On Philippine Foreign Policy
Akbayan (Citizens Action Party) | 04.16.2012
1) Akbayan calls on Filipinos to defend sovereignty against US and Chinese interests
2) Akbayan to Chinese government: Defuse standoff, pull vessels out of Scarborough shoal
3) Akbayan condemns North Korea’s planned rocket launch
4) Akbayan (Citizens Action Party) congratulates Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy
Akbayan calls on Filipinos to defend sovereignty against US and Chinese interests
Akbayan Party today called on Filipinos to be vigilant and engaged in defending the country's sovereignty from different foreign interests. The statement was made coinciding with the formal start of the United States' Balikatan military exercises with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and several allies, and amid the unresolved tension at the Panatag shoal involving the Philippines and China.
"At a time when the country's sovereignty is being challenged or worse, trampled upon by different foreign powers, we call on the Filipino people to exercise their patriotic duty in defending our rights as a sovereign nation," Akbayan Representative Walden Bello said.
The partylist lawmaker identified the US-led military exercises and the continuing Chinese intrusions in the Philippine sea as glaring examples.
"The Filipino people should see the real score behind this two issues. The public must not make the mistake of fighting one bully and siding with another. We should stand up against all intimidators whether they are American or Chinese," Bello said.
Bello said It is obvious that the United States wants to expand its military presence in the region by using the Balikatan military exercises as an excuse to hide its military aspirations.
"We are at the losing end of this joint exercises. We not only undermine our country's independence to joint military drills mainly supervised by a foreign power, we also risk of unnecessarily provoking our neighbors such as China, which is similarly guilty of disrespecting our sovereignty, Bello added.
Bello said his political party hopes President Benigno Simeon Aquino III will reconsider conducting more exercises in the future.
"Again, we reiterate our call to President Aquino, let this be the last time that this government allow a foreign power shape our international and military policies. While we believe and support mutual cooperation among different countries, this should be based on mutual respect of each country's rights and interests," Bello said.
Likewise, Akbayan called on the public to unite in defending Philippine sovereignty in the Panatag shoal, the location of the recent standoff between the country's naval forces and China's vessels.
"Let us raise our collective and national voice in condemning the continuing Chinese intrusions into our territory. We may be a small country, but we are not parsimonious in demonstrating our national indignation against those who bully us into surrendering our rights as a sovereign nation," Bello said.
Bello who led a peace and sovereignty mission into the Spratly islands last year said the Chinese government should immediately end the "stalemate" in the area by withdrawing its vessels stationed in Panatag shoal.
"The Panatag shoal is an integral part of Philippine territory. The Chinese vessels entered our territory without due permission or invitation. It is only proper that they end the tension by immediately leaving the area," Bello said.
Akbayan also condemned China’s illegal poaching activities in the Panatag Shoal.
"China is not only guilty of undermining Philippine sovereignty but also of poaching our country’s marine resources. Sadly, instead of apologizing for this transgression, the Chinese government chose to withdraw its fishing vessels together with their illegal harvest from the Philippines. It is not only guilty of bullying but also of coddling marine poachers, " Bello said.
It was reported that the eight Chinese fishing vessels that were stopped by BRP Gregorio Del Pilar last week contained assorted endangered species, large amounts of corals, sizable quantities of giant clams, live sharks and other marine endangered species which were allegedly unlawfully acquired from Philippine seas.
Akbayan said disputes in the West Philippine Sea must be resolved diplomatically and amicably and not through actions that coerce other countries. The group said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a viable platform to resolve alleged disputes.
The group also called on the Chinese government to abide by the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
Akbayan to Chinese government: Defuse standoff, pull vessels out of Scarborough shoal
Akbayan Party today demanded the Chinese government to pull out of the Scarborough shoal (Panatag Shoal) in response to a standoff between the Philippine Navy and Chinese vessels in the area. According to Akbayan Party Representative Walden Bello, “The Scarborough Shoal is an integral part of our territory within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the country.
"The burden of defusing the situation lies in the Chinese government which has unduly entered into our territory.The Scarborough Shoal is obviously part of Philippine territory. It is only 124 nautical miles from the nearest point in Zambales. Philippine sovereignty resides in that area," Bello said.
Bello said “the Chinese government should stay true to its previous pronouncements that it does not want any escalation of the conflict."
"Disputes in the West Philippine Sea must be resolved diplomatically and amicably and not through actions that coerce other claimants," Bello said.
"If the Chinese government still believes and abides by the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, to which it is a signatory to, then it should pull out its vessels from the Panatag Shoal immediately,” Bello added.
Akbayan also urged the Chinese government to use widely accepted diplomatic avenues to resolve the conflict in the area.
“The tone and rhetoric that the Chinese government has used to bully the Philippines to submit to its uncalled for demand that we withdraw from our own territory is ridiculous, unneighborly, and in stark contrast to its previous statements that it supports moves in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to finally draft a binding Code of Conduct," Bello said.
"China should not resort to gunboat diplomacy to assert its claims, or worse, to enter into another country's territory and disrespect its sovereignty,” Bello said.
Akbayan also called on the Aquino government to exhaust all peaceful and diplomatic channels to secure Philippine sovereignty in the area.
"I trust President Aquino and the Department of Foreign Affairs that they will secure our country's sovereignty in the area. We may be a small country but we should not be cowed by a bully," Bello concluded.
Ten Chinese vessels were monitored by the Philippine Navy's flagship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15), when it was deployed there Sunday, April 8, for maritime patrol in the area. A boarding team sent to the vessels discovered various illegally collected giant clams, corals, and live sharks. Afterwards, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar reported 2 Chinese maritime surveillance ships had managed to sail at the mouth of the Shoal, placing themselves between PF-15 and the Chinese fishing vessels, thus preventing the arrest of the Chinese fishermen.
