How often have we heard that line about the Filipino being able to bend like the bamboo? Some are raising that adage again to justify the bowing of President Bongbong Marcos, Jr. to the diktats of the Americans imposing the unconstitutional and oppressive expanded EDCA bases and the US-PHIL joint South-South East-China Sea (SSE-SCS or what map distortionists call the WPS) sea patrols.
President BBM said several times in the course of his candidacy for the vice-presidency in 2016, and then in his presidential campaign in 2022 interview and asked by Boy Abunda about US presence in the Philippines he said, “If the Americans come in, it is bound to fail.”, referring to the peace and tranquility of the region and the nation.
Now, President BBM lets the Americans come in with a big, big bang of four additional EDCA bases and the launching of US-PHIL joint sea patrols which the Duterte administration in 2016 had disallowed to avoid its use for provocative U.S. gunboat diplomacy called “Freedom of Navigation” to maintain the “good neighbor” policy with fraternal nation China.
Duterte’s defense chief then, Delfin Lorenzana was quoted to say that Duterte would not allow it “to avoid any provocative actions that can escalate tensions in the South China Sea.” The U.S. has been the invader from the West in the Ae of Imperialism and Colonialism the past 500 years, attacking the Philippines, China and much of Asia with the other Western colonial powers.
Again, in 2021 Lorenzana was quoted saying that the desistance from joining any US-led naval joint patrols, “The man reason … Firstly, it’s not to antagonize China because China is watching us here and a lot of things could be done to us by the Chinese government if they are antagonized.” With BBM’s collaborating with the U.S. does it mean BBM now wants to antagonize China?
China, the top trading partner of the Philippines and top importer of Philippine exports can indeed consider responses that would be very difficult for the Philippines to cope with, but we can be glad that China has not responded in that manner at this moment, preferring to zero in on the real culprit – the US – for using the Philippines in its strategy of tension in the region.
The late President Noynoy Aquino had a taste of China’s passive resistance response to the Philippine Navy’s arrest of Chinese fishermen at the Scarborough Shoal in 2012 that resulted in a standoff, China simply stopped accepting Philippine bananas and in an instant the Davao banana growers lost P 1-billion in export revenues.
When there’s good relations with the Chinese government similar to Duterte’s time exports boomed and reached over P 25-billion in 2021, it really that simple dealing with China. I believe China will give leeway in the first year of BBM without harshly responding to the apparent readiness to antagonize China while bending to America, but it may not last for long.
But how low can BBM bend for and to the U.S.? So far, it’s been pretty low for him to betray his “strongest partner” China after the latter’s grandest welcome for him in his January 2023 state visit and a cornucopia of projects, market openings to Philippine exports, resumption of the multi-billion-dollar tourism trade to the Philippines and $ 22.8-billion investment pledges.
Over and above the betrayal in EDCA and US-PHIL joint SCS patrol issue isa little known insult the BBM administration is delivering to the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines, by snubbing calls of the embassy to Philippine government counterparts. We heard this from unimpeachable sources in the diplomatic community, and it delivers a very serious message that does not augur well for relations.
Mr. Congeniality or BBM may bend to the US to keep his peace with the Americans, but this insulting treatment of the diplomatic mission of China in the Philippines is inexcusable and delivers one impression to me – it’s the instructions of the Americans who want to make the point to China that the U.S. can still command the Philippine president and his minions like canines at the gate.
China’s diplomacy has a tradition that dates as far back as its civilization. Today, it is wise, competent and professional. It’s practice of diplomacy is based on a humanist vision and strategic world view based on moral and ethical socialist values. There was never a truth nor validity to the allegation of “wolf warrior” diplomacy. It understands the Philippines’ situation and will be firm but gentle.
The U.S. in this latest caper is whipping its boys in the region into line, corralling South Korean, Japanese and the Philippines’ ruling political and military cliques into line with saber rattling against the fictitious “China threat” over an equally fictitious “Taiwan invasion by China” to hide its desperate struggle to save its political clout in the Asia-Pacific region.
The U.S. concocts many scare stories like the “Chinese spy balloon”, in the Philippines the unproven “fishermen harassed at Ayungin shoal” and “space debris ‘forcibly retrieved’” which WESCOM spokesperson Maj. Cherryl Tindog said, “Since it’s an unidentified object… not a matter of life and death, the team decided to go back to NSEL (base),” Does that sound like there was a “forceful retrieval?”
The Philippines under President Bongbong Marcos has lost all its dignity and pride, necessarily the top brass of the DND, DFA and the AFP have to follow suit. Duterte had described BBM as “weak” and “incompetent”, now we can add a new attribute – “shameless.” They have bent too low, they will find out eventually that the master they bend and kneel to will abandon them when the crunch comes.