues simply goes in cycles... "Paulit-ulit!" Let me say this, eliminate the feudal nature of our politics and we will see the direction of progress.


Name: Edward
City/State/Country: Angeles City
IP Address: 120.29.72.66

Comments

These islands already belong to China. The only hope you have of owning these islands is if China backs down from the United States. Someone wrote about Russia's land grab and the US not doing anything about it. Remember Korea. China will fight and does the United States have the will to fight for the PI. China is important to the US with trade and business. China is spending huge amounts of money on it's military and the US is going the opposite direction in a huge way. China can play a waiting game. Wait until Iran or Syria or North Korea or Russia starts a serious problem and the US has to deploy troops. Than they can just take the islands by using old women. The US can no longer fight a two-front war.


Name: Manoy D Oragon
City/State/Country: Oregon
IP Address: 121.54.92.138

Comments

Many of us are so passionate defending our ownership of those small islands closer to Palawan even if we don't have the military capability to defend them. Some of our senators reject any agreement to increase the US military presence in this country of ours. Some organizations share the same view. Others are skeptical that US will never come to the aid of this country against China's expansion in both maritime and air space rights in the Pacific. PNoy will sign ADEC when Obama visits the country. There is no stopping seeing more US military forces in the Philippines. We have to accept that. WE NEED USA MORE THAN EVER ECONOMICALLY AND MILITARILY. Who wants to be a follower of MAO than Mauricio ?


Name: SOMEONE
City/State/Country: USA
IP Address: 108.183.75.178

Comments

The more I look at the photograph of the Sierra Madre the more I feel defeat as a Filipino and the more I pity the PHL. We can all liken this thing to the "Last Stands" in history such as The Alamo or Thermopylae but the reality is still the same. The PHL is helpless against this bully China. Such comparisons may make Filipinos euphoric but really in this modern times there's but a few countries that could stand up to China. And China being an economic giant supersedes all considerations for fighting it no matter the reason.


Name: Manoy D Oragon
City/State/Country: Oregon
IP Address: 121.54.92.138

Comments

This whole situation of " island grabbing" by China will lead to direct confrontation between US and Japan as major powers plus small countries like us. It is brinkmanship at the highest level. If China blinks first, she loses face. Asians value preserving one's reputation or prestige..


Name: JRH
City/State/Country: Montreal, Canada
IP Address: 70.83.179.172

Comments

The Ayungin Shoal incident was a successful clandestine operation. It was accompanied by 19 journalists (national & international). The boats used; a small research vessel & a fishing boat. The navy personnel wore civilian clothes (no uniforms), just shorts & shirts. Then they encountered 2 Chinese coast guard vessels who gave warnings to leave the area & stop the so called 'illegal activity.' They even crisscrossed in front of our 2 boats but then realized that journalists on board are ready to witness & document any hostile actions from them. Had the Chinese made the stupid mistake or ramming the boats it could have been instant & globally viral news. It was a clever & smart operation on our part.


Name: Sam "The Mercenary"
City/State/Country: San Diego California
IP Address: 66.27.52.158

Comments

I have said this before and I will say it again.. World diplomacy is at its maximum effectiveness when backed by a credible force. In the words of Mao Zedong himself, Diplomacy starts through the barrel of the gun. Now, if the Sierra Madre represents the Filipino will to defend itself, it also represents the corroding /rusting psyche of the Filipino when it comes to his priorities.


Name: SOMEONE
City/State/Country: USA
IP Address: 108.183.75.178

Comments

To those Filipinos who still entertain the idea that the USA will not let the PHL down in the Chinese occupation of the Islands, they need to recall just one word - CRIMEA. And to those looking up to UN for any sort of protection, same thing - CRIMEA. Just for added effect remember that China is richer and more influential than Russia these days. If you were the USA or UN would you go into war with China because of the Ayungin Shoal?


Name: Hit&Run
City/State/Country: ONTHEROAD
IP Address: 98.91.2.140

Comments

This is the best acts of heroism we can do to show our resolve. But how should we act if this current conflict escalates into an actual shooting war? That is without calling the Cavalry to the rescue. Anyone?


Name: Marie
City/State/Country: Batangas
IP Address: 46.57.114.112

Comments

We all hate and do not like what China are doing to us. But, are you doing something for our country? We cannot make war with them but we can do something. The problem is, Filipinos never unite for the sake of our country. They're more on loving themselves ... not for others. For me, buying products of China is not easy.


Name: deo
City/State/Country: flour-flower city
IP Address: 66.67.22.202

Comments

It's funny, while most of posters are maligning the insect, including me sometimes, my buddy at work is an insect from the mainland. It's weird, right?


