On cowardice and cop-out


Even without the July, 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which stated that China has no legal basis to claim “historic rights” over the Bajo de Masinloc, the world knew that China’s “ownership” of the shoal was a sham, a fishwives tale of the 13th century Chinese fishermen who supposedly laid first claim on it.

The “carta hydrographica y chrorographica de las Islas Filipinas” of 1734 called Bajo de Masinloc by another name – Panacot Shoal. The map of the Malaspina Expedition published in Madrid in 1808 named it Bajo de Masinloc, for the Masinloc town in Za mbales province, which is the land mass nearest to the shoal. All the old maps had the Bajo on it. All the maps drew the Bajo not too far from the land mass of West Central Luzon.

The Philippine flag was raised at the shoal in 1965. This was followed by the construction of a small lighthouse.

And to top it all, by reason of proximity, Filipinos were the first to fish in the area. They also used the shoal as a shelter during bad weather. Fishermen from Zambales and Pangasinan have been there from time immemorial. And look at the names applied to the territory. Masinloc, Panacot, Bajo. They are all words that belong to Central Luzon. My hometown in Pampanga, Lubao, got its name from Lo Bajo, the low place, or the place always under water.