As a lawyer and former prosecutor, Duterte must be demented to think that he is above and beyond the clutches of the Constitution and international laws in his move to dismiss the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s arbitral ruling that favors the country’s claim to the West Philippine Sea (WPS). He is sorely mistaken in thinking that the Filipino people will let him freely give away parts of the country’s territory and its sovereignty and patrimony to China just to line his pockets.
After years of court battles and mounting public pressure through metalegal tactics, the Permanent Court of Arbitration finally recognized the WPS as part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in 2016. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) allows the coastal state to explore and utilize marine, energy and other natural resources in the EEZ.
Section 2 (2), Article XII on the National Economy and Patrimony of the 1987 Constitution provides, “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, seabed and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.” Although the Constitution allows the government to enter into joint venture agreements, this does not allow the foreign country to utilize the natural resources extracted from the EEZ for its own benefit. Even then, why would anyone expect generosity from an imperialist or emerging capitalist nation whose main objective has always been to monopolize sources of raw materials and superprofits?
As much as Duterte would like to portray the China joint exploration deal as a fair business agreement, it still amounts to a surrender of Philippine territory. China has never recognized the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and up to this day considers the WPS as part of their EEZ. By setting aside the Philippines’ claim, Duterte is expressing subservience to one of his imperialist masters – a clear act of treason against the Filipino people. If this pushes through, Duterte will set a precedent on all deals concerning the country’s patrimony and sovereignty. And as all Filipinos have learned through Duterte’s rule, he is not too keen on what he barters with as long as it keeps him and his military minions at the top of the food chain.
Duterte’s campaign to create a rift amongst the citizens of the country to weaken their resolve to fight against tyranny and fascism is being resolutely opposed by millions of Filipinos. The only thing that he has gained so far from this vicious campaign is the stewing hatred of the masses. When the question of nationalism is brought forward, however, Filipinos can quickly forge their strength against traitors, collaborators and usurpers. This has been the Filipinos’ history since the time of Andres Bonifacio, Macario Sakay and Simeon Ola and countless guerillas of the HUKBALAHAP. The CPP-NPA-NDF is waging a people’s war primarily because the fight for true and lasting political and economic freedom in the country still continues.
It is the people’s right to topple down a corrupt, tyrant and fascist and traitorous regime. When legal processes are denied from the people, the people are duty-bound to regain control of these rights and exercise its sovereignty over the state. It says so in the Philippine Constitution, and it says so in other international laws that the Government of the Philippines, itself, signed.
And more importantly, it says so in the annals of Philippine history.