The verdict has been cast. The Arbitration Tribunal in The Hague has ruled in favour of the Philippines. Beijing has pre-empted the tribunal long before the decision has been made. China has declared she would ignore the International Court of Justice and that she would not abide by its decision.
China has spent several billions of dollars in reclaiming land from the sea, converting atolls and reefs into artificial islands, in her dire attempt to justify its nine-dash-line claim. China has militarised the disputed areas by installing landing strips for military aircrafts. Worse, China now has ground-to-air missile launchers facing the Philippines. Would she give up her huge investment easily without a fight?
One Chinese fishing boat has flown an inverted Philippine Flag in Philippine waters in an attempt to deceive our coast guards into believing that the boat is Filipino. But they have unwittingly declared that the Philippines is at war. (In time of peace, the blue portion of the flag is on top but during war, the flag is displayed with the red portion up.) Was it done on purpose? We don’t know but it could have been an omen of things to come.
Scarborough Shoal is traditional fishing ground of thousands of Filipinos
Emboldened by the decision of the International Court of Justice, Filipino fishermen are likely to pursue their trade in Scarborough Shoal (also known as Panatag Shoal). After all, it has always been part of Philippine territory. The waters surrounding the shoal is rich in marine resources. Fishing is their only source of livelihood. It is the responsibility of the Philippine Coast Guard to look after them.
China’s military have been made to believe by their superiors that they own the shoal and the waters surrounding it. The Hague has invalidated China’s nine-dash-line. That spells conflict.
Are we prepared for war?
Our major ally, the United States, has declared that they would protect us — “only if attacked.” Other allies include Australia and Japan. Maybe other nations will also side with the Philippines, knowing that China has been defeated in the International Court of Justice. If China does not abide by the ruling, she would become an international outlaw.
The Philippines has a number of fighter jets and warships acquired from America. Will they be enough versus China’s aircraft carrier?
According to a report by Global Security, China’s ground forces is the largest in the world with approximately 1.6 million personnel. In contrast, the Philippine Army has just a little over 100,000 soldiers. Surely, many Filipinos will die in a ground invasion.
Filipinos are a peace loving people. But when abused and bullied, we show our fangs and fight. “Aming ligaya na pag may mang-aapi, ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo.” (We are happy to die for our motherland when attacked by invaders.) Thus, we sing our National Anthem. (DMC)