Will China militarize Panatag? Will missiles be aimed at Manila?

scarborough gma news

Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal confrontation, 2012. [Photo credit: GMA News]

Some military adventures cross the line. Russian missiles in Cuba crossed the line for the US in 1962. Russian troops in the Ukraine crossed the line last year. It seems to me that China putting military gear within the Philippine’s lawful Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is crossing the line. That’s almost like putting Chinese tanks in central Luzon.

The map below shows the location of Panatag Shoal (also known as Scarborough Shoal), traditional Filipino fishing territory well within the 200 nautical mile Philippine EEZ. Chinese ships have been stationed there since an awkward confrontation in 2012 when China refused to abide by an agreement that both sides remove ships from the shoal. The Chinese Coast Guard is now harassing Filipino fishermen who have earned their living there for decades [“China flexes muscle in disputed waters”; Philstar].

The US reported just recently that there has been unusual ship activity in the area of Panatag, as if preliminary work were being done ahead of reclamation [“Exclusive: U.S. sees new Chinese activity around South China Sea shoal”; Reuters]. China has militarized other islands she has reclaimed.


Manila to Panatag

Panatag Shoal (red flag). Distance to Manila, km. [Map credit: Google Maps]

Panatag shoal is 353 kilometers, or 191 nautical miles, from Manila.

My friends, that is very close. That is in the back yard. It is in the garden. Go out to the terrace of your condo and peer west northwest. It is right over there.

It would take a fast jet only 15 minutes to fly from Panatag to Manila.

i dot bnet dot com

Modern cruise missile. [Photo credit: i.bnet.com]

China has several supersonic cruise missiles that can do that, too. Some are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. [“List of missiles by country”; Wikipedia]

Are you getting my point here?

Does that not seem outrageously close, outrageously offensive to you, too? As if an armed thief were at the window, peering in?

Would militarization of Panatag cross the line and call for some action other than words? I’m not agitating for anything.

I’m just askin’. Getting a reading beyond my own warlike reaction.


147 Responses to “Will China militarize Panatag? Will missiles be aimed at Manila?”
  1. josephivo says:

    Elbow rests. A Chinese sitting beside you on an international flight. First you have the elbow rest for you alone. Then he occupies a little bit, already unpleasant but still fair. As the flight continues he steadily moves his elbow towards you. How and when do you complain? …and yes he looks stronger than you.

    • Joe America says:

      That’s it exactly.

      The arbitration tribunal is expected to issue its finding in the next month or two. I think that establishes some policies and ground rules. Like a really big, broadbased person has to purchase two seats or something like that.

      • Jonathan says:

        Let’s assume that the arbitration panel comes out with a decision highly favorable to the Philippines. What’s to stop China from telling the UN and the Philippines to go piss up a rope? What do we do then?

        • Joe America says:

          Hey! I ask the questions around here!!! 🙂 🙂 I suspect China WILL tell the Philippines about the rope, and the answer to the question needs to be figured out. That is unlikely to occur on these pages if the military manages its secrets well. We can only frame the issues and speculate.

          • If China will be declared by the whole world as a rogue country, what will be the economic implications of that to this bully? Will it be subjected to economic sanctions?

            “rogue nation – a state that does not respect other states in its international actions. Synonyms: renegade state

            – a state that does not respect other states in its international actions ”

            Rogue nations often possess larger conventional military forces than their national defense warrants, sponsor international terrorism, and strive to obtain weapons of mass destruction. Violent acts toward nearby states are attributable to rogues such as Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Cuba, Sudan, and North Korea, which are classified by the U.S. Department of State as terrorist states


            Sorry, I know you ask the question here…but then how am I to learn…?

            • Joe America says:

              Everyone is asking questions. I refuse to answer any of them. I know what I would do. I want to know what others think.

              • Bill in Oz says:

                Here is what one policy analyst thought in 2012.


                It still hold all true.But will Filippinos do as suggested ?

              • Joe America says:

                Can you bullet-point the key ideas to save readers the time of clicking over? (Actually, readers seldom click on links, the statistics show. They are here for the ideas, quick and easy.)

              • The Philippines could extract far greater ownership rights and royalty payments on the international market by keeping Chinese corruption and military threats at bay. The latter strategy requires political fortitude and strengthened alliance cooperation with the United States, Japan, and Asean. The Philippines can become a leading partner in a developing Asian alliance system[1] geared to contain China and safeguard an UNCLOS determination on the East and South China Seas, but to do this requires safeguards against Chinese influence in Philippine politics…

                Effective military balancing by the Philippines against China will be difficult in terms of domestic Philippine politics, and will include some risk of war with China. It requires the following: vigilance against Chinese corruption and influence in Philippine politics; treaties among, and joint bargaining by, non-Chinese claimants to the South China Sea; laws and treaties to invite and incentivize the United States to permanently commit military personnel to the Philippines; a United States return to major strategic military bases in the Philippines, including the Naval Base Subic Bay and Clark Air Force Base; joint patrols of the South China Sea with United States and allied Asean countries; and joint military enforcement of UNCLOS findings, including a prohibition against Chinese vessels near Scarborough Shoal.[6] Half-measures such as bilateral cooperation with the United States on terrorism and training, or temporary refueling rights for United States and Japanese naval vessels, will be insufficient to guarantee United States support of the Philippines in case of conflict with China, and therefore insufficient to deter China from progressive encroachments in the South and East China Seas.[7]

              • Joe America says:

                Interesting ideas. I don’t think political fortitude is easy in a nation that is quick to condemn its own leaders, and permanent stationing of US troops here is likely a non-starter. Logically and strategically it makes sense, politically hard to do.

              • Vicara says:

                Communist party in a panic over a little letter saying that Xi is not fit to lead his country. My fear always is that the leadership will take its usual tack and deflect local discontent by harping on how China has long been humiliated by external powers, etc. It has used this tactic to build up xenophobic resentment against the outside world and those it has painted as villains, e.g. us Filipinos, among others.


