BY REY O. ARCILLA
‘Noynoy’s “daang matuwid” now has several potholes, “bako-bako” in Pilipino.’
I WONDER if President Noynoy Aquino realizes that his failure to send back our ships, for whatever reason, to Scarborough Shoal is tantamount to giving up our territory by default. Possession is nine-tenths ownership, remember?
The Chinese are still there. According to reports, they have even put in place nets with floaters covering the whole entrance to the Shoal. They obviously are intended to prevent “foreigners” from entering the Shoal.
All the talk about defending our sovereignty and territorial integrity at any cost has become just that – talk. Noynoy is not being consistent with what he said in his SONA: “…if someone entered your yard and told you he owned it, would you agree? Would it be right to give away that which is rightfully ours?”
In the meantime, what is our “special” friend the US doing? She’s also talking, that’s what – in Washington – expressing concern about China’s new garrison, new city of Sansha, etc., in the West Philippine Sea!
Why doesn’t she instead send warships to escort our decrepit navy and coast guard to patrol and guard the areas we own? Words are cheap, that’s why. Also, she would not want to tangle with China – particularly at this time when her economy is so closely tied up with hers, the economy of Western Europe in shambles, her debilitating experience in Iraq and Afghanistan still haunting her and the fact that she is in the midst of a presidential election campaign.
I’m sure Noynoy and his “bunch of amateurs” (not my words but those of a real expert) are wracking their brains on what to do now – aside from keeping on mouthing the unrelenting pursuit of “peaceful, diplomatic and legal” solutions. In the meantime, China is doing what we should have been doing a long time ago – establishing her presence in the disputed areas. It’s a little late for us to be doing that now, given our military and financial inadequacies and the risk of being fired upon by the Chinese, now that they have already occupied some areas also owned by us according to international law.
What to do now? Here are my billion-yuan suggestions which have already been made public several times through this column and in other fora:
1. Maintain our presence (in whatever form) in the Panatag or Scarborough Shoal and other areas which are rightfully ours. I believe we can do this because my assessment is China will not risk universal condemnation by attacking us. In case she does, we take her to the UN Security Council for breaching international peace and security pursuant to the relevant provisions of the UN Charter.
2. Go ahead and unilaterally file a complaint before the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, as Foreign Secretary Albert “Amboy” del Rosario has been “threatening” to do from day one of the dispute.
3. Consider elevating the dispute to the United Nations General Assembly, pursuant to the relevant provisions of the UN Charter – to make the world community aware of China’s aggressive and provocative actions in the West Philippine Sea that threaten international peace and security.
(The proposal of Congressman Rodolfo Biazon for a UN peacekeeping force is not feasible at this time because there is no armed conflict in the area – yet. Besides, only the Security Council has the authority to create a peacekeeping force. With China there with her veto, Biazon’s proposal will never fly.)
4. Explore other avenues to resolve the dispute without giving up our sovereignty. (The initiative taken by Filipino businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan—obviously approved by President Aquino–on oil exploration and development is one alternative we can explore/consider and weigh carefully, bearing in mind our national interest and strategic moves in the short term and in the long-run).
5. When planning our strategic initiatives, we must discard the notion that anybody will help us. We must depend solely on ourselves. Do this on our own and rely on the ingenuity of our leaders, including those in the private sector whose inputs could be immensely invaluable in reaching a mutually acceptable and beneficial solution–or option.
6. In the meantime, let us continue to modernize our armed forces. We can do this. We have the money. President Aquino, for instance, has said we have money to buy two squadrons of jet fighters from sources other than the US.
We should also make the US pay for helping her “pivot” to our region. US$30 million additional military aid next year is truly insulting. US$3 billion dollars would be more like it. Look, she is helping Afghanistan get US$4 billion a year for armaments alone! The bulk of that could only come from the US.
7. Above all, keep dialoguing with China in the search for a peaceful solution to the dispute.
In this connection, Noynoy may wish to consider replacing Del Rosario. The Chinese allegedly do not like dealing with him because he is an Amboy. I think the Chinese also stopped trusting him after the clumsy way he handled the verbal agreement to withdraw from Scarborough Shoal.
Noynoy said in his SONA: “And so I ask for solidarity from our people regarding this issue. Let us speak with one voice. Help me relay to the other side the logic of our stand.”
Before your bosses can heed your appeal, Mr. President, you have to inform and educate them first what the issue is all about. Unlike in China, the young and the man-in-the-street here do not have any idea at all what we are quarreling about with our northern neighbor.
For starters, you may wish to instruct your education secretary and the Commission on Higher Education to issue a directive to all schools to make the students become familiar with the issue and its implications to them and to the country.
Your press and communications secretaries (what’s the difference?) should also do their part in disseminating the relevant information as widely as possible.
We, at the Lyceum of the Philippines University, are already doing it.
I don’t know what it is with Noynoy that he keeps insisting the crime situation in the country has improved considerably. He obviously does not read the newspapers or listen to the radio and TV news everyday. I do not blame him. He must be too busy.
I blame his crime czar, executive secretary and bosom buddy, Paquito Ochoa for feeding him erroneous information and data. Maybe he too is very busy. Besides, I don’t think the job is his cup of tea. He may be good with guns like his buddy, but that does not necessarily qualify him as a crime fighter. He should relinquish the job and ask his buddy to give it to somebody else more qualified.
Mr. President, please look again at the problem. You are annoying your bosses for dishing out information they know isn’t true. You are making yourself vulnerable to accusations of lying.
The government was quick to condemn the killing of 12 people and the wounding of 58 others in a cinema house in Aurora, Colorado, USA.
And yet, I do not remember the government having condemned the senseless killings of hundreds of people that regularly take place in Syria. The rampant killings of people in Iraq that normally number by the dozens have also not been condemned by our government.
Lest I am misunderstood, I am talking about condemning the killings, not the governments of the countries where they take place.
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.
Noynoy again referred in an indirect manner to the anomaly in his third SONA. Yet he has done nothing about it. This is one of several “bako” (potholes) in his “daang matuwid”. Bako-bako na!
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 87th day of the sixth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.
From an internet friend:
The guys were all at a deer camp. No one wanted to room with Bob, because he snored so badly. They decided it wasn’t fair to make one of them stay with him the whole time, so they voted to take turns. The first guy slept with Bob and comes to breakfast the next morning with his hair a mess and his eyes all bloodshot. They said, “Man, what happened to you?” He said, “Bob snored so loudly, I just sat up and watched him all night.” The next night it was a different guy’s turn. In the morning, same thing, hair all standing up, eyes all bloodshot. They said, “Man, what happened to you? You look awful!” He said, ‘Man, that Bob shakes the roof with his snoring. I watched him all night.”
The third night was Fred’s turn. Fred was a tanned, older cowboy, a man’s man. The next morning he came to breakfast bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. “Good morning!” he said. They couldn’t believe it. They said, “Man, what happened?” He said, “Well, we got ready for bed. I went and tucked Bob into bed, patted him on the butt, and kissed him good night. Bob sat up and watched me all night.”
With age comes wisdom.