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China’s Military Base on Mabini Reef Violates the Philippine Constitution

hile searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on March 11, 2014, a Philippine Air Force plane flying over the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea sighted Chinese reclamation activity in the Mabini Reef of the Kalayaan Island Group within the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines. His aerial photographs were transmitted to the Philippine government for analysis.

China Out of West Philippine Sea poster design

In reviewing the photographs, government analysts determined that China's reclamation project in the Mabini Reef is turning the submerged reef and a sandbar into a 30-hectare landmass thereby transforming the submerged coral outcrop into an islet. An aerial photo of the reclamation effort showed a Chinese dredging ship in the area sucking soil and other solid materials from the surrounding areas to pour into the reclaimed area.

While Philippine defense officials have been monitoring Chinese naval activities in the Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef), Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef), Calderon Reef (Cuarteron Reef),  Zamora Reef (Subi Reef), and Gaven Reef, the massive land reclamation project now underway in the Mabini Reef marks a major escalation of China’s creeping invasion of the Philippines.


Armed with the aerial photos of Chinese dredging ship enlarging the land area of Mabini ReefChina's reclamation activities in Mabini Reef, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario raised the issue at the ASEAN Summit of Foreign Ministers held in Myanmar (Burma) on May 10 where Vietnam’s foreign minister also protested China’s installation of two oil rigs in the Vietnamese EEZ.

China's foreign minister dismissed the protests by declaring that China has “undisputed sovereignty” over the entire South China Sea. Besides, China’s spokesman said, “China was merely renovating the living facilities for troops stationed on the reef.”

Earlier on March 30, the Philippines submitted a brief to the United Nations Tribunal for the Convention on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) seeking to “clarify Mabini Reef’s physical character”. The Philippines had filed a complaint with ITLOS in January of 2013 seeking a ruling that China had no legal right to encroach in the Philippines EEZ and has no right to ownership of  90 percent of the 3.5-million square-kilometer South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

Even though Beijing has refused to take part in the UN arbitration, it is apparently speeding up its occupation of the territories of other nations before the arbitration decision is handed which may occur in three years.

Prof. Richard Heydarian of the Ateneo de Manila University believes that China is changing the facts on the ground by reclaiming and occupying disputed waters and land features.

“The way China looks at this is, down the road, they have to face the legal opinion arbitration. And if you look at the recent trends in international arbitration, they give priority and prerogative to the countries who continue to establish and exercise effective andArtist's concept of what Mabini Reef might look like after China completes its reclamation and construction plans continuous sovereignty. If China will be able to build structures there, and they turn these structures into islands and project into 200 nautical mile economic zone, somehow they'll be able to argue this legally.”

China is apparently aware of the American legal axiom that "possession is nine-tenths of the law" which means that ownership is easier to maintain if one has possession of something, or difficult to enforce if one does not.

What is China building on Mabini Reef?

When asked at a press conference if he believed that China was building an airfield on Mabini Reef, DFA Sec. Albert Del Rosario replied "That's a possibility." It is no longer just a possibility as China's plan for Mabini Reef was disclosed by the No. 9 Design & Research Institute of China State Shipbuilding Corporation which displayed on its official website its proposed design for the artificial island that China is building on Mabini Reef.

Former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez posted the Chinese corporation’s designs on his blog and warned about the dangers posed to Philippine national security and to ASEAN stability if China completes its military installation in Mabini Reef. In an interview on ANC's Headstart with Karen Davila on June 10, Golez said:

"You can see this is probably a mile-long airstrip. It's almost like an airport, like what you see in the international airports, that support facilities, there's a dock for ships. I understand it can support and resupply frigates. But what is very threatening is that mile-long strip because now they can base their fighters there. I'm looking at, for example, a J-11 fighter jet made in China that has a range of 2000 miles… it encompasses the entire Philippines, most of Vietnam, part of Malaysia and and the whole of Borneo. So it can threaten all our vital military installations including the installations we can make available under EDCA."