                (Sorry I couldn’t take part in the inferiority/superiority discussion of a few days earlier. Some of you commented that China behavior–both of the government and some of its citizens–indicates a superiority complex. I would argue that nothing works faster to create a chip on one’s shoulder than being humiliated and made to feel inferior. The dynamic of inferiority works differently in our respective cultures: China sees itself as a great civilization whose predominance was interrupted by external powers–although it’s pretty clear that political and economic rot that had developed internally was to blame. The Philippines’ sense of inferiority stems from an authentic revolution against Spain abruptly halted by U.S. occupation and our own leaders’ internal bickering, and a lingering perception that we have always been and always will be a “little people.” And, as Joe says, with a propensity to condemn our own leaders.)

                It’s been clear for some time that China is now following the pattern of others who have sought world domination, i.e. Japan and Germany. Both those countries revved up their belligerence NOT when they were on the ascent economically and militarily–but when they believed that other powers were trying to hem them in and oppress them–as with Germany and Japan just before WWII.

                Xi, now on the defensive against his own people, and wanting to rally public support for the party, will harp on how its Asian neighbors and the U.S. are trying to steal its islands and weaken it militarily. Bringing China closer by the day to an actual attack.

              • Joe America says:

                Fascinating read, thanks. I think we need to add “Psychological initiatives” to our checklist of options to consider.

      • josephivo says:

        Aha, you called the flight attendant, but you are afraid he will not listen to a 22 year old girl?

        Why are you upset in the first place? Fear that he will not stop at the elbow rest? Just a matter of principle, fairness? A dangerous precedent, airlines should have a clearer policy? Want to hide your weakness or show your macho strength? His smell woke your antipathy? Childhood trauma?…

        What are your alternatives? Call the pilot? Seek sympathy of other passengers? Verbal insults or a fight? Negotiate a halfway line, longitudinal or square? Hoping that your usual smile will work wonders again?…

        • My Pinoy tactic with people like that has always been very simple…

          Stand up to go to the toilet and “accidentally” my elbow touches their face… the first time it does not even touch their face it just passes their eyes and nearly touches their nose.

        • Joe America says:

          Another person full of questions and no answers. Gadzooks, I have to do all the work around here. 🙂

        • Bill in Oz says:

          @Irineo…Your post is interesting but perhaps goes beyond what many Filippinos would want …if it sacrifices sovereignity….There is the phrase ” band of brothers”. Nations can act in a similar way. But this is willing cooperation and respect. Domination of one by another would be wrong….

      • Bill in Oz says:

        A question Joe which I will answer. In what way is China weak ? It’s an easy question to answer. China derives it’s strength from it’s growing exports based economy. It’s exports provide jobs & income to it’s wage earners & foreign exchange to it’s Bank of China coffers.It is a world trading nation. And it’s trade depends on being a good cooperative global citizen.

        I suggest that if the ASEAN nations were to stop all imports from China until China stopped throwing it’s weight around in the South China Sea….China would quickly see the folly of it’s expansionist posturings

        • Joe America says:

          Excellent, initiative, Bill. Duly filed under the two categories of economic and alliance initiatives.

          • Economic sanctions – kinda like what the US and Europe did with Iran and Iraq oil.

            Problem is would all the other importing nations cooperate..China is dangling anything and everything from building nuclear plants in UK, to railroads in India and elsewhere (typing from memory here) all those silk roads / network whatever. These countries have economic programs to think of too, so our WPS problem is way below their priority. I truly hope I’m wrong.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Depends on whether the Chinese leadership needs something to take local minds off whatever… difficulties are taking place in the mainland.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, that is a good point. But it is a rock and a hard place. If the Philippines initiates any kind of conflict, China embarks upon a “hate program” that rallies the national spirits of the Chinese trapped/brainwashed population. If the Philippines allows a Chinese military base to operate within her EEZ, the EEZ concept is meaningless and the nation loses valuable resources. The thief gets away. And lives to rob again, in a different way. Stronger than before.

      • Jean says:

        That makes for a very grim outlook. Do you see any light ahead of the tunnel? I am stumped on how this gets resolved with all parties happy

  3. I hope sir edgar is alright. I don’t see his posts lately.

  4. karlgarcia says:

    Not a question.

    Indonesia suumons Chinese ambassador(China is their largest trading partner)

    Now Indonesia is involved.

    • Joe America says:

      China is isolating herself. It is the strangest strategy I’ve ever seen. If we listed various action arenas, diplomatic initiatives would be one of them. Military another. Economic another. Propaganda or PR another. The Philippines is taking legal initiatives. Alliance-building is another.

      1. Diplomatic initiatives
      2. Military initiatives
      3. Economic initiatives
      4. PR initiatives
      5. Legal initiatives
      6. Alliance initiatives

      I think the idea that the Philippines is helpless or powerless is nonsense.

      • Joost says:

        Alliance is actually an Enslavement enterprise pursued by the MIC/Pentagon.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Yes,we are not helpless and powerless.

      • Martin says:

        Alliance can be either assets or liabilities. In my humble opinion, Chinese government is correct in seek friends but no alliance because at current situation, alliances tend to be liabilities. For instance, if China had signed US style military alliance with North Korea, how would China go head to sanction it? Another example is Pakistan, does China want to go to war with India for Pakistan?

        There is no problem with alliances with countries that are not frontline states such as France, UK or Australia. China therefore should not form a Formal Alliance with such countries, eg with Pakistan or N Korea as this could be an entrapment. It is OK to form alliances with far away countries but basically this is for hegemonic behavior like US as the only purpose is for putting bases there. China really don’t need this kind of hegemony so alliances are not very suitable for the Chinese who do not seek Power Projection.

        • Joe America says:

          Interest comment. I think every alliance is unique and trying to set rules for them is futile. May I ask your nationality, location and interest in the Philippines?


        • Joe America says:

          Interesting comment. I think every alliance is unique and trying to set rules for them is futile. May I ask your nationality, location and interest in the Philippines?


    • ” Indonesia is involved.” – Indonesia would be a perfect ally with their huge fleet.

      MRP would be happy that they who have flatter noses and darker skins than Filipinos are very successful – a Filipino-Indonesian i.e. Malay alliance would be unbeatable I think.

