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China Loses! UN Tribunal Rules in Favor of Philippines

ow that China has been dealt a black eye by the arbitral tribunal in the Hague with a unanimous decision that China has no historical basis for their nine-dash line, what will the Philippines do? Like it or not, the Philippines is now front-and-center on this global issue. This case has been closely followed by countries big and small, powerful and weak as this UN tribunal's landmark ruling will guide the actions of countries for decades—maybe even centuries—to come.

As we noted in a previous editorial (LINK), Filipinos must finally come out of the shadows and act like the major player on center stage that we are. President Rodrigo Duterte's recent statements, along with those of his Secretary of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, indicate that the new administration is being inadequately briefed by their government experts, and thus lack a firm grasp of this issue. Yasay in fact has recently had to walk back his statements regarding getting into bilateral agreements with China. China would like nothing better than to deal with claimant countries, like the Philippines, on a one-on-one basis. That way they can easily bully and intimidate those individual countries. China refuses to deal with the ASEAN countries as a group because the Chinese will have less leverage over the group, and less able to coerce and intimidate the way they want.

China has shown little respect for the Philippines in general, and Filipino leaders in particular. They easily bamboozled former President Gloria Arroyo who, her detractors argue, sold-out the Philippines when she got into a highly secret agreement with China called the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking. That project was quickly scuttled in 2008 after Arroyo's seemingly treasonous agreement with China was publically revealed by the late Australian journalist Barry Wain (LINK).

China fooled former President Benigno Aquino III as well. They lied to his face during the stand-off at Scarborough Shoal in 2012 (LINK). And even today, they look at President Rodrigo Duterte and his neophyte cabinet and they figure, grabbing islands from the Philippines is like taking candy from a baby. The Chinese simply don't take Filipinos seriously. And who can really blame them when we continue to send mixed signals and fail to show any backbone. Instead of standing up for our rights and demanding what is rightfully ours, this administration wants to immediately cut a deal with China—a deal that will most likely be heavily tilted in China's favor.

Remember, the Philippines is ground zero with regards to this issue and it is incumbent upon all Filipinos to rise to the challenge. How the country reacts will reveal whether Filipinos have what it takes to influence world events and change world opinion. The fear is that Filipinos might yet again relegate themselves to the sidelines and let other people and other nations dictate their destiny. We hope not! Let us show the world we've arrived, we demand that we be taken seriously, and we bow down to no one, especially China. That country has overstepped its bounds, so now it has to take a step back. Published 7/12/2016

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