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Do what is right

By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

The Philippines marked recently the second anniversary of its landmark 2016 victory in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The arbitral tribunal’s decision on the case invalidated China’s supposed historic nine-dash claim on the South China Sea.

The problem, however, remains the same as China refuses to acknowledge the ruling and continues to bully our fishermen. Chinese forces have prevented our fishermen from fully pursuing their livelihood in our own exclusive economic zone (EEZ), blocked the development of our natural resources, and erected military facilities. Their leader even blatantly confronted our President with the threat of war.

It is quite clear that China created its nine-dash claim to dominate the South China Sea and become the new regional superpower by controlling more than three million square kilometers of one of the world’s most important sea lanes and Southeast Asia’s most critical marine resource that millions depend on for food and livelihood. In plain and simple words, most people believe China’s plan is to make a work of fiction concerning a false claim come to life by hijacking and owning an entire sea and all that lies beneath it.

This is why the arbitral tribunal’s favorable decision is of paramount importance to our country and to all peace-loving people who have faith in the law. Any claim not supported by UNCLOS should be denied. Our victory is a vindication against China’s continued unlawful activities in our territory.

The historic arbitral decision should have encouraged Filipinos to further unite with greater confidence in its position on the West Philippine Sea. However, the hopes and dreams of our people crumbled with China’s decision to ignore the decision despite the fact that it is recognized by international law.

To make things worse, our government allows China to deprive our people of what is ours by continuing to put on hold the implementation of the decision. Because of this, China stands proud and confident that we would not dare make her angry if we want to avoid the possibility of war.

However, a professor from an American university disclosed that war would not be a good option for China since its economy, including its fuel supply, is reliant on global trade which needs open shipping lines such as the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean which are dominated by US naval power.

Should we then be afraid of China and keep our hands tied at all times?

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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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