Is China After Our Oil and Gas Fields? written by Raissa Robles

If you are familiar with the song “Exodus”, it should go like this —

“These island are ours…
GOD gave these islands to us!”

Assuming that we finally acceed to bilateral talks with the Chinese, is there any chance of peace even after negotiations are concluded? What can our current or the next President do about our dilemma?

First, do we really know what has been happening in the West Philippine Sea or even in our Spratly Island group?


In 2014 when Sen Antonio Trillanes III was made a backdoor negotiator by Pres Pnoy on the Spratly Islands conflict, he had a meeting with US Ambassador Sonia Brady and he was reported by media with the leakage of the “confidential” and infamous “Brady Notes” to have berated, cursed and used very foul language against the lady Ambassador.

Local media was surely quick to cover the tiff between the then Senate Pres Johnny Ponce Enrile who lambasted Senator Trillanes for various offenses in handling his job, and in one mighty sweep, the seasoned JPE exonerated Manny V. Pangilinan to prevent the young Senator from requiring the businessman to appear in a Senate inquiry. But did media explain what caused this heated exchange?

As to why MVP would be asked to appear in a Senate inquiry, let us tackle that on some other opportune time because that would require a lengthy discussion of epic proportions.

Let’s get back to business and ask: Just why did the good-looking Senator act brazenly wild in that meeting with Ambassador Brady?

While we were all in the thick of territorial debates, Sen Trillanes discovered that China had completed building one natural gas well in each year beginning 2011, and at that time in 2014, all three (3) natural gas wells were not only operational but were already successfully drawing natural gas.

That’s correct. In the early 2014, China had been drawing natural gas FOR THE LAST THREE (3) YEARS!

And who were the partners of China? The giant Bechtel of USA contructed all the engineering works, while all of the three gas wells were being operated by Chevron of USA and Husky Energy of Canada which is also owned by a US conglomerate.


Woe to us. While the Philippines was ignorant of all this, our dear and loyal ally, the benevolent US of A whom we have always trusted, was surreptitiously sleeping with our enemy.

Trillanes further discovered that as early as fifteen (15) years ago, China announced in their daily newspapers that a total of TWELVE GAS WELLS were to be built in this area.

Now, what is next in the pipeline?


Could our Reed Bank be a part of this expansion?
Kindly read Raisa Robles’ article in its entirety.

Is China after the Philippines’ oil & gas fields?

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A Game of Shark and Minnow by Jim Himmelman

We don’t really need to repair or refurbish our rusty ship in the West Philippine Sea.



The ship BRP Sierra Madre was intentionally ran aground to mark the Ayungin Shoal which is below sea level. This ship now has a large hole in its hull as a result of having been grounded.

The presence of this ship serves as a symbolic marker, tactically giving the Philippines its legal claim on this shoal as any attempt by China or any other foreign country to remove or even touch this derelict ship shall by international law technically and legally mean an act of war.

Wikipedia also knows why the former USS Harnett County was rammed into the Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) in 1999:

“After the Vietnam War, Harnett County was transferred to the Philippine Navy, which named her BRP Sierra Madre (LT-57). In 1999 the Philippine government deliberately had her run aground on Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands to serve as an outpost of the Philippine Marine Corps to assert Philippine sovereignty in the country’s dispute with China over the ownership of the Spratly Islands. She still serves that function.”

The Philippine press corps has ostensively been brought to the Spratly Islands by the military officers on many occasions but where’s the real news? Why don’t they have detailed accounts on television, on radio, in print, or even in the worldwide web? Why do we continue to get simple snippets that have miserably failed to inform the public?

Does this indicate how inept or even possibly muzzled the local media has become?

I initially read this article a year ago through a link in a Facebook post of the political analyst Dr Popoy De Vera but at that time, although the Philippines-China conflict was something to worry about, events then were not as alarming as they are today. After almost two (2) years and a dozen political developments, Jim Himmelman’s piece is still the best write-up about the Spratlys simply because NOBODY ELSE HAS WRITTEN EXTENSIVELY about it.

Himmelman boarded the BRP Sierra Madre in the Ayungin Shoal and slept there for three (3) days to talk to our soldiers and thereby savored not only the mild dangers posed by nature but more of the likely threats from our aggressors who lurked just a few hundred meters away. He also went to the other God-forsaken islands and reefs and talked to our kababayans before writing about the Philippines – China territorial dispute in the Spratly Islands on 27 October 2013 for the New York Times.

The unfolding drama on these pristinely beautiful islands continues today with the gathering of more Chinese ships both civilian and military; the completion of garrison-like structures ready for a seeming confrontation; the heightened saber-rattling of China; and the refusal of Beijing to recognize the mediation of the UN; all of which have moved this paradise of tropical islands, coves and cays in an eerie position, seemingly waiting for the impending onslaught of something more powerful than any super storm.

