In the Spratly Islands things are not always what they seem
spratly events are not always as they seem… Philippines Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita; has cautioned Chinese officials against assuming that the attackers were Filipinos in the Spratly incident.
He's right- other nations and groups have done this using another countries ships to scare off fishermen from an area they want to do something in.
Even China did this; So has Vietnam in the Parcel islands in the early 80's when they went to small unit naval action in the area over a much larger group of islands north of the Spratly's.
a regualr game of "tag" whith each side used "Q-boat" tactics to scare off the other sides fishermen.
And Indonesian & Malaysian Bahasa and Tagalog can sound alike to people who have not heard the Malay languages before. Just as Vietnamese, Taiwanese, and, Hainan dialects can all sound strange to Philippine fishermen who encounter each other at sea.
But one thing is clear; the vessel flew no flag, used a smaller "speed boat" and had no or few markings, its looking more and more like a 'outlaw attack' unless it is some specail forces 'game' ; pirates or another armed groups from the many countries there in the area.
The were using "Basnig" vessels as described in the Chinese report – then it is highly unlikely to be" suspect" of anyone's scrutiny but Filipino suspects. Why? because only the Philippines has fishing vessels that look the way a Basnig does – with huge outriggers and its low silhouette and fast speed in calm seas compared to other more traditional mono-hull fishing vessels of the other claimants. If it were a "Kumpit" or mono-hulled wooden ship common also in the South then anew any of the other countires could be involved.
The reports from China are however a vessel with outriggers.
BUT; Could it be another of claimants or outlaw groups playing a deadly game to put the blame on the Philippines? Who and why? Who has complained recently about rebuilding facilities in the South China Sea Islands of the municipality of Kalayaan or freedom land.
Also who stands to gain if instability were anew to exist in the Spratly chain.
I must admit; all of this is only a theory- but- it is one needing a look into also along with the terror plot idea.
I know all too well the undeclared "no man's zone" that exists there in certain parts of the area near Palawan. I've covered it, been there in it, arranged media missions to cover things there, and been out there in small boats.
During fishing season it is not unheard of that people who get hijacked, A cargo of fish, a good catch can be a haul worth over $15,000 in a small sized basinig or trawler.
So its not unheard of for a slow heavily laden vessel to have a crew get "jumped" thrown overboard and or have vessels get into fire-fights over fishing grounds.
And I'm just talking about the fishermen fights here; not even the other groups;
"Free-traders" or smugglers also use the area in bulk; one of the largest ever hauls of Heroin smuggling captured in the USA came off a tip from local customs people in Palawan who got the tip from fishermen who saw cargo being transferred from one vessel to another at sea.
You name it, small motorbikes, electronics, cigarettes, clothing, dvd's, people- also drugs, guns, and anything else; that can fit into a small ship are commonly smuggled and trans-shipped here; methamphetamine or shabu is also common and also other contraband.
When ever we would go that far out before We'd always convince a 'off duty' maritime policemen, or even those from the Navy to tag along. Other fishermen often bring M1 Garand bearing militiamen or cafgu men, why, because it is not unheard of to meet Pirates or thieves or highjackers out there.
Before the runway at Kalayaan could accommodate c130's anew – the journey to the islands was done mostly by either Navy Islander or Nomad aircraft. Or PCF naval patrol vessel or the slow way a LST or slower still a fishing boat.
Another thing comes to mind; I remember a old incident many are not aware of way back in the 1970's a group of Filipino sailors and marines were dressed up like Vietnamese and went out in the area looking for smugglers.
The group was accompanied by a then Palawan congressman who told me about it; His son is now the local representative; Anyway; the group he was with went around the area in a Vietnamese fishing boat pretending to be Vietnamese in order to check on reports of the Chinese PLA and Kuomintang China Navy harassing fishing boats in the area.
They stumbled into a war zone of sorts! When the group’s other vessel was captured he was set to make a privileged speech to congress and expose the ongoing battle zone to the world.
He never got a chance; he was called into the Speakers chambers after he had presented his draft and rushed over to Malacanyang where with a smile on his face he was told not talk about it; the men who were captured had seized the island they were held at; they were a Philippine Navy special warfare team.
The capture was ruse to gain intelligence and eventually bribe the communist countries small garrison into defecting to the west. It worked; the small reef is now part of the Kalayaan area; the man who told me the story in 1990 was the late speaker Ramon Mitra; the President he told me said not to spill the beans was Ferdinand Marcos.
He told me back then don’t think the events out there are always as they seem; the islands small rocks and reefs are almost worthless; the location, known marine wealth and rumors of oil and natural gas make it Asia’s chess board and all nations play the game 24/7 to control the area.