There are two classes of people in a power play- the weak that usually submits to the strong that oozes authority and dominance. When a weak is having a boxing match against the strong the first instinct of the weak is to flee away from the blows and search for allies to backup in case the bully is in search of its prey. Why? It is in our nature to run away from something that causes harm or destruction; we move out of the way when someone tries to punch us or we flinch at the heat of a fire. Most of us allow ourselves to be ruled by the dictatorship of those who we think are stronger and look with prejudice upon those who we consider weaker than us.
This is what the Spratly Islands tug of war is all about, there’s a deeper issue at hand in this claim for territory, it’s the proclamation of power and exertion of dominance. It’s a reminder for the Philippines, one of the weakest in the region in terms of military might, who’s supposedly the ‘puppeteer’. However, the worthy will always prevail with reasons proved right by evidences.
- The historical claim of China that it was the first one to discover the Islands in the 2nd century AD is weak; however, its strong military intimidation has kept it a key player in the Spratly Islands dispute but the Philippines has the rightful sovereignty and the historical rights as the ancestral and territorial domain over the Spratly Islands, furthermore, it also has legal basis and underwent the right processes and procedures in claiming the islands.
- Ideally, the Spratly Islands should go to the country that is equipped and qualified to sustainably develop the islands’ resources and protect their diverse marine ecosystems which is why some argued that Philippines should take the islands, since China has pursued activities disregarding the people who have depended on the sea for their livelihood, the destruction of 300 acres of coral reef systems resulting to economic losses to coastal states valued at US $100 million annually. It has also tolerated environmentally harmful fishing practices at Bajo De Masinloc which breaches its obligations under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. In addition, the Philippines has almost 10% of the world’s marine protected areas (MPAs). With more than 500 MPA sites within Philippine waters, the government as well as the military is highly experienced in dealing with marine ecosystems and management, the MPAs have also shown signs of great success in conservation.
Without the support of the United States, the Philippines is reluctant to make aggressive claims over the Spratly Islands in fear of military retaliation from China. The US is not pushing the claims of the Philippines to avoid open warfare, and pushing the claim too strongly might undermine that. A controversial journalist from the Manila Bulletin writes, “The Philippines is a weak republic that, like a church mouse, occasionally roars like a lion, and settles down like a lapdog”.
Ergo, I stand beside Philippines. The conflict over the Spratly can be resolved if both parties have the political will and genuine determination to do so. In this regard, the situation going on should be turned into an issue of unity of the nations, rather than separation. That ambition has been successfully attained for other national sovereignty disputes elsewhere, and it is not beyond the territory of possibility for the South China Sea as well.
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Villanueva, H. (2013). Weak Republic. Manila Bulletin.
Yan, G. (n.d.). Rehabilitating Philippine Coral Reefs . Retrieved from Wildlife Extra: http://www.wildlifeextra.com/