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Breaking point

By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

THERE comes a time in a person’s life when continued anger and agitation being held back becomes harder and harder to control until it reaches a breaking point and he lets go of his rage.

Just recently, a news footage came out showing an official of the US discussing what China had done in the past months over the Spratlys, including the creation of artificial islands, the construction of runways, militarization of the area, and blatant disregard of the decision of an arbitration court, saying its supposedly historic “nine-dash claim” on the territory is non-existent.

Both the Philippines and Vietnam have kept crying foul over the dominance of China in areas located within its exclusive economic zones (EEZs) as declared by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS).

Fishermen have been bullied and taken advantage of by members of the China Coast Guard who would approach the boats of the Filipinos on Panatag Shoal, ask or simply take the finest among their catch without any permission whatsoever.

Up to this day, most Filipinos still find it hard to believe and accept why our government has allowed China to continually dominate and take control of our territorial waters over the years.

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The problem began during the time of former President Noynoy Aquino who chose to file a legal protest over the matter in the United Nations.

The decision was resolved by an arbitration court in our favor in 2016 during President Duterte’s term but the Chief Executive has continually put on hold its implementation since he considers China a close ally.

But if things unexpectedly take a turn for the worse and the US goes to war with China over its continued activities over Spratlys, the question that comes to mind is who will the Philippines support between the two?

Undoubtedly, we have an obligation to side with the US since we have an existing treaty signed in 1951, pointing out that the Philippines and US would support each other in case of an attack or foreign invasion.

But the problem remains that for Duterte, China is a close friend and he wants to stay in good terms with Chinese President Xi Jinping. If possible, the President wants their friendship to prosper even further in the coming years.

How will our officials then react and who will we side with if war suddenly breaks out?

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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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