By ILPS Philippines Chapter
Amid the South China (West Philippine) Sea dispute, we stand with all Filipinos fighting for genuine Philippine Independence and national sovereignty.
The Murillo Velarde map of 1734 and the Mare Liberum of Hugo Grotius in 1609 might bolster the case of the West Philippine Sea in the maritime dispute with China. The crux of the matter, however, is how the independence and sovereign rights of the Philippines can be asserted in a real community of nations based on equality, non-interference, non-aggression, mutual support and cooperation.
The 1734 map was drawn under Spanish colonial rule. The Mare Liberum (Freedom of the Sea) was formulated for the Dutch East India Company, later translated into English amid the debate on free shipping during the First World War.
After a full century, the rule of big monopoly corporations and power hegemons today lay claim not only on the “free seas”. They rule over land, seas, air and cyberspace.
Freedom is a grand word. Free seas like “free trade” can be profitable for the one per cent but inimical to the 99%. For Filipinos to have Mare Liberum in the West Philippine Sea, they must first of all be free of neocolonial and imperialist hegemony, exploitation and oppression.
The arbitration case before the international tribunal under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is a welcome development. The US, however, does not even recognize UNCLOS.
The U.S. think-tank Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)recently released a report titled “Revising U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China,” written by Robert D. Blackwill; Henry Kissinger, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy; and Ashley J. Tellis, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace(the latter institution published Mare Liberum in 1916.)
Among the CFR calls are:
- Strengthen the US military (“consistent U.S. naval and air presence in the South and East China Seas”);
- Expand Asian trade networks (“delivering on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement”);
- Implement effective cyber policies (“improving U.S. cyber defenses”); and
- Reinforce Indo-Pacific partnerships (“build up the power-political capabilities of its friends and allies on China’s periphery”).
The Aquino regime dutifully fits its role into that strategy. Its trade and security pacts are not for the country’s development and defenses but for U.S. imperialist interests in the region.
Both China and the US should get their hands off the Philippines.
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