[OPINION | Newspoint] A nation held to ransom


Duterte’s betrayals actually go further and deeper.

Lest anyone forget, the Philippines’ troubles with China began when President Duterte surrendered to it control over the West Philippine Sea. That it happened just after an international arbitral court had affirmed Philippine sovereignty over those waters and rejected China’s counter claim made it all the more ridiculous and treasonous than it was in itself.

The mockery and the betrayal have, in fact, persisted. The recent case of 22 Filipinos being thrown overboard and abandoned after a Chinese patrol rammed their fishing boat while at anchor was only the latest one, although definitely the most egregious so far, not to say the most violent.

Previously, the Chinese were content to chase the Filipinos away. But, possibly encouraged by the Duterte regime’s indulgent attitude toward them, they have resorted to ramming. Their idea, in any case, is to clear the area for the exclusive exploitation of their own fishermen.

Chinese patrols in the West Philippine Sea are suspected to be militias attached to the Chinese navy. Their well reinforced hulls, observes Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, leave no doubt as to the lengths they are prepared to go. The observation is validated by Vietnamese fishermen who have had their own run-ins with such Chinese rammers. As happened, it was a Vietnamese fishing crew that rescued the 22 Filipinos from a watery grave.

Why such Chinese covetousness? Well, the West Philippine Sea has provided a living to generations of coastal folk; it is habitat to varied and bountiful marine life including endangered species, which command a great price in the clandestine market – Chinese looters have been observed hauling them away in amounts. It is also known to hold rich gas deposits beneath its bed. With a collaborationist host government, it now lies completely open to Chinese plunder.