BY REY O. ARCILLA
‘In 2003, we were named by the US as a Major Non-Nato Ally. As far as can be determined, however, we never got any of the benefits for being one.’
DUPLICITY and intimidation – them are fighting words, provocative too, which Foreign Secretary Albert “Amboy” del Rosario accused China of engaging in with respect to the West Philippine Sea dispute.
Curiously though, there has been no Chinese reaction to the tirade up to this writing.
“Intimidation”, I can understand. China has been very open in the show of force department in the disputed areas. The warship that ran aground at the Hasa-Hasa Shoal, 111 kilometers west of Palawan is proof of that.
But “duplicity” is something else. Del Rosario did not specify what he was referring to. He should have been more specific in order to put China on the defensive.
Was there something that went on or agreed upon behind the scenes before the Asean meetings in Phnom Penh and on which China reneged?
I assume Del Rosaro had the go-signal from President Noynoy Aquino to utter such strong language against China. Or did he?
Maybe he did it on his own because he could no longer contain his pique or frustration at the lack of progress in the Asean Code of Conduct (COC) in the West Philippine Sea we have been pushing for. In other words, napikon na! If so, that’s bad. You begin to close your mind to considering other tracks or ways to resolve the problem. The other side also becomes unreceptive.
In this connection, I like to think that Del Rosario has been getting the right advice and feedback from his assistants. I’m sure they have not been remiss in telling him how Asean works, especially its exasperating consensual decision-making process and the very close and weighty ties some of its members have with China. I hope it is just his growing impatience and eagerness to achieve a breakthrough in the crafting of the (COC) that he has begun to be carried away by his emotions.
But I have bad news for him – that COC ain’t gonna happen in the foreseeable future as I have been saying time and again until such time as the weighty ties of some Asean members with China have substantially dissipated.
I have been saying from the time the Scarborough Shoal dispute erupted that:
1) We only have ourselves to rely on in trying to resolve the problem.
Nobody else will help us, not Asean, not the US, no one.
3) We should go ahead and file a case against China in the ITLOS, as Del Rosario has been “threatening” to do.
4) We should maintain a presence in all the areas where we have a tight legal claim.
In this regard, retired Lt. Gen. Antonio E. Sotelo, a genuine hero of EDSA I, had this to say: “May I hazard a guess why our Navy has not gone back to Scarborough. Their ships are old and maybe leaking. They need repairs but the PO (Purchase Order) for the parts will need a year for its approval. This is par for the course.”
I can think of another reason why the Navy has not been told to go back to Scarborough Shoal by Noynoy. He was told by the Americans not to. The US does not want us to push the Chinese too far that would make the latter take aggressive action against us. In other words, the US does not want to be placed in a position where she would be constrained to make a choice between us and China. She’d rather not risk confrontation with China. If she chooses China, then she loses all her credibility, especially among countries in the area. If she chooses the Philippines, then she would have no choice but to abide by her security commitments to us and the other countries in the region and directly confront China.
Would the US be wont to confront China at this time? I’ve always said no way. Her present relations with China are so much more important to her than with any or all of the Asean members combined.
5) We should continue dialoguing with China on a bilateral basis without crying uncle (Sam) all the time.
6) We should continue to explore joint development ventures in the disputed areas with China, setting aside the question of sovereignty in the meantime, as Noynoy himself has already suggested;
7) We should sustain our plan to modernize our armed forces to attain a “minimum credible defense posture”. (Funds? Ours… which would include the money to be paid by the US – $3 billion a year for starters – for helping her in “pivoting” to our part of the world. If she refuses to pay, we stop helping her on her “pivot” to our region and abrogate the inutile Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement. Then we start talks with China on a non-aggression pact.)
In Phnom Penh, Del Rosario asserted that Beijing’s increasingly aggressive behavior in the West Philippine Sea posed a “threat to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. “If left unchecked, the increasing tensions that is being generated in the process could further escalate into physical hostilities which no one wants,” he said
In view of what Del Rosario said, Noynoy may wish to instruct him to explore another avenue to keep the issue alive and draw the attention of the international community to the aggressive acts of China.
We can request the inclusion in the Agenda of the UN General Assembly an item on the West Philippine Sea issue pursuant to Paragraph 2, Article 11, Chapter IV of the United Nations Charter which states in part:
“2. The General Assembly may discuss any question relating to the maintenance of international peace and security brought before it by any Member of the United Nations….”
A draft resolution that may be tabled on the item could have as its operative paragraph something along the lines of Paragraph 3 of the same Article 11 which states:
“3. The General Assembly may call the attention of the Security Council to situations which are likely to endanger international peace and security.”
The Charter also has similar provisions in the chapter on Security Council. However, to bring it there would be a futile exercise because of China’s veto in that body.
The following caption of the above DFA photo of Hillary Clinton and Del Rosario used in an AFP/AP story explains the US attitude towards the West Philippine Sea dispute:
“DELICATE BALANCING ACT. United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls for a unified Asean to negotiate with China over disputed territory (“You are on your own, boys.”), she also lauds Washington-Beijing cooperation (“It is more important to us than our relations with you, boys.”) She pats the back of Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario who co-chaired Friday’s Asean-US ministerial meeting at Phnom Penh’s Peace Palace (“Well done, boy.”)”
Read the following and weep:
In 2003, we were named by the US as a Major Non-Nato Ally (MNNA). As far as can be determined, however, we never got any of the benefits for being one.
Early this month, Afghanistan was named by the US as an MNNA. As such, according to BBC News, “the Afghan armed forces will mostly have by 2014 US-designed rifles and Humvee all-terrain vehicles, as well as better armored light combat vehicles, replacing Soviet-era equipment.”
“And Soviet-era T55 and T62 tanks are being replaced by the M60 Patton tank, used extensively by other US allies, such as Turkey, Israel and Egypt – not the bigger Leopard Tanks the Afghan government wanted.
“Air support will continue to be provided by Russian-made helicopters, and the NATO fast jets that drop precision-guided bombs will not be replaced.
“The cost of these forces, more than $4bn a year, will continue to be met by foreign donors for many years to come.
“The change, which comes into effect immediately, makes it easier for Kabul to purchase US military equipment and simplifies arms export procedures.”
According to Wikileaks, below are some of the benefits to which nations named as major non-NATO allies are entitled:
Priority delivery of military surplus (ranging from rations to ships)
Possession of War Reserve Stocks of DoD-owned equipment that are kept outside of American military bases
Loans of equipment and materials for cooperative research and development projects and evaluations
Permission to use American financing for the purchase or lease of certain defense equipment
Permission for the country’s corporations to bid on certain DoD contracts for the repair and maintenance of military equipment outside the United States
Following are the 15 countries named so far by the US as MNNAs: Australia (1989), Egypt (1989), Israel (1989), Japan (1989), South Korea (1089), Jordan (1996), New Zealand (1997), Argentina (1998), Bahrain (2002), Philippines (2003), Thailand (2003), Kuwait (2004), Morocco (2004), Pakistan (2004) and Afghanistan (2012).
Go ahead, weep…
Reminders (for Noynoy’s action):
1) Filing of charges against officials of the National Food Administration (NFA) during Arroyo’s illegitimate regime. Noynoy himself said on several occasions that there is documentary evidence to prove the venalities in the past in that agency; 2) investigation of reported anomalies in the GSIS during the watch of Winston Garcia; 3) facilitating the investigation of rampant corruption in the military and police establishments; and 4) expeditious action by the AFP on the case of Jonas Burgos.
Today is the 73rd day of the sixth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.