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Analysis

Sovereignty issues with China, MILF a test for President Aquino

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China has launched its first aircraft carrier, signaling its growing naval power that’s likely to increase tensions between Beijing and smaller Asian maritime states, including the Philippines, over territorial claims on islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The 67,000-ton, 302-meter warship sailed from its home port, Dalian, in northeastern China on Wednesday to start its sea trials, amid a show of force in the disputed sea by the US Navy and the expected arrival shortly of the biggest warship of the Philippine Navy, the Hamilton class, World War II-vintage Coast Guard cutter.

The cutter, recently purchased from the United States and renamed BRP Gregorio del Pilar, is on its way from California to join the Philippine Navy as its flagship.

It is a puny vessel compared to the Chinese carrier, but Philippine Navy officials have said the ship would be used, among other purposes, to defend the country’s maritime interests in waters near the disputed Spratly Islands.

Navy officials said the ship would be deployed to patrol near the Palawan area where the Philippines has established outposts and planted its flag to underscore its sovereignty following intrusions of Chinese vessels over the past five months.

The United States showed its concern with the visit last week of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier in Hong Kong for a four-day port call, three days after the voyage of the Chinese carrier. The port call is more likely to impress the Chinese of the US naval presence in the West Philippine Sea.

Sovereignty issues

For the Philippines, the cruise of the Chinese carrier came at an inauspicious moment, with the country embroiled in a more domestic issue involving sovereignty over its own territory threatened with dismemberment by the decadeslong insurgency of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The stalled peace negotiations between the government and the MILF came to a head two weeks ago when President Aquino secretly met Murad Ebrahim, chair of the MILF, in Tokyo in an initiative to restart the stalled talks.

The Tokyo meeting has dumped into the hands of Mr. Aquino two national sovereignty issues—the territorial dispute with China over the Spratly Islands and the enforcement of Manila’s authority over its national territory against secessionist demand.

After the meeting, the MILF demanded the establishment of a Muslim “substate” in Mindanao as a condition for the withdrawal of its early demand for a separate state.

This new demand appeared to be an ultimatum poised on the head of the Manila government. The demand sounded like it was a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum to agree to the MILF’s scaled down proposal.

Test for Aquino

These two tests on the Aquino administration involving national sovereignty issues emerged as its popularity declined in public opinion polls and as it faced increasing criticism over its competence in managing domestic issues, including boosting economic growth.

The launch of the Chinese aircraft carrier has cast a dark shadow on the ability of the administration to effectively carry out in the near term its strong remonstrance that it would never cede any inch of Philippine territory to counter claims by neighbors on the disputed territories.

The start of the sea trials of the Chinese aircraft carrier is believed by China watchers to be a sign of its burgeoning naval power.

The International Herald Tribune (IHT) quoted Xinhua, the state-run Chinese news agency, as saying that the launch was “a highly symbolic step in what is certain to be a multiyear effort to create a carrier presence in the Pacific waters off its coast.”

Scientific research

The carrier, once known as Varyag, is a refitted version of a Soviet vessel, the Riga, that was once supposed to become the most advanced carrier in the Soviet fleet, the IHT report said. But construction at a Ukrainian shipyard was halted when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Ukraine later stripped the ship of its weapons and engines and put it up for sale. A Chinese company bought the Varyag for $20 million, ostensibly to turn into a floating casino. Work to retrofit the ship started in Dalian in 2004.

The Chinese defense ministry said last month that the carrier would be used largely for scientific research and training. According to the IHT, foreign analysts said it could be a decade or more before the Chinese can deploy and operate a fleet of carriers, the most costly and complex weapons system in any nation’s arsenal.

“The launch is nonetheless a highly significant moment for China’s fast-growing military,” the report said.

Long march

Andrei Chang, the Hong Kong-based editor of Kanwa Defense Review, said: “It’s a milestone for them, and not only the Navy, but it’s the first step in a long march.”

