Asian Century Journal

An Asian Century Philippines Publication

BBM Student Council Cabinet Tackles Foreign Policy

 

By Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan, Part 1

After the United States by most international geopolitical analysis, sabotaged the Nordstream gas pipelines between Russia and Germany in an un-precedented case of state terrorism in history, Philippine Defense Officer in Charge Jose Faustino Jr. announced that the Philippines and the US are fortifying our two countries’ Mutual Defense Treaty.

His meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin 3rd was held at the US Indo-Pacific Command in Honolulu, Hawaii.

As to why these talks occurred appears to be a preemptive effort on the part of the Americans to secure their foothold especially in the Asia-Pacific, and box the Philippines into a corner in anticipation of the end of ten years of Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement on April 2024.

The reasons given are lame – rising concerns in the West Philippine Sea and tensions with China. From the Philippine perspective, tensions with China are under control and is being managed properly, if we are to believe how Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo, in his confirmation hearing, outlines the protocol being observed:

“The first line of protest” he said “is through the Notes Verbales which we have been sending quite regularly to the Chinese side but that’s not the only approach we use.

“At a bilateral level, we have regular meetings with China at a Foreign Ministry Level and even below that where we discuss problems and issues on the West Philippines Sea.

“We also establish another forum called the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea with China and that is where we focus particularly on the issues or events in the South China Sea.

“On a regional level, we also work with the ASEAN and at the moment we are negotiating with China a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea where these issues are reflected.”

In addition to this, it must be pointed out that since the Philippines rapprochement with China started with the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, we have had tremendous support from the Chinese in terms of remarkable infrastructure development, foreign direct investments, tourism and trade.

On the other hand, it is evident that further dissonance in the North and South China Seas is being fomented, not by China, but by the United States.

On the Taiwan question, the 99-year-old former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger expressed, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, his worries that the US and China are maneuvering toward a crisis, and counseled steadiness on Washington’s part.

 Kissinger said “The policy that was carried out by both parties has produced and allowed the progress of Taiwan into an autonomous democratic entity and has preserved peace between China and the US for 50 years,” he said, noting that “one should be very careful, therefore, in measures that seem to change the basic structure.” 

It can be seen that the US has become stuck in the mind-set of making trouble and sabotaging China-US ties so as to make itself a so-called lead player in the Western Pacific region, by creating crises as well as turbulence globally.

Another visit by a delegation led by Democratic Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, following Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has exposed the key stance of the US on the Taiwan question, which is to egg on Taiwan separatists and falsify the essence of the one-China principle.

Markey is a seasoned China hawk, who often lectures China on human rights issues. In March 2020 in a pit of racism, he co-introduced a bipartisan resolution with Senator Rick Scott calling on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics out of China.

Global Times reports that there is sufficient evidence to show that Taiwan independence forces have long been making political donations to US anti-China politicians, initiating visits and hyping up topics, creating political legacies, and this has resulted in US politicians’ visit. They made the decision to fulfill their “duties” after taking money.

Of course, China will react.

It has announced eight countermeasures in response to Pelosi’s highly provocative visit to the island of Taiwan, including canceling China-US theater commanders’ talks, defense policy coordination talks, the military maritime security consultative mechanism and suspending cooperation on illegal immigration repatriation, drug control and climate change.

First, the so-called median line has completely disappeared. Taiwan’s so-called territorial waters and airspace, claimed by the Taiwan authorities, have been overturned by facts.

It means the Chinese mainland has, from a military perspective, comprehensively practiced and strengthened the control of the cross-Straits region.

Second, in the global diplomatic game, elicited by Pelosi’s visit, over 170 sovereign countries in the world have reiterated their commitment to the one-China principle.

This is the voice of mainstream international society. The US could get together its core allies, defining and advocating its own interpretations on one-China principle by playing word-games.

Third, China has recently published a white paper, the “The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era,” which clearly shown the world the future path to resolve the Taiwan question, as well as the future fate of the island, clarifying the development orientation of the Taiwan question.

So, when Faustino said Philippines will support the US when it comes to protecting Taiwan from Chinese aggression, I don’t really know what he was talking about. Under what rock has this hermit been hiding and for how long?

