By Herman Tiu Laurel
Featured by the Google news line up was GMA’s headline and story “Carpio points to Malampaya, galunggong to prove award vs. China valuable” in refuting “claims made by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque that the Philippine’ arbitral victor over China ought not to affect the relations between the two countries.”
The report goes on to say that “According to JP Soriano’s report on ’24 Oras,’ Carpio said it would be a big loss should the Philippines lose its territory in the West Philippine Sea.” If Carpio really said that and it is not just a misquotation by the reporter then Carpio again reveals his duplicity in claiming “territory” of the whole of the WPS and, hence, EEZ over the vast sea surrounding them.
Carpio’s own cherished Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) panel judged all features in the Spratly’s group of islands as “rock” unable to generate EEZ and possibly just 12NM of territorial sea which is not where the vast volume of fishing is done and the areas Carpio allude to. In other words, Carpio’s own cherished PCA denied the Philippines massive EEZ areas.
The GMA report cited Carpio’s rebuttal of Spokesperson Harry Roque’s statements made at the Kamuning Café Pan de Sal Media Forum lasts July 8, Thursday jointly organized by IDSI (Integrated Development Studies Institute) and the Philippine-BRICS Strategic Studies, two primary think tank groups debunking the anti-Duterte, anti-China disinformation campaigns.
Two points were raised by Carpio, first that “it would be a big loss should the Philippines lose its territory in the West Philippine Sea” and that “Forty percent of our power comes from Malampaya from the West Philippine Sea. It’s running out of gas in two to three years. We have to get the gas from Reed Bank but China is preventing us. Maliit na bagay ba ‘un?”
What territory Carpio is carping about is under continuous and practically irresolvable dispute even through decades or even centuries. Relying on Carpio’s cherished PCA ruling the best the Philippines can have is the 12NM (nautical miles) territorial seas around the 9 features it occupies while Vietnam has a whopping 21 islands’ territorial seas, and China 8 built-up islands – leaving millions of squares kilometers of the SCS open to debate.
Contrary to Carpio’s claim that China is preventing the Philippines from tapping the South China Sea oil and gas of areas that the Philippines and China have laid claims to, China has signed a 60/40 joint venture agreement with and in favor of the Philippines for joint development and exploitation of the Reed Bank (Recto Bank) with up to 5.4 billion barrels of oil and 55.1 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas.
What Carpio does not report to the people is how the Gang of Four of Philex Petroleum’s Manuel Pangilinan, the late President Noynoy Aquino, former foreign secretary Albert Del Rosario and the Americans represented by American lawyer Atty. Paul Reichler connived with then Japanese ITLOS president to sabotage any cooperation with China by way of the PCA suit.
Few people are aware that Philex Petroleum’s (First Pacific subsidiary) Manny Pangilinan thinking that his stooge Noynoy already controls the Spratly’s offered the area’s oil and gas resources to China in 2004 as an ABS-CBN news report on March 10, 2014 headlines “Pangilinan offers Spratlys to Chinese oil firm in Red Banks talk”. Of course, China refused hence the Machiavellian PCA suit followed.
Since 2019 the Philippines and China have formed bodies to implement the oil and gas deal, and in 2020 President Duterte lifted the ban on what Philippine media calls the West Philippine Sea exploration, thus bringing closer the start of oil and gas well drilling and production to eventually replace the Malampaya energy resource fueling 40% of the nation’s electricity grid.
Carpio is constantly silent about the sea wolf in the SCS – Vietnam. If there’s one flag taking the sea lion’s share of the resources of the SCS it is Vietnam, aside from claiming the largest number of islands, rocks or features however one calls them, Vietnam is also proportionately the most voracious fishing fleet in the SCS, beating even China and the Philippines.
Going by 2018 World Bank figures Vietnam’s capture fisheries production per capita amounted to 30.1 kgs. while China’s amounted to 12 kgs and the Philippines 20.1 kgs. per capita. Vietnam on October 2018 was described by defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana thus, “Vietnam most frequent poachers in PH waters”. Carpio’s silence leads to questions about his Vietnamese wife’s influence in this.
How present is Vietnam and its fishing and other vessels in the South China Sea including Philippine waters defined and/or claimed? Here is a satellite tracking report from the South China Sea Probing Initiative for July 3, 2021 identifying 8,923 Vietnamese fishing vessels with 75,970 tracking points recorded – how much galunggong did the Vietnamese catch:
Carpio has a companion in the harping and carping about Chinese presence in the SCS. The BBC has a very well-timed report which we expected to come in the days prior to, on and a few days after the arbitration 5th anniversary. Google news line that opens automatically had this on July 9, 2021, “South China Sea: The battle for Scarborough Shoal” with BBC correspondent Howard Johnson.
Johnson rode on a fishing boat with Filipino small fishermen “reporting harassment by the authorities”. The report opens with him ominously wearing a full-face mask, inside a fishing boat allegedly being watched by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel with “3 sweeps 200 meters away, then a hundred meters away and now 50 meters away… It’s watching our every move.’ The BBC has entered an atoll blocked by China since 2012’”
If they were facing a blockade how then did Johnson and the small fishing boat enter the “inner lagoon” of the Scarborough shoal which he claims “has been blockaded by China since 2012”. Johnson added, “We traveled inside on board a Philippine fishing boat.”, suggesting they eluded the blockade by skimming across the shallow reefs that the Chinese CG’s large ships could not follow.
That, of course, is ridiculous as any CG ship would have complements of small shallow draft boats and those inflatable rescue boats with outboard motors if a pursuit was really intended. It was clear from the video Johnson himself showed that there was no intent by the Chinese CG to pursue them, though Johnson’s emoting for the camera could fool some.
What Johnson also either was ignorant about or simply didn’t intend to honestly and fairly report is that the “inner lagoon” of the Scarborough Shoal has been considered a “fish sanctuary” by both China and the Philippines to protect the South China Sea’s fish stock while at the same time in these months there is a Chinese declared a unilateral “fishing moratorium” in the SCS on their fishermen while leaving others like Filipinos to continue.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte announced in November of 2016 that the Philippines would declare the Scarborough Shoal lagoon a “marine sanctuary” where neither Filipino nor Chinese will be allowed to fish”. National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon at the same time said an “executive order unilaterally declaring the lagoon a marine sanctuary” would be issued.
Johnson, citing the fishermen said, “I spoke to the captain of our crew and he told me in the past, pre-2012 before China claimed this as their territory that this area used to be swarming with trawler ships and fishermen Taiwan, from China, the Philippines and Vietnam but now its relatively quiet.”
Trawling is precisely the reason for the lagoon being declared a marine sanctuary. Trawl fishing is one of the most damaging fishing methods with its huge and heavy nets dragging the sea bed destroying fish, corals and other fish habitats that have decimated fish populations in many seas.
Here is this BBC correspondent promoting the idea that trawl fishing be open in the lagoon. By the way, trawl fishing is also banned in Philippine municipal waters.
We have been anticipating the regular anti-China, anti-Duterte and anti-PHL-China cooperation propaganda blitz of the Western and local mainstream media but we did not expect them to be so incompetent, uncreative and easily debunked insinuations and outright lies especially 5-years on after the PCA arbitration hoax.
Their task we understand has been made especially difficult this year with former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay as an insider to Noynoy Aquino’s PCA suit against China exposing the deception, hypocrisy and self-serving Machiavellian maneuverings behind the PCA suit and Justice Antonio Carpio’s supreme vanity and mal-intent.