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Don’t surrender our rights

By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there will come a time when we will thank China for creating artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea which will eventually be ours if we can ask China to leave.

As Roque himself pointed out, these will be ours if we can ask China to leave. But what if they don’t?

These artificial islands, created through reclamation around coral reefs, are now equipped with runways, hangars and control towers. It has caused irreversible damage to the environment.

Even during the Aquino administration, the government said that 300 acres of coral reefs, which is more than twice the size of Rizal Park, have been destroyed because of China’s island-building activities in the West Philippine Sea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) then tracked the economic losses from the damage at $100 million or P4.45 billion. Think of the damage China’s island-building has wrought since then.

It is essential for the administration to always remind China that it is not disregarding the arbitration award which can be used in the future as a platform to activate diplomatic pressure on Beijing.

Neither are we cutting our ties with the United States, Japan or other allies who have their own counter-strategies to assess concerning China’s actions in the area.

Never forget our duty to refurbish our facilities in Pag-asa Island and Kalayaan Islands to fortify our position in the area.

Also, we should welcome economic assistance and investments even from China without any strings attached that may imperil our rights to our territorial waters.

It is important to negotiate with China in a peaceful manner without ever giving up our rights in the process.

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Acclaimed Japanese-American artist Leo Orii’s “Sampaguita and Gold Button” is now available at Solidaridad Book Shop located on P. Faura Street near the corner of M. Adriatico St., Ermita, Manila. You may also grab a copy at the Manila Shimbun office at Room 113 TG 4/F, Makati Cinema Square MCS Tower, Chino Roces Avenue, Makati.

The romantic war novel successfully paints the socio-cultural marriage, and divorce, between Japan and the Philippines as symbolized by main characters Yuji and Mina. Just like his famous tapestries, Orii weaves the beautiful fictive story of love and its complications amid the Pacific-Asian theater of World War II.

I find Sampaguita and Gold Button a good read and an enormous achievement for Orii, using the pen instead of his usual paint brush to create art.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/

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