Inquirer.net columnist Ted Laguatan expanded on this point in his column (No choice: Destroy China’s future PH military bases now, June 27, 2014, Inquirer.net):“Having enemy fighter planes and missiles so proximate to potential target cities is like having a bag of explosives padlocked on one’s neck by a bad guy with a remote control, which he could explode anytime. The baddie has the poor guy under his complete control. With these bases in place, China can demandArtist's concept of buildings and facilities that may be built on Mabini reef by China anything from the Philippines and take anything it wants. For all practical purposes, the Philippines will then be a slave nation.”

“The Philippines and surrounding Asian nations have no choice,” Laguatan asserted, “these future bases must be destroyed now. The fighter planes and missiles that will be deployed there will be daggers aimed at the major cities of these countries. We and they simply cannot allow these bases to be constructed.”

Malaya  columnist Rey O. Arcilla (“The Mabini Reef”, May 27, 2014) earlier argued that “we should do as Vietnam has done in the disputed Paracels where China has planted an oil rig. She stood pat despite the ramming of her ships by the Chinese and withstood the latter’s water cannons. They showed the Chinese they are ready to die for what they believe is right...”

“We should send some of our ships to Mabini Reef forthwith no matter how decrepit they are to prevent the Chinese from undertaking any more activities on the isle and turning it into another fortified military garrison like Mischief Reef. We should show the Chinese we are ready to fight and die for what is ours. Sure, we are no match for them and they can easily obliterate our naval vessels. But that would be an attack on our territory. That would be an opportunity for the US to put its money where its mouth is. Isn’t that what Edca is for?”

Edca is the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines which allows the U.S. to station troops in the Philippines but  not to establish a permanent base. It is a supplement to the U.S. -Philippines Mutual Defense Agreement which requires the U.S. to defend the Philippines in case of an armed attack from a foreign enemy.

Nationalists and assorted leftists oppose Edca because they see it as a violation of Article XVIII Sec. 25 of the 1987 Constitution which states that “foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines” unless approved by the Congress and ratified by the people in a referendum. But (except for Akbayan) these same nationalists have not denounced China for constructing a “foreign military base” in the Philippines. While there may be a dispute as to whether Edca violates the Philippine Constitution, there is NO dispute that China’s military base on Mabini Reef is a blatant violation of the Philippine Constitution and is a clear and present danger to Philippine national security.

On this fundamental issue, the Filipino people stand united. In a nationwide poll conducted by Social Weather Station (SWS) from December 2013 through January 2014, the results showed that “an overwhelming majority of Filipinos (93 percent) back the government’s efforts to defend the national territory” (Pinoy Pulse:We must defend West PH Sea, don't trust China, February 10, 2014, Interaksyon.com).

When China installed a giant oil rig outside the Paracel Islands of Vietnam, the Vietnamese people erupted in outrage and stormed China-owned factories throughout Vietnam causing China to pull out 3,000 Chinese workers from Vietnam. China's construction of a military air base in the Mabini Reef poses a greater threat to the Philippines than if China had installed an oil rig in the Recto Bank.

Please join the global protests against China on July 24, the second anniversary of China’s establishment of the Sansha Prefecture to "oversee and administer" 3.5 million square kilometers of the South China Sea over which China asserts "indisputable sovereignty." China's claim is the most brazen maritime territorial grab in history. LINK

The window of opportunity for the Philippines to destroy China’s military base on Mabini Reef is rapidly closing. Once it is fully constructed and operational, it will be impossible to take out. By then, the Philippines and all of Southeast Asia will be at the tender mercy of hegemonist China. Published 07/10/2014

(For more information on the July 24 global protest action, please check out uspgg.org or email me at Rodel50@gmail.com).


Is Manny Pacquiao Giving Floyd Mayweather an Unfair Advantage?

