The Whitsun Reef is a disputed territory. Technically, we do not own it. China could send vessels there because she can. A bitter pill to swallow but we must.
In an anarchic international system, the claimant with the superior hard and soft power wins.
Given these realities, how should the lesser Philippines respond to promote her interests?
Well, it depends. What are you trying to achieve?
Make our ownership over the territory official? How? Even international law will be against you if this was your goal. We do not have sovereignty over our exclusive economic zone. We only have sovereign rights. And even with such rights, who’s going to enforce them in an anarchical set-up?
Press China to follow international law? What naïveté. How do you expect China to follow these laws when powers like the United States and the European Union can ignore them at will? Take note that the U.S. herself is not a signatory of the UNCLOS.
And again, who will enforce these laws?
Kick China out of South China Sea? You cannot even get rid of your obsession with cheap Chinese products.
Get rid of China forever? Again, how?
Remember: History is a chess game. Sometimes, China wins. Sometimes, she loses. But do not forget that China has been playing it for 5,000 years.
Oh, and China has nuclear weapons, too.
So, what other means do you have other than a full-scale war (which we will definitely lose) to get our way in the South China Sea?
While waiting for your brilliant solution, here’s what I think: Cooperate with China. Or better yet, befriend her and make the most out of the relationship. Lick her cunt without making her come.
Then, one day, we’ll realize we do not need to own the sea to reap all its benefits.