By Ryanne Jancell Relos
In the evening of April 22,1951, the 900-man Filipino force of the Philippine’s 10th Battle Combat Team (BCT) along with other United Nations forces like the Americans, British, Belgians, Turks, and Puerto Ricans met with elements of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (CPVA) 44th Infantry Division and the North Korean People's Army (NKPA) numbering to about 40,000 strong soldiers in Yeoncheon-gun, South Korea (Cal, 2019; Mariano, 2021). Being outnumbered, the UN forces fled and retreated away from the area, however, the 900 strong 10th BCT of the Philippines dug in and defended the position valiantly against all odds. Covering the retreat of the UN forces by holding defensive positions, these Filipinos proved their courage and spirit as fighters as they drove back and won against the combined Chinese and North Korean forces in what would be known as the Battle of Yultong.
70 years later, I would wonder what would be the reaction of those heroic men who sacrificed and died from the battle as they see on the media and news that the condition and territories of our beloved Motherland have been defiled and humiliated by those whom they saw before as enemies. For 5 years after our victory from the Arbitral Ruling of the Hague that honored our claim of the West Philippine Sea territory, China continues to discredit our victory by calling the Arbitral Award of the Philippines as “nothing more than a piece of waste paper” (Mabasa, 2021). Here we see the rise of the sleeping dragon that is now ready to devour the smaller nations to satisfy the needs of its growing empire. We must now accept that Communist China is no longer the quiet one but is now the formidable force in the economy, military, and politics that could outmatch greater nations even that of the United States. And in its way of attaining its goal of victory in becoming a hegemony of the world is our archipelago the Philippines, which holds large swathes of untapped resources like a jewel of the Southeastern seas, hence dubbed as the Pearl of the Orient.
What stands as a torn to China’s rise is this “piece of waste paper” that rightfully claims our victory over the West Philippine Sea. This paper is a hard statement against China that they cannot take what is rightfully someone else’s territory, moreover, it also acts as a cork to China’s expansion of its empire. Not only could we conclude that they wish to control the area militarily but also, we could see it through the perspective of them using the area through economical means. With a region that is rich in natural sea resources by holding a diverse ocean ecosystem good for fishing trawlers while also containing 11-billion barrels of untapped oil and 190-trillion cubic feet of natural gas deposits (Global Conflict Tracker, 2021), the West Philippine Sea remains a part of the bigger piece that is the resource-rich Philippines. With a growing empire such as China, it is undoubted that our territories and their riches gave them the interest in slowly carving our lands up to theirs to feed their growing needs of power. The pearl that is the Philippines is the crown jewel that no other warmonger and tyrant could not resist.
Furthermore, the victorious ruling that our country holds also counts as a test not only for us but also for the world and the global government that is the United Nations. With the Chinese military and its militia still deployed in what is the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines, it comes as a problem to the nation, the world, and the United Nations for showing weakness in the face of this trial. As it is internationally agreed that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) dictates the peace and security of international waters, China’s effort in overturning and dismissing the ruling exemplifies the fragility of the United Nations (Hayton, 2019). A Chinese victory in claiming the entire West Philippine Sea as theirs could, in turn, provide ammunition for a domino effect to happen between powerful nations in reclaiming what is not theirs as international treaties provided by UNCLOS would be now treated as “pieces of waste paper”. International order would break down, the global body that diplomatically settles disputes that is the United Nations weakens, no one would be safe, chaos could erupt from this precarious moment as powerful nations rally their forces to fulfill their leader’s self-interest. This would be a repeat of the collapse of the League of Nations during the 20th century that led to the devastation in World War 2.
Here, you could say, we have a repeat of the scenario between German Dictator Adolf Hitler and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signing the Munich Pact in 1938 to which the free world gave in to the demands of a totalitarian in claiming the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia (History.com Editors, 2010). Reflecting on the present, it should be a lesson that in showing vulnerability against a warmongering power we ourselves could never satisfy its growing needs for power and glorification. As it was for Czechoslovakia in 1938, they were invaded and occupied regardless of giving the Sudetenland to the Nazis. Nevertheless, our country, the United Nations, and the world should stand up against Communist China in occupying the West Philippine Sea and violating the sovereignty of our motherland.
However, unfortunate are the Filipinos for having an administration that kisses the feet of its oppressors. The Filipinos are truly unfortunate for having leaders that claim that the Hague Ruling is nothing but a mere paper, deserved to be thrown down the trash bin (Ranada, 2021). Grieve over the Filipinos for electing traitors that allow trespassers to take our resources and territories, and dump their very own wastes in our waters. However, enraged should our compatriots be for allowing corrupt and power-hungry people to steal and dictate our fates. Nevertheless, this should be personal, for it now rests over the votes, opinions, and activism of the Filipinos, especially the youth, to choose leaders that would lead and represent them in this Darkest Hour.
Come after me with the trolls and the doubtful for suggesting defiance against a world power. Question and criticize me for standing up for our country’s rights and sovereignty whilst they accept the passiveness and neglect of our administration. However, I would like to remind them of the 900 strong Filipinos who stood up and defended their comrades against the 40,000 soldiers of the Chinese and North Korean armies in the Battle of Yultong. Moreover, I would like to remind them of the independence and freedom that our ancestors and heroes died for throughout our history. Shouldn’t we be like these people? Shouldn’t we follow the values and principles they fought for? Would we allow leaders with such cowardice and incompetence to rule our lands while they also willingly submit our fates to foreigners? Would we allow ourselves to sleep peacefully at night whilst we live on our knees submitting to our invader, or would we be defiant to the end, willing to die for our liberty, rights, and motherland?
My fellow countrymen, in this Darkest Hour, never should we Filipinos surrender in the face of this struggle, never should we Filipinos submit against the wishes of the Chinese or any foreign aggressor. We, the Filipino people, shall now decide our country’s destiny as our leaders disappointedly failed to represent us. We shall stand for our motherland and hold what is rightfully ours. We shall defend our archipelago against all odds, reminiscent of the valor of our heroes!
Ryanne Jancell Relos is a student from Colegio de San Juan de Letran. He is passionate about reading and writing anything about the Social Sciences to which he specializes mostly on the topics of History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology.
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