A more rational view of the game of chicken being played in the South China Sea is presented by Inquirer columnist and former Supreme Court Associate Justice Artemio Panganiban in his piece “The game of chicken and Scarborough”. Panganiban doesn’t criticize Retired Justice and leader of Opposition bloc 1Sambayan Antonio Carpio but the hints are there, particularly the jab about the United States still not being a signatory to United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Claiming “freedom of navigation,” the United States (US) regularly dispatches a flotilla of aircraft carriers, warships, submarines, and warplanes to the SCS and ECS. Ignoring China’s self-proclaimed “nine-dash” line, the US conveniently justifies its actions by citing the Arbitral Award we won, though it was neither a party thereto nor a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
This is what Carpio is not telling the public. The US abides by its own rules which enables its rivals to do the same. It can’t always hide under the guise of freedom and democracy. Our location puts us squarely in the middle of any US-China conflict. Such a conflict would force us to take sides as we don’t have our own defense capability.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was neglected post the administration of Ferdinand bMarcos and it is only now that it has been given what it deserves in terms of equipment and compensation. Our defense capability is largely dependent on our fiscal position. We need to be as progressive as our ASEAN neighbors to have funds to purchase aircraft and warships for the country’s defense and the enforcement of territorial sovereignty.
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The US has never given the country anything but the mutual defense treaty which is not an ironclad commitment. Talk is cheap. This has been proven during the Scarborough stand-off. The US didn’t even bother to pressure China into honoring the compromise agreement. The average Filipino should realize that what is being advocated by Carpio and his cohorts is a false sense of nationalism because it jeopardizes our interests more than it benefits us as a whole.
It’s good that former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay has finally come clean on what really transpired behind-the-scenes after the Scarborough stand-off. It is now on the record and it is up to Carpio to defend himself and his position, if he can.
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