A Chinese defense ministry spokesperson said last month the vessel did not alter China’s stated policy that its armed forces were wholly defensive in nature and that the ship had “nothing to do” with China’s disputes with neighboring countries over its claim to most of the West Philippine Sea.

But the IHT said “a fleet of carriers would nevertheless bolster the Navy’s already overwhelming military advantage over the Navies of China’s smaller neighbors.”

Accept reality

In a commentary, Xinhua said: “There should be no excessive worries or paranoid feelings on China’s pursuit of an aircraft carrier.” It noted that the People’s Liberation Army will be the l0th Navy to operate one.

“It will not pose a threat to other countries and other countries should accept and be used to the reality that we are developing the carrier.”

Chinese nationalists were less diplomatic, according to the Financial Times. Quoting an online discussion forum, the newspaper reported reactions that said: “China is the world’s next superpower. It’s just that we don’t admit that to the outside world!”


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Tags: China , MILF , Moro Islamic Liberation Front , President Benigno Aquino III , West Philippine Sea


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=760856837 Ryan Sionil Estrada

    I don’t know if your reporters even try to research. Hamilton class ships were used from 1965. If World War II happened around 1965 then that would be the case. Unless I’m wrong. I like reading Inquirer online but please check your entries.

    • Anonymous

      You are correct.  Hamilton class cutters were in commission since 1965, which would be two decades after World War II. 

      Mr. Doronila:  It does not do your reputation a favor when you trip on rookie mistakes like this one.  From the reader’s perspective, if an article has factual errors like this one, how can we rely on the rest of what you have written or your analysis for that matter.

  • http://twitter.com/toothpastesales be honest

    So much has been said about the Chinese aircraft carrier, even trying to link it to the dispute of territory. Some even said that would be a big threat.
    But instead of sensationise the story, why people dont balance their view/report. Dont people know that India and Thailand have warships for years already.

  • Anonymous

    The Aircraft Carrier of China has more symbolic power than a strategic naval power. But it is certainly a significant step to a long march to develop a credible carrier batte group. Its only strategic increment is diplomatic.Meaning, we the small countries shudder at the thought this could be eventually used against us. But all military analysts are unanymous, this carrier as it is, do not alter the naval balance in the Taiwan Straits. It can be easily sunk by a capable surface to surface missile or a capable submarine. It does not have the multi layered defensive system of a US Carrier Battle Group. It took the US decades to achieve this level of Aircraft Carrier Technological competence.

    Likewise, our Hamilton Class cutter is an initial step to a multi year program of increasing our country’s Naval power. As it is, the Hamilton is not even a war ship. It lacks the battle system required of a modern battle ship. And as such, it can easily be sunk by a missile launch from surface, submarine, or  aircraft. To crow about it is laughable.

    There are war ships for sale in the Eastern European countries that is as cheap as P3B. I dont understand why we have to secure these from the US. These battle ships are installed with 500km range missile armaments. Russia are selling Kilo class submarines which we can well afford. This sunmarines have the missile system and torpedo systems that can defend our deep sea interest. Vietnam has 6 of these protecting their claim of the Paracels which is also claimed by China.

    • Anonymous

      i don’t think so politicians are more interested in their own welfare ..kamaganak.inc.if you remember.late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the 1980;s want to buy fighter plane F16s a dozen or more was blocked by living politicians same inutile still in the senate and congress they say we do not need these…..they were the same idiot who keep making  noise but  have done nothing for motherland ….kaya nabaliw si Sisa  sa paghahanap kay Crispin at Basilio ……..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Badajosnon-Macabaian/100002348566742 Badajosnon Macabaian

    “Chinese nationalists were less diplomatic, according to the Financial Times. Quoting an online discussion forum, the newspaper reported reactions that said: “China is the world’s next superpower. It’s just that we don’t admit that to the outside world!””…………..Kunwari pa kasi. Ayaw pang umamin sa totoong layunin kung bakit sila nag-put-up ng aircraft carrier.

