Philippine President Gloria Arroyo is accused by her critics of approving an anomalous transaction involving the Chinese firm ZTE. But there is a new allegation that the president is guilty of treason as well.
Journalist Ricky Carandang gives a background of the issue:
“Seven countries claim ownership of the disputed Spratly Islands (in the South China Seas). China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines all claim to own part or all of the Spratlys. These overlapping claims have been a source of tension over the years since the Spratlys (we Filipinos call them the Kalayaan Islands) are believed to contain significant reserves of oil and natural gas. China was the most aggressive in pursuiung its claim. In 1999, the Philippines–under President Joseph Estrada– led an effort to prevent tensions by getting all the claimants to agree not to take actions to provoke other claimants.
“But in 2003, the Philippines–now under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo– rocked the boat that it previously steadied when it signed an agreement with China to jointly undertake seismic studies of the Spratlys and explore for oil and natural gas. Naturally, the other claimants were angry. China’s traditional ally, Vietnam was so angry they it had to be let in to the deal to appease them.
“Aside from angering our neighbors and potentially undermining regional stability, Arroyo’s action may also be illegal.
“What would compel Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to sign a deal that potentially undermines regional stability, possibly grants China parity rights to oil reserves in the Spratlys that we claim to be ours, and likely violates our constitution?
“How about $2 billion a year? After the Spratly deal was signed, the Chinese government committed $2 billion in official development assistance a year to the Philippines until 2010, when Arroyo is supposed to step down from office. My sources tell me that the Spratly deal was an explicit precondition to the loans.”
If the allegation is true, Arroyo has violated Section 2, Article 12 of the Philippine Constitution which provides that “The exploration, development and utilization of our natural resources shall be under the full conrol and supervision of the State.”
Veteran journalist Ellen Tordesillas uploads relevant documents related to the Spratly’s deal. She also included her past interviews with public officials regarding the issues surrounding the ownership of the disputed islands.
Bluepanjeet, who is alarmed by the “large-scale compromise of territorial boundaries,” links several video clips of a TV documentary about the reported agreement. Manila Needs Dextrose uploads an article written by Far Eastern Economic Review correspondent Barry Wain (Manila’s Bungle in The South China Sea) who first exposed the deal two months ago.
TV reporter RG Cruz quotes Philippine government officials who insist that the deal does not include actual oil exploration but only a tripartite Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking “which is part of a strategic alliance to promote regional energy security, to lessen the region’s dependence on Middle East oil.” However, Chinese officials admit that the agreement includes oil and gas exploration.
By Jove reports that the presidential palace gave hints that the Philippines may no longer seek an extension of the Spratly deal, especially if the undertaking would show that no oil is found. The palace also clarifies that the agreement is not unconstitutional since it “refers not to “government to government” basis but to private entities like the Philippine National Oil Company, the China Offshore Oil Corp., and Vietnam Oil and Gas Corporation”
Activist lawyers warn that the undertaking is void:
“It is void if signed by Pres. Arroyo and the Chinese government in consideration of fraudulent transactions in the various projects and loan agreements involving Chinese companies. In fact, due to the fraudulent transactions accompanying the loan agreements, the Philippine has every right to demand the voidance even of the loans itself should fraud be proved between the two parties. The Filipino people should not be made to pay for loans, a large portion of which went to private individuals with the knowledge of the contracting parties.”
The Palawan Report is against the agreement:
“It doesn’t make any practical sense, much less a diplomatic justification, for the Philippines to go the extra mile of inviting China and Vietnam to explore Philippine territories that are not even contested by any other claimant country, and are well within our undisputed economic zones.”
Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes has the same sentiment:
“I am appalled at the extent by which the Arroyo administration and her allies in the House of Representatives are willing to subvert national interest in order to accommodate the interests of a foreign country.”
Political analyst Luis Teodoro describes the Arroyo government as the most rapacious political class in Southeast Asia:
“Reform and even revolution have become so obviously necessary as solutions to the putrid rule of the most rapacious political class in Southeast Asia they can only pretend to be for it themselves. That’s why even some of the most immoral are raising the standards of a moral revolution — and the unreformed waving the banners of reform.”
Bryanton Post wants the guilty parties to be punished today:
“How much more can the Filipinos take? This administration must not get away with this issue this time. If it does–the way it was able to do so in the past scandals –not only do erring officials get away again with their acts of wrongdoing. Worse, as a long-term damage, we allow the growing brazenness of the political class to commit corruption, undermine public and private institutions, escape prosecution, and continue to reign in this sorry land of ours. Not in our name. Not in the name of our ancestors and heroes. Not in the name of our children and the future Filipinos to come.”
