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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, July 15, 2016
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What now?


Allow me a little personal note. I am constrained to write this because of well-meaning people who had asked for help to be hired by the Bacolod City government, give information of corruption and to get linked with the new administration. I am not connected with or employed by the city so that I cannot do or help was asked. My work as enviable head of the transition team ended with the appointment of specific city officials. After that it was improper for me to exert any influence or ask for personal favors. Please direct whatever you want to city officials.

The prevailing question now is what we will do that the United Nations Arbitration Court has ruled in favor of our claim in the West Philippine Sea. China and its fellow Chinese country, Taiwan rejected the ruling. Mainland China calls the decision null and void and therefore we cannot expect it to respect or comply with the result of the ruling – get out of the disputed islands.

Our navy is a collection of tug boats compared to the Chinese aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. The Philippine Navy will be wiped out in a few minutes of armed confrontation. Our air force has jets of the post-World War II vintage and our helicopters will crash in the face of strong or typhoon winds. Not only are our forces inadequate for the defense of our country in the disputed islands, they are too few.

We have to consider the communist militants in the Philippines who are allied with China for driving away the US Pacific Fleet and Navy. Their mere presence in Subic and Clark was sufficient to deter the Chinese from their bullying tactics. Now these communist fronts should be sent to be the first line of defense in these islands. It seems that China had planned for a long time to take over our islands and had egged their collaborators in the Philippines to shut out our American naval and air shield in the name of nationalism.

I remember that prior to World War II Japanese nationals came to the Philippines to work in farms, towns and cities in lowly jobs but at the same time sending to Japan vital information about our preparedness or lack of it. The information allowed the Japanese to determine the weak points in Philippine defense and capabilities.

The Filipino communists who trained in China came back and organized rallies and demonstrations against the US presence. Like-minded politicians ingratiated themselves to the communist mass baseand worked out in the Congress to kick the Americans out. While Ferdinand Marcos was president and kept the US bases here, China kept its hands out of the Philippines.

Without a strong defense shield, the Philippine was naked in the face of a strong China. If we are unable to make China respect the Tribunal's decision, we in reality can do nothing but make loud noises hoping world opinion will bear on China.

President Duterte who had also told the Americans to shove off has now to deal with China. Negotiations are fine but experience shows that one cannot negotiate from a position of weakness. In this case since weakness involved military strength, we cannot force or insist that China honors the decision.

New Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay opened his mouth too early with talks about “sharing”. While he tried to clarify later, this is already an admission of weakness and the wise and wily Chinese would certainly remain stubborn and possibly use the Yasay position to deal with us.

I dread the lesson of the Arab and his camel, but that is what will happen if the Yasay solution is adopted.

Will the bravado of PNP Director General Ronald de la Rosa against the illegal drug dealers work with the Chinese? I hope it does, but I doubt.

The Chinese challenge will test Duterte. He is now facing a formidable opponent. This is no longer the people of Davao City he can intimidate or the drug pushers he can kill and force to surrender. Will he now take a jet ski and plant the Philippine flag in the disputed islands as he said during the campaign? This we got to see.

Of course he is more sober now, but the Chinese intransigence will test his mettle. Soon we will know what he is made of, man of steel, or of clay.*





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