Part Two: Galvez and Ano Engaged in Smokes and Mirrors
Rita Gadi, perhaps Ferdinand Marcos Sr’s best loyalist, reminded me I must explain what a “red herring” is for a more exacting reference to Taiwan.
I said, a smelly fish, and she added “using an irrelevant information to distract attention.”
In the first part of this column, I forwarded a thesis that the real target of the Americans in its effort to pivot its military presence to Asia, hyping on Taiwan, is really the Philippines.
Two of President Bongbong Marcos’ cabinet members are in the forefront of gaslighting on security issues to sell four more bases added to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement which is due for termination next year.
Carlito Galvez, Marcos Junior’s secretary of defense, is not only engaged in a public relations offensive but is railroading an information war to sell to the Filipino public, not only the continuation but the expansion of our Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
His problem is that he is lying megaphone.
Speaking recently in a press conference in Basa Air Base in Floridablanca town, Galvez “We have already talked to Governor Mamba … and he said that for as long as the national government has decided, he will abide with the decision of the President, and I told him that we have already decided, so he will conform with the decision.”
Mamba, responded quickly, saying the decision lies with the President, but he maintained his opposition to the agreement. “It is the President’s call but I maintain my stand against any foreign forces stationed in my province. Still against EDCA sites in my province.”
That Mamba will not pose an opposition to the President, does not necessarily means he agrees with him. This is the classic illustration on why the Constitutional doctrine in our democracy places the supremacy of the civilian over the military.
Inside the military mindset, especially those nursed by the pedagogy of the Philippine Military Academy, no opposition is conformity and conformity is agreement. As civilian, the citizen understands his democratic right to disagree or agree based on his own conscience.
Every soldier is taught to obey first before he can complain. Thank God, Mamba is not a soldier.
Which brings us to the second clown on the stage, Marcos Junior’s national security adviser, Eduardo Ano who covers for the Americans when no one soliciting for an answer in that direction.
Obviously instructed to reinforce Galvez’ teflon logic, Ano said “the Philippines has chosen the four new (EDCA) sites for its own national interests, not because it was dictated by the United States.”
Last February 2, 2023, the US Naval Institute based in Maryland, USA reported “The United States and the Philippines have designated four additional bases for U.S. troops to operate from as both countries agreed to accelerate the full implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) that will house American troops and their equipment in Philippine military camps located in strategic areas of the country.
“Two months ago, the Philippine military disclosed that the U.S. has identified and asked for five additional locations for the EDCA – one site each in Palawan, Zambales and Isabela and two sites in Cagayan.
The national security adviser’s laundry sucks when he exposed his myopic definition of what national interest is – “the government is concerned about improving its defense capability, modernizing equipment and assets, and developing the country’s military infrastructure.”
This is a direct contradiction of what the President said while in Switzerland at the beginning of this year, “there is no point the Philippines building up its armory. It is the Philippines’ abiding belief that the solutions [to issues] are not going to be military.”
Marcos expressed belief that militaristic solutions “will end badly for everyone involved,” citing the war in Ukraine, “I think all of us were quite surprise, especially us in the Philippines to think that a war in Eastern Europe would affect agriculture in the Philippines and I guess it just goes to shows how well connected that is,” he said.
An armory is at the other end of the stick from what the President announced as his priority for a post-pandemic economic recovery. In his inaugural address last June 30, he said “We are presently drawing up a comprehensive all-inclusive plan for economic transformation. We will build back better…”
(Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, however, announced last week that the Marcos Jr. administration is aiming for the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries sector to grow at a pace of 1.8-3.3% annually within his term, as indicated in the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028.
This is a doomsday scenario – During my 20-month consultancy with the Department of Agriculture twenty years ago, I know for a fact that Philippine agriculture sector including fisheries and forestry has always posted a 2.9% annual production average.
So what post-pandemic economic recovery is forthcoming?)
What is unsettling, however, is Galvez’ slip of the tongue, “we have already decided, so he will conform with the decision.”
Just who is we here?
Last month, I asked “Have the AFP and the Americans Staged a Soft Coup Against Marcos Jr?” Today, they seem to be failing against their coup against Mamba.
So the order is for the military to make sure the local government units toe the line. Galvez pitches, “It is our fervent hope that our LGUs will also realize that the EDCA is not just about security.”
Galvez applies the lipstick: “We enjoin them to look into the potential foreign investments and economic development that EDCA sites will bring to their communities as well as the enhancement of the protection of our areas that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and the quicker disaster response and mitigation if our front-liners are called to action.”
This is already flaky. Only an idiot will agree that Clark and Subic are better off presently as bustling economic zones offering more jobs to the surrounding communities, than when they are American military bases,
The most obnoxious social evil that was prostitution and sexually-transmitted diseases by American servicemen have even been eradicated.
The greatest threat brought by the EDCA sites is what the Pentagon is not even hiding.
Brookings Institution fellow Renato de Castro, said “The decision to increase the number of joint locations occurred in October 2022, when the United States sought to deploy more of its forces and weapons to an additional five Philippine military camps, mainly in the central northern Luzon region, which the 160-mile Luzon Strait separates from the self-governed island of Taiwan.
“This development coincided with U.S. and Filipino forces expanding their joint combat and disaster response training in preparation for future contingency operations in the South China Sea, which lies to the Philippines’ west, and the Taiwan Strait, which is north of the country’s Luzon region.
In 2022, the newly formed 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment (MLR) deployed several combat concepts with the Philippine Marine Corps Coastal Defense Regiment in provinces on the Luzon Strait. By prepositioning MLR equipment at joint locations in northeastern Luzon, U.S. Marines could respond more quickly in a crisis over Taiwan or aid the U.S. military’s power projection into the Luzon Strait and South China Sea.
“Specifically, these EDCA sites could provide U.S. forces with the following advantages:
“1. Increase training. The EDCA sites will allow the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps Aviation to deploy U.S.-based tactical air formations to Southeast Asia to gain experience in foreign combat environments.
“2. Act as forward facilities for U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps ships. EDCA sites can be used as forward-based facilities for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps ship’s logistics and repairs/maintenance requirements.
“3. Provide launching pads for combat operations. If armed clashes occur in the South China Sea or over Taiwan, EDCA sites will allow the U.S. military to rapidly deploy its forces to the region.
Say goodbye too, that the addition of these new EDCA locations will allow more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines.
Testifying before the Philippine Senate, Mamba said ““We will have sleepless nights,” noting that his province is near Taiwan, which is being claimed by China. “We are the closest. We will get hit whatever happen.,” he added in the vernacular. The Cagayan governor also said his province did not receive any help from the US government when it was hit by typhoons in 2016 and in 2018. “I never saw America, I never saw goods from America.”