4 diplomatic nightmares of Aquino
1. Manila Hostage Crisis
Eight Hong Kong nationals were killed by hostage-taker, former policeman Rolando Mendoza, in August 2010.
Hong Kong blamed their deaths for the “bungled” and “incompetent” rescue operation conducted by the police and demanded a formal apology from the Philippine government which Aquino had refused to give.
It was not until April 2014 that a final agreement was reached between Manila and Hong Kong after a visit by Mayor Joseph Estrada, which resulted in the lifting of sanctions imposed by the former British Crown colony.
2. Sabah Armed Incursion
Hundreds of armed Filipinos calling themselves the Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo slipped into the town of Lahad Datu in Sabah on February 2013, saying they intend to reclaim Sabah as a territory of the Sulu Sultanate headed by Jamalul Kiram III. This led to a two-week standoff with Malaysian police and military troops.
Aquino urged Kiram to recall his forces and to engage in dialogue with regards to the claim.
Kiram’s armed men however, remained holed up in Lahad Datu and after days of fruitless negotiations, the Malaysian troops moved in and exchanged fires with the more than 200 armed members of the sultanate. At least 60 followers of Kira were killed, while eight Malaysian police officers and two soldiers died in the fighting.
Eight months later, Kiram died at the age of 75.
3. South China Sea Maritime Dispute
A Philippine Navy surveillance plane discovered that Chinese fishermen were poaching in Scarborough Shoal (also known as Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal) in April 2012.
Authorities who moved in to apprehend the fishermen were blocked by Chinese coast guard vessels sparking a standoff that lasted months and ended with the Philippines’ withdrawal from the shoal.
The Philippines decided to challenge China’s nine-dash line territorial claim over 90 percent of the South China Sea by filing an arbitration case before the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in January 2013. China refused to participate in the proceedings.
Instead, China continues to maintain control over the region and uses force to turn away Filipino fishermen from the area, including the Spratly Group of Islands.
4. Taiwanese Fishing Vessel Shooting
In May 2013, one Taiwanese fisherman was killed after the Philippine Coast Guard fired at a Taiwanese fishing vessel in the Balintang Channel just north of Luzon allegedly in self-defense because the fishing ship tried to ram them.
Taiwan imposed sanctions against the Philippines including a hiring freeze of Filipino workers and demanded an investigation into the incident to bring justice to the family of the slain fisherman.
The National Bureau of Investigation later recommended homicide charges against the Coast Guard personnel. Aquino sent a representative to Taiwan and apologized to the family of the slain fisherman. Ties between Taiwan and the Philippines have since been restored.
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