      • Ooops, I forgot to mention that Indonesians are more English-challenged (c) MRP than Filipinos… But my father mentioned that they bought their Embassies in the 1960s while Filipinos still pay rent for them until now… they always thought more on the long term.

        • Bill in Oz says:

          Irineo, it is not so..There are many Indonesians who learn English..But they do tend to learn it with an Australian accent from the hundreds of thousands of Aussie tourists to Bali & Java..And also by studying in Oz..What with Australia being a lot closer than the USA and cheaper to get too…

          • Hehe… for English-snob Filipino (c) MRP that does not count ONLY fake US accent does. Sorry I don’t eat bananas I eat apple (not epol) Imelda even had them imported… 😀

            Veronica Pedrosa, Carmen Navarro Pedrosa’s daughter who grew up in UK – CNP was a Marcos-era exile who inexplicably has turned into a rabid Duterte supporter – was asked by Filipinos why she had a British accent – why for Filipinos can mean why the hell… Some Pinoys abroad refused to believe me that Miss Saigon got started in London not Broadway, even if it went up on Broadway… well at least Bongbong WENT to Oxford haha.

            • Bill in Oz says:

              And left Oxford without graduating..Except perhaps a degree is ‘partying’ ? Ummmmm

              There is a divide in SEA nations between the Philippines which looks 12,000 miles East across the Pacific Ocean to the USA ( sort of like the old galleon trade ? )

              And all the other nations which tend to look to West to Europe ( France & the UK ) or South to Australia…Last time I looked at the figures, there were about 180,000 fee paying tertiary ( university ) students from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Timor L’Este, Hong Kong, Viet Nam & even China studying in Oz…No small beer Irineo..

        • chempo says:

          Yeah their embassy in spore is huge and on super prime land bought long long time ago. It’s along my regular jogging route.

  5. Ron Angelo says:

    “Okay! Get the steel industry going and reverse-engineer some stuff boys!! We’re going to war!! Or not… whatever…” – Some Random Fat Guy

    Maybe we should’ve started working on our steel industry a long time ago. Maybe we would be better equipped militarily if we actually improved that industry. It’s not like we didn’t/don’t have the comparative advantage. We have a butt-load of iron ore in the ground right now which is the main component of steel.

    • Joe America says:

      Hi, Ron. Good to have your observations here. This is Ron’s excellent blog: http://laymanpinoy.blogspot.com

      I was surprised that the Philippines does have steel operations, ummmm, in Davao I believe. They looked pretty modern from the photos, but I don’t know capacity or much more than that they exist.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        I just wrote this about the steel industry idea in the Duterete post : It is greatly relevant here so I am putting it here as well..

        “I will be blunt as a person with a degree in economics and an interest in the steel industry..Duterte is talking complete bull..The world steel industry is currently in crisis..Chinese steel mills are shutting…And European & USA & Australian steel companies are all crying foul about Chinese steel companies selling steel at below the global cost of production : ie dumping product..
        Consider Australia sells massive quantities of iron ore and coal to China. These are the 2 main ‘ingredients’ of steel making. And these ingredients are shipped by massive coal & iron ore carriers over 3000 ks to China. But Australia’s 2 iron & steel companies with the ingredients on their door steps, are going bust because of Chinese dumping steel back in the Australian market.

        Obvious conclusion :anyone thinking of investing in steel production in the Philippines with it’s high cost electricity and needing to import coal ( from Australia ? ) will get hammered and waste their money..

        I repeat Duterte, is a complete ignoramus on this one.

        • Joe America says:

          I read that, Bill, and smiled at your shy tippy toeing around the bushes. 🙂

        • Ron Angelo says:

          Dang! But either way, the country needs to find a way to produce some its own weaponry. The volatility of international politics can really put a premium on weapons manufacture. Does that premium cover the costs of investing in steel? Has steel become such a precious commodity that profit-driven entities are no longer to be trusted in its production? Or should we focus on the actual manufacturing of weapons and just import steel?

          To me, national defense is one of those things best handled completely by its government. That includes production. I know the reality that the Philippines is a small, developing country. But sometimes ideas should not take a back seat to reality. If we continue on our trajectory of being a state that looks to other countries for weaponry, no amount of prosperity will change our dependence on other states when it comes to defense. Every time we stand idle when it comes to steel or weapons manufacture, we widen our economic disadvantage because the competition widens its knowledge and productivity. If a time comes where our allies/trading partners could/would no longer provide us weapons, we’d be screwed. But hey, hopefully that time doesn’t come… especially anytime soon… hehe.

          • Bill in Oz says:

            That raises a separate isue..What type of defence forces are needed by the Philippines given the strategic location and stratgic neighbours ? Think about this…

            If another country attacks the Philippines..It means bringing armed forces over the seas.( Just the way Spain, the USA & Japan did in their invasions & conquests. )..

            Fighting an invader once their troops have landed here is stupid. Prevention is the best way of defence. Owning & controlling the seas around and the air above is the only way to do that. A strong air force is needed. A strong navy and especially submarines are needed. having them will act as a deterrence to any other country trying something.

            Now can the Philippines build air craft, a navy & submarines ? I don’t think so now. But you could invite the companies that build such defence equipment to open facilities here which would gradually create the skills & infra-structure. Such companies exist in Japan, Germany, the USA & France

            • That was and is the Indonesian way thanks to German-trained Yusuf Habibie.

              Production and agreed-upon technology transfer – not stealing blueprints like China. Instead a deliberate win-win situation for both sponsoring country and beneficiary.

            • PNOY is thinking about submarines in his AF|P modernization plans, the one I touched about somewhere which Noli de Castro mocked yesterday morning in his radio morning show.

            • maru0907 says:

              I agree, the country needs to invest for self sufficiency in defense.

              The country have some shipbuilding capabilities so its an obvious start. Small arms and automatic weapons, capability and know how is there, however needs to be expanded and improved. Government procurement focus on supporting local manufacture and technology transfer (other countries have licensing agreements) invite and provide some incentive to have some of the manufacturing done here.

