Map and flags of ASEAN member states. Image:
will be absolutely no mention of the Arbitral Tribunal’s unanimous
decision against China and in favor of the Philippines during the
current ASEAN summit in Laos. Following the footsteps of Cambodia which
in July of this year also blocked any mention of the UN arbitration
court’s decision during an earlier meeting, Laos like Cambodia is simply
shielding its prime benefactor, Communist China, from obvious
So how come these two
countries, which were not part of the original five ASEAN founding
members and were invited to join almost as an afterthought, can now
decide what ASEAN can and cannot talk about at meetings? In 1967, five
Southeast Asian countries namely: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Singapore, and Thailand, sent their foreign ministers to Bangkok to sign
what is now known as the Bangkok Declaration, that formed the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Joint communiqués were
the norm after each ASEAN meeting up until Cambodia decided it had
nothing to lose by going against the Philippines and preventing any
mention of the South China Sea ruling in the association’s joint
communiqué this past July. Now Laos is taking its cue from Cambodia and
stating beforehand that there will be no mention of the UN Arbitral
Tribunal’s decision during the upcoming meeting.
It is time that the
Philippines—a founding member of ASEAN put its foot down and question
why China, which is not even a member of ASEAN is sticking it’s nose in
the association’s business and using its stooges, Laos and Cambodia, to
block Philippine efforts against China. In the first place China is not
even a democratic country; it is a totalitarian Communist regime. As
people from Hong Kong are now belatedly realizing, there is no real
freedom under Communist Chinese rule, only a semblance of it … a farce,
in order to fool the outside world.
The UN court was
unambiguous in its decision. It was not a 3 to 2 decision, or even a 4
to 1 decision. It was a 5 to 0 decision with all 5 judges deciding that
there is no legal basis for China’s preposterous 9-dash line claim.
So if ASEAN can be
cowed into silence this time, then the Philippines should bring it up
again at the next meeting, and the next, and the next until ASEAN
finally acknowledges the UN ruling.
And Communist Chinese
leadership must realize that if they want China to be treated with
respect, the country must stop acting like a thug or a bully, and adhere
to international laws.
All this is just the
opening salvo of what could be a long drawn-out battle for our rights as
Filipinos. Will we be up to the task and see it through to the end? Or
will we just shrug our shoulders and move on at some point in time,
giving China what it legally does not deserve. Only time will tell. Published