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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, July 8, 2016
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Sol Y Sombra
with Rex Remetio

Moment of truth?

Come July 12, a Tuesday, about four days from now, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, an international U.N. body tasked to settle maritime disputes, will hand down its decision on the maritime row between the Philippines and China.

China, of course, did not enter the case before the P.C.A. The reason is clear. China utterly lacks evidence to sustain her sovereignty over a large swath of the so-called China Sea. The so called 9-dash line has scooped almost all of the China Sea (about 90 percent) and she knows that she will lose in the U.N. P.C.A.

China had proposed a negotiation with the PH. However, our country wisely went to the PCA. A negotiation would be like a deal between a cat and a mouse or between a lion and a rabbit. Massive China and frail Philippines. What do you think will result?

In any event, China knowing it will lose in the P.C.A. on July 12 has reportedly initiated a show of naval force in the conflicted area. A typical gesture of a “bully”.

Assuming that the PCA verdict will go against China (and in favor of the Philippine position,) what is likely to happen?

We can wait for the days after the 12th of July, but the following is very likely:

a) China will attack the PCA verdict as wrong. In fact, China has already made statements that it does not care.

b) In fact, a verdict contrary to China's position can make that lion growl louder and increase its naval movements in the area just to shore up her claims;

c) Since the PCA has no power to enforce its verdict, it's up to the U.S., the only country strong enough to counter China, to see that the China Sea remains free for international navigation. While China may declare that she has almost total jurisdiction over the China Sea (partly renamed Philippine Sea) the PCA decision will substantially erode the moral basis of the Chinese claim. Incidentally, China Sea is the route of a vast commercial passage-way involving $5trillion worth of goods annually. Curiously, China has claimed that 60 countries have supported its claim. However, there is no mention which countries are these because in fact many countries in the China Sea area have their own claims over islands included by China as its own, in making a 9 dash line. The drawing looks as if done by a drunken artist.

d) But what will happen if Donald Trump wins the U.S. presidency? I touch on this because Trump has expressed that U.S. is better off taking care of itself first, implying that U.S. cease to be the policeman of the world. While at this juncture nothing is sure about the U.S. elections - Donald may not make it and Hilary Clinton is sure to maintain the U.S. stance as the global policeman.

What about the new administration? What will it probably do? China has offered to talk if the Philippines ignores the P.C.A. ruling in its favor. A request that appears egregious. As I write, a news item say Digong is willing to talk to China (of course without repudiating the PCA decision which it has sought in the first place). If talks were held --- what would come out of it? That, as they say, is a four dollar question. Even Nostradamus may have a hard time foreseeing the results of the talk. To talk with China right after the verdict will weaken the impact of the PCA decision.

So we wait and see. Wait for the PCA verdict and see what develops in the China Sea.

MISCELLANY. Firstly, this column extends its best wishes to the new mayor (or is it the old mayor) Bing Leonardia and his team, including those who ran under the banner of Monico The Bacolod electorate if one studies its past history, does not usually elect totally the line-up of one party.

In any event Mayor Bing Leonardia and other elected officials were inducted by no less than Sen. Pacquiao, Sen. Drilon also attended with several other high officials.

More power to you all!

The darker event this week was the sudden demise of my good friend Pompeyo Querubin, class of 1948, NOHS. He is had been president of the defunct National Cooperative Bank. Pompeyo is the proprietor of one of the biggest security agencies in the country. He will be missed by his many friends especially members of the Sunshine Club.*


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