By Jose Maria Sison
Chief Political Consultant,
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
April 20, 2021
In all seriousness, Duterte confessed last night to being a traitor to the Philippines and the Filipino people by admitting that he had deliberately allowed China to violate the sovereign and maritime rights of the Philippines in its exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea.
He harps on the cowardly line that he is afraid that China would wage war on the Philippines if he were to assert the sovereign and maritime rights of the Philippines in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 judgment of the Permanent Arbitration Court in favor of the Philippines and against China.
In utter servility and stupidity, coupled with unabashed cowardice and shamelessness, Duterte declares that it is alright for China to take over the maritime features in the West Philippine Sea and turn them into artificial islands and military bases so long as China merely engages in fishing and exploiting the marine resources and does not yet extract the oil and other mineral resources under the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte is a tyrant and butcher to the Filipino people but acts as a beggarly dolt and coward to China. He tries to cover up the obvious that China is violating the sovereign and maritime rights of the Filipino people and usurps for itself all the marine and mineral resources in the West Philippine Sea. It has destroyed the marine environment, sucked up the fish with devices that work like vacuum cleaners and prevented Filipino fishermen from fishing in their own Philippine waters.
It is extremely traitorous and perverse of Duterte that he has allowed the same Chinese construction company which has built the Chinese artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea to get the construction contracts in the projects financed by Chinese loans at extremely onerous rates. This Chinese construction company has already been blacklisted by the US and other foreign countries as a law-breaking entity.
It is bruited about that Duterte has to kowtow to China because he expects China to fulfill its promise of USD 24 billion in loans for infrastructure projects. But he is now in the last year of his 6-year term of office and China has begun dam projects which are worth only a few hundreds of millions and which are destructive of the environment and the community life and livelihood of indigenous people and other impoverished people.
Duterte does not know simple arithmetic. I have pointed out time and again that the marine and mineral resources in the West Philippine Sea, especially the oil, natural gas and other mineral resources, are worth several tens of trillions of dollars which are more than enough to finance the free distribution of land to the landless peasants, industrialize the national economy, build all the needed infrastructure and address the roots of the armed conflict.
At the expense of the Filipino people, Duterte has connived with China in the violation of the sovereign rights and territorial integrity of the Philippines in exchange for corrupt gains for himself, his family and his cronies who receive bribes and shares in contracts that involve not only the West Philippine Sea but also the national power grid, the rampant smuggling of mineral ores to China, Chinese cell towers in AFP military camps, the proliferation of Chinese gambling and brothel operations and the smuggling in of illegal drugs, rice and other food products.
It is not true that the only option there is for the Philippines is to go to war with China in order to assert sovereignty and all related rights in accordance with the UNCLOS and the 2016 judgment of the Permanent Arbitral Court. The Filipino people can remember that as a result of their successful struggle against the US-supported Marcos fascist dictatorship they were able to constitutionalize the banning of US military bases and forces from Philippine soil. And when a US ship got stranded on Tubbataha reef, the Philippines was able to claim from the US compensation for damages.
The Philippines is not limited to either waging a war or making diplomatic protests to China. It can file complaints to and demand rulings and action from the concerned UN agencies and international courts against China’s acts of aggression, invasion and occupation of the maritime features in the West Philippine Sea.
It can demand China’s withdrawal from the West Philippine Sea, compensation for damages to the marine environment and rent for the duration of their occupation of the artificial islands and use as Chinese military bases. In particular countries where China has fixed and liquid assets, like the US and Western Europe, the Philippines can take legal action to obtain compensation for the damages committed by China. Such compensation can far exceed the amount of onerous loans that the Duterte regime has so far obtained from China.
The reactionary armed forces and police have appeared as unmitigatedly corrupt and brutal instruments of the Duterte regime in the service of imperialist powers and the local exploiting classes. But it has been demonstrated in the past that there are patriotic officers and personnel who can get fed up with an incorrigibly wrongdoing president and withdraw support from him.
The anti-people character of the die-hard armed minions of Duterte is emphasized by the fact that they keep silent when Duterte declares publicly that he would like to make the Philippines a province of China, that China can have the West Philippine Sea in exchange for a mere promise of sharing the mineral resources, that he can depend on these armed minions because he feeds them with money and that otherwise he could ask China to keep himself in power in case his own armed minions withdraw support from him.
It is fine that some retired and active military officers have gathered enough sense of patriotism and courage to call on Duterte to stand up for Philippine sovereign rights against Chinese imperialism in the West Philippine Sea or else they would withdraw support from him. Duterte has been compelled to acknowledge the fact that the aforesaid officers have spoken up and that definitely there is now a serious breach in the ranks of his armed minions.
As in the overthrow of Marcos and Estrada in 1986 and 2001, it is necessary for a breach to occur within the reactionary armed forces and police in order to give way to the sovereign will of the people for the overthrow of a tyrannical or corrupt president. Duterte has made himself vulnerable to being squeezed by his own efforts to serve two conflicting imperialist powers for his private benefit.
When they can take advantage of splits among the reactionaries, the Filipino people and their patriotic and progressive forces must keep on accumulating their own strength in order to ultimately make a revolutionary change of system to one in which they can enjoy full national independence, democracy, social justice, economic development, all-round progress and international solidarity with all peoples.###