    Mga kapatid, let’s all boycott the exhibit of Chinese products now at SMX CONVENTION HALL.  Let us make them aware of our collective displeasure on their bullying acts in the WPS/SCS. Every centavo that China earns from the sale of their products contribute to their economic power, which in turn, contribute to their military power. With their military power, they bully their small neighbors.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jon-Weisberg/100000015668659 Jon Weisberg

      Sabi nga ni Lourd, “anung boycott-boycott? Eh halos lahat ng ginagamit natin pang araw-araw, lalo na ung mga simpleng bagay ay gawa sa tsina. Anu nalang gagamiting ntin nyan?” Mukhang mahirap yun proposal mo. Mron pa nm cgurong ibang way,

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Badajosnon-Macabaian/100002348566742 Badajosnon Macabaian

        kaya nga challenge sa ating political will. Kailan pa tayo magigising? Ang hirap sa ating mga Pinoy, adik sa lahat ng imported o state-side. Gusto lahat imported. Kahit peke, basta imported. Kahit natural na kulay na kayumanggi na bigay ni Lord sa ating mga asyano gustong palitan ng puti, ikinahihiya ang pagiging kulay kayumanggi. Bibili ng sapatos imported from Italy, gawa pala sa Marikina. Ang mga itim very proud sa kanilang kulay. BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL sabi. Tayo? BROWN IS UGLY kaya dapat paputiin ng mga lotion gawa ng Tsina, kahit may pampa-cancer. and so forth and so on. Kelan ba tayo magbabago? Kelan nating simulan ang pagbabago? Ngayon o 100 years from now or never?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3FRX76IEQIKHVCCPFEDF3KK2MI Doraemon Fan

    Mr. Doronila…please study the facts before you write. A hamilton class ship is a not a warship…it’s a frigate. It is also not a WWII vintage…it was laid down in 1967 almost three decades after WWII so that does not make the ship a WWII era  fighting craft. Be factual.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MLQFFI2TRVXUQDNOGBI6OBLD2I A.J.

      A frigate ship is classified as a warship. In todays navy the biggest to smallest are: Carrier>Cruise>Destroyer>Frigate>Corvette>Subs. But I have to agree with you, the Hamilton-class is not a World War II era ship.

  • Lee Rivera

    i-export natin yung mga carnappers natin dun, panakaw natin yung parts ng aircraft nila, at least mahuli man, ok lang, nabawasan criminal sa pilipinas. :)

    kidding aside, this could either be his legacy or embarassment depending on the outcome of his actions.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GBMBRBBPEG5LKJBY3HLJJBG7DU jose

    China is strong but it is no superpower, and it should stop posturing as one. It cannot do anything that is not permitted by the true superpower we call the United States. The Chinese should learn to tell if they are truly strong or if the United States is merely humoring them.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OQSMBECMRDCWHF5URFDKSFGT4E Mak

      china as superpower. funny.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VY25ZOHU3FJFFX6CYSH5W4AX3I sugbu

    I don’t care about China or MNLF……settle the sacrilegious act of Medio Cruz,first and foremost.!!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FJGFHI4EVLPWWRAYM3KFAWD2SU john doe

    Yes, Hamilton class is not a warship but a frigate, use by the US Coast Guard as patrol ship frequently at Bering Sea Off the Alaskan Coast. So it can operate on High Seas even on bad weather condition, with speed of 28 knots at range of 14,000 nautical miles.

