BRP Gregorio del Pilar and the China crisis is achieving where Noynoy Aquino has so far failed

Filipinos are surprisingly in general agreement on something — a will to defend the Spratly Islands against threats from China whatever the cost. Perhaps this is an opportunity of a lifetime. This shared sentiment is evident in how a swell of pride is becoming more and more palpable with the arrival of what is so far going to be the biggest and most modern Philippine naval vessel, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar.

An ex-US Coast Guard Hamilton class cutter, she was previously known as USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715) and was transferred to the Philippine Navy on May 13, 2011. She is the second Philippine Navy ship to have borne the same name, the first being another ex-US Coast Guard Cutter. She is expected to be the first of several ex-US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutters that will serve the Philippine Navy.

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

I’ve always been critical of President Noynoy Aquino’s “style” of leadership. But, to the President’s stance, on reproductive health (at a cost to his government’s relationship with the Philippines’ Roman Catholic Church leaders) I add this one to what is so far a two-item list of things that could potentially positively define his presidency and allow it to leave a legacy worthy of the name he inherited from his illustrious parents.

Getting mired in reform politics is obviously not working for Aquino. Indeed, it hasn’t for any President for that matter. An effort organised around such thinking to buttress his recently-concluded State of the Nation Address (and for that matter an on-going entire rationalisation of his role as President) using factoids taken (often in an amateurish out-of-context fashion) from a hodge-podge of economic indicators and statistics merely convoluted the SONA which has since become a wide open target for potshots.

Fortunately for us (not to mention President Aquino) there is a jewel in that crock of proverbial brown stuff that is the SONA, and that is the uncharacteristically categorical statement the President made about the Spratly Islands. The value of this jewel becomes more evident when one considers how even one of Aquino’s staunchest critics, columnist Amando Doronilla lauded it as the “strongest section” of the speech…

The statement on the Spratly Islands chain dispute was also the strongest section of the annual Sona, and drew one of the loudest rounds of applause in Congress, where the President gave the speech. The applause indicated the depth of the national sentiment behind a tough position to stand up to increasingly aggressive Chinese intrusions and interference with maritime exploration activities especially of the Philippines in the Spratlys.

[…] There is little doubt from the reactions to this statement that he had broad public support—a point that the Chinese should not ignore to have a clear idea of the depth of Filipino feelings over the Chinese incursions in the area.

The President stated the Philippine case with little room for ambiguity: “We do not wish to increase tensions with anyone, but we must let the world know we are ready to protect what is ours.”

How many other things not related to celebrity, sport, and subsistence needs do Filipinos really give an impassioned hoot about? I can only count two: reproductive health and defending the Spratly Islands. And in that simple scorecard, the administration of President Aquino gets an A+.

Given that perspective, the public relations challenge Aquino faces over the next five years becomes a lot simpler. These are two things for which Filipinos on a massive scale are willing to follow President Aquino into battle. In the same way a move into secularism and a relegation of the tyranny of superstition into a dusty curiosity has marked the rise of many nations into modern greatness, so too has a substantial and visible build up in capability to defend national interests against foreign threats raised the profile of nations and boosted a shared sense of purpose among their people.

The irony that escapes most Filipinos is that they have for so long lived in the spirit of the real Golden Rule (even as they pretend to live by the more politically-correct one taught in school):

He who has the gold makes the rules.

And then there is that other one — the real human right — that complements the one above that this recent China Crisis we are embroiled in makes very relevant today:

He who has the might is right.

Indeed, there already exists within the archipelago a pilot site — a community that unashamedly and proudly lives by such a two-point creed: the Davao City of the Duterte Clan, where results rather than reform rhetoric speak loudly:

There is no shortage of investors in the city of 1.5 million and most people there attribute all this to the efforts of their beloved mayor whose efforts at cleaning up the city and introducing economic reforms, which include dismantling of protection for “infant industries” and the breakdown of industries with monopolistic or cartel tendencies, seem to have paid off. It’s been said that Davao contributed significantly to making the Philippines the world’s top exporter of papaya, mangosteen, and even flowers. The annual income of Davao City in 2010 is said to have reached 4 billion pesos, the richest city in the country outside of Metro Manila.

When we regard situations from perspectives that are real and stripped of all the emo noise fed to us by an emo generation, things become a lot more simple. And that is something worth thinking about.

The solutions are obvious!

[NB: Parts of this article were lifted off and used in accordance with that site’s Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License consistent with the same license applied by Get Real Post to its content. Photo courtesy Rebuilding for the Better Philippines.]

15 Replies to “BRP Gregorio del Pilar and the China crisis is achieving where Noynoy Aquino has so far failed”

  1. Two is a start to enlightenment. har I like his Justice and Ombudsman appointments, and the VP seems solid. I don’t know the rest of the Cabinet, but I read a rating that said it was one of his strengths. . . his appointments. Do you have a take on the rest?