Akbayan Party has previously condemned Chinese naval intrusions into Philippine territory. In July of 2011, a peace and sovereignty mission led by Akbayan Representatives Walden Bello and Kaka Bag-ao together with other lawmakers visited Filipinos residing in Pag-asa Island on the West Philippine Sea.
Political party says North Korea missile undermines Philippine sovereignty, put Filipinos at risk
Akbayan Party today condemned the North Korean Government’s plan to launch a missile between April 12 to 16 which reportedly will pass through Philippine air space and which is said to coincide with the 100th birth anniversary of its “great leader” Kim Il Sung.
The Filipino political party said the planned missile launch will undermine Philippine sovereignty and put Filipinos at unnecessary risk.
“We condemn this planned missile launch of the North Korean regime. This act only serves to provoke the rest of the world and destabilize the region. Worst of all, the regime’s unilateral decision that Philippine territory would serve as a dumping ground of its rocket debris undermines our country’s sovereignty and exposes our citizens to unwarranted risk,” Akbayan Spokesperson Risa Hontiveros said.
“In solidarity with the Filipino people and the peoples of the world, we demand the North Korean government to immediately cancel this planned missile launch,” Hontiveros added.
Akbayan also chided the planned rocket launch stating that the North Korean government is putting its missile program over and above its people’s food security. Hontiveros said the planned missile launch was symptomatic of the country prioritizing its national defense over its people’s welfare.
“The North Korean government should take into account the humanitarian cost in pushing through with this missile launch. Should they push through with it, they are virtually making an international statement that they would rather let their people starve than cancel the rocket launch,” Hontiveros said.
United States using missile crisis to justify its military presence
Akbayan also criticized the United States government for using the rocket launch as a pretext to militarize the region.
“We cannot discount the fact that the argument for maintaining American presence in the region and Asia as a whole has been boosted by North Korea’s actions. The immediate American response to this has been to boost its presence in the region by sending more anti-missile ships near Japan on top of the 50,000 troops it has stationed in Japan and the more than 28,000 troops in South Korea,” according to Akbayan lawmaker Walden Bello.
“We reiterate, we cannot stop a bully by calling in another bully. Akbayan is against all forms of imperialism, whether it is American, Chinese or in this case, from the North Korean regime,” Bello said.
ASEAN should have greater stake in missile issue
Akbayan likewise called for greater participation of Southeast Asian nations in the issue. Bello stated that “given that the rocket is expected to land somewhere off the eastern coast of Northern Luzon, the least that Southeast Asian nations deserve is a greater voice on the pressing matter.”
“We must give the region a bigger voice regarding this serious issue. The repercussions of any North Korean missile launch is no longer felt exclusively in the Northeast Asian region but has already spilled over to our part of Asia. The fact that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has already expressed concern regarding this issue reflects this sentiment,” according to Bello.
It was reported that North Korea's Unha-3 rocket is expected to fly over western Japan, including part of Okinawa, scheduled to be launched anytime from April 12-16. North Korea informed the International Maritime Organization that the 2nd stage of the rocket will also splash 190 kilometers northeast of the Philippines. North Korea has claimed that the rocket is part of its “satellite program.”
The launch would be the fourth of its kind since 1998, when Pyongyang sent a long-range rocket hurtling over Japan. The last rocket launch, in 2009, led to a condemnation from the United Nations and with North Korea walking away from the six-party nuclear disarmament talks; weeks later, Pyongyang carried out its second nuclear test. North Korea launched an Unha-2 rocket in April of 2009 carrying a communications satellite. However, South Korean and US officials said that there was no satellite launched into orbit and that the rocket launch was actually a missile test for their Taepodong-2 missile. Russian space officials also verified that the alleged North Satellite was not in orbit.
It was alleged that the planned launch could demonstrate if North Korea is closer to perfecting a multi-stage rocket. Security analysts fear a launch could spur a chain of events that would mirror 2009 and send tensions soaring again on the Korean peninsula. A year after the last test, 50 South Koreans were killed in attacks blamed on North Korea.
Akbayan is the only left political party in the Philippines that has voiced its condemnation of the planned rocket launch of the North Korean government. The party is also the only left group in the country that opposed Chinese expansionism in the West Philippine Sea.
Akbayan Party congratulates Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy
Akbayan Party congratulates Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League of Democracy (NLD) for their historic victory in the recently concluded by-elections in Burma. Despite persistent efforts by the military junta to derail the elections, the NLD has won at least 44 of the 45 contested seats in parliament. This election, although touted by many as token and merely symbolic, is a clear manifestation of the outright rejection of the military junta and a vote for genuine democracy by the peoples of Burma.
However, the peoples of Burma must not rest on their laurels. The military junta still controls most institutions of government and can easily withdraw some reforms it has introduced. The peoples of Burma must now persevere even harder now that they have representation in the parliament no matter how small it may be. This landslide victory of the NLD and the election of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi into parliament have undoubtedly been foreseen by the junta. The current political realities such as the international pressure on the junta and Burma’s continued isolation must be taken into account along with this latest development. Clearly, the military junta only wishes to project itself to the world as open to reforms by conceding a number of seats to the opposition while maintaining a huge majority of parliament. In effect, the junta is attempting to silence the opposition within the halls of parliament. We are certain that the peoples of Burma will not allow the military junta to deprive them of this victory. We are confident that with their continued struggle, both inside and outside of parliament, military rule will cease sooner than later and democracy will be restored.
While we celebrate this momentous occasion, we will also continue to cautiously await any future developments. Rest assured that Akbayan Party together with the Filipino people will continue to support the aspirations of the peoples of Burma for a free and democratic government.