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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, July 15, 2016
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Sol Y Sombra
with Rex Remetio
OPINIONS

Victory at sea

“PH wins Maritime Case” “It's OURS” are some of the headlines in the front pages of newspapers that came out Wednesday, July 13. The Philippine victory against the extravagant and baseless claims of China over almost all of the South China Sea was largely expected. Frankly, China also expected defeat --- it did not participate in the arbitration before the U.N. body.

Shortly after the release of the decision China attacked it --- and according to reports even attacked the individual, 5 judges of the PCA (Permanent Court of Arbitration). It is feared that unfavorable decision will spur China to greater acts of “bullyism” just to show its displeasure. In any event, while the UN Tribunal has no power to enforce its decision, said decision will surely embolden other countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam to stiffen their resolve to oppose Chinese pretensions. But the most obvious result is to make U.S. efforts in the South China Sea more forceful and definitive. The United States is the only entity willing and able to counter China. Erase this equation, you can win in the P.C.A. many times, but China will still lord it over in the South China Sea. Will the next U.S. presidential election change the U.S. stance?

If the affected countries decide to talk with China, they are in a more stable and strong position than if the case was never brought to U.N. arbitration. For this our country should be proud of.

The Philippine bringing the case to the P.C.A. is a major accomplishment of Pres. Aquino. It took guts on his part to tweak the tail of a lion like China. Noynoy literally rushed in where “angels fear to tread”. It must not also be forgotten that we had a brilliant team of Filipino lawyers who managed to convince the U.N. tribunal that the Chinese claims on rocks in the sea have no leg to stand on.

Supreme Court Justice Carpio has stood out as a vocal and powerful backer of the Philippine position. Carpio has pointed out the Philippine constitution which orders that “the state shall protect the nation's maritime wealth in its exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively for Filipino citizens”.

So we won!

But would China cease to build islands out of outcrops of rocks in the which was declared by the U.N. body to be illegal?

MISCELLANY. Last Monday I had to attend a TV interview in the program called Transparency run by my friend Mike Maghari on the Topic --- STOP THE KILLINGS (in the anti-Drug campaign). The Catholic church is against these killings. And lately, the newly elected senator Leila de Lima has come up with a proposal to have the Senate investigate these extra-judicial killings the number of which has mounted to alarming heights. The killing has also been termed “summary executions”.

We quote from an editorial of a national paper:

“There is an apocryphal story making the rounds, that drug suspects arrested by the police ask that they be handcuffed with their hands behind their backs instead of in front. This way they cannot be accused later of trying to grab a policeman's gun and suffering fatal consequences”

Even Vice President Robredo has raised concern over “culture of vigilantism” in fight against drugs.

Naturally, De Lima has attracted the ire's of some Duterte die-hards. But if we still cling to the idea of “due process,” the “rule of law”, clearly no one could fault De Lima on her stand. (De Lima critic, have pointed out the proliferation of drug manufacturing in Bilibid prison itself during her term as Justice Secretary).

The fight against the drug problem is extremely important. The fight should be stepped up. The means however should still be within the bounds of the law and the constitution. Summary killings, even if the object is good, has no place in a democracy with a constitution.*

 

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