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.
While the Aquino administration has been making many of the right moves lately, such moves remain woefully inadequate given the situation the Philippines faces with China. If President Benigno Aquino III entertains any hope of keeping our islands in the Spratlys, he needs to get off his behind this minute and start building a strong coalition with other nations.
A country's president must be a statesman. Someone who is genuinely concerned about the welfare of his people—especially those who have the least in life. A president must also be fair. Fairness after all underpins what justice is all about. Everyone, be they exceedingly wealthy or totally destitute deserves equal treatment under the law.
The Philippines Is Not a Friendly Place To Do Business In
On the surface, the Philippines can seem like an enjoyable and friendly place to do business. But scratch the surface and you’ll find yourself in a strange and alien world where a whole new set of rules and attitudes apply. Just recently, the Fraser Institute, a well-known North American think-tank, ranked the Philippines third from the bottom, on its annual survey of the best places to do business for mining companies.
To All Those Who Were Part of the EDSA People Power Revolution—Thank You!
On February 25, the Philippines will celebrate the 28th anniversary of the People Power revolution known as EDSA One. For four days in February, 1986, freedom-starved Filipinos amassed on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), in front of Camps Crame and Aguinaldo to shield Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile, General Fidel Ramos, and their military supporters from possible assault by forces controlled by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The Arc of the Moral Universe and the Salvador “Bubby” Dacer Case
How long before the people responsible for the Dacer-Corbito murders are brought to justice? The hopeful answer may be found in a speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol on March 25, 1965 when he said: "How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever. How long? Not long, because you shall reap what you sow. How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
Will Ruby Tuason’s Revelations Make a Difference? Remember This Is the Philippines
Another whistleblower Ruby Tuason will soon testify before the Department of Justice, and the Philippine Senate. And probably before the Ombudsman, the Batasan committees, the Sandiganbayan and other courts as well. Her appearances will likely involve high drama, moving testimony, and bombshell revelations that will be plastered across the front pages of Philippine dailies and reverberate throughout social media.
Macho, Macho Men and the Matriarchal Philippine Society
An online article a week ago concluded that the reason that Deniece Cornejo the vixen in the Vhong Navarro mauling incident was being mercilessly vilified was because Philippine society tends to treat women that way (LINK). The writer a certain Tricia Aquino in collaboration with Judy Taguiwalo a University of the Philippines professor in the Department of Women and Development Studies, try to paint a bleak picture of Filipina women as persecuted second-class citizens who end up being blamed for the troubles that befall them.
We Must Learn from the Past, for the Future of Mindanao
Will the signing of the last annex of the peace accord between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) finally bring lasting peace to troubled Mindanao? Everyone hopes so. But let’s go back several decades in time and see how the country fared in a similar situation back then.
The Internet: Keeping Philippine Politicians Honest
On January 20, 2014 Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., delivered his long-awaited privilege speech to refute the charges and allegations leveled against him regarding the misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Unfortunately, the senator’s speech was light on facts refuting the charges, and heavy on counter-accusations and theatrics.