  • http://joboni96.myopenid.com/ joboni96

    magtatagumpay ang gobyerno
    sa usaping milf peace talks

    at magpapalakas sa bayan natin
    para harapin ang pananakop ng tsina
    sa karagatan natin sa kanluran
    kalayaan islands
    at exclusive economic zone

    bigyan natin ng puwang
    ang pagbabawi sa pang-aapi
    sa bangsa moro
    na sinimulan pa ng mga kastila
    at itinuloy ng u.s.

    kailangang iwaksi
    ang bulok na iniwan ng mga
    kastila at u.s. na mananakop

  • Anonymous

    i dont think pnoy can handle this issue the spratly and MILF pang pogi points lang, since pnoy was elected as congresman, ano ang ginawa niyang batas nung siya’y nakaupo bilang congresman sa aking pagka alam WALA (he just lay egg) when he was elected as senator anong batas ang ginawa niya (nagbutas lang silya sa senado). now your talking a sovereignty issue with china and MILF do you think he can solve this issue ??????????? baka sa barangay level lang di pa niya makayanan magresolba ng problema national issue pa, sayang ang mga bumoto sa kanya dahil lang sa awa ng mamatay sa kanyang ina (PRES. CORY). baka sabihin ako’y maka GMA hindi po, sa aking pananaw walang alam ang binotong presidente ng pilipinas dumaan ang una at pangalawang SONA ano ang ating narinig pambabatikos sa nakalipas na administrasyon walang masama dun, ibinulgar lang ni pnoy ang corruption ng nagdaan na administrasyon , pero sa binitawan sa salita ni pnoy ANG NAGKAMALI AY DAPAT PARUSAHAN mukhang nilamon niya ang kanyang sinabi. mukhang double standard siya pag kalaban ang may maling ginawa agad itong kinakasuhan sa MEDIA,. pero pag KKKKK (kainuman, kakaklase, kaibigan, kapartido,kabarilan )siguradong abswelto at walang ingay sa media. anong nangyari ka puno (usec DILG) abswelto, comm. ng Bureau of Custom may balitang nawawala ang 2,000 container van sa loob ng port anong hakbang ang ginawa ni pnoy , nagbulagbulagan lang animo’y walang nagkamali, pagbili ng laptop (apple macintosh) anong hakbang ang ginawa niya WALA pero kung ito’y kalaban malamang may kaso na sa media ang secretary na ito. sabi ni pnoy kailangan magtipid ang ahensiya ng gobyerno exempted pala pag nasa loob ng bakuran ni pnoy ang involved sa gastusan. yan ba ang sinasabing tuwid na daan (derecho bangin) ? sa tingin nyo ba mga kababayan kakayanin ni pnoy maresolba ang mga malalaking issue ng ating bansa ?????

    • Anonymous

      ang haba! and mukhang wala ka namang sinabing maganda so wag na basahin..

  • Anonymous

    At least this Hamilton class frigate looks more impressive than the tired old Rajah Humabon.But is this really the modernisation of the AFP?  Again Uncle Sam is selling the Philippines a puppy. The good ol’ US of A will help rescue the oil in the Spratly’s, as they always do.They do not want a strong Philippine Navy interfering with their plans. Now about that problem in Mindanao… is there much oil in the Moro Gulf? Seems to me the Philippines always is on the losing end by ceding territory to militancy.Masakit ang ulo ko. Land ownership is and always has been the basis of problems in the Place where Asia wears a Smile.Do not give up any territory,or oil to line the pockets of the few.History shows the failed states where secession was based on religious grounds. Look at any atlas or map of the world and you will find several examples. While you are there you can check out all the countries where the United States is militarily defending freedom of the oil pipelines.Upgrade the AFP now, stop all the infighting of brother against brother and concentrate on unity to defend the Motherland against outside influences and keep what little we have.Mabuhay Pilipinas!

  • Guest

    Yes. This is a political kayaking for the President.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.solquillo Peter Solquillo

    The Hamilton class is NOT a WW2 cutter Its a recently decommissioned 1960s coast guard cutter. So unless the second world war happened in 1965 I wouldn’t be so fast in typing this. 

  • Anonymous

    Forget about the frigate and warships for museums.
    The fact: noyAbnoy can’t even settle the disputes on the Hacienda issues. And now he is talking about Spratly and MILF?
    For now, allow him to continue playing Red Alert with Josh.

