Whether a sovereignty issue is confronting the country or not, Justice Antonio Carpio said in a forum in Silliman University in Dumaguete City recently that it is imperative to deal with external threats like that of China.
Carpio said, “we don't have the naval force, the air force, a submarine fleet, anti-missile batteries to shove away Chinese vessels out of West Philippine Sea so that the legal track is the only avenue and China knows it will lose in the international tribunal”.
“We have to imbibe the culture of national security, there's no free lunch in this world so we have to maintain a credible self-defense force, in saying it's a sacrifice because you have to allocate resources from education, social services, infrastructure, into self-defense,” Carpio said.
He said the two jet planes seen on national papers that escorted President Benigno Aquino III on his way home from the ASEAN-US Summit in Sunnylands, California recently, were not even armed. They arrived without armaments, they were just for an air show, Carpio lamented.
“We're practically starting from zero with respect to external defense, unlike Vietnam which is a much smaller economy than the Philippines by 20 percent, that's why they are augmenting their external defense,” Carpio said, adding Vietnam is aware that when they will lower their guards, China will be there to grab what they have.
Others may see it as a waste of money but realities would show the Philippines has the weakest military in the entire (sea jurisdiction) dispute; the country has to sacrifice for long term survival, he added.
Buying frigates is not done overnight, orders will be made, another three years to build, another one year to arm and another one year to train your sailors, by this time the battle over the West Philippine Sea will be over, and we have not even ordered yet, he said.
He also cited the case of Ukraine, that was then in possession of one third of the nuclear arms of the USSR, but gave up all its nuclear weapons in exchange for the guarantee by Russia, the US and UK of their territorial integrity and independence, by signing the so-called Budapest Memorandum. A few years later, it had no more capacity to repeal Russia.
Carpio said, “At the end of the day, you have to rely on your own self-defense to survive in this world and cannot rely on the guarantees of allies.”
He added that throughout history, many countries were erased from the map because they failed to maintain a credible self-defense force. The Philippines is lucky since 1945 because it has not encountered an external aggression, except the most recent one with China.*JG
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