By Robert B. Roque, Jr.
On a blissful Sunday in Manila, the Chinese embassy releases a statement breaking the calm. It airs China’s opposition to planned joint maritime patrols by the Philippines and the United States in the West Philippine Sea.
The embassy also bewails Uncle Sam’s expanded access to military bases in Northern Luzon, these developments in domestic maritime security and disaster response as part of Washington’s “efforts to encircle and contain Beijing” through its military alliance with the Philippines.
To be fair and accurate, the Philippines is not only enhancing its security and defense partnership with the US. Manila is, in fact, in various stages of discussions for maritime security and cooperation along South China Sea boundaries with Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam, to name a few.
The Philippines cannot be faulted for doing so. China has rejected the 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, undermining the legal basis for the Philippines’ claims in the dispute. It left the little archipelago with few options for asserting its rights.
At the same time, China has bullied its way to expanding its military presence in the South China Sea, even militarizing artificial islands it built inside the West Philippine Sea and sending aggressive militia patrols to ward off Filipino fishermen and vessels from well within our exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
So, for China to now sweat in the armpits and play the victim in all these… oh, please, cry me a river!
Hope in Thailand’s support
Early this week at the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Manama, the House delegation led by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez sat down with counterparts from Thailand to seek support for the Philippines amid China’s bullying in the West Philippine Sea.
While it has maintained close ties with the Philippines and China, Thailand remains neutral on the maritime dispute. Understandably, it highly regards Manila as a close ASEAN ally but also has China as its No. 1 trading partner ($80 billion in 2019).
Still, there’s hope in Thailand’s support, given that, like the Philippines, it values its alliance with the US and is wary of the obvious debt trap in many Chinese-funded projects as well as the economic influence that lays strings attached to Beijing.
Think tanks or traitors?
Here in the Philippines, there are traitors in our midst who try to manipulate the news in favor of China’s interests and make sure they penetrate the Filipino psyche through popular social media.
Fortunately, the biggest peddler of that formless idea that China is our partner and there is nothing we can do to assert our sovereign right over our territories because of Beijing’s military might is no longer our president.
But there are those left disguised as “international think tanks,” spreading falsities in public fora and hiring trolls to perpetuate their lies and fears.
You call yourselves professors, legal experts, political strategists, and mainstream media, yet many of us know you’re well-financed to look after Beijing’s interests.
Well, “George of the Jungle” and “Austin Powers,” it won’t take long till your Little House of Horrors you hide behind those mafia-style beauty and wine shops in Makati City are dismantled by the real patriots of this country.
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