              Boats, hovercrafts, submarines, UAV’s, missile defense systems like the Patriot/THAAD. Can we have unmanned underwater vehicles?

              Looking at the US model, we see also a lot of this technology for commercial and civilian applications so its not really a dead end.

              But then this could be a really big challenge for a country that even had to import license plates..

              • karlgarcia says:

                The procen track record part of the procurement law,maybe a reason why we can’t even join in bidding for a project and we why we can’t manufacture locally…and the proliferation of fly by nights.
                letter of the law..spirit of the law,intent of the law…….

              • DOST has shown how we can go forward with this. the agt and UP train projects were d done as a technology upgrade project. On a related note the DND has partnered with DOST to produce UAV for defense.

              • karlgarcia says:

                But still, the proven track record in the law must be softened and amended they do not allow potential and future capability.
                I know it is a guard for fly by nights and to protect the government and national interest,but something has to be done as a balancing effect.

        • chempo says:

          @ Bill
          Some 30/40 years ago in the early days of Assean, in a ministerial meeting on economic matters, there was general agreement for each member country to specialize in certain sectors where they have advantages so as to avoid competition and assured region l market. Lee kuan yew proposed for Philippines heavy industries, which of coz steel is a major part. Also included is automobile mfg. Lee proposed domestic appliances for Malaysia. Spore wanted high end high science types like petroleum processing n pharmaceuticals. Of coz no agreement was reached. Mahathir went his way to build cars n they have a troubled industry for years. Spore went on to be an important global player of petroleum processing n continue to focus on high end industries. Philippines, well Marcos was never a doer and so missed the boat. Like you pointed out, in today’s market it would be suicidal to go into steel production.

          • hey chemp,

            Do you have more reading material on this? online or books? This is interesting.

            • chempo says:

              Hi Lance, I was just putting it out of memory . Tom I’ll see if I can track something down for u..

              • karlgarcia says:

                His Excellency Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister of Singapore, in his Opening Address noted that ASEAN’s twenty-year track record of regional cooperation had contributed to economic growth, social progress and political stability and made ASEAN a credible Organisation. However, fundamental changes were taking place and the next twenty years would tax ASEAN’s ability and ingenuity as it charts new paths to growth and stability. The Prime Minister added that the four big Pacific powers, the United States, Japan, China and the Soviet Union, were all in the midst of basic change. The outcome of their exertions to break through their respective problems would settle the new balances of the competing forces in the Pacific.

                Is this it?


              • Joe America says:

                Note of interest. I see the “national ID” has made the front page of the Inquirer today, proposed by the SEC. Hooray!


              • karlgarcia says:

                Still wrong…I give up.

              • LOL! thanks, anyways, karl. Also, chempo. Will start googling this.

              • http://www.philstar.com/opinion/660736/other-side-edsa – on the superficiality of Marcos as commented by Lee Kuan Yew himself:

                In Bali in 1976, at the first ASEAN summit held after the fall of Saigon, I found Marcos keen to push for greater economic cooperation in ASEAN. To set the pace, Marcos and I agreed to implement a bilateral Philippines-Singapore… to promote intra-ASEAN trade…I was to discover that for him, the communiqué was the accomplishment itself; its implementation was secondary, an extra to be discussed at another conference.

                He once took me on a tour of his library at Malacañang, its shelves filled with bound volumes of newspapers reporting his activities over the years since he first stood for elections. There were encyclopedia-size volumes on the history and culture of the Philippines with his name as the author. His campaign medals as an anti-Japanese guerrilla leader were displayed in glass cupboards. He was the undisputed boss of all Filipinos. Imelda had a penchant for luxury and opulence. When they visited Singapore…they came in style in two DC8’s, his and hers.

                Marcos was bombastic… Filipinos often mistake bombast for leadership…

                while the quiet work of Aquino is seen as bragging when he talks about it… the country is truly the Absurdistan my sister sometimes called it… hope it becomes more normal.

              • karlgarcia says:

                National ID. Hooray!🎉🍻👏👍🏻

            • chempo says:

              @ Lance / Karl
              Sorry can’t find anything relating to the specifics that I mentioned.
              But if you are interested, here’s a link to some studies on regional economic co-operation attempts in the early days of Asean. It shows the difficulties involved of how national interest gets in the way of regional interests and how several attempts at co-operation failed.

              Click to access wp69-hill-menon-asean-economic-integration.pdf

              • karlgarcia says:

                Many thanks,Champo
                I will read this later.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Marcos tried to comply by having his MIP program.


                I am sure illegal logging killed the paper pulp plan, aluminum don’t know what killed it maybe the recycling industry.
                Fertilizer can still be done,etc.But we have fertilizer scams….dang why things always fail to launch.

                But RHiro explained why we proceeded with semicons,garments,etc in one of his comments to me.Basically it was a summary on why we are not into vertical integration.

        • so the Chinese do that dumping too in Australia the way they dump their agri products here to the detriment of our local farmers.

          We encourage agricultural production, ok, add to that, steel also, but the Chinese will smuggle in their products with the aid of local corrupt businessmen here…just take a look at the malls in Divisoria with all the smuggled Chinese products there all evading tax payments (whether at BOC or BIR or even Manila BPLO (Business Permits & LIcensing Office). I hear they all hate Kim Henares, and Binay is pandering to them by saying the first item in his to do list as President elect is to kick out Kim. Wehhh…!

        • A coal plant was recently inaugurated in – in Davao City if I’m not mistaken. I wonder if it’s cheap electricity, I wonder too, if safeguards and screening (or whatever they call it) to prevent air pollution was met. If it is cheap electricity we need more coal, lots of coal, do we have enough of them and iron ore hereabouts to start the steel industry and I wonder if we have a safeguard basket? (yours truly is not an economist) to protect the steel industry from the dumping of steel from the Chinese factories.

          So of course a coal plant needs lots of coal to produce lots of cheap electricity, and we need coal to and iron ore as raw materials for the steel industry for us to start fabricating our own weaponry.

