Just a week ago, Department of National Defense OIC and undersecretary Jose Faustino (ret. Army general) speaking to a congressional hearing admitted that the Philippines’ “military capability is one of the weakest in the region”. This was an answer to the solons’ query why the Philippines failed to “prevent China from building structures in the West Philippine Sea”.
This discussion immediately reminded me of the September 2022 report of the Philippine Air Force modernization program which acquired 12 FA-20 light jet fighter from South Korea of which, and after a mere month or two, 9 had already been grounded due to “sustainability issues” or “awaiting spares (parts) which are coming from abroad…”
The discussion also reminded me of the much ballyhooed purchase from India through the QUAD good graces of the US, of the “Brahmos anti-ship missiles” which is reported to have a range of 296 kms., and it is touted as deal endorse by the late US Navy alumni Roilo Golez who people-in-the-know has always been profiteering from arms deals of the Philippines.
In March 2022 the Brahmos misfired in India onto Punjab, Pakistan. The Pakistan Air Force radars has picked up the high speed flying object which “suddenly maneuvered towards Pakistani territory.” The Indian side later clarified that “a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing..” and the missiles “don’t have ‘self-destruct’ mechanism”. Now we are finding out there are many issues that make the Brahmos problematic.
The South Korean jets and the Brahmos deal add up to nearly $ 1-billion of over P50-billion now, and no one knows how long their service life will really be and how useful they can be overall as the Philippines has no external enemy as former National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon has said repeatedly, “China (the enemy of choice of the US, Faustino and the solons) is not an enemy.”
The Philippines has not only wasted its sparse and valuable treasures from its national coffers for these frequently useless armaments for US and US allied sources but we have also wasted so many soldiers’ lives using them. Remember the C130 crash in 2021 killing 53, and the Blackhawk helicopter crashes that killed three pilots and three airmen of the PAF and the AFP.
The senators and congressmen’s questions show too how inane these representatives are having seen the obvious fact that even the Armed Forces of the world’s top military power the United States of America has itself been inutile and helpless in the face of China’s reclamation of islands in the SCS and fortifying them continuously over the past decade ready to meet the challenge the US poses.
I would say that the Philippines is the weakest of all nations in the region we call the ASEAN, and the display of mental and character weakness we see starkly demonstrated in that discussion between General Faustino and the congress hearing, with solons feigning ignorance of the realities that have persisted over decades and a retired army general feigning bravado saying we are “not pushovers”.
The broad reality is the Philippines is not only weak militarily and politically, it is weak overall – particularly in its economy. We have seen how the inane public leaders of this nation try to deny this reality by covering up with foolish claims such as “the Peso is weak not because it’s weak but because the $ is strong”. Actually, the US$ is a bubble propped by momentarily by currency manipulation.
I have in several articles shown how the peso is so weak and its economic prospects so dire by comparing the Philippine GDP to two other ASEAN countries with smaller populations than the Philippines’ 110-milion. The Thai Bhat is 38.1 to the $ while the PHP is 58.91 to the $; with only 70-million people its 2021 GDP was $ 506-billion while the Philippines was 394.1-billion.
Projecting into the next decade the Philippines is seen to be the laggard, as data from Bain & Company and Monk’s Hill Ventures’ Angsana Council, I cited “GDP per capital in the Philippines will also see the lowest compounded annual growth (CAGR) in the next three decades at only 1.9%” while GDP will be the second slowest at 3.4% while Vietnam will be on top at 6.7%.
The strength of a society and a nation is in its people and economy, when you have a nation where the divide between the mega-rich and the middle class and poor is a chasm apart and an economy that cannot even supply its basics rice or energy without depending on outside sources, what sovereignty and strength can we speak of?
The Philippines’ greatest source of weakness is its own power elite installed and supported by the U.S. neo-colonial period that seized the real national political power from the strong and sovereign state that the late President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos was building. Since Marcos’ fall from a conspiracy of the U.S., the power elite and the Catholic Church the country has been on a precipitous fall.
This is the same elite that executed the U.S. “Washington Consensus” of privatization, deregulation and liberalization of the U.S. centered “globalization” that dismantled Marcos Sr.’s industrialization, energy sovereignty programs and food self-sufficiency projects. President Duterte has restored some Marcos legacies but unfortunately Marcos Jr. is a doubtful inheritor.
The rest of ASEAN nis progressing very rapidly, certainly much more rapidly than the Philippines because after the U.S. fall from economic top economic power of the world in 2008 amid the Western Financial Crisis, the ASEAN majority swiftly gravitated to the just and fair globalization of China while the Philippines remained a vassal nation to the dead weight U.S. as a vassal nation.
Sovereignty is the strength of a nation, not military armaments nor ersatz patriotism loudly proclaiming itself.
North Korea and China did not have warplanes and tanks in the Korean War but they defeated the Americans’ Flying Fortresses and Sherman tanks. The Vietnamese defeated the French and Americans with a guerilla army, and the Taliban only with their RPGs against F-16s.
The Filipino nation still haven’t fully vanquished its homegrown enemy the CPP-NPA primarily because its “greatest ally” the Americans have continued to fund and support the insurgents’ political support base such as the corrupt politicians of the Yellows, the human rights NGOs, the U.S. funded anti-government mainstream and social media allies of the CPP-NPA.
DND OIC retired general Faustino and cohorts, including the Philippine mainstream media, are now touting the $ 66-milion to upgrade the EDCA bases as the incentive to continue and expand the bases, a mere P 5.5-billin pesos to build up base facilities for the Americans – not for Filipinos. The AFP has been living on US scraps since the MDT started 1961, what does the AFP have to show for it today?
The AFP is still as dependent on US throwaways today as it was when the MDT started seventy-years ago. Ultimately the weakness of the Philippines is the weak minds, weak characters, weak moral spirit of its ruling class and its armed forces brass. Not only mindless and brainless but shameless and shamefully subservient.
While I see brilliant and sterling young leaders and officers now rising, I wonder when they can take their move to radically change the country’s ruling elite and the future of the country.