By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s decision to dismantle the floating barrier China installed at the entrance of Scarborough Shoal has sent a strong message that Manila is ready to make a stand in protecting its rights over the West Philippine Sea (WPS), an analyst said Saturday.
“Our President is showing that the policy of course is not peace at all cost. We would like to have a peaceful, cooperative relation with China but at the same time we will have to defend what we believe is ours,” De La Salle University Professor Renato Cruz de Castro said in a forum.
De Castro praised Marcos’ “decisiveness” in issuing the order to cut the barrier despite the risk of an “adverse reaction” from the Chinese side.
The 2016 arbitral award on the South China Sea recognized that the Scarborough Shoal, well within the country’s 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone, is a traditional fishing ground used by Filipinos for many generations.
De Castro said China putting a barrier at the entrance served as a “symbolism” that their action is “not simply directed against the government, it’s directed against ordinary Filipinos— the fishermen in Zambales”.
“In less than 24 hours of course the President made a decisive decision. It’s a very decisive decision because we also have to take into account how China would react but he made a decision,” he said.
“The buck stops with him and of course, he took the challenge, (President Marcos) ordered to cut the buoy,” he added.
De Castro pointed out that Marcos’ decision also reflected his pursuit of an independent foreign policy adding it was made without consulting other partners like Japan, Australia, or the United States.
He believes Marcos’ move also caught Beijing by surprise, “they never expect us to push back. So, sa ngayon, ang ginawa ng gobyerno ng China (What the Chinese government) is trying to assure their public that they are still on top of the situation,” he added. (PNA)