Manila Times Now Kowtows to Jukebox Scholars

By Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan

Normally, I let things like this one slide. But not when my favorite surviving broadsheet prints it.
Headlined “China should ‘walk the talk’ in sea row”, Kristina Maralit wrote, “China may have misinterpreted the Philippines’ decision to grant the United States access to four more sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) citing an obscure “political analyst” who goes by the name of Dr. Froilan Calilung.
Calilung thinks “Beijing’s concerns that the Philippines and the US might aggravate tensions in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait because of the new EDCA locations, are unlikely, as the military agreement was crafted well within the bounds of the law… apart from the fact that the Philippines and United States are longstanding allies.”
Who is Dr. Froilan Calilung? But another one of the jukebox scholars Maralit has plucked out of the academe, who thinks inside a box and does not update himself with current events?
At the time of this writing, my comments to her in the Manila Times website is under moderation. So for the meantime, let me expose a geopolitical karaokist.
Anyways, Maralit quotes Calilung’s lack of intellectual authority by hiding behind a Presidential statement. She said, the analyst reiterated that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. wants to put special focus on the country ramping up the country’s territorial integrity and that the PH-US collaboration is not meant to confront China regarding its “potential advances” but merely an implementation of long-sealed agreements between the two countries.”
The problem is, Marcos Jr. is equally hollow.
If we want to ramp up the country’s territorial integrity, the President must begin by expediting legislation to amend our baselines are from where the present law set it up in 2009 before the village idiot Noynoy Aquino invented the “West Philippine Seas”.
Former Supreme Court Justice and 2016 arbitral amicus curiae Francis Jardeleza and international law expert Melissa Loja have already submittted to Malacanang a draft of a new baseline law updating Republic Act 8522 that what we have in our rusted shelves but still being used in geopolitical karaoke even by big names like Albert del Rosario and Antonio Carpio in their Stratbase stable that is funded by the Center for Strategic and International Studies based in Washington DC.
Calilung does not even know that we are the only country in the world that has no official map. Our longitudes and latitudes are still pegged to the 1898 Treaty of Paris and 1900 Treaty of Washington. Before we do that, our Coast Guards are lost at sea, and so is Maralit and Calilung’s wildest stretch of their imagination.
Moreover, Maralit insinuated it is China who is seeing things by lending credence to Calilung’s assertion that the PH-US collaboration is not meant to confront China.
The United States’ megaphone has not stopped projecting their information war, and I guess they were too small for you to notice. As early as August 2015, CSIS hack Gregory Poling, wrote “The agreement would allow U.S. equipment to be prepositioned in the Philippines and greater numbers of U.S. troops to rotate through Philippine bases. Most importantly, it would allow the United States to substantially upgrade military infrastructure in the Philippine for joint use.”
Prepositioning for joint use? What defensive use is the United States crowing about more than 10,000 miles off its West Coast, unless to guard Calilung’s colonial mentality? Poling on February 1, 2023 more or less specified what could be such infrastructure, saying “access to sites in northern Luzon would help U.S. efforts to deter any Chinese move against Taiwan by putting the waters to the south of the island within range of shore-based missiles.”
Calilung said, “It is very important for us to really understand EDCA.” Well face the mirror Froilan because in my world, EDCA does not exist in a vaccum as you assert.
He documents his bookish understanding, as: “Basically, it is an exercise not just for internal and external security. It also aims to enhance what we call HADR or Human Assistance and Disaster Response, as well as addressing climate change especially in the face of natural calamities.
“At the same time, it aims to enhance what we call the interoperability between our forces, skills transfer, and technological transfer between the US and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), especially now that we have talks regarding cybersecurity and counterterrorism.”
I can grant those for the benefit of the Philippines. But are we in the same wavelength as the Americans? This holographic mumbo-jumbo is very different from the western perspective.
A more jaded jukebox scholar has more impressive karaoke performance that Calilung.
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.
Castro continues, “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.
The Americans are not talking about HADR here, but MLR combat concepts and equipment.
Obviously, these acronyms are very dissimilar.
The final thing I want to tackle lecturing on Maralit is Calilung’s lack of intellectual integrity. His tongue slipped when he referred to EDCA as a “military” agreement debunking his own climate change and skills and technology transfer mantra.
Worse, he asserted that this “military agreement was crafted well within the bounds of the law.” On the contrary, before we apply lipstick to EDCA, let us check its biggest hole.
Section 25 Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution states: “After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America concerning Military Bases, foreign military bases, troops, or facilities SHALL NOT BE ALLOWED in the Philippines EXCEPT under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”
Is there any treaty we have involving foreign military bases, troops or facilities concurred into by the Senate after the expiration of 1991? None.
Do you recall any that was ratified by a majority vote by the people in a national referendum? None.
Was there any that was recognized as a treaty by the other contracting party? None.
If so, not only the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) is unconstitutional, but the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and could even include the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) as well.
So how did it pass the constitutionality test? You see this EDCA was signed under the Noynoy Aquino administration, and subsequently the Supreme Court construed it as an executive agreement that functions as merely an enforcement of the Mutual Defense Treaty.
Under that same president, a Supreme Court Chief Justice was impeached and convicted over an offense that was not among the impeachable grounds prescribed by the Constitution or any existing law.
So spare me the legalese when it comes to these matters, and let us keep our ears close to what actually exist on the ground. I may be of senior age but Alzheimer is not yet my cup of tea.
Instead of Calilung, I would rather submit to listen to fish vendor Mylene Agapin, 60, said she was worried that local fishing areas would be disturbed during the Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) exercises and that her fisherman-husband might not be able to take home anything.
A number of the major “Balikatan” drills (connected with EDCA and VFA) previously scheduled in Ilocos Norte were also moved to Zambales, where five localities, including Agapin’s town, will host live-fire drills to test the newly acquired weapons systems of the two allies.
This included the sinking of a 200-foot decommissioned fishing vessel serving as a mock enemy ship at the Naval Education, Training and Doctrine Command (NETDC) in this town facing the West Philippine Sea.
During the peak fishing season between February and May, residents in the coastal villages of this Zambales town would enjoy a bountiful catch of fish, squid, and other seafoods. But on Monday, they expressed fear that their catch might dwindle drastically because of the biggest war games between the Philippines and the United States that will begin today as a large portion of the town’s usual fishing ground would be a “no-sail zone” on some days of the 18-day exercise.
I really don’t know under what rock you came out from, Kristina, and why Manila Times allows articles that is not even acceptable as first draft to a journalism class, published, but for your enrollment to geopolitics, you can start with this backgrounder.
You look young so you can still catch the ropes early surrounded by writers with extreme gravitas like Bobi Tiglao and Ric Saludo in the Manila Times. I don’t know where you caught Calilung, but it would serve him well if you emailed him a clip. #

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