Name: Marie
City/State/Country: Batangas
IP Address: 46.57.114.112

Comments

China will not give up claiming the island because they want to expand the Feng sui, the selling of poisonous plastics, and to fool more for their invented lucky charms esp. on Christmas and New Year's. China made all except the sky above that's why they were arrogant claiming which is not theirs. The best thing we Filipinos can do is to boycott their products as revenge .. our ammunition to stop that arrogance.


Name: JRH
City/State/Country: Montreal, Canada
IP Address: 70.83.179.172

Comments

It's clear that the Chinese won't sue for peace, dialogue, or compromise at any time. Its one-track ambition of claiming the whole area of water including territories it doesn't own. They now resort to bully-tactics, outright terrorism, & provocative tactics. The Phil Navy supply ships was closed to being rammed by the Chinese patrol boats. Lucky for us that we reached shallow waters near Sierra Madre. This encounters will be repeated many times over. Our role now is to prevent a small ember into a big fire. Diplomacy, cool heads, & plenty of patience are only allies.


Name: Enteng D'Dragon
City/State/Country: Lup ng mga Mahangin
IP Address: 38.88.177.203

Comments

It is quite something to read "pride" amongst the posters here citing the rusting hulk Sierra Madre as a symbol of defiance against the "bully" china. I see the contrast with the spiffy white painted Chinese navy ships (see pics in the editorial) patrolling the area of conflict. It illustrate of how pathetically desperate (if not the indifference) of the Philippine is when it comes to preserving international prestige.


Name: Isabelle
City/State/Country: Toronto
IP Address: 74.15.69.204

Comments

Sierra Madre is the rallying "Alamo" of Philippines determination to fight for its territory? Too bad it is a rusting hulk that can't even move by itself anymore-- it really symbolizes the state of affair of the - Philippines! A derelict rusting hulk given as a pittance of aid from the great rich uncle benefactor of the little brown brothers! Remember the Alamo, Remember the Sierra Madre, Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!


Name: As I See It
City/State/Country: CebuCity/SanDiego,CA
IP Address: 107.217.12.124

Comments

CHINA's political hierarchy still believes in Mao's doctrine 'political power emanates from the barrel of the gun.' Not since WW2 has the world seen 1/2 China increased its defense budget to a staggering level emphasizing the need to acquire high-tech weaponry, exerting any possible effort to attain its ambition to be AT PAR with US military strength & with its dictum 'fight war, win war' and in support of its quest to control as much land areas as possible as in seas, gaining leverage economically and militarily.


Name: Ding
City/State/Country: Illinois,USA
IP Address: 76.23.68.192

Comments

Bravo to the "heroes of Sierra Madre." This issue open up the realities why the Chinese become so strongly determined to grab the Spratly Islands or the Ayungin Shoal. Evidently the seeds and roots start from the greed for money and power during the administration of Erap Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's program of Joint Seismic Exploration Agreement for Natural Gas, Petroleum and precious minerals with China. The Chinese find that with Estrada and GMA the PHL is easy prey to manipulate and exploit for their own benefit.


Name: Jim
City/State/Country: usa
IP Address: 72.79.155.51

Comments

I served on that ship in Vietnam when it was called the Harrnett CO. LST 821 it was a great ship then and now doing a great job!


Name: JRH
City/State/Country: Montreal, Canada
IP Address: 70.83.179.172

Comments

From previous provocative actions by the Chinese, it appears that a dog's bark often might be worse than its bite. This hostile attitude is combination of intimidation, threats, bellicosity, or just blowing of hot air. What might be perceived as a weakness by our gov't might instead be our own strength...with just a handful of brave soldiers manning a rusting vessel in the middle of the sea. As suggested, paint it blue, white, & red & let the world see our colors & let international law prevail. Screw the Chinese.


Name: Jorge Villanueva
City/State/Country: Canada
IP Address: 142.134.136.88

Comments

I agree with the sentiment alluded by this article. China would certainly be interested in grabbing these offshore islands as easy as taking candy from a kid. But it needs a more corruptible and weak-minded Philippine government. So what it's doing now is intimidate and bully the current leadership while waiting for the next Philippine election and a change of leadership. She knows that there are many corrupt politicians in the country and it's easier to influence them than going against a maelstrom of sympathetic governments in United States and Asia.


Name: Manuel C. Diaz
City/State/Country: Montclair CA USA
IP Address: 108.185.205.169

Comments

Let us request the Aquino administration to allot funds for the restoration of the Sierra Madre.