          Coal and iron ore will be in demand…our forest will be inundated by wood burning kaingineros to meet the demand, forests that we are only just beginning to replenish after it was rendered bare by the Marcos cronies all over the country. Floods during typhoon and rainy season comes to mind.

          Economy, defense, environment and preservation of lives – all interconnected. DENR, AFP, the entire government needs to be mobilized.

          Should have been done 30 years ago, now the Chinese is practically at our back door. We don’t WANT war, but we need to defend ourselves. So PNOY has begun modernizing our AFP with what is available to us. RIGHT NOW.

          • Bill in Oz says:

            MGP , Mindanao may need electricity..Fine, but the major pollutant is CO2 which is climate warming..Hydro power, Go Thermal or solar are better long term..

            As for Iron & steel, even big Chinese iron & steel companies have gone broke in the past 18 months or are being kept going with government subsidies…The Philippines would be wasting it’s money ..And no private invester will ever do it anyway…

    • Joe America says:

      Hi, Ron. Good to have your observations here. This is Ron’s excellent blog: http://laymanpinoy.blogspot.com

      I was surprised that the Philippines does have steel operations, ummmm, in Davao I believe. They looked pretty modern from the photos, but I don’t know capacity or much more than that they exist.

    • Hi Ron… I am an occasional reader of your blog and I see you have mentioned mine also… some of my next articles on the Philippine justice system may make use of your postings on miscarriages of justice in the Philippines… good that Joe told us it is you… Cheers!

  6. The best way to handle this issue isn’t military or diplomacy, but thru environmental action.

    Involve all fishermen in the region (one man operations to companies, sports fishermen also), bring in int’l environmental groups (ie. Greenpeace, etc.), other groups will follow (because they support each other… like Doctors w/out Borders), then academics (to study corrals, etc. for climate change), mariners/sailors (individual sailboats, yacht, etc. global travelers) then finally,

    involve Filipinos, because that is their food source (no one cares about shoals, people care about food, that’s their food China’s messing with).

    When you make this a food issue, you not only make it a local issue (ie. Filipino foodies, chefs, etc.), but the rest of the world, because all humans enjoy food and are now waking up to the fact that they need to be proactive when it comes to food— for example, 90% of American fish intake comes not from the continental US but from abroad, like Scarborough Shoal (so involve others).

    Make this into a food, climate, environment, conservationist issue, Joe.

    Read up on this, http://www.bbrsda.com/pebble-mine-information/ Then read up on Open-sea protests, I think Greenpeace has perfected this. Get small boats, to big civilian ships out there to surveil, harass, blockade, witness, record, what China is doing.

    Do an article on how to do this, logistics and all.

    *For a nation that likes to tweet and vote online, there certainly dead quiet when it comes to using the internet to enrage and coordinate. Why?

    Here’s what Oregonians did to protest Arctic drilling, and this is small scale, imagine bigger, int’l…


      • A great article, Joe.

        Is it being done? I know the AFP is sitting on some old rusted out ship out there, and Filipinos are delivering supplies, but why are we not seeing a bunch of boats (big and small) out there to raise this issue to the world?

        Get a big boat and have it tow a bunch of smaller outriggers, in no time you’ll have a little town out there. Take videos and pictures.

        I can understand why protest flotillas aren’t happening off the coast of Palawan, it’s too far for everyone. But 200 or so miles off Luzon, I’m sure you can get a bunch of people to go out there. Hell, make it into a tourist thing!

        • Joe America says:

          The government is playing it very low key pending the outcome of the UN arbitration panel. A group of young people went out to Pagasa island a couple of months ago to protest and assert Philippine rights, and the PH govt tried to discourage that trip. They went and the protest, predictably, irritated China. Also, President Aquino sees no upside to conflict and would prefer to avoid it. He just spoke to the matter a day or two ago.

          The arbitration result is a very very important event in the developing time line. I think the situation is being handled properly, first things first, rather than forcing confrontation.

  7. Waray-waray says:

    Just need to share this insider info from DFA. Sometime this month, there was a high level diplomatic meeting being attended by foreign dignitaries at the main office in Roxas Blvd. A furniture from one of the offices was lent for the occasion and had K9s do their job for security protocols. One K9 sat on the furniture and would not let go, the minder tried several times to divert the dogs attention, even bringing it out of the venue. But when the dog was brought back to the venue, it would still seat on the furniture as it did the first time and would not let go. This time they turned the furniture upside down and what they found was a bugging device. They later on learned that the furniture was made in China.

  8. DAgimas says:

    a Viet officemate once told me, when we were discussing the Spratlys, just send your ships over there, whether fishing boat, commercial fishing boat or whatever you have

    where are you now Juan Ponce Enrile, Joseph Estrada, Teofisto Guingona Jr., Ernesto Maceda, Orlando Mercado, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Rene Saguisag, and Victor Ziga ? show your pride, get on a PN ship and go confront the Chinese!!!

    get also all the members of Senate and Congress, all Predisents since 1992 who did nothing to strengthen the defense capabilities of the Armed Forces, (I guess PNoy is exempted, but Ramos to Arroyo are all guilty)

    and also those leftists who only know how to oppose any US involvement..get on a ship and confront the Chinese

    Joe, I think there nothing Philippines can do except to continue protesting and most importantly, continue strengthening the capability of the Armed Forces so that one day, they could go and patrol the EEZ and forming an alliance with other nations.

    in the meantime, there is a lot to do in the economic front

    • Joe America says:

      That would be good, a boat full of corrupt senators. They might do it if it were conditional on receiving pardons. Their largess for the nation is in doubt.

      I disagree with the “nothing can be done except . . .” idea. I think there is a whole range of activities that could be applied, as per the categories I’ve outlined elsewhere in the discussion. They can be identified as options as we wait for the arbitration ruling.

      • DAgimas says:

        every time there is provocation from China, the media should ask those surviving senators, all politicians who still prioritize their pork barrel instead of giving it up and direct it to purchase weaponry..every time I see a news about the spratlys, the media only interviews the spokesperson of the navy or the coast guard. they should ask policy makers what have they done? did they increase defense appropriation? or just continue with the status qou?