Doctor Expedito Castillo, a retired internist with training in sports medicine thinks so. Castillo who lives in New York points out that Los Angeles—where Manny Pacquiao now trains for his May 2nd fight, and Las Vegas—where Floyd Mayweather trains and where the boxing match will take place, have enormous differences in terms of elevation. Los Angeles is just 233 feet above sea-level, while Las Vegas is a whopping 2,000 feet above sea-level. 33. Published 4/11/2015

Just When You Thought Filipino Cops Were the Worst, Here Come US Cops

What in the world has happened to cops in the United States? It seems that today only psychotic, unstable, individuals are joining the U.S. police force this days. People from all across the globe were more than willing to give American cops the benefit of the doubt, at first. But in instance after instance, from Ferguson, MS and the killing of Michael Brown, a young black man who witnesses say was unarmed and posed no threat at all to police; to today’s cold-blooded murder of Walter F. Scott, 50 by South Carolina police officer Michael T. Slager, 33. Published 4/7/2015
NPA Celebrates 46 Years of Destroying the Philippines

Founded by Bernabe Buscayno, or “Kumander Dante” as he was more commonly known, the New People’s Army established on March 29, 1969 marks its 46th year of existence. From less than 40 founding members and a handful of firearms, the NPA grew to over 26,000 members in the 1980s. Today however the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) places NPA membership at less than 5,000 nationwide. That number is expected to dwindle even further as progress and education creep in to the far-flung towns and barrios that were once breeding grounds for recruits. Published 3/30/2015
Lee Kuan Yew and Ferdinand Marcos, What a Difference!

An Australian living in the Philippines published a book titled: “The Unlucky Country. The Republic of the Philippines in the 21st Century.” The author Duncan McKenzie came up with the title as the counterpoint to “The Lucky Country” a book written in the mid-sixties that refers to Australia. In his book McKenzie explains that the Philippines is unlucky because, for starters, it is an archipelago and therefore naturally fragmented. Published 3/17/2015
Will the Philippines Ever Speed Up Its Glacially-Slow Justice System?

We’ve all heard the saying “justice delayed is justice denied.” That maxim has been around since time immemorial. In fact the Pirkei Avot (Hebrew for “Ethics of the Fathers”) which dates back to the 1st century B.C. mentions an old rabbi saying that goes: “the sword comes into the world, because of justice delayed and justice denied." In 1215 A.D. a clause from the Magna Carta similarly declares that “to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice." Published 3/17/2015
Amal Alamuddin Clooney Wants to Defend Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ...Why?

Okay so she's George Clooney's wife, she's got great looks, a law degree and ambitious enough to make a name for herself apart from that of her superstar husband. Fair enough. So Amal Alamuddin Clooney decides to take on high profile cases of injustice around the world. Even better. But filing a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Council on behalf of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo? What's up with that? Better do your homework Mrs. Clooney. It won't take long for you to realize that Arroyo is getting exactly what she deserves. Published 3/12/2015
Manny Pacquiao Should Not Be Given a Tax Exemption

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III has proposed a bill to grant Manny Pacquiao a special tax exemption for the income he will earn from his May 2nd boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Pimentel justifies his bill as a "fitting tribute" to the Filipino eight-division world champion adding that "Manny is now part of our history and of world sports history. Let’s give him this tax incentive in recognition to his invaluable efforts to promote boxing and the country around the world." Published 3/4/2015
With Negotiators Like These on Our Team, Who Needs an Opposing Side?

What on earth happened to these two women—supposedly  handpicked by the president himself to argue on behalf of the Philippine government in peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front—who now seem to be mouthpieces for the Moros? Have Secretary Teresita Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chair of the negotiating panel become mesmerized by the tough "macho" image the rebels project? Published 2/27/2015
Why is the NBI Going After Those Who Uploaded the Sagonoy Video?

According to NBI Director Virgilio Mendez, they have identified the individuals who uploaded the video showing the coldblooded killing of PO2 Joseph Sagonoy. The cellphone video was purportedly taken by Muslim rebels during the Jan. 25, 2014 encounter between the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebel group. The video shows a wounded Sagonoy who is shot twice in the head at close range. Published 2/21/2015

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