    1. I know you were asking b0, but here’s my take:
      Short on technocrats and long on relationships, IMO. Ochoa, Luistro, Lacierda, Soliman, Coloma, and Purisima are standout flops; I’m skeptical of De Lima and obviously have no basis for forming an opinion yet about the new Ombudsman. Robredo is under-performing compared to his reputation. And Ping de Jesus and Greg Domingo are complete idiots.

      Butch Abad is actually pretty good, as is Ramon Paje. Ona at the Health Department doesn’t seem to be doing too bad a job, and I haven’t made up my mind about Rogelio Singson yet, but if I judge by the quality of public works underway or recently completed (notwithstanding that’s there nowhere near enough of them), that’s a point in his favor. Tolentino — maybe not so bad, at least he got rid of the pink. (I like Bayani Fernando a lot, but the pink…no thanks.)

      That’s my impression. Others will certainly differ.

  2. The BRP Gregorio del Pilar will be the Manny Pacquiao of the navy. This underdog can defeat all that China throws at it. To quote Manolo, “Bastusan Na!”

    Papalag ba ang mga intsik? Sige tingnan natin kung sino ang mga tunay na lalaki.

    1. Dude. It’s a sound vessel, but it’s still a 45-year-old obsolete utility ship. China’s got it’s first carrier, and took an attack sub to 5,000 meters’ depth the other day. And they have planes, which is sort of significant since naval warfare now takes place in the air and not in the water.

      I think this new-found national unity behind shaking the country’s collective fist at China is a really dangerous form of the same sort of unity Pinoys express when some comedian insults the nation.

      1. You know what I think the Philippines should do, if they’re really serious about this? Occupy every island they’re laying claim to. Put men on every scrap of rock out there, and dare China to come do something about it.

  3. That Coast Guard Cutter Ship, can be easily sunk by a Land to Ship Guided Missile…it is an obsolete warship in the era of electronic warfare…Or, a MIG25 Fighter-Bomber, with Laser Guided Missile can easily sink it, many miles away…it is a false sense of security, we are in. China has modernize armaments…

  4. Yes, this may be a 40-plus old ship. It may lack the necessary armament to defend itself but still it carries our FLAG and our sailors. It sadden me to say this but it will become an addition to our numerous GUN-ships in the fleet. It is vulnerable to Chinese SSMs and Silkworm Missiles and other types of arsenal they have. A single CIWS(close-in weapons system) on board BRP Gregorio del Pilar in addition to a fair SONAR capability would be enough to have the Chinese think twice nor laugh at this ship. Without these I mentioned capabilities the Chinese will just consider it as negligible and not a threat but a BIG PRACTICE TARGET. The logical move to do is send as many troops on all the islands, shoals, reefs and islets that we have already claimed and construct as many bunkers or structures to protect them. China will be go crazy 101 percent but they can do nothing about it anymore. Not with all the eyes of the World already watching.

  5. If they upgrade the obsolete ship, with electronic warfare capability: the upgrade, will cost more than the warship…the ship may have been due for ship junk yard, to be sold as scraps…SONAR capability for submarine warfare; advance radar capability; missile anti-aricraft capability; etc…no features on the warship…and this is what they call the most advanced warship in the PN arsenal?

  6. There is no shortage of investors in the city of 1.5 million and most people there attribute all this to the efforts of their beloved mayor whose efforts at cleaning up the city and introducing economic reforms, which include dismantling of protection for “infant industries” and the breakdown of industries with monopolistic or cartel tendencies, seem to have paid off.

    Not just emo, but macho politics. The vast majority of Duterte’s fans tend only to focus on the bolded phrase.

  7. This is a 40 year old decommissioned ship of the USCG. The only armament it has at this point is it’s 76 mm main gun. I guess it’s “presence” is more of a token significance than a deterrence. I like President Aquino, but if he is really serious about defending our sovereignty, he should go for the smaller yet more capable missile gunships than this big cutter that was designed for coast guard interdiction operations and not for warfare.

    1. The dictator Mr. Aquino is not dealing with reality. His adeptness at computer war games shows his mentality. The real truth is we do not stand a chance against the Chinese. A 76 mm gun’s range is very limited. An enemy missile boat will never be seen. It will strike over the horizon. Sinking or severely damaging the widow maker.

      We have no Surface to Air defense, no coastal defense, no air defense, no anti-submarine warfare capability and no comprehensive defense radar net. Another sad truth is we depend on the US for external defense. In the event(worst case scenario) of an attack our naval/air assets, bases and centers of command control will be reduced to nothing. American response may come too late.

      I fear the delusions of grandeur in Mr. Aquino. He thinks that overt, noisy statements will win the day. He tries to show that we are on top of the situation with bravado statements. Chinese intelligence can get information of our force strength and intentions just by reading the national dailies.

      Sabre rattling is not good. Skillful diplomacy is the better option while we silently build our external defense capability.

  8. The US Coast Guard used it for search and rescue and law enforcement yet the Philippines calls it a warship.However I still think 2 refurbished class cutters are better than those antiquated vessels that the PhN has.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.