  • Guest

    WW

  • Anonymous

    Not a WW2 vintage ship. 
     
    My fellow readers,  even my 5 year kid   knows that the Hamilton Class of Cutters are not of WW2 vintage,  contrary to what the author of this article has stated. Allow me to give your new ship, the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) some justice…..
    Setting,  the record straight: these vessels were made in the 1960s, and since then had undergone  what we call in the industry, a FRAM phase  (Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization) in the 1990s which practically upgraded it up to today’s navy standards. Although the US navy removed the “classified” equipment off the ship, it is still a formidable combat platform that the Philippines can make good use off. It is now categorized as a Patrol Frigate, and by today’s navy standards, is a very promising and capable vessel.

    Strong and able workhorse

     One notable feature of the Hamiltons, (the envy of other  third world  Navies) is its two types of  engines it has.  This boat has the option to use a Dual JET turbine Engine that will allow it to reach a very fast speed 30knots+/-  in times of war,   and an economical Dual Diesel Engine for normal cruising. That feature combined with variable pitch propellers (yes, it’s the thing that spins in the water to move the boat  forward and back), is perfect for the Philippine navy and there’s no better way to describe it!  

    Case of David and Goliath
    And……Of course when choosing an analogy, you don’t go around  comparing  “decent car sedan” to a a “18 wheeler truck”. So in the same lines, you can’t  compare the Gregorio Del Pilar  to a chinese aircraft carrier. —  Do you still think its “puny” considering this laud misrepresentation?

    First Change the Filipino Attitude, and work on National Pride

     From this point, I can go on,  and on, and on,  writing about the Philippines’ new ship but it won’t change the renowned  typical FILIPINO attitude of “Pessimism” Instead of being glad or grateful for acquiring a new ship, some people would rather  just go out of their way to say something negative. If this kind attitude is allowed to go on, i wouldn’t be surprised if China tramples  over Philippine sovereignty   in no time!
    While watching this supposedly “law makers” participating in  a  committee hearing regarding fraudulent helicopter purchases for the Philippine Police, a thought rang in my mind. How would the Philippines handle diplomacy issues if it was thrown into a last minute “do- or-war” scenario?
     I noticed Filipinos have another bad habit of “Cussing” at each other. OR stabbing people in the back. Why does this need to happen?      There’s no sense of unity at all among the Filipino people. Tagalog and Visayans, Moros and Christians, Leftists and Rightists, they all have agendas. But none of them designed for the common good.  It’s all about “what is mine” and “what is yours” and “I don’t care about you, just as long I’m okay over here.”
     You’ve got immature policy makers on one side,  ignorant journalists on another, and a people who dont seem to have any  decent sense of patriotism in their hearts.   You think the world would give a s**t as to what will happen to the Philippines if the Chinese came?  The more I see it, the “Kanya-kanya” attitude will prevail more than likely and the rest of people will just look the other way.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FTV6P77AZAZL5FQK2DMEDN7TMY natan

       hundred percent right man. we filipinos need an attitude change now.

  • http://joboni96.myopenid.com/ joboni96

    ang hamilton binenta sa atin
    para di sila gumastos sa decommissioning
    at hazardous waste disposal

    magastos ito imaintain at
    malaking target para sa kalaban

    dapat ginastos na lang ang pera
    sa pag rehab at upgrade
    ng mga nandyan ng barko ng navy

    kung gusto nilang bumili ng bagong surplus
    bumili sila ng mga fast missile boats
    mas mabuti kung gawang pilipino
    tulad ng aguinaldo at andrada class

    ang malalaking barko tulad ng hamilton
    pang mga imperyalistang
    sumusugod sa ibang bayan
    tulad ng u.s.
    kung saan kailangan mong
    matagal na nasa laut

    talo na naman ang pilipino
    sa pangongopya at pagsunodsunod
    sa imperyalistang u.s.



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