Richard J. Gordon

Senate Session #39 Remarks on Chinese Law Governing Coast Guard Actions in the Disputed South China/West Philippine Sea

delivered 26 January 2021


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Mr. President,

I'm not going to interpellate the gentleman from Cavite [Senator Francis Tolentino]. However, I would like to make a manifestation, and perhaps even include the referral of the said speech to the National Defense Committee, Mr. President -- the Defense Committee, Mr. President.

This is something that I think we must not let pass, Mr. President. When another country claims the oceans surrounding us, which we claim, and for that matter even threatens to demolish our fishing boats, or the fishing boats of any country that somehow get into that ocean, Mr. President, or that sea, or for that matter demolish structures built on islands that we claim or they claim or some other nation claims: This is a serious cause for concern.

This is a shot in [across] the bow of all the claimants in the territories that is composed of the claims on disputed territories or islands and is something that we should have done a long time ago, especially when the People's Republic of China started building artificial islands, which is in violation of international law, Mr. President, and then started claiming it as an island that -- that is theirs.

Having said that, Mr. President, as we all know in Pag-asa [Island] we have if...I remember correctly, [built a beaching ramp and shipping harbor]. And we have also built some sort of a runway there and some buildings out there which, under this new declaration of the -- the legislation of Congress, puts our people there -- our civilians there, and particularly our armed forces, in harms way; or, for that matter, when they speak of even NGO [non-governmental organization] vessels traversing the area would be subject to fire by air, by land, by sea weapons, these are -- these are serious matters that I think must be discussed with our military and with our Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Now, my good friend Teddy Boy Locsin, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, I read today, said it is not our business because apparently in an effort to try to not involve [us] in a headlong confrontation, but I'm sure he will go on back channeling and ask for an explanation.1,2

At the very least I feel that China should explain what its intentions are, pretty simply because this creates a flash point in this area where 60% of the world is at and where a lot of assets in terms of oil, in terms of commerce, pass through every day.

So when [the] Chinese Coast Guard is allowed to take, and I quote, "'all necessary means,' including the use of weapons, to stop or prevent threats from foreign vessels," how can a Bangka threaten the Coast Guard of China? -- a fishing boat, as my good friend from Cavite says, from Zambales or Mindoro or from other areas like Palawan. How can they be treated as threats of foreign vessels when these are peacefully engaged in the struggle for life and trying to fish these oceans?

In other words, here is gunboat diplomacy where the Coast Guard personnel will now be permitted to board our boats. They are not satisfied with just ramming our boats and then leaving them. And now they are willing to inspect foreign ships. So -- assuming it is not Philippine vessels that they would inspect -- but if they start demanding that they inspect other vessels, this could -- this can precipitate tension and could even lead to a shooting war, Mr. President, because Australian vessels, American vessels, English/UK vessels, French vessels, and other countries have passed through these waters, Mr. President.

Now, I think -- I hope we're not looking at a country that has turned rogue, that has turned to be unilaterally aggressive in terms of, you know, making sure that they assert their claims in a violent manner, Mr. President. I consider this a...great risk of miscalculation in these vast areas of disputed waters. Using the same words that they use, any Coast Guard official of China can miscalculate the powers within his craft [or misunderstand his legal authority] and start using that and precipitate a conflict in the area, Mr. President.

Now, I understand the Foreign Minister of China just came by. I would like to know what they discussed with the President or with the Foreign Minister or the Secretary of our country.3 If our -- If we are just going to, you know, "turn the other cheek," or just quietly accept what is -- it is a creeping threat that I think can escalate anytime, especially with Taiwan, especially with our own claims in these areas, especially with what is happening in Hong Kong, especially with their dispute with the Japanese in the southern islands.

Mr. President, I think that this deserves at the very least an executive session where we can invite our officials determining policy on this island so that the senate can be guided accordingly and so that proper appropriations can be made by the senate to at least come up with a credible capability, and perhaps even to the point of facilitating, expediting, and speeding up, for example, submarines to be operated by the Philippine Navy, or for that matter maybe even land-based missiles that are mobile so that they cannot easily be destroyed.

Now, I'm saying this if only to wake everybody up from the stupor that we're being led to believe. We have a Chinese neighbor who has been kind to us. They've been supportive of us. But the other face of it -- who has threatened us and has even threatened to acquire our own claims that have been there for several years and is now going to threaten a very volatile atmosphere in these areas.

Our fisheries have been taken from us. Our people have been deprived of their livelihood. And I think China owes us an explanation as to what its true intentions are, whether they're really a peaceful and friendly neighbor, as I've always thought they were, or they would change their suit or their coat into a coat of armor that can become more aggressive and more dangerous to all kinds of folks traversing that route.

Now, Mr. President, I would like to request that the...remarks made by this representation, as well as that of the gentleman from Cavite, not only be given to the Secretary -- to the Foreign Affairs Committee but also to the Defense Committee, if, by your lead, you will accept.

Thank you very much, Mr. President, and I hope that we can see our way clear in solving the problems that are presenting itself [themselves] slowly but surely in a most threatening manner.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

1 On 25 January 2021, Locsin remarked on twitter that: "It's none of our business; it is China's business what laws it passes; so please a little self-restraint. I devised a visa rubber stamp that stamps most of the South China Sea and parts of North Borneo as our national territory and no one has complained." [Source:]

2 In a subsequent twitter post two days later Locsin stated: "After reflection I fired a diplomatic protest. While enacting law is a sovereign prerogative, this one—given the area involved or for that matter the open South China Sea—is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies the law; which, if unchallenged, is submission to it." [Source:]

3 Further info on the Foreign Minister's visit to the Philippines here. See, too, information on a bilateral meeting between both nation's foreign secretaries as reported by the foreign ministries of the Philippines and China ( Meeting summary: "The bilateral meeting also included talks on investments and infrastructure developments. The foreign ministers committed to stronger collaboration on projects under the 'Build Build Build' program. The Philippines and China signed the Philippines-China Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation, granting 500 million RMB to finance livelihood projects, infrastructure facilities, feasibility studies for major projects, and other mutually agreed projects. The ministers also 'agreed on the importance of preserving and promoting regional peace, stability and security.'" [Source:]

Original Audio and Image (Screenshot Enhanced and Posterized) Source:

Page Updated: 2/8/21

U.S. Copyright Status: Text = Public domain per Philippine law. Audio = Uncertain. Image = Fair Use.
































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