Asian Century By Herman Tiu Laurel
The US-Salim gang of anti-Filipino “Filipinos” are at it again. This time, they are in cahoots with Albert del Rosario, former Noynoy Aquino secretary of foreign affairs, in prescribing that the Philippines shouldn’t wait for the restart of the PHL-China oil-gas exploration joint venture talks and instead proceed with PXP Energy of Manny Pangilinan’s Salim group to drill for oil in the Reed Bank area.
What del Rosario and his cabal have cited again and again is that the Philippines should emulate Vietnam, go ahead and drill with foreign companies and stage belligerent confrontation despite Chinese appeals and invitations for win-win talks and partnerships. The US-Salim gang cites Vietnam’s militant clashes with Chinese ships that happened almost a decade ago when ships from the two countries rammed each other, injuring several people.
The incident left nothing but ill-will between the two countries for half-a-decade that U.S. propagandists played to the hilt.
The clash that the US-Salim gang keeps harping back to ad nauseam is an old, old story that has already been superseded by much, more recent shifts in Vietnamese perspectives relative to its differences with China over oil and gas exploration and drilling activities in the disputed areas of the South China Sea. In 2014 six people were injured when Vietnamese and Chinese ships clashed and crashed into each other.
The clashes gained Vietnam nothing, no oil exploration, no oil rig installed.
In 2018, however, sensitivity to China’s concerns made Vietnam halt oil drilling activities with the Repsol Spanish company in the “Red Emperor” block of its disputed waters with China. Cessation of Repsol drilling activities restored amicable relations between China and Vietnam relations and today, Vietnam has become Vietnam’s top trading partner with the former benefitting immensely from the relationship.
Countries within and outside of Asia and ASEAN can learn much from Vietnam’s deft handling of its situation with China and how it has benefitting tremendously today from its very much improved relations with the Asian superpower.
If there is a lesson that the Philippines can learn from Vietnam’s approach to China, the South China Sea disputed areas and oil-gas exploration, it is this. Respecting other claimants’ concerns, working to avoid conflict, and finding win-win solutions is the key to peace, progress and prosperity in the region.
Instead, the US-Salim gang wants its way ALL THE WAY, to get the oil-gas exploration going for PXP Energy and damn the Philippines. It’s pushing so hard that it doesn’t care if its aggression will cause bigger and bigger disruptions to one of the most productive foreign relations the Philippines has today, its “strategic cooperation” with China that has yielded immense benefits for the Philippines and our 110-million Filipinos.
We will never tire of reminding the Filipino people of the bountiful benefits built by the positive relations of the Duterte administration through its “Pivot to China” , including, the 56-million vaccine doses donated or supplied doses at “global public goods” costs, the multifarious infrastructure projects that we already see helping the country such as the Estrella-Pantaleon and Binondo-Intramuros bridges the two donated bridges across the Pasig, , and the tens of thousands of hectares of farm lands now being irrigated by the Chico River Irrigation Dam in the Cordilleras.
The Metro-Manila water supply, which still suffers shortages frequently, will be augmented by China’s Kaliwa Dam project that will provide up to 600-million liters of water by the time it is completed. Construction finally started this year after many years of obstructionism by the usual suspects, in particular, the US-Amboys-Leftists manipulations of “indigenous peoples”, priests and self-serving politicians. China’s dam has assured Metro-Manila denizens that their future will not be thirsty.
Hope for the resurrection of the legendary Bicol Express is up and flying again as the Philippines and China revive discussion on the funding of the Manila-Matnog PNR South Long Haul Rail Project worth P 175-billion. Objections by political detractors, the US-Amboys and the inane Senate Three Stooges – Poe, Hontiveros and JV Ejercito – that Chinese funding for the project has “higher interest rates” compared to Japan raised by, have all shut down now.
The obstructionists have shut up because, as this writer have been saying for so long now, Japan’s ODA is stretched to its limits. Japan’s so-called 0.08% interest rates are actually Yen-denominated loans that, when converted to US dollars, have the same, or even higher rates at 2.7% to 3% when compared to China’s interest rates of 2% to 3% for ODA loans. These facts were also explained by the Department of Finance but the Philippine media chose to underplay this news to fool the people.
Other railway projects _ the Subic-Clark Railway project worth P50-bllion and the P81-billion Mindanao Railway (Tagum-Davao-Digos), first leg of the 1,500-km Mindanao circumferential rail- are all back on the table. On August 15, 2022, the Philippine government – represented by DoTr Secretary Jaime Bautista- visited and met with Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian to request the resumption of negotiations for the loans to these projects, which China has only been too willing to grant.
As important and perhaps even more vital, is the final go-signal given by the PBBM administration to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Enrique Manalo to resume negotiations for the Philippine-China 60/40 Oil-Gas Exploration at the Reed Bank in consideration of China’s earnest offer to pursue the project on a joint venture arrangement. In turn, this opened the opportunity for the US-Salim gang to plant a naval mine in the waters.
The US-Salim gang is a really awesome, powerfully entrenched network in the Philippines with its tentacles spread out through all key sectors of power in society- politicians in its pocket, control of media networks (TV5 and alliances) mainstream newspapers (Philippine Star and BusinessWorld plus interests in other major newspapers), and officials of the Department of Energy and the DFA.
Paradoxically, Manny Pangilinan, the Salim group’s chief gofer, even offered to sell the Reed Bank project to China in 2014.
Albert del Rosario , former Philippine secretary of foreign affairs who is also a high level officer of the Salim group, acted on its behalf throughout his term in the DFA, even instigating the near-outbreak of military clashes with China over the Scarborough Shoal when he sent the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a naval “gray” ship to arrest innocent Chinese fishermen. It was only proper for China to send its white Coast Guard ships to confront del Rosario’s actions.
We have heard first-person accounts of the actual discussions between del Rosario and Chinese representatives in Manila to negotiate through the Scarborough incident while it was happening. Del Rosario was taunting the Chinese representative to “send in the Liaoning” to Scarborough, mocking, poking and provoking. As they always are, the Chinese representatives were professional and diplomatic, coolly and calmy taking down notes of the taunting as they discussed the issues despite the uncouth behavior of del Rosario.
Let us be straightforward about the PHL-China oil-gas deal.
China can walk away from the deal without suffering any harm at all, while the Philippines’ energy future would be put in serious jeopardy. Today, China is buying oi and gas from Russia, its most reliable partner, which had put up special pipelines from its sources in Siberia to China. China is also buying oil from Saudi Arabia while offsetting debt for oil in Venezuela; and China has just struck more oil and gas of its own in Sichuan and Xinjiang.
Meanwhile the Philippines has no other future energy sources even as Malampaya’s oil and gas extraction is already winding down and expected to produce its last output in five to ten years. And like Vietnam, the Philippines will find China an immovable rock when its core interests in the South China Sea are disregarded and mutually beneficial compromise is rejected. And what are China’s core interests?
China is offering the 60/40 deal to ensure peace and tranquility with the Philippines, deny a crisis opportunity to the U.S., and support the Philippine economy.
By now, it should be very clear to all Filipinos that the US-Salim gang have nothing but malevolence towards the Republic of the Philippines and its 110-million Filipinos. US-Salim will take advantage of every opportunity to take any and every chance for profit for its mega-multinational corporation and its executives, corrupt government officials, and create war situations where possible to restore U.S. global hegemony. Every Filipino must oppose and expose them.