Philippines: The Stormy Seas of Scarborough Shoals and mischief on a reef
Manila - On Monday the Philippines defence secretary Voltiere Gazmin and Chinese defense minister excahnged a phone call and pleasantries. Even as more Chinese maritime patrol vessels have been seen along with 12 other vessels inside the atoll like reef just off-shore of Luzon Island. Openly the Philippine military officails now believe China may retrning to a mischief; a reference to a small reef off of Palawan Island that China siezed in 1994 by placing permanent structures there.
Even as Diplomats in both capitals spoke in concilatory tones as Philippine President Aquino is set to meet with world leaders while on a tour of Europe. China it believed by Military sources in the Philippines to be setting permanent shelters and structures on the large reef off of Luzon's Zambales province. So reports local newspapers in Manila.
So as Aquino is in London, June 4th to 6th, where he will be at No 10 for meetings with the British PM and later in the week more meetings are set with other investment partners.
The UK has major stake in off-shore oil and gas projects off of Palawan Island. Many go back decades - long before China ever publically spoke of its intentions in the area.
The UK perhaps is one of the most deeply interested in a peaceful outcome of the issues in the stormy seas off of Scarborough. As its Shell UK is major partner in the Malampaya gas fields that provide much of Luzon islands power supply.
Manila is investing a major ammount of its budget to protect and defend this vital resource. The offshore reefs and islets provide a majority also of its off-shore food supply from fishing. But, as the first storm of the season comes in - Manila may pull back its patrol vessels from the area for a brief respite.
China would be advised to do the same. The waters around the seas off of the what Manila calls the West Philippines Sea are called aptly on maps and marked 'dangrous grounds' of the 22 major Typhoons that pass through the 7700 islands of the this country most pass over or very near the shoals of scarborough numerous markers of the Spanish, USA, and Manila on these rocks often get washed away.
The same Typhoons, called divine winds or the Kamakazi, off Japan centuries earlier washed away another much larger fllet of vessels from China. In World War II, the Kamakazi, was adopted by Japan versus allies - ironically first lauched from Mabalacat town in Pampanga province not far from the ancestral home province of President Aquino's family in nearby Tarlac.
Perhaps, when the winds come next week, we shall see more clearly what the stormy seas of Scarborough Shoals will bring. Perhaps, when the storms pass things will agian be calm - which is what the reef is called in Tagalog - Panatag.
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