        • chempo says:

          No D’aginas, they should ask all those legislators who voted to kick out the US from Subic/Clark. That was the original sin that created a vacuum which sucked the Chinese in.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Chempo,that was part of what Dagimas said,he just said the surviving senators.

            • chempo says:

              Oops that so? …he just left out Santiago…maybe excused due to health.

              • DAgimas says:

                Santiago was still BI commissioner in 1991 so she has nothing to do with the non renewal of the treaty but she certainly should be held accountable for refusing to ratify all subsequent agreements and for not fighting to increase the budget requirements of the AFP. in fact all legislators since 1992 are guilty of this. only PNoy made the effort

  9. Caliphman says:

    For Beijing to militarize the shoals I suppose means more than what they are doing now which is using their coast guard cutters to drive away Filipino fishing boats from catching fish inside the submerged atoll. How that concerns us is that it deprives the use of these fishing grounds which according to some estimates provides a fourth of our national seafood catch. What entitles us to exclusive use of these waters is the UNCLOS treaty which provides the 200 mile exclusive economic zone or EEZ covering the waters from the nearest territorial land. Our response so far has not been to declare war on Beijing and properly so, not because we would lose that war without help but because we should not even if we could win. Beijing claims the submerged shoals as their territorial land, which may be a bit outlandish as that may seem as it is underwater even at low tide. I do not recall if we are also making the same outlandish claim but lodging a legal complaint that Beijing is violating our rights under the UNCLOS treaty. The point is the economic cosequences for us are dire enough with the potentially disastrous effect our fishing industry and yet it is not enough reason to respond militarily even if we could.

    If the question is what should we do if Beijing creates an island out these shoals and uses it as a military base to…..ummm…mount a nuclear attack on Paranaque using cruise missles based on Panatag island or at least threaten to. Nevermind that they could launch the same missiles from their naval warships if they wanted to. No, its not the Cuban missile crisis of the sixties all over again and we should not be worrying about our nuclear deterent capability based in Paranaque being obliterated by a surprise first strike mounted from nearby Panatag island.

    Now if Beijing were to use Panatag as base for a couple of PLA marine divisions to land in Olongapo and occupy its harbor and airfield, thats a different story. An armed invasion of our undisputed sovereign territory is an an act of war and should require a military response to try and expel the invaders and recover the territory, by all means necessary and at whatever the cost.

  10. karlgarcia says:

    I have often been reprimanded by my old an on typing too much, or talking too much.
    Since I have remote connections to the defense commitees of both houses.
    For Dagimas.
    A sunset review has been done in congress on the status of the AFP modernization.
    Purchase of the Frigate boats are now down to two bidders. HSI a Korean and GRSe an indian.
    If it is purely based on costs the indian will win it because it is almost 700 k difference,but if they consider past over runs and slippages,and track record of the Indian,the Korean might have a chance.

    Some are still hammering that we should have taken the two old Maestrale because of dire needs or urgency,but that is water under the bridge,no use for the experts to argue on social mefia.

    The koreans will donate a Pohang class vessel,but the refurbishments have to be bidded out.

    The coast watch bidy under Ochoa,I mean the office of the president,has a program for the interagency cooperation of coast watching.

    This all will be hopefully carried over to the next admin.

    • Joe America says:

      See “must read” item on helicopters. I think one of the things the Aquino admin (and Sec Gazmin) do not get enough credit for is how steadily and logically they have moved the nation forward on the path to better defense tools. Anybody can wargame it, or armchair quarterback it, as if they had the job, but the people who have the REAL job, are doing it well, I think.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Just read it,Many thanks.
        This government must take credit and not accused of no sense of urgency and no strategy.
        There are roadmaps,I just hope the next admins won’t change the roads often.

    • karlgarcia says:


      Is the requirement for track record the reason why a Philippine company can not be able to build ships and other weapons we have never built before.

      In other projects losing bidders sue alleged fly by night under capitalized newly formed corporations.Maybe it has to do with our procurement law.
      I see a dead end for Philippine companies for new projects.

      Plus they do not consider ship building as infrastructure,even if it is easier to build a road than a ship,or a submarine.
      Ships are goods?

  11. Eric says:

    Shouldn’t this be the biggest concern for the well-being of the Philippines.

    12.18 million Filipinos–live in extreme poverty, which means they’re not able to eat three times a day. Recent whitewash data from the government is way off. There are 26.48 million impoverished Filipinos of the population of 100.7 million in 2015, More that 1/4!

  12. chempo says:

    If all else fails, we can all go to Church and pray for Yolanda 2 to come from the West.

    On a more serious note, I wonder if the Philippines military has commenced contingency plans for all sorts of scenarios. Whilst the legal approach is taking its course, the babarians are already at the gate. I suspect they are’nt, because Philippines have always been knee jerk reactionaries. Now I’m not referring to the defence capability built up by Pnoy, which of course is the right thing to do even if the Chinese are not here. I’m referring to actual military tactics and strategies given all sorts of scenarios. It’s only when you seriously plot out all these scenarios that you can prepare yourself to a certain extent — like getting inventories accessible, logistical plans, manpower plans, command and control plans, etc…

    The cardinal law in war used to be superior manpower, then it’s superior fire-power and now it’s superior technology. On all 3 counts, it’s a knockout for Philippines. Does that mean it’s a lost cause? The answer is NO. Our battle cry should be “Remember The Battle of Thermopylae” — King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans held back the Asian horde of the Persian King Xerxes and gave them a bloody nose.

    I think all the generalised initiatives indicated by Joe are logical and sensible, but when sovereignty is at stake, there has to be a plan for a worst case scenario — an armed conflict. I wonder if the leadership has hunkered down to discuss this and agreed on the direction they will take. To kow-tow, or to retake the islands. If it’s a ‘no surrender’ decision, they ought to be going into serious planning stage. Talk peace, but prepare for war.

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks. That’s what I think, too, that not just the ideas of fighting needs to be among the options, but the way it will be waged, small force to large, to make the engagement very costly to China.

