NOVEMBER 8, 2019 – A maritime law professor warned on Thursday that the Philippines is likely to lose territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea if the government continues to downplay harassment incident by Chinese authorities.
Prof. Jay Batongbacal, director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs, made the remarks after reports that China fired warning flares at Philippine military aircrafts patrolling the area.
“We will not be able to recover it (Scarborough Shoal) anymore because we will be deemed to have already acquiesced to Chinese acquisition of that shoal,” Batongbacal, director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs, told One News show “The Chiefs.”
The Chinese also tried to stop an oil tanker “Green Aura” manned by an all-Filipino crew from passing near the Scarborough shoal in September.
Malacañang spokesman Salvador Panelo has said that the “Green Aura” ship incident should not be a concern as it is not a Philippine ship, despite being manned by Filipinos.
But Batongbacal rebuffed Panelo’s dismissive approach on the incident, which paint a picture that the country is staying silent amid Beijing’s advances.
“We stayed silent every time they (China) asserted jurisdiction and ownership of the area. That means we gave it up,” he said.
‘Legitimizing status quo’
Batongbacal also scored China’s new diplomatic tact in pushing for the passage of a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.
“It appears really that the intention is to use the Code of Conduct now as a vehicle to maintain status quo [and] to get surrounding states to accept that,” he said.
He added that Beijing may use the COC as a leverage to keep non-Asian countries such as the U.S. from interfering in the region.
“It has proposals which would essentially exclude everyone else in the region,” he said. “[China] wants to establish itself not only as the dominant partner but as the exclusive partner of all these surrounding sates.” (Christian Deiparine/ AAD)