July 12, 2019
THE so-called writ of kalikasan suit asking the Supreme Court to compel government to enforce our environmental laws in the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal is a cheap, despicable and stupid political plot by the Yellows and Reds. If it wins, it will result in political chaos and economic ruin, at a level worse than we’ve ever seen.
Lawyers led by failed Otso Diretso candidate Jose Manuel Diokno, known to be close to the Communist Party, filed the suit last April claiming to represent the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and Filipino fishermen affected by foreigners fishing in those areas.
But the fishermen have declared that they had nothing to do with the suit, didn’t authorize Diokno and his gang to represent them. They said they were shocked when they saw their names as complainants in media reports. Solicitor General Jose Calida the other day submitted to the court the affidavits claiming such, sworn under oath by all the 19 fishermen whom Diokno’s gang said it represented.
What Diokno and his gang did was a patent violation of Section 27 of the Rules of Court No. 138, punishable by disbarment: “A member of the bar may be removed or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for…for willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so.”
The Diokno suit is imbecilic or mentally bone-idle since it wanted the high court to order government agencies such as the Coast Guard, the DENR and the Navy to enforce the country’s environmental laws, and arrest foreign fishermen violating our rules at Ayungin Shoal, the Panganiban Reef and Panatag Shoal, which they claimed the July 2016 ruling of the “Permanent Court of Arbitration” determined were within the country’s EEZ. (It wasn’t the PCA, but a five-man arbitral tribunal, which used the PCA only as registry, and one of its huge halls as venue.)
Yes, Ayungin and Panganiban are within our EEZ, but they are in that part of the South China Sea internationally called the Spratly Islands (Kalayaan Island Group to us) claimed as their sovereign territory by four other entities—China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Panatag is claimed by China and Taiwan. China has Ayungin as “Ren’ai Jiao,” Panganiban as “Meiji Jao,” and Panatag as “Huangyan Dao” in its official maps. Vietnam has its own names for these.
Diokno’s suit is like asking the Supreme Court to order our government to establish its offices, its police, its military in “Negeri Di Bawah Bayu.” That’s a Malaysian name for Sabah, which we claim but Malaysia also claims and occupies, as China now occupies Panganiban Shoal and Panatag. That’s how colossally foolish the Diokno suit is.
Diokno and his gang though may have been carried away by the huge lie being disseminated by the Yellows over the decision of the five-man tribunal, which ruled entirely only on the basis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), nothing more.
It indeed ruled that part of the Spratlys and the Panatag Shoal were within our EEZ, and not within China’s, and that the Chinese’s infamous nine-dash line that covers nearly all of the South China Sea and skirts the Philippine archipelago had no basis under Unclos’ provisions.
But the Tribunal did not rule which country has sovereignty over Panatag and the Spratly area, as sovereignty issues are categorically beyond the authority of Unclos. In fact, many of the countries, including the Philippines and China, even ratified the treaty with the clear qualification that it cannot rule on matters of territorial sovereignty.
China, Taiwan and Vietnam (and Malaysia in part) claim these areas not because these are within their EEZs (or within the 9-dash line) but as their territories. China has government issuances starting in the 1930s declaring Panatag and the Spratlys as its territories which it calls Huangyan Qúndǎo and Nánshā Qúndǎo, respectively. For Vietnam, our Kalayaan Island Group is their Quần đảo Trường Sa.
Similarly, our claim to these areas are really not based on their being within our EEZ, but that that these are part of our territory. Marcos had his troops occupy many features of the Spratlys, starting in 1973, and officially annexed them in 1978 to the Republic. President Arroyo pushed for the 2009 baselines law, which had a provision that declared Panatag as part of our territory, the first time that area was officially proclaimed as such. The Aquino regime’s savvy US lawyers who handled the suit against China cleverly didn’t invoke any such claim of territory in order to go around the Unclos provision that it does not deal with questions of sovereignty.
Diokno et al. of course didn’t care how stupid their suit was as it served its role, which was, as Calida termed it, “as a battering ram to take down the Duterte administration.”
Calida wasn’t exaggerating. But it was a battering to take down not just Duterte but this nation.
What would happen if the Supreme Court orders the Duterte administration to enforce our laws in this disputed areas? Only two possible outcomes.
One scenario, the most likely: Duterte would defy the court order, and a constitutional crisis — when there’s an impasse between two branches of government — ensues. Mainstream media would be screaming and repeating this line for weeks using different angles: “Duterte defies Supreme Court.”
Communists and Yellows — with the help of the US that wants Duterte out because of his independent foreign policy — could manage to raise an outrage, even if people don’t really understand why he is defying the court. That of course would lead to a very unstable, even violent political scenario. With stability vanishing, investments would plunge, our economy would go to the dogs. The insurgent communists would be happy.
The second scenario: Duterte will enforce the court’s order, order the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Coast Guard, the Navy, Marines, and even our police forces to the Spratlys and Panatag to arrest all fishermen there from China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Immediately, of course, the four countries would stop all economic relations with us, all tourist visits to us. Our economy will be in a recession, worse than anything this country has ever seen.
Remember what happened to Panatag in 2012 when President Aquino sent his refurbished warship BRP Gregorio del Pilar to arrest Chinese fishermen?
This time around it won’t just be China’s civilian Maritime Surveillance forces that would be sent to repel our puny forces, not just the People’s Liberation Army’s Navy, but Vietnam’s battle-tested Marines and even Malaysia’s modern air and sea vessels. This time around, we won’t just lose Panatag. We’ll lose the entire Spratlys or even Palawan, as China or Vietnam, or both will justify their occupation there as necessary to ensure we’re forever out of that disputed area.
Does Diokno think the US would defend us for trying to enforce our authority over the Spratlys, which claim it doesn’t recognize?
Diokno and his cabal are either being very stupid or devious in filing this dumb-ass kalikasan suit. Or perhaps stupidly devious. Somebody should string up in the crossbeams of the Supreme Court headquarters these people who want to ruin our country.
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