  13. Bill in Oz says:

    Joe when doing the MacArthur posts ( for Irineo) I found that the initial Japanese attacks completely left out the USA subs. And later It became very obvious quickly that those USA submarine squadrons were crucial.They torpedoed Japanese navy & merchant shipping.

    No ships = no food, no fuel, no movement of troops…- zip !!
    The Philippines needs a submarine fleet..

    They are effective not just in a war but at detering future war.
    Being unarmed and pacificist is an invitation to regional bullies

  14. Bill in Oz says:

    News about Viet Nam & China in conflict…The Enquirer report is abbreviated so I am reproducing the Guardian ‘s report here…China has been playing the big bully not just to the Philippines but Viet Nam. Indonesia Malaysia, Taiwan Japan & Brunei…And blaming everyone else for the trouble..

    South China Sea
    Vietnam seizes Chinese vessel in South China Sea

    Captain and two sailors detained amid escalation in territorial dispute between Hanoi and Beijing

    Oliver Holmes in Bangkok

    Monday 4 April 2016 10.10 BST

    Vietnam has seized a Chinese ship and detained its captain and two sailors, accusing the crew of illegally intruding on its waters, state media said on Monday.

    China has overlapping claims with Vietnam and other south-east Asian countries to waters in the South China Sea, thought to have vast oil and gas reserves and which is a route for roughly £3.17tn ($4.5tn) in trade. The area is also rich in fish.

    The seizure, which state-run Thanh Nien News said occurred on Saturday, is a rare move from Vietnam against its powerful northern neighbour and could increase hostility between Beijing and Hanoi.

    Vietnamese fishermen have accused Chinese authorities in the past of harassing and attacking them while at sea. In May last year, Chinese and Vietnamese ships collided as Beijing tried to set up an oil rig in the South China Sea. Vietnam released footage of a Chinese ship ramming and sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat.

    In February, China deployed surface-to-air missile launchers on Woody Island, part of the Parcels chain that is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, angering both countries.

    Thanh Nien News reported that the Vietnam coastguard seized the vessel, which it said carried more than 100,000 litres of diesel oil. It said the crew “admitted that they had entered deep [into] Vietnamese waters to refuel several other Chinese boats which were fishing illegally there”.

    China also has overlapping claims with Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Japan to other islands in the region. It has stepped up a programme in which dredged sand is used to reclaim small islands or coral reefs to make military bases in the disputed waters.

    The move has frustrated the US and become a key point during the 2016 presidential campaign. Washington has promised to fly and sail through the area to oppose China’s military expansion.

    Marine biologists have warned that the dredging has also led to the rapid destruction of some of the world’s most biodiverse coral reefs.”

  15. Bill in Oz says:

    A week or so ago the Indonesians had a similar problem with a Chinese fishing boat poaching in waters near to it’s island territory in the South China Sea ( There are Indonesian islands between Sarawak & the coast of the Malayan peninsular )
    You know Joe, I wonder if these incidents are a result of the economic turn down now happening in parts of China …Many businesses are finding things tough now in China…maybe Chinese fishing companies are trying to survive by poaching in the neighbours fishing grounds..

    The first instinct is to say it’s a plot..But maybe these are stuff-ups driven by economic hard times..

    • Joe America says:

      I don’t think China tries to discipline or restrict her fishing fleets, so they are empowered to go where they wish.

      • The Argentinian Navy blew up a Chinese fishing vessel some weeks ago.

        Well they even challenged the British in the 1980s… they have cojones.

        • I mean the Argentinians of course.

        • Bill in Oz says:

          Yes they did ! Good on them.
          I lived a little while in BA’s Irineo..They are are gentle courteous people…But on the Falklands the Military Junta was caught with their pants down by the Iron lady, Margaret Thatcher..And the ultra nationalists there are still crying foul..

          The Falkland Islands have been British since 1842…And settled by Brits as well..They will never be Argentine even though it is a far flung outpost of a lost empire…

  16. Bill in Oz says:

    This report from ABC News is important for Filipinos to read.

    The Chinese government is trying to mobilise Chinese migrants in Australia to pressure the Australian government to change it’s policy on illegitimate attempts by China to claim all the South China sea.

    As an Australian I find this offensive. Attempts by any migrant community living in Australia to pressure Australia have always seriously backfired. And I think lead to anti-chinese feeling in Australia. There is one rule for all migrants to Australia : LEAVE YOUR HOME COUNTRY’S ARGUMENTS AT THE DOOR.. And if you do not like it, go home !
    We do not appreciate foregners telling us what to do…

    • I wish (because I do not know) that the Filipino Chinese feel more affinity towards the Philippines than China given how fortunate that have been in our (inclusive our no bias) country.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        In June 1989 when the Tien An Minh square massacres happened 40,000 Chinese students were granted permanent residence so they did not have to go back to the Communist regime’s brutality…. Many students fleeing China afterwards came to Australia as refugees and were also granted residence..The now 400,000 Chinese migrant community in Australia, owes it origins to those events..

        Sp personally I do not think that many migrants from China in Australia will become involved in this campaign…. But some may be susceptible to pressure..

        I posted this to illustrate what China is up to : so the Philippines will be aware and know what is going on.

        • chempo says:

          I met a Kiwi Chinese in Hongkong once. He was doing his masters in NZ when Tien An Mien incident happened. He got stranded in NZ, stayed behind and was helped into eventually becoming a Kiwi. He was a dead poor commie from China. After 5 years in NX he owned a fleet of taxis. Don’t think his heart is any longer in China.

      • chempo says:

        From Spore’s experience, I can tell you this –education matters a whole lot.
        Chinese-educated Chinese have a very strong bond still towards China. It’s not the folks fault, it’s their text books and the way lessons are conducted.
        Western-educated Chinese sees their loyalty to their adopted country fairly well. The emotional bond is very low. Cultural affinity is still there, it’s a racial thing. But national thoughts are different.

        In Spore we call these Chinese-educated “Ah Bengs” – not really a derogatory word, but it sort of describes their mannerisms, tastes, affinities, less civility, a bit crude, totally uncool, kind of funny attire, goes for canto pops, etc.

