By Solita Monsod
As seen on the March 2020 issue of Philippine Tribune
I, Solita Collas-Monsod, Filipino, do register my vehement protest at the turn this government has taken, showing total subservience toward China, thus going against the express desires of the Filipino people and our national interest.
I cite three cases to prove my point.
Case 1. The West Philippine Sea (WPS). The Philippines won an outstanding victory in the case against China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Netherlands. Remember that China, using its nine-dash-line demarcation, claims 80 percent of the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea—381,000 square kilometres of maritime space, and 100 percent of our extended continental shelf (ECS)—over 150,000 sq. km of maritime space.
The PCA ruled that there was no legal basis for China’s nine-dash line. But China does not accept the ruling, and the Duterte administration is tiptoeing around it for fear of displeasing China.
How much is the WPS worth? Crude expert estimates: $1.5 trillion; for oil—$7 trillion; for natural gas (900 trillion cubic feet)—$2.07 trillion. For a total of $3.4 trillion-$10.6 trillion. To give perspective: Philippine GDP in 2018 was $330 billion.
The above estimates do not include the value of fisheries estimated at 7.9 million metric tons annually, or something like $15.8 billion. That is, in effect, what China steals from us because our fishermen are prevented from fishing there.
The above estimates also do not include the value of the methanol, which Justice Antonio Carpio estimates could fuel Chinese economy for 130 years.
This is what is at stake in the WPS, which from appearances is being “shared” with China. That’s what this and future generations of Filipinos are losing. In contrast, President Duterte is grateful to China for its aid to us. His Beijing trip brought in a pledge of $9 billion in soft loans including a $3 billion credit line. Over the Duterte regime, that would be $1.5 billion a year. Compare that with the $15.8 billion a year that China is stealing from us in fishing alone.
Case 2: The Visiting Forces Agreement termination. This agreement with the United States, ratified by the Philippine Senate, has been unilaterally terminated by the Duterte administration, and will end 180 days after the United States got the notice. The effect of this is that the Philippines is weakened further, and China is strengthened further. Our joint military exercises with the United States in the WPS will cease. Whatever impediment this imposed on China’s forays into Philippine territory will disappear.
Case 3: Banning travel to and from Taiwan as part of COVID-19. This is the most egregious example of Mr. Duterte’s brown-nosing China. This is a very sensitive issue between China and Taiwan, with China insisting on a one-country-two-systems policy and Taiwan not wanting any of it. They saw what happened to Macau and Hong Kong. Mr. Duterte’s banning travel to and from Taiwan because he claims it is part of China is wrong on every count except one: He just earned brownie points from China.
We are the only country that has banned travel to and from Taiwan. Moreover, as of yesterday, China accounted for 99.1 percent of all COVID-19 cases. Taiwan accounts for 0.03 percent. Singapore, Japan, and Thailand have more cases.
There are 154,000 Filipinos in Taiwan, most of them earning at least P38,000 a month. Why hurt our Filipinos who are working there? They probably get better care there than they will be able to get in the Philippines.
The President has never given us a rational explanation for these moves. Not that I expect rationality from him, given his mental and physical state. But his underlings, who should know better, accept his decisions at face value, with the excuse that the President has more sources of information than they have, so they cannot possibly question his judgment. They, too, are irrational. And they do a disservice not only to him, but to the country as well.
These policies are not just pro-China, they are anti-Filipino. I protest.