One of my high school batchmates who’s a prominent leftist-liberal joined the Atin Ito resupply mission, if you want to call it that. Inquirer columnist Randy David touts it as “the birth of active citizenry” — if you want to believe that crap, that is.
As Edicio dela Torre, one of the leaders of the new advocacy group “Atin Ito Coalition” makes clear, this is a call to deepen Filipinos’ awareness of the contentious issues surrounding that portion of the South China Sea (SCS) we call the West Philippine Sea (WPS). China claims “indisputable sovereignty” over almost the entire SCS, including many features that are several hundred miles away from the Chinese mainland.
As it turns out, it was a waste of bunker fuel — for whoever was paying for it — as the mission was canceled at the last minute, en route to Ayungin Shoal, after Chinese Coast Guard vessels started shadowing it.
Part of efforts to salvage their image involved having a smaller vessel “break through” to bring supplies to an island near Ayungin. Are you buying into this up to this point? I’ve met Edicio De La Torre and he’s a nice man. Hr is soft-spoken; the strong silent type — an activist at his core. But, as it turns out, their activity was funded by a US Navy conduit conducting propaganda as revealed by Manila Times columnist Bobi Tiglao in his column “US Navy propaganda unit fools PH media” published yesterday. Tiglao cites headlines ran by the Inquirer on its front page the other day screaming “Sino vessels at Ayungin seen in ‘invasion’ mode”, apparently echoing The US Naval Institute website which “reported” that “Chinese Maritime Militia vessels swarmed within and around Second Thomas Shoal this week in Beijing’s latest move against the Philippines in the South China Sea.”
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Tiglao points out…
There was no such “invasion” mode, no swarming. The vessels — numbering just 11 — were the typical Chinese fishing vessels that routinely use the shoal as a refuge or resting area after refueling and resupplying at Mischief Reef, just 20 kilometers away. In retaliation against the Philippine arbitration suit against it, China started building in 2014 on Mischief Reef, one of its biggest South China facilities, complete with an airstrip, ports and barracks, which has become a port of call for Chinese fishing vessels.
If you watched President Bongbong Marcos’s departure statement from Tokyo yesterday, he’s beginning to sound more and more like the spokesperson of the Indo-Pacific Command; rules-based international order for a free and open Indo-Pacific. I don’t understand why even the Leftists are up against China when, up to now, their slogan revolves around the obsolete “US-sponsored dictatorship” trope. About the only time they weren’t able to use this was during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte Duterte who they derided as Tuta ng Tsina.
You can’t be pro-peace now in the Philippines lest you be labeled Makapili but, as I’ve been pointing out like a broken record, even the facts are against our territorial claims to South China Sea features, from a historical perspective and that of the arbitral ruling. It’s in the document and is not a figment of imagination being used in the argument questioning the logic of the vehement anti-China stance that is popular nowadays all of which are more inclined the idiotic and less towards the pragmatic. Even the matriarch of the SM Group, Mrs Teresita Sy-Coson has come out with an opinion about the issue and is “is urging the Philippine government to engage China in dialogue instead of calling it out for each incident of aggression in the South China Sea”. Of course that was met with ad hominem counters because the anti-China lobby isn’t being logical; either you are with us or against us.
We have obviously alienated China again but that doesn’t really count for much in their book. They give more weight to the other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries which have more to offer them. China continues to maintain warm ties with Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia and Laos. The Philippines is again back to an Asian country pretending to be American. As my friend, who works in one of the largest private investment banks in London said, the Philippines isn’t even on our radar for investments. Back to being America’s doormat in the region. Soon we’ll have the RAA which will allow Japanese troops to be based in the country. Who’s next? Maybe the Aussies?
In the meantime, foreign direct investments are still nowhere near the level of our ASEAN neighbors. This makes us the ASEAN doormat as well. We have a new presidential assistant for investments as if the Board of Investments (BOI) wasn’t enough. We also have the private sector advisory council of the president, composed of the top oligarchs. We are also exploring amending the constitution’s economic provisions. More and more, it’s a game of smoke and mirrors as far as foreign and economic policies are concerned. Which direction are we really headed? Your guess is as good as mine.
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