        When an “Ah Beng” gets culturally westernised, we call the “off-beat turned blue”

    • Joe America says:

      Foreign governments. I hope you don’t mind foreign individuals who observe and criticize. For example, I think Darwin is too hot for humans and ought to be turned into a nuclear power plant or giant solar field.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        Yes, Fair Comment Joe !! As for Darwin it is definitely too hot there just before the wet season ( October…November ) with high humidity then also but no rain. But May to September is dry and pleasant..

    • BOB says:

      About 60 people, trying to influence and pressure Australia ? What a number !
      Are you so impressed ?

      “As an Australian I find this offensive. Attempts by any migrant community living in Australia to pressure Australia…”

      Where is your democracy ? Your free speech ?

      • Joe America says:

        The spam system flagged BOB’s comment as likely “troll”. It would seem that Australia is also of interest to certain parties.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        BOB, I would listen to your comments with more respect IF your Communist Party masters allowed foreigner migrants living in China to lobby and agitate about Chinese policies..But your masters don’t do they..So shove off mate !!

        Joe, I was rather pleased that ‘just’ 60 people turned up at this meeting…Given the number of migrants in Australia of Chinese background, ( about 400,000 ) there will always be a few who are subject to pressure, or foolish or just plain stupid & who want to do the Communist Chinese government’s work.

        The rest are all too busy having happy free lives, working, running businesses, bringing up their kids, and buying good homes. And busy integrating into a multicultural society with no fear of being arrested & jailed for expressing the honest opinions. And no fear of having their money confiscated on corruption charges, when really they just disagreed with the current mob in charge…

  17. caliphman says:


    This is how a strongman tough on crime and corruption will deal with the threat of Chinese annexation of our territorial waters and exclusive fishing and mineral rights? By selling out our sovereignty and right to protest in exchange for Chinese drilling equipment and their agreement to build roads and bridges. Not only is he willing to spill the blood of his people if he does not get his way, he would also be unwilling to sell his country to its enemiesfor the right price.

    • chempo says:

      You mean of course he is more than willing to sell his country.

    • Waray-waray says:

      Selling our sovereignty and rights… That is simply treason.

      • In 1942, anti-American nationalist Artemio Ricarte returned with the Japanese. Ricarte was popular with tough people and helped found the Makapili who turned in guerillas.

        Duterte is popular with “tough” people and the NPA, looks like he is pro-Chinese. History does not repeat itself, said Mark Twain – but it rhymes. Duterte rhymes with Ricarte, Makapili somehow rhymes with DDS and NPA, China today and Japan in 1942.

      • caliphman says:

        Justice Carpio says the Constitution prohibits any part of our territory and and waters from being given away to another country.

        • Bill in Oz says:

          Rapple Report This Morning…

          PH twice likely to face cyberattacks than worldwide average

          FireEye representatives say at least 3 advanced persistent threat groups (APTs) and a number of other advanced threat actors are targeting the country

          MANILA, Philippines – Network security firm FireEye said on Tuesday, April 12, that Philippine organizations were twice as likely to face an advanced cyberattack compared to the worldwide average.

          In a press briefing, FireEye representatives said they observed at least 3 advanced persistent threat groups (APTs) and a number of other advanced threat actors targeting the country.

          APTs work quietly on long-term cyberespionage campaigns to acquire data on targets of interest. The top sectors targeted in the Philippines include: government, business services (including outsourced services providers), gaming, hospitality, aerospace, defense, and shipbuilding.

          FireEye observed that in the Philippines, 30% of its customers were targeted by advanced cyber attacks, compared to the worldwide average of 15%.

          Eric Hoh, president for Asia Pacific at FireEye, said in a statement: “The Philippines’ cyber security gap is an urgent economic and national security concern. Organizations here are frequently targeted by advanced attackers.”

          He added, “As geopolitical tensions drive rapid militarization in the South China Sea, it’s important we acknowledge the first shots in any conflict will be fired in cyberspace.”

          Being targeted by APTs is made worse by weak cyber defenses, as it makes a highly targeted country further targeted by APT groups.

          For instance, FireEye reported in April 2015 that a decade-long state-sponsored cyberespionage campaign was conducted by a China-based cyber threat actor. Targets of the operation included governments, businesses, and journalists which hold key political, economic, and military information on Southeast Asia and South Asia.

          Clues found by FireEye in their analysis of the group’s malware suggest that the group targeted the Philippines as part of the campaign.

          “In this new era,” Hoh explained, “nations with weak cyber defenses can expect their infrastructure, services, and defensive capabilities to be significantly eroded in armed conflict.” – Rappler.com

          • Joe America says:

            I wonder if any national government war-games a total shut-off of all utilities and services. Electricity, cellular, banks being taken down. Essentially a massive cyber attack on all the institutions that prop us up as a functioning society. My guess is, no. At least locally, we have learned that there is amazing resourcefulness when a typhoon does pretty much the same thing. People go back to the land, back to simplicity, and back to innovation to figure out how to smuggle in gasoline at twice the normal price. It takes about two weeks of absolutely no services before people start preying on one another, within the local community. Thus, a lot of people have guns at home sitting quietly on some high shelf.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        Then it is time for carpio to forget about winging about Poe’s Non DQ by the SC. And tuen his attention to the more existential threat of a bullying big neighbour.

        • Joe America says:

          Actually, he is the nation’s leading advocate for a law-based approach to China, and has written a number of articles on the subject. He is for sure doing what you suggest. It appears he is not unidimensional.

  18. dbleedingthumb says:

    oh philippines i weep for you when i think of threat from china and new internal leadership. you are like a bad sandwich… palaman naipit ng bad tinapay on each side:-(

    scarborough shoal taken by the chinese in 2014(?) is well within our EEZ, around 140 miles from our shore. China’s Hainan island is 800 miles aaway. How illogical is their claim? Who can can say what the Chinese will want next. cebu, puerto princessa? The chinese are serious in their intent. the question is are filipinos taking this seriously. Or will they just play along with a leader who will give china what is wants. It’s a perfect storm for china’s long-term goal of s. china sea domination — an anti-american, chinese-friendly Phil president who is cozy with NPA.

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