Editorial & Opinion

West Philippine Sea, Rizal’s dream

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I recently attended the Fil-Am press Kapihan hosted by the fearless Filipino American leader Loida Nicolas Lewis. Her latest passion is the West Philippine Sea dispute with China.

I was not surprised to hear Loida say that China currently has the advantage, that “possession is 99% of the law.” In practical words, it is true, but it is just an expression. What we should be concerned with is a legal term called “adverse possession." I am not a lawyer, not even “parang" or para legal.” Most of the legal jumbo I know I learn from TV series and one Business Law, I took in the last century.

I know that our failure to pursue our rights to these islands will be forfeited if we do nothing. Armed occupation by China does not establish a claim of adverse possession, but we can demonstrate to the world that we have the true ownership.

We failed in Sabah, the failed Rizal’s dream. On 1892, Jose Rizal proposed to the Spanish Governor to established a Filipino colony in Sabah. The Governor instead sent Rizal to Dapitan on exile, where he left his enduring legacy.

We gave up short of abandoning, we became perpetual dispossessed orphans. The irony, the Sultan of Sulu treaty took another turn when the Philippines got its independence. Francis Burton Harrison, an American admirer of Rizal, tried on this milestone. He knew that Rizal did not trust the Chinese, that I may add.

The heirs of the Sultan of Sulu denounced British action of annexation of North Borneo calling it an unauthorized act of aggression. Then on June 26, 1946 the party on the lease, British North  Borneo Company, ceded the colony to the Royal Crown, resulted in annexing North Borneo to the British Empire.

 July 4, 1946, Inauguration of the Third Philippine Republic and on September 26, 1946.

Presidential Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Francis Burton Harrison, writes a recommendation to the Department of Foreign Affairs that the Philippines should launch a protest against Britain’s annexation.
Francis Burton Harrison was the former American Governor-General of the Philippines. He became a Filipino Citizen in 1936 and was an advisor on Foreign Affairs to President Manuel Roxas.

December 8, 1946

Francis Burton Harrison writes a second memorandum on the government of the Sultanate of Sulu. In the memorandum, Francis Burton Harrison mentions that he asked a Professor Otley Beyer to translate the original lease of North Borneo. Beyer translates it as the land being leased and not as ceded. 

February 27, 1947

Francis Burton Harrison, recommended to the Philippines..

The action of the British Government in announcing on the 16th of July (1946), just 12 days after the inauguration of the Republic of the Philippines, a step taken by the British Government unilaterally, and without any special notice to the Sultanate of Sulu, nor consideration of their legal rights, was an act of political aggression, which should be promptly repudiated by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. The proposal to lay this case before the United Nations should bring the whole matter before the bar of world opinion.

Rizal's greatest services to the cause of the human race were those scientific impulses which he gave to the world of his duty, and the martyrdom which he suffered was but another example of the determination of organized society in every age to eliminate those that by the pure processes of reason have arrived at new theories for the conduct and welfare of mankind----- Francis Burton Harrison, Governor-General 1915-21

Harrison, the great fan of Jose Rizal died on November 21, 1957 at Hunterdon Medical Center in Raritan Township near Flemington, New Jersey. He willed that he be buried in the Philippines so his corpse was shipped back from the United States. He was given a state funeral and was interred in the Manila North Cemetery in La Loma, Manila.

The Sabah claim was abandoned, it should not be followed the faith of our small islands spread within the West Philippine Sea.

The various demonstrations by Filipino Americans, from SF to NY initiated by sivic organizations is spearheaded by Loida Nicolas Lewis and various community leaders. This is not PH initiative, as Malacanang can not be a part.  I just saw this one in front of the UN Headquarters today (July 24) at high noon. The Vietnamese community joining the Phi-luc-tan against the evil dragon was a sight to see.  

Nestor Palugod Enriquez
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