If you found a stranger in your garden with shards of your once beautiful bonsai plant under his feet, would you graciously and kindly accept his apology if he can’t explain what is he doing in your garden in the first place?
That’s the simple and quaint description of this week’s latest news that drew uproar among Filipino netizens: US Navy Minesweeper rams into Sulu’s Tubbataha Reef, one of the most biologically-diverse reefs in Asia and also a protected wildlife area. What mostly angers us Filipinos is that how can these ships entered this part of the sea without any permit, or even a shred of explanation.
They didn’t even have the gall to report the incident on the Park Managers. I bet if the Rangers haven’t discovered them stuck in the first place, the story would be all hush-hush and they will leave Tubbataha peacefully without having to pay for the damages dealt.
Tubbataha Reef is one of the country’s five heritage sites under UNESCO. Spanning 97,000 hectares, it’s a favorite spot among divers and marine scientists for housing wild and exotic marine life, rivaling Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
With the ship stuck in the reef until now, the winds and the currents wedges the ship’s hull deeper into the corrals, increasing the damage even further. Two more ships reportedly came into the aid of the Minesweeper, but they seemed to ignore the park’s regulations and entered the park without any permit. What raises many eyebrows is how the Navy fails to explain WHAT ON EARTH ARE THEY DOING IN THE SULU SEA IN THE FIRST PLACE. They can’t explain any answer. Are we going to take that nicely just because we are US allies and US support us with the tension in South China Sea (West Philippine Sea)?
But what concerns me the most is how most of us Filipinos seem to react more passively with this issue than the time when a Chinese ship rammed down into an atoll within our territory. Public outrage was so high then, people were talking about how China is destroying the reefs and the marine life there. How they weren’t supposed to be there. How they wander in the West Philippine Sea so arrogantly and seem to be convinced they own the whole Philippine islands. I can understand the rage going on there, since it’s in the peak of the Scarborough Issue and China is really being a bully back then, having to demonstrate its naval power and all, but do we have to distinguish between China and US as the enemy and the supporter? Do we give special treatment to US and let bygones be bygones because it’s our ally?
I’ve seen a lot of tweets saying, “Look at the bright side, at least it wasn’t a China ship” or “It wasn’t China”….Whaaat…….Seriously, are you kidding me? Are we really Filipinos that narrow-minded to see that a damage is still a damage and no amount of friendship nor special history together can afford that? It’s in our territory and even if it’s a China ship stuck in there, or a US ship, or a Japan ship, or hell, even our own ship from our own rag-tag navy, we must DEMAND apology AND complete explanation to the perpetrators’ action.
Right now, in the South China Sea issue, we can’t even tell who the real enemies are, or the real allies. What I’m asking for Filipinos is to be vigilant and critical on every move being conducted within the disputed sea, may it be China’s movement or the movement of our allies. We have to understand where we stand, and that we stand with our sovereignty and constitution, and we must demand explanation when our rights are being abused or violated, may it be by the enemy or by our so-called friends.
A trespasser is a trespasser. Simple as that.