Some other Filipinos may still be taken aback by the recent surge of US and Amboy (American Boys) fake news, “mal-contexted” info (i.e. deliberately taken-out-of-context news) and the likes in Philippine mainstream media, but I and the anti-imperialist, pro-Asian, pro-South or Third World communities I am part of expect these cycles of disinformation and propaganda against the blossoming PHL-China good will and cooperation.
The anti-China disinformation tsunami consists of the following: false “bullying” story in the space debris retrieval incident, the “swarm” of Chinese boats in the Sabina shoal area, and the alleged “new reclamation” by China of features in the disputed areas of the SCS, and finally, alleged “gunboat diplomacy” at Ayungin Shoal’s parked, decaying Philippine navy ship BRP Sierra Madre allegedly “challenged” while some report “sailed dangerously close” by Chinese Coast Guard ships.
These led to the latest headlines of the Philippines to “strengthen its presence in the WPS” as if preparing for conflict with an imagined enemy which is invariably China. Of course, that positioning is ridiculous and hollow since former National Security Adviser Gen. Hermogenes Esperon has repeatedly publicly announced that “China is not an enemy” while President Bongbong Marcos (PBB) has already said that “China is the Philippines’ strongest partner”.
China has indeed proven to be the Philippines’ strongest partner and supporter not only in the past decade but throughout the thousand-plus history of the two nations, from the Tang and Song dynasties 1,100 years ago, through cooperation between Mariano Ponce and Dr. Sun Yat-sen in the Philippine Revolution and the anti-Japanese struggle of the Wah Chi Chinese detachment with the Philippine anti-Japanese guerilla forces in World War II.
China-Philippine cooperation continued through the period of President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Sr. (FEM) who received oil supplies from China in that administration’s moments of fuel crisis, financial aid through the “Binondo Central Bank” during the financial attacks on the FEM in the wake of the US-engineered Ninoy Aquino assassination, and through to the Duterte era when China supplied arms in the midst of dire need in the Marawi Siege and the US refused due to Human Rights issues.
As the PBBM administration entered the picture China had already delivered on many pledges of aid and infrastructure such as the Chico Irrigation Dam system, two major bridges over the Pasig River and one connecting Davao to Samal island, Kaliwa Dam to supply 600-million liters daily of water to Mero-Manila, cheaper and better telco with DITO, and a host of others. It’s always good to be remined of the good works of China when the malicious black propaganda is revved up by the pols and media.
The pols I remember from their recent emoting that would rival the TV dramas of the Koreans, like Sen. Francis Tolentino who railed and flailed about the alleged “forcible confiscation” in the space debris incident. I waited several days to watch the video he claimed showed the “bullying”, when it finally was put on YouTube – it was a big disappointment. It showed the tow line from the Philippine navy boat supposed being cut from at least 100 meters away from the Philippine navy dinghy.
Being that far way there could not have been any serious altercation, and obviously in that distance there could not have been any physical confrontation such as jostling as would be expected in a bullying incident. The only audio was the Philippine Navy man complaining how “small our rubber boat is” but there was nothing directed against the Chinese Coast Guard. One can not even say that courtesies were not extended by both sides because the video just didn’t show any close encounter.
But on the basis of that scant two-minute video Sen. Tolentino goes on media protesting the “bullying” and demanding PBBM put diplomatic pressure on President Xi during their meeting on the first week of 2023. Ridiculous ham that I have turned to calling this senator “Tonto-lentino” after the the American Lone Range’s sidekick “Kimosabee” or faithful scout now defined by the dictionary as “silly, ridículo, absurdo, bobo, imbécil, majadero”. Hontiveros, Poe, Binay, Villanueva followed suit. Hahahaha.
The only reliable statement from the Philippine navy side is from Major Cheryll Tindog who stated, “We practiced maximum tolerance… Since it was an unidentified object and not a matter of life and death, our team just decided to return.” It should be said that the navy did the right things because there are international rules about ownership and retrieval of space debris which the UN Outer Space Treaty and UNOOSA (UN Office for Outer Space Affairs) stipulates.
The act of allowing the Chinese Coast Guard retrieve the space debris spotted by our Philippine Navy was the correct move as the UN Outer Space Treaty and UNOOSA rules says, “Article VIII of the Outer Space Treaty provides that each State retains ownership and control over objects launched into space that are registered on its registry:…” During FEM’s tie when the country tested the “Bong Bong” rockets the same rule applied and out Navy picked up the spent rockets.
I the Philippines had tried to stop the Chinese Coast Guard from retrieving the space debris then embarrassment may have been the consequence, but China is more mature than the Philippine officialdom to trouble anybody over such petty matters. Meanwhile, our officials continue to make fools of themselves issuing a note verbale over the matter and following up with being baited with the other malicious disinformation matters.
Tonto-lentino also hammered a few days later on the alleged “swarm” of Chinese boats at Sabina Shoal. When I looked at the news report on this “swarm” the media and newspapers, particularly ABS-CBN and Inquirer reported “Around 20 Chinese vessels were found swarming in Sabina Shoal near Palawan, according to Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, commander of the Western Command.” I don’t know how 20 boats over several square kilometers could even constitute a “swarm”, clearly another joke.