Though quite lengthy, kindly read this article in its entirety as we may be able to glean on some valuable insights of an outsider who has seen conflicts of similar nature in other parts of the world.

Beautiful photographs and video are by Ashley Gilbertson

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Ang Laro ng Pating at ng Sapsap

Hindi natin nararapat na ayusin pa ang kinakalawang nating barko.

Bakit po?


Ang BRP Sierra Madre ay sinadyang isinadsad ng ating militar upang ito ay mabalahura o maging- “stranded” sa Ayungin Shoal na hindi nakalitaw sa dagat dahil ito ay “below sea level”. Ang barko ay nagtamo ng malaking butas sa ilalim at hindi na ito maaaring maglayag.

Ang pagkaka-balahura ng barko ay isang taktika na nagbibigay ng karapatan sa Pilipinas upang manatili doon at ipairal ng ating bansa ang legal na pagmamay-ari sa Ayungin at tuluyang angkinin ito.

Ayon sa pandaigdigang batas sa karagatan ay bawal itong galawin, hilahin, o sakyan man ng sinumang dayuhan sapagka’t anumang aksyon na katulad nito ay nangangahulugan ng kanilang paghamon ng giyera.

Alam din ng Wikipedia kung bakit ang USS Harnett County ay ibinalahura sa Ayungin Shoal noong 1999:

“After the Vietnam War, Harnett County was transferred to the Philippine Navy, which named her BRP Sierra Madre (LT-57). In 1999 the Philippine government deliberately had her run aground on Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands to serve as an outpost of the Philippine Marine Corps to assert Philippine sovereignty in the country’s dispute with China over the ownership of the Spratly Islands. She still serves that function.”

Sa nakaraang maraming taon, ang mga Pilipinong manunulat ay patuloy na isinasama ng Philippine Navy sa Spratly Islands nguni’t nasaan ang totoong balita? Bakit walang nakabuluhang pahayag sa telebisyon, sa radyo, sa dyaryo, o kahit na sa internet?

Bagama’t marami sa kanila ang may naisulat din naman ay wala namang sustansya ang kanilang mga pahayag. Hindi ba’t ang mga mumunting ampaw na balitang ito ang nagbibigay ng dumaraming katanungan sa isip ng publiko?

Nagtataka tuloy ang marami kung nabusalan na nga ba ang ating mga mamamahayag?

May isang taon na ang nakaraan nang unang mabasa ko ang isang link sa Facebook post ni Dr. Popoy De Vera, ang political analyst at propesor mula sa U.P., at akin pang pabirong naitanong sa kanya ang ilang bagay-bagay ukol dito dahil ang banta ng gulo noon ay malayo sa katotohanan, nguni’t ang aking pananaw ay mabilis na nagbago bunga ng maraming sumunod na pangyayaring naganap upang ang lahat ng mga ito’y labis nang ikabahala.

Matapos ang halos dalawang (2) taon na nabanggit, ang salaysay ng isang banyaga ang nananatiling pinakamalinaw na pagsasalarawan ng buhay sa Spratlys dahil WALA NAMANG SUMUSULAT NG MATINONG BALITA tungkol dito — si Jeff Himmelman ay sumampa sa BRP Sierra Madre sa Ayungin Shoal at nakitulog pa ng tatlong araw upang makapanayam niya ng masinsinan ang mga sundalo nating nagbabantay doon. Naglakbay din siya sa iba’t-ibang mga pulo ng Spratlys upang makita at marinig ang mga istorya ng mga Pilipinong nag-aalala ukol sa pag-aagawan ng teritoryo ng Pilipinas at ng Tsina upang kanyang maisulat ito noon pang 27 October 2013 para sa New York Times.

Ang kasaysayan sa mala-paraisong mga isla dito ay patuloy na uminog sa mga pagbabagong naganap: ang pagparada ng maraming barkong pandigma ng Tsina; ang pagtatayo ng mala-garrison na mga istruktura; ang tahasang pagpapakita at pagyayabang ng kanilang mga gamit pandigma; at ang ang pagtanggi ng Beijing na dumalo sa mga pag-uusap sa United Nations; lahat ng mga ito ay naglagay ngayon sa mga mala-paraisong isla dito sa isang kabagabagan dahil sa isang parating na pagsubok na malayong mas malakas pa sa kahit na anong unos na naranasan.

Bagama’t ang akda’y nakasulat sa wikang Ingles, batid naming mauunawaan din ito ng ating mga kababayang Pilipino. Pakibasa po ng buo ang artikulong ito kahit na may kahabaan upang masuri din natin ang pananaw ng isang dayuhan na nasanay nang makakita ng mga kahawig na sigalot sa ibang panig ng mundo.

(Ang Laro ng Pating at Sapsap)
Ang mga magagandang larawan at video ay pag-aari ni Ashley Gilbertson