The thing with the precarious position the Philippines finds itself in its dealings with China and the handling of the two big diplomatic crises surrounding it — the dispute over various territories within the West Philippine Sea and the row over the Philippine government’s unsatisfactory resolution of the 2010 hostage crisis in which nine Hong Kong tourists died — is that the country has no ground to stand on.
The Philippines lacks a credible indigenous military capability, is dependent on China for its exports, dependent on Chinese tourists, dependent on Hong Kong for employment, and is irreversibly hooked on imported Chinese trinkets. If it hasn’t yet, China will probably overtake the Philippines’ traditional sources of capital (both directly and indirectly infused and regardless of whether or not said infusion is even legal) in the near future.
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All the Philippines is grasping on is the goodwill of the big powers it has signed military, financial, diplomatic, and/or trade agreements with and the ability of the United Nations to have its say in how its sovereign members behave. The latter makes this flaccid survival strategy even more ironic considering the Philippines’ biggest rest-back, the United States, is a consistent ignorer of UN directives and guidelines as it is, itself, possessing of a long tradition of unilaterally launching “pre-emptive” military strikes on foreign territory and engaging in whatever forms of activities it takes in its on-going singular focus to secure its interests.
The Philippines, for its part, is in the same position as a poor sod wanting to borrow money from friends after squandering her OFW remittances on celphone loads and Tommy Hilfiger shirts. She will invoke The Friendship Clause — that “real” friends will help her in her time of need. Sure they will — to some extent. It is likely that the really cluey ones among her friends will quickly work out that this hypothetical person’s sudden neediness is not really the sort of neediness one would be easily be motivated to associate one’s generosity with. Then comes the zinger:
Sige na, marami ka namang pera e.
(“Aw c’mon, you’ve got lots of money to spare.”)
And to be fair, what’s surplus cash among “friends” right?
But as I mentioned many times before, the Philippines is a case study of a foreign investment sinkhole. As a colony of the United States over the first half of the 20th Century, it was recipient to everything a territory of the US could ever want — vast infrastructural wonders, direct heirs to the cultura franca of the planet, and military backing beyond most Third World countries’ wildest dreams.
All of that has now been reduced to ZERO. Nothing but a pretentious shell of those trappings remain. But, hey, that hasn’t stopped Filipinos from asking for more.
While the lack of any semblance of a decent capability to kick Chinese military ass is readily-evident and a strong basis the Philippine government is using to beg for assistance ad infinitum, the case it rests on to stonewall when it comes to the plight of the Hong Kong victims of the 2010 hostage fiasco is weak if not non-existent. Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III asserts that the Philippines has “sufficiently” resolved the issue. Yet the question remains: Whose head rolled as a result of that fatal failure?
No one in the police command chain that delivered an idiotic decision to field incompetent personnel to resolve the crisis is behind bars.
No one in the management hierarchy in the Philippine media organisations that sent their attack reporters to jeopardise the hostage negotiations has been fired.
Indeed, it is very telling that some of the most hienous crimes against Filipino citizens remain unresolved by their own government. The Maguindanao and Atimonan massacres, the billion-peso Janet Lim Napoles pork barrel scam, and the astounding failure of government in the handling of the Typhoon Haiyan disaster will all likely take their places among the many forever-unresolved crimes that the Philippines has become world-renowned for. That does not bode well for Hong Kong’s humble request for an apology from the Philippine government, much more a convincing resolution of the crime against its citizens.
A country (that throughout history has exhibited a consistent inability to sort out its own affairs and hold its own criminals accountable) begging for help and “support” comes across as the least credible of the lot. Filipinos have, as recently as late last year in the aftermath of the Haiyan disaster, demonstrated (and continues to demonstrate) its renowned collective talent for squandering the very help and support it seeks yet again.
Poverty is really a simple issue when you define it for what it really is:
Poverty is the result of entering into commitments one is inherently unable to honour.
And that is what the Philippines is. A country inherently unable to honour its many many commitments, both to its own people and to the many foreign governments that have invested in it over the last century. It is a poverty that is worse than an immediate lack of money (which, itself, is a long worn-out excuse).
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.