SPRATLY ISLANDS NEWS
Every Filipino should be aware of the real score at the Scarborough Shoal, as the situation is getting very serious. In a unilateral act of aggression, China recently announced that the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands and Maclesfeild Bank would now be administered by its own political entity called Sansha City. The newly formed administrative body calls for the construction of Chinese military barracks in our islands, headed by no less than a Senior Colonel from the Chinese Military. They have permanently deployed military ships on the shoal and are mounting regular combat-ready patrols of its environs, indicating that they are militarizing the area. In another act of provocation, the Chinese roped off the entrance leading to the Scarborough lagoon, preventing Philippine vessels from entering. Beijing authorized its coastguards to accost foreign vessels (Philippine vessels included) and to go as far as to physically board our ships, inspect its contents, confiscate it, detain the crew and immobilize the ship, if need be. This authority takes effect in 2013. The Chinese foreign ministry said it has the right to enforce its own coastal boarder defense. China is already acting as if they own our shoal. The Claims
In the United Nation's convention of the Laws of the Seas held in 1994, 120 nations signed an accord agreeing that waters within 200 nautical miles from the shores of a particular nation forms part of the said nation's domain. The Philippines is a signatory to this accord, as with China. The Scarborough Shoal is a mere 120 nautical miles away from Zambales, while it is more than 500 nautical miles away from China. International Maritime Laws recognize the disputed area to be part of Philippine territory. China's claim is based on an ancient map drawn out in the year 120 A.D. In this map, practically the entire body of water that straddles ASEAN is said to form part of China's territory. This is the area claimed by China today. Hence, it has put itself in direct territorial conflict not only with the Philippines, but also with Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. Should the arcane map be given any credence, then Italy can very well claim practically the entire European continent. It's that preposterous! Last year, China provoked all five ASEAN claimants by issuing passports with a graphically printed territorial line that encroached on our respective seas. The Philippines responded quickly by instructing our Bureau of Immigration not to stamp Chinese passports bearing China's excessive claims. The Scarborough Shoal is said to be a prime piece of maritime property for its strategic location as a key shipping lane that traverses Asia. It is also known to be fertile fishing grounds and home to a variety of wild and endangered marine life. But its real allure is the oil and natural gas it contains. Some speculate that beneath its waters are oil reserves amounting to between 20 billion to as much as 213 billion barrels, making it only second to Saudi Arabia. No surprise, China is lusting for the shoal. The April Stand-Off And The Diplomatic Route
Last April, the Philippine Navy caught eight Chinese fishing vessels poaching live sharks, endangered sea turtles, corals and giant clams in the Scarborough Shoal. The Philippines deployed the BRP Gregorio del Pilar to accost the poachers as they were breaking our laws. As it did, two Chinese ships positioned themselves on the path of the Philippine vessel, preventing it from taking action on the poachers. Later on, more Chinese ships followed. Neither side was willing to back down, hence the stand-off. Two months later, both parties agreed to withdraw their respective ships from the area, an agreement China broke after just a few months. The Philippines has been exhausting all diplomatic avenues to resolve the situation. We filed a diplomatic protest over the intrusion of Chinese fishing vessels last April, we issued a note verbale to the Chinese...
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