Tuesday, Bonnie Glaser a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies (CSIS) a Washington, DC-based think-tank testified
before a joint hearing of the U.S. House Armed Services Subcommittee on
Seapower and Projection Forces and the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on
the Asia Pacific.
Glaser, an expert on China advised the committees that “China is pursuing a
‘salami slicing’ strategy. Through a steady progression of small steps, none
of which by itself is a casus belli, Beijing seeks to gradually change the
status quo in its favor.” For the Philippines ‘salami slicing’ translates to
China occupying Mischief Reef just off the coast of Palawan in 1998,
Scarborough Shoal west of Zambales in 2012, and a planned seizure of Pag-Asa
the second largest island in the Spratlys sometime this year.
Compared to other claimant
nations, China sees islands claimed by the Philippines as low-hanging fruit
ripe for the picking. With a government bureaucracy riddled with corruption
and incompetence, and a military incapable of overpowering even a ragtag
group of bandits like the Abu Sayyaf, China knows the Philippines can’t put
up much of a fight.
The country has been
beefing up its long-neglected naval and air services of late, and rightly
so. But even a adequately funded military buildup will be nothing more than
a “drop in the bucket” compared to China’s military might. Thus President
Benigno Aquino III made the right move in seeking international arbitration
under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS as
both China and the Philippines are signatories to it.
Critics of the president
however point out that he has not done much else after that. Carlye Thayer,
professor emeritus from the University of New South Wales in Canberra,
Australia in reaction to China’s purported plan to take Pag-Asa Island by
force stated that such an act would be a "tragic mistake" for China. Thayer
states further "the political fallout from seizing Pag-asa would be a huge
setback for Chinese diplomacy. ASEAN would likely adopt an uncompromising
political position and demand the immediate withdrawal of Chinese forces."
This is what Aquino should be telling the Chinese and every world leader who
would listen to him.
In her testimony before the
U.S. House of Representatives, Glaser noted that “so far only the U.S. and
Japan have explicitly endorsed Manila’s decision to file a case with the
UNCLOS arbitration panel.” So why hasn’t Malacañang been wooing other
countries in the region over to its side, like Vietnam or Australia?
The stakes are sky-high on
this issue and the lackadaisical Filipino attitude of ‘bahala na’ is simply not
going to cut it. The president has to get out and initiate a charm offensive
along with a bit of arm-twisting to get other leaders to back the
Philippines on this issue. Only when the Chinese realize that world sentiment is
against them and they have a lot more to lose than gain, will they leave
Philippine territory alone. But is Aquino up to the task? From the looks of
it, only time will tell.
MANILA, February 5, 2014 7:17 PM - President Benigno Aquino III is seeking
international support in contesting China's claims over the West Philippine
Sea by comparing Chinese leadership to Nazi's Adolf Hitler before World War
II. The President, in an interview with The New York Times, cited a lesson
from history where Europe failed to support Czechoslovakia against Adolf
Hitler’s demands for the Sudetenland in 1938. "Remember that the Sudetenland
was given in an attempt to appease Hitler to prevent World War II," he said.
What on earth happened to these two women—supposedly handpicked by the president himself to argue on behalf of the Philippine government in peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front—who now seem to be mouthpieces for the Moros? Have Secretary Teresita Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chair of the negotiating panel become mesmerized by the tough "macho" image the rebels project?
According to NBI Director Virgilio Mendez, they have identified the individuals who uploaded the video showing the coldblooded killing of PO2 Joseph Sagonoy. The cellphone video was purportedly taken by Muslim rebels during the Jan. 25, 2014 encounter between the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebel group. The video shows a wounded Sagonoy who is shot twice in the head at close range.
Twice the Heroes—the SAF 44 Who Lost Lives in Mamasapano
The 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (SAF) who were brutally killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015 are heroes twice over: first, they paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country; second, they exposed for all to see, the dangers the country will face if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is passed.
No More Bangsamoro, Period!
With each passing day, it is becoming increasingly clear that the idea of a Bangsamoro is a bad idea. Just as the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) spearheaded by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was a bad idea (and declared unconstitutional in 2008 by the Supreme Court). Just as the failed Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) during the 1990s was a bad idea.
After the Mamasapano Massacre, Plans for a Bangsamoro Must Be Scrapped
What happened in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25 is a "game changer"—make no mistake about it. Reality as we saw it before this event is not the reality we see now...everything is different; everything has "changed. When the Philippine National Police's (PNP) elite team known as the Special Action Force or SAF set out to arrest Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, it had actionable intelligence that the Malaysian fugitive was hiding in the town of Mamasapano. Marwan, an expert bomb maker, is a core member of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah.
President Aquino Should Fly to Saudi Arabia and Pay His Last Respects to King Abdullah
Presidents and prime ministers, kings and queens; from Prince Charles and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, President Francois Hollande of France, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and many other heads of state from all corners of the globe have gone or are headed to Riyadh to pay their respects to the late King Abdullah. Even U.S. President Barack Obama cut short his state visit to India to fly to Saudi Arabia.
After the Pope's Visit: What We Filipinos Now Must Do
We put on a good show for Pope Francis. He loved it; we loved it; the world loved it. Now the long and painful task of bringing about the changes the pope asked for begins. Start with the Philippine Catholic Church. It should refocus its efforts towards the poor. As we wrote in previous editorials, many priests and bishops see themselves as members of the rich and privileged class. They feel more at home in country clubs and dining in expensive restaurants, than they do helping the poor who live in the squatter communities that dot most cities in the Philippines.
Pope Francis Admonishes Pinoys to End Scandalous Inequalities
We had a feeling this was coming. In his first major speech in the Philippines, Pope Francis called for an end to 'scandalous inequalities' in the country. And what better example of a scandalous inequality is there than that a preposterously ridiculous wedding of Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera which was officiated by 8 bishops and 7 priests. In addition, this crass wedding featured a 12-foot high wedding cake, a 2-million-peso wedding gown with an exaggeratedly long train that seemed to go on forever...you get the picture.