Fil-Ams get crash course on West Philippine Sea territory dispute

SAN FRANCISCO – News of China’s expanded reclamation on several disputed reefs in the West Philippine Sea continues to be a major cause of concern for Philippine authorities.

During a recent Senate hearing in the Philippines, officials say more funding should be given to the military.

“It is imperative to transition the armed forces from its domestic security focus towards an external or territorial defense role as rapidly as possible,” said National Security Council Director General Cesar Garcia.

“I would recommend that at least 1 percent of the proposed budget every year will have to be allocated. A capability cannot be developed overnight,” said AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang.

Meanwhile, San Francisco kababayans got to understand the gravity of the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea through the screening of an award-winning documentary by ABS-CBN correspondent Chiara Zambrano.

Zambrano says she brought the film to San Francisco because Consulate General Henry Bensurto Jr., who was also a part of the team that filed the arbitration case against China, said Filipino Americans need to be more informed of the on-going conflict there.

“It’s still worth monitoring because it’s the country’s sovereignty at stake and it’s not just the problem the government has to face or our military it’s everyone’s problem. It doesn’t have to be just Filipinos in the Philippines, even Filipinos out here,” said Zambrano.

The documentary also sheds light on the hardships of the Filipino troops who are on rotation of guarding the disputed areas.

“I think there should be more support for them because they’re the front line and they’re making do with what they have,” said Cal Sate University East Bay professor Maria Ortuoste, Ph.D. “They’re trying to purify their own water and they’re not complaining about it. They’re doing their duty which I can say more about other people.”

For now there seems to be no resolution to the dispute between China and the Philippines. But for some Fil-Am leaders, it will remain a big topic going into the 2016 presidential elections.

U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance President Rodel Rodis is worried because Vice-President Jejomar Binay, who is the current presidential front runner, has already stated he is open to bilateral talks with China to share the area.

“The reason bilateral talks don’t work is because the Philippines has strided and China has insisted that the Philippines must first accept that China has indisputable sovereignty over the entire South China Sea,” said Rodis. “So if that’s the precondition, engage in bilateral talk, what’s there to talk about?”

Rodis also adds that U.S. support may be limited due its own upcoming presidential election.

“Republican billionaires like Sheldon Adelson, who donates $150 million to Republican candidates, most of his money comes from his casinos in Macau which is allowed to operate because of Beijing. So you can imagine that the Republican candidate who will get Sheldon’s financial support will listen to Sheldon and let China continue to gobble up Philippine territory,” said Rodis.

Zambrano says that it is once again up to the Filipino people to decide just how important the issue really is, especially when voting for the next president.

“So what kind of president do you want?” asks Zambrano. “What kind of decisions will that president be doing in terms of this controversy? Will they be throwing in the towel saying that China is too big for us? If you can’t beat them, let’s just join them. Or would you want the president to keep fighting?”

U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance is calling on kababayans to take part in a global protest against China by demonstrating in front of Chinese embassies all over the world on July 24. The date marks the anniversary of the Sansha prefecture which is China’s claim over the contested areas.

You can contact Rommel Conclara at rommel_conclara@abs-cbn.com for more information.

2 Comments on this post.

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  • kikay Pang0
    7 May 2015 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    China is not even firing any bullets yet and Fil. are already crying.
    China’s 11+ islands chain tightly wrapping around Philippine and Vietnam would be done in 2016.

  • victor
    8 May 2015 at 1:12 pm - Reply

    Guess the Philippines will just wait till China makes a land bridge to the mainland from the contested island. This is communist country where they talk for years and fight at the same time overtly or covertly.They had invested probably millions of dollar already and it will be difficult to pry them off the island if the decision is in our favor which coming this year kuno by President Aquino for this is just a rock said him and his idol Obama.Why are we protesting this when it is just a rock.
    Go to war for a rock??The problem for pacifists they think that China is going to say amen to this problem.We should sink unworthy and old ships to our islands so we can claim them. Better scuttle the 2 new ships that Aquino bought and sink them.Wala naman pakinabang tutal retrofit naman segunda mano. China has been in the front of lending Hundreds of million to the countries in Asia that they expect to get a notice of getting back their loans and investment at once causing a collapse of their economy without going to war.The same with America it got a trillion dollar debt with china.That is why they vigorously lend money to everybody and patiently waiting for a payback in the future.Protest won’t go anywhere like the Hongkong protestor as the communist party could wait for a long time and the strike will just fizzle out.I am not sure America will back us up time of crisis specially if the problem does not involve our mainland.They might fight with us in Bataan not in remote areas>Let us do the Israeli and Japanese way strengthen our navy even with patrol boats with the latest weaponry!That should give China some second thought.

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