I am writing on the eve of the expected judgement to be handed by the Hague Court which various international experts, pundits and scholars had already considered to be historic.
This case concerns the bold and unprecedented act of the Philippine government of suing China before an international court.
Manila asked the said “tribunal of five arbitrators to declare as invalid China’s vast claims, known as the nine-dash lines for the dashes that demarcate virtually all of the South China Sea as Chinese territory, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas, or UNCLOS.
China and the Philippines are among more than 160 signatories of the 1982 convention, regarded as the constitution that governs and stipulates the rights of countries in using the world’s oceans.”
The Philippines after resorting to all means possible and exhausting all diplomatic channels was compelled in January of 2013 to file the said case, that is despite “Beijing’s warnings of a diplomatic and economic backlash.”
The facts of the case are not in dispute, yet the dispute, stand-off and tensions “gradually escalated under former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and culminated in 2012 when China took effective control of the disputed Scarborough Shoal after a tense standoff.”
Now that the Hague court is about to deliver its judgement, it is my fervent hope that after the ruling of the Court, all the contestants, parties-in-interests, and disputants to this issue will respect and abide by the decision and thereby secure the peace and harmony that the region and the whole world justly deserve.
Indeed, “it is better to settle territorial disputes with the court than opt for war.” A military confrontation or an armed hostility would be against the interest of humanity.
However, having said and laid down this humble suggestion in the hope of reasonably, peacefully and diplomatically adjudicating and resolving the problem, it is sad and unfortunate to state that China with her full might and vast power is doing acts and postures which undeniably are detrimental and indeed prejudicial to regional peace! (see “The Dispute over Scarborough Shoal”, Jose Mario Dolor De Vega, The Malaysian Insider, April 18, 2012; also in his book, Dissidente pages 96-99)
Whatever it is, I agree with regard to the consensus of the international observers and commentators that the ruling will serve as a great moral victory for the Philippines.
This tiny nation has shown once again to the whole world that a small David has the courage and the boldness of character to stand up against bullies, bastards and giant Goliath!
That for fighting for a noble cause, it is not only a question of how rich one’s economy is or how big one’s army be, but undeniably it is also a question of moral worth, ethical principles, character, dignity and indeed, courage!
I fully concur with the former Philippine Foreign Secretary, Mr. Albert del Rosario that “a favourable ruling on any of the 15 issues raised by the Philippines, especially the demand to declare China’s claims invalid under UNCLOS, would be a major blow to Beijing and a moral victory that could be harnessed by the Philippines to its advantage.” (see “Q&A: Landmark ruling on South China Sea”, Jim Gomez, Associate Press, July 10th)
That is precisely the point: The Hague Ruling is a Moral Victory for the Philippines and all countries and nations who are similarly situated. Further, the historic ruling will also give fresh blood and much needed vigour to International Law.
The critics and the cynics will say:
What the hell is the use of the favourable ruling of the Hague court to the Philippines if said court and international law as a whole has no enforcement mechanism?
I see the point, and I agree that enforcement and/or implementation of a ruling delivered by an international court is its Achilles heel, yet nonetheless, let me reiterate the moral aspect of the said impending judgement.
Will China be the same, before the eyes of the international community, after learning of the adverse and utterly unfavourable ruling against it?
Will they not lose their “standing” before the family of nations?
It was reported that, among the countries and nations of the world, China is only supported in its bid (that of ignoring the international arbitration/tribunal) by mere eight (8) countries. What does it say or means in relation to international relations and foreign diplomacy? (see “PH vs China: Which countries support Beijing?”, Paterno Esmaquel II, Rappler, July 9th)
Yes, China can always junk and ignore the whole matter, but are they prepared to receive the criticism and the critical pronouncement to be given by the world at large?
To China, don’t ever forget the words of one of your greatest contemporary leaders, Deng Xiaoping. This is what he said in a speech on April 10, 1974 before the United Nations:
“If one day China should change her colour and turn into a superpower, if she too should play the tyrant in the world, and everywhere subject others to her bullying, aggression and exploitation, the people of the world should identify her as social-imperialism, expose it, oppose it and work together with the Chinese people to overthrow it.” (see, “China Defies Deng Xiaoping Warning”, Jose Ma. Montelibano, Glimpses, Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 4, 2014)
Hence, if the Chinese will not heed the counsel and words of wisdom of your leader, then prepare to receive the harsh condemnation to be given by his spirits, the mockery and shame of the whole world and the terrible vengeance of history.
As for the Filipinos, may I remind you that we are the first country in Asia to overthrow a foreign power and declare a republic!
During World War II, we stood and fought the Japanese Imperial Army from day one up to the end!
We fought a dictator for more than two decades and had two revolutions. In fact, when your people tried to copy our own 1986 revolution in 1988 at Tiannamen Square, your government viciously cracked down on the people and the students who led the same!
Hence, do not take us lightly, in the same vein that we are not taking you for granted, too.
We may be small, yet we are capable of inflicting damage to you too!
Never ever underestimate us! Who have a lot of Pacquiao’s here, while all you have are merely a bunch of cabbages and potatoes!!!
Lastly, I am not threatening you, but warning you that we have our history of courage and greatness, too.
Hence, I implore China to learn from history: do not ever forget the lessons of the Battle of Thermopylae.
It is always the case that the tiniest of the dust often cause the greatest irritation and discomfort to the biggest bloody eyes! Again, we are also warning you!
Let’s get it on!!!!
Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
The Radical aka EL Reklamadores
Philosophy and Social Science Lecturer
Unibersidad de Manila