Name: SOMEONE
City/State/Country: USA
IP Address: 108.183.75.178

Comments

Whatever China wants China gets. What it cannot get it will occupy indefinitely, regardless of what maps, treaties, agreements or history say. The only way to stop this nation from throwing its weigh around is to threaten its economy or military or both. Countries that are being intruded by these Chinese can discuss and argue the legalities of their ownership and sovereignty over the occupied lands until they are blue in the face but that would not stop China. Woe to the world when Globalization and Open Trade was declared by the West. They gave China untold wealth and unbridled power to grab its neighbor's territories. It's too late to stop it now without risking global conflagration.


Name: Phil Researcher
City/State/Country: LA County CA USA
IP Address: 98.112.130.24

Comments

Re: territorial dispute: The Philippines is involved in a territorial dispute with the PRC (People's Republic of China)..The PRC insists that the dispute should be settled bilaterally between the PI & the PRC, however, the Philippines prefers the UNCLOS. a United Nation agency.. The PI is at a disadvantage if we agree bilaterally.. the better alternative is the UNCLOS. The Chinese has the upper hand because they are a giant compared with the PI..So there appears to be a standoff.



RECENT EDITORIALS

Death of Filipino Transgender 'Jennifer' Laude Was Totally Preventable

The evening for the young US Marine and his Filipino date "Jennifer" began at the Ambyanz Disco Bar in Subic Bay, Olongapo and ended shortly before midnight at the Celzone Lodge where "Jennifer's" lifeless body was found leaning against the toilet bowl. Jennifer, it turns out was actually not originally a "she" but a "he." A Filipino transgender, Jeffrey Laude, 26, began calling himself "Jennifer" after medical procedures made him look more female than male. Published 10/14/2014


Sorry Mr. President But PNP Chief Alan Purisima Has to Go

What’s with Philippine civil servants these days? It seems that you can stick all their pictures on a wall; throw a dart; and whoever’s photo it land on, that person can be successfully prosecuted for graft. It is unbelievable how pervasive and widespread corruption has become. We go from one corruption scandal to the next and there seems to be no end in sight. Published 10/07/2014
Tear Down the Torre de Manila Building Being Built Behind the Rizal Monument?

According to the developer’s website, “Torre de Manila, DMCI Homes’ newest one-tower condominium, is an exclusive residential community right in the heart of the city.” As of this writing, the 49-story edifice is about halfway complete. But as it continues to rise, so too do the howls of protest from an eclectic collection of groups and individuals who want it torn down. Why? Torre de Manila will permanently mar the skyline behind the Rizal Monument. Published 10/01/2014
How Ferdinand Marcos’s Martial Law Continues Hurting Filipinos to This Day

On the evening of September 23, 1972, two days after it had taken effect, Ferdinand Marcos announced via live television from Malacañang Palace that he had placed the Philippines under Martial Law. It was a calculated move by a devious politician to keep himself in power beyond what the Constitution allowed. A staged ambush attempt against his Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile was the main excuse Marcos (or “Macoy” as he was deridingly referred to back then) used to strip Filipinos of all their constitutional rights. With that, the diminutive Ilocano from the backwaters of Batac, Ilocos Norte became the despotic dictator for over a decade. Published 09/23/2014
Jejomar Binay Should Never Become President of the Philippines

In our July 25th editorial we asked if Vice President Jejomar Binay should be the next president of the Philippines. In this editorial we arrive at the definitive conclusion that that Binay should not be elected president. Since our last editorial, more witnesses have come forward with more allegations against the embattled Vice President. But our decision not to support Binay’s presidential bid is based on irrefutable public acts that in our opinion disqualify him from the presidency. Published 09/16/2014
Will Pacman be China’s Pitchman?

The news was officially announced by China Central Television (CCTV) in Beijing on August 25: Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, the “national fist” of the Philippines and the winner of eight world boxing titles, signed an agreement with the Chinese government “to establish a string of boxing academies” all over China with the aim of helping to “grow the sport in China and provide opportunities for young people to take part." Published 09/07/2014
Napoles Prays 2,000 Rosaries a Day, So Does She Get a Free Pass to Heaven?

After leaving her August 15th bail hearing at the Sandiganbayan, Janet Lim Napoles showed the media the marble rosary she personally received from recently canonized Saint Pope John Paul II. Her lawyer Stephen David later disclosed to media that Napoles prays 2,000 rosaries a day. Given that a day has only 24 hours or 1,440 minutes, Napoles would have to complete an entire rosary in less than a minute praying non-stop for an entire day…every day. Atty. David also pointed out that Napoles paid for the schooling of at least 200 priests and helped construct many Catholic churches. Published 08/30/2014


© 1996 - 2014 PHILNEWS.COM     Home     Forum     Education     Forex Rate     RP President     Archives     Contact Us      RSS     Privacy Policy