But when he added that while the Philippines adheres to the One China Policy, it is important for the MDT to be updated to conform to the prevailing security situation in the Indo-Pacific region, I readily agreed with him.

But the problem is this idiot went north instead of going south. Instead of avoiding war, Faustino is hitchhiking with the Americans.

Ever since China beat the Americans in the Korean War 70 years ago, I do not recall it engaging in any conflagration outside her borders. On the contrary, the US has spent $7 trillion in wars worldwide for the past 20 years, and as we speak it is confronting Russia in a proxy war in Ukraine.

The update on the Mutual Defense Treaty that Faustino should be pursuing must be towards its unconditional abrogation.

The outdated treaty was actually an assurance from the United States that they will come to our succor in case we are attacked by any foreign country. It was intended to serve as a defensive shield.

 But our pro-American forebearer agreed to a language that now acts like a dog collar on our necks, for in reciprocity, it can be used by the Americans to draw us in an offensive war we do not want, including one that they provoke.

“Article V. … an armed attack on either of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of either of the Parties, or on the Island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific Ocean, its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.”

Thereupon, this leash can make us a target of even any retaliation against any American violent adventurism in this part of the world. Remember why Japan invaded the Philippines in 1941 – it wasn’t because Filipinos were hostile to the rising sun. It was because the Americans had military bases in the Philippines.

So, does Faustino agree or disagree with the Constitution that he has sworn to uphold and protect?

“The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations. (Sec. 2, Article II)

Further, doesn’t this make a sham of the other Constitutional provision that we are to pursue an independent foreign policy expressed in Section 7 of the same Article II?

We are so perfunctory we have loaded the dice against our national interest when we entered into a military alliance, without even the other contracting party, the United States, ratifying the treaty as required by our Constitution.

No ratification for the MDT, no ratification for the Visiting Forces Agreement and no ratification for the Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement. 

So when Faustino said the Philippines engage what he calls “like-minded countries to ensure that the rules based on an international order will prevail in easing the tension in the West Philippine Sea, which is being claimed by China,” is he sure where is coming from?

Well, our foreign secretary is not.

During the confirmation hearings, Congressman Rodante Marcoleta called the attention of Secretary Manalo because he was being evasive: “You are not telling us the correct answer. The arbitral ruling did not invalidate the territorial claims of China in the Spratlys. Do you know that Mr. Secretary? That is the problem because “the Hague” had limited jurisdiction – it had no jurisdiction over territories.”

Marcoleta continued, “We have a problem there because until and unless we clarify that they can also enjoy their maritime rights in their territorial seas and in their exclusive economic zones, because China has possession of their islands,

“It has to be explained to our people that we cannot just eject China because it has perfect rights…they are entitled to those rocks or islands that they occupy.

“That has to be stated clearly since as occupants of those territories which happens to intersect our own EEZ, they are also supported by the United Nation as Convention of the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS).

“They are the owners of those territories they occupy and there is no world court that will adjudicate that.”

This is important because Secretary Manalo told Congress a total of 388 Note Verbales have been served to the Embassy of China in Manila.

This is material because former Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana citing an annual department report, said in 2018 that the Philippine military detected 46,694 incidents and challenged 40,135 vessels passing through the Philippine territory.

Lorenzana also punctuated “Vietnamese fishermen are the most frequent illegal fishers in Philippine waters.”

Has DFA served any such note to Vietnam? Have they served any such note to the United States? If ever, how many?

Are we implying here that it is our policy to single out China when it comes to these incidents and intrusions?

Despite Manalo’s seemingly confused response to Congressional nomination hearings, he was confirmed for the position of DFA Secretary with no objections.

In my honest opinion, however, instead of telling our people the facts on the ground, and explaining to them the implications of territorial disputes as Marcoleta attempts, we have eschewed a lot of the truth and engaged in an information warfare against China to suit the expectations of the Americans and the vested interests of some greedy oligarchs in the affected area.

It is sad that our present departments of national defense and foreign affairs have become party to this confusion. If the President allows their loaded baggage under his very nose, we might as well trash our independent foreign policy!

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