While Tonto-lentino emoted over the 20 boats the South China Sea Probing Initiative with its satellite monitoring over the SCS tracked in November 6,790 Vietnamese boats, fishing or otherwide, with 46,905 tracking points swarming all over the South China Sea including Philippine territorial seas (hence Vietnamese poachers, the most frequent says former DND chief Delfin Lorenzana, are often apprehended). It pays to read the other side of the story, not just the US satellite photos.
Then came the “new reclamation” of SCS island and features occupied by China reported by Bloomberg which the SCSPI also quickly debunked by providing satellite photos showing no such at reclamation activities at Eldad Reef, Lankiam Cay, Whitsun Reef and Sandy Cay claimed by Bloomberg. It was an opportunity for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spokesperson Mao Ning, to embarrass Bloomberg saying, “The Bloomberg report is completely untrue.”
Madame Mao added, “The growth of China-Philippines relations currently enjoy sound momentum, and the two sides will continue to properly handle maritime issues through friendly consultations.” That’s how mature relations are carried out, not the baseless, sensational megaphone diplomacy and media we see in the Philippines. But the style of the Americans and some Filipinos are the same, strike without basis, get publicity then run, hope the public forgets the lie until the next lie.
The maliciousness of the likes of Senator Tonto-lentino is exposed by what they do not report or highlight too, for example the December 15, 2022 reports from the US think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) that Vietnam has in the disputed areas (including Sandy Cay) of the SCS “created roughly 170 hectares of new land and brough the total area Vietnam had reclaimed in the past decade to 220 hectares” or over two square kilometers, much of it in Philippine claimed areas too.
For the current final round of “Evil China” misrepresentations is the Manila Standard editorial of December 23, “Beijing’s gunboat diplomacy… Chinese Coast Guard recently challenged personnel of the Western Command (Wescom) of the AFP who were about to conduct a resupply mission and were bringing Christmas packages..[ drama]” The “challenge” turned out to be radio, not physical, challenge which our security personnel also do as part of their duties in asserting out claim.
The Chinese Coast Guard, other Philippine reports state “sailed dangerously close” by the Philippine resupply ships but none gave an estimate of the distance, videos however sow the Chinese Coast Guard vessel was quite a distance off which I estimate could even be kilometers away so hard to tell if they were really shadowing – but certainly not physically challenging in any way such as blocking or hindering the resupply ships or boats.
The BRP Sierra Madre is a decaying wreck at the Ayungin Shoal grounded by the Philippine government to stake its claim. What international law would recognize a wreckage as evidence to a territorial claim when even “rocks” some would consider as islands cannot be is beyond me but that is the creative thinking of President Joseph E. Estrada in 1999. The International Maritime Organization considers such wrecks as hazards and require owners to pay for their removal.
So That is the story of the November-December 2022 misinformation, disinformation and black propaganda surge to wreck PHL-China goodwill, cooperation and blooming relations. Will the US, Amboys and the corrupt, US-lackeys in the Philippine political, business and media ruling cliques succeed in wrecking the only hope of Philippine progress that’s latched on to Asia, ASEAN and China’s central role in the region’s growth story? I hope not, otherwise we are doomed.
Vietnam continues its SCS build-up but it has the best of relation with China which, including Hong Kong, is the top investors in the country beating the Japan, U.S., the E.U., Singapore and others. Vietnam knows its diplomacy and strategic interests, and doesn’t have opportunistic, pro-US politicians and media that try to destroy its economic growth prospects. Yet it has one of the firmest positions in its claims in the SCS. It today does not badmouth China, is among the first to approve RCEP,
In total registration certificates for 242 new projects were approved and Vietnam received US$2.7 billion in newly registered capital. This brings the current FDI tally, year-to-date (YTD), to just over US$25 billion. (Dec 1, 2022). While Net foreign direct investment in the Philippines fell by 7.9% year-on-year to USD 0.63 billion in September 2022, guess where the Philippines will be if the US and Amboys succeed further delaying Philippine ratification of the RCEP, and badmouthing China.
It is also useful to recall the anti-China propaganda surge of 2021 that started with the infamous “swarms of 300 Chinese boats at Whitsun reef” which turned out to be the regular fishing season preparation, the April ABS-CBN “Chiara Zambrano chased by Chinese Coast Guard” exposed by Sec. Panelo and Lorenzana as a fake story funded one way or another we later learned from Pinoy Exposé by the Institute for War and Peace and Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
Notable among the fake news of 2021 is the ADI, Albert del Rosario Institute, symposium with “think tank” Simularity symposium on the 5th anniversary of the arbitration “award” exposing alleged “Chinese vessel” releasing human sewage in a report in the report with the hashtag #ChinaStopShittingOnTheSpratlys. Simularity used a satellite photo as evidence which turned out to be a 2014 photo at Great Barrier Reef, Australia, not 2021 in the SCS. Let us learn from history, and stop swallowing fake news concocted by the U.S., tonto politicians who have not interest in the welfare of Filipinos and the Philippines, the prostituted mainstream media controlled by the US-dependent oligarchs, and insidious American assets in our defense and military institutions doing the bidding of the warmonger states of the West, the US and NATO. Let us be truly free and sovereign to pursue peace and prosperity.