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 Malacańang 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.
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.
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.
An Open Letter to Pope Francis; Please Read It Before Coming to the Philippines
Dear Pope Francis, your much anticipated visit to the Philippines is just a few days away. We expect that you will have been adequately briefed about the Philippines by the time you arrive. However, there might be a few things your Vatican handlers might have missed—or intentionally "forgot" to mention to you so we hope this letter reaches you in time for your historic visit. Before anything else, welcome!
A Dingdong Fancy Wedding for a Third World Country
What is it with us Filipinos? We are a country of "all flash and no substance." Case in point: This ridiculously lavish wedding between two so-so movie stars that sought to outdo even the most "royal" of royal weddings. What was the whole point of this crassly extravagant display? Lest anyone forget, the Philippines is still a Third World country. And many, many squatter's homes (if you can call them "homes") do not have running water or even a toilet!
Vice President Jejomar Binay’s Aguinaldo
Money received from benefactors during Christmas in the Philippines is called “aguinaldo”, a term and practice imported from Mexico during the Spanish colonial period where it now refers to the annual Christmas bonus given to employees. In the Philippines, it is now generally used to describe monetary gifts given by all benefactors, including godparents and employers.
Do Filipinos Want America on Their Side or Not?
Given the Filipino penchant for "dramatics," not to mention the circus atmosphere that inevitably encompasses any event of even minor significance, one can hardly blame American government officials for refusing to hand over US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton over to Philippine authorities. The intriguing question in all this however is why some Filipinos are so insistent on having custody over the accused.