Musings of Don Kishote believes the president committed treason:
“I don’t know what else this present government has not done yet to destroy the nation. As if accepting bribe from the Chinese on the NBN deal is not enough, this one on Kalayaan Islands is by far the worst act of this government and should be treated as act of treason.”
Mackybaka! asks if the United States is already displeased over its reliable ally in the Philippines:
“Could it be that the US has gone displeased of this regime because of its developing closeness towards the Chinese? Talks abound that the Arroyo government chose to surrender our territorial integrity and sovereignty (Spratly claim) in exchange for the billions in loan packages from China (NBN-ZTE deal is just one of the many).”
Snippets is disappointed over Arroyo’s inaction and silence:
“Why is Ms. Arroyo hiding her hands with the invocation of the executive privilege? And why is she not pushing for the prosecution and incarceration of those who caused the flaws of the contracts she signed?”
Gabriela Women’s Party notes that “International shame is the price that our country pays for the cover-ups, bribes and lies that this mafia-run government perpetuates.” Achieving Happiness is not surprised that the Arroyo regime has practically sold its claim on the Spratly Islands. All that blogs has an initial roundup of articles relevant to the issue. The Equalizer cites treason as one of Arroyo’s seven deadly sins.
The Odyssey writes about poverty and corruption:
“The people could no longer bear their worsening suffering and poverty. It has become apparent to them that their intensifying hardships are a direct consequence of the Arroyo regime's corruption. The increasingly dismal economic conditions of the broad masses of the people could no longer be obscured by the regime's falsified statistics and media hype about economic progress. The people's growing misery and oppression are increasingly being linked to the regime's reeking corruption.”
Tingog.com thinks the Spratly Islands mess could reveal more illegal transactions involving the First Family:
“The Spratly deal is painting an even more grim picture as to how the prostitution of our land has been implemented in order to garner funds for The Arroyo Regime. And indeed, it seems that the entirety of all these back room deals with China should now be scrutinized. The Spratly Islands deal may have been the start, but it seems that because the Spratly deal went so well under-the-radar, President Gloria Arroyo’s Administration has had the gall to try to implement even more “Executive Agreements” with China after that initial agreement.”
Splice and Dice asserts that the deal is another “monumental reminder of how Gloria failed this nation.” He adds:
“While conferring China the right to dig our backyard, we are abandoned with the duty to pay them stacks and piles of money from our taxes at the end of the day. It's prostitution of the land, literally and figuratively, only that this time around we get to pay them back after humping our lands instead of them paying us, or Gloria for that matter, for allowing them to take what is rightfully ours.”
The Nutbox has several proposals on how the Philippines can resolve the Spratly imbroglio:
“I can say there’s nothing wrong with scrapping the deal and upsetting Beiijing, if only to promote Philippine interests in the region. But before Manila do that, she must first make sure that she would have the ASEAN to back her up once China explodes in anger. That’s because the Philippines alone could never handle China’s wrath. The Philippines needs to stick with the ASEAN and urge the bloc to face Chinese threat as a united group. This has consistently worked in the past.”
Samurai Joe’s Cyber Dojo has lost faith in the system:
“Though I still have faith in President Gloria Arroyo, this has seriously lowered my opinion of her and totally trashed my faith in the system. Are we governed by politicians with no vision of greatness for our country? Why is our government selling out to China and Vietnam?”
In a related issue, it seems the Chinese government is pressuring Philippine Congress not to pass a bill that would officially include the Spratly Islands as part of the Philippine territory. Below is an excerpt from a document which was allegedly sent by the Chinese government to members of Congress:
“If the Philippine side forcefully puts Scarborough Shoal and some other NANSHA reefs and islands inside the baseline of Philippine territorial sea, it will not only be conducive to the stability in the South China Seas, but also disturb China-Philippine cooperation in the area, exerting negative impact on the healthy development of our bilateral relations.”
“The move of Beijing is not only undiplomatic. It is actually a foreign intervention authored and executed by the ruling capitalist railroaders and bureaucrat capitalists in China who passed themselves off as communists. They are not communists because these are not the works of communists. The truth is these Beijing top guns are top money makers and exploiters based in Beijing, nothing more, nothing less.”