Monday, January 30, 2012

Hail, The "Guns" All Here! By Erick San Juan

Hail, the “guns” all here! With the coming flotilla of US warships to our sea lanes, with advance party docked in Cebu, Mindanao and in Northern Luzon plus the arrival of a Russian destroyer, Udaloy (a large anti-submarine ship) doing a port call in Manila as a friendship visit, what do they know that we don’t know?

We don’t want to be an alarmist, but with the turn of events, we are like a huge magnet attracting negative eventualities that might lead to a regional (possibly global) conflict.

One negative comment came from the editorial of the Global Times, an English-language Chinese newspaper which is a subsidiary of the state-run People’s Daily :

China should impose “sanctions’’ on the Philippines after it offered to allow more US troops on its soil, Chinese state media said Sunday, amid growing tension over disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Due to our country’s openness to Uncle Sam’s promises of military modernization, we tend to project an image of being confrontational rather than using diplomacy in the midst of tension in the disputed area in the South China Sea. But do we have a choice?


Even the so-called modernization is but acquiring second-hand (junk) military equipments, what more can we ask? We are captive of the big brother’s whims under an old treaty – the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) which is the mother of the Visiting Forces Agreement(VFA). Just like the ongoing story that US rules out new military bases in the Philippines. What “bases” are we still talking about when in fact they are using our military facilities at less expense including external security given by our camp commanders. Try visiting one of our camps where the US have support groups in it. So the statement that US will be back and renew its presence in the Asia-Pacific region, that’s a big 'BS' because they never left.

Their presence in our country, particularly in the south is an epic example that they never left and was enhanced by the so-called war on terror and has used the pretext of a terror threat from international terror groups like al-Qaida and Jemaah Islamiyah. Like the news that came out recently that a unit of US coast guard just finished training their Filipino counterparts. Translation – there’s now an assurance that they will have a full control of our sea lanes and transshipments. It seems that Uncle Sam’s grip is getting tighter as we speak even though they announced a large budget cut in their defense spending. As I have written before (my past articles can be read at the Philippines is that loyal-ally-turned-witting-tool to a possible war we never wanted.

Our good secretary of National Defense, Voltaire Gazmin said the other day that with or without Spratlys row, the military has to modernize, I agree. But to whose expense? It will be better for our defense establishment to procure armaments through ex-deal instead of us getting loans and incur more debts which we can't pay. We have to be wary of the Businessworld report January 31,2012 that our growth is seen at lower end of the government forecast and SWS report that there's an increase in hunger which should be addressed immediately than provoking a war.

Together with other patriots of this nation, we uphold the call for the abrogation of the VFA and an overhaul of the MDT wherein a new treaty could be drawn that is more balanced and not biased to the stronger nation.

We were shortchanged in the past by our leaders who are more of a collaborator than a negotiator that will bargain for what is due us rather than always bowing to "big brother". We cannot blame other foreign diplomats of taking advantage of situations when dealing with our leaders, the fault is with the people running this government, which oftentimes think “what’s in it for me” rather than what's due us as a sovereign state.

In this turbulent times that we are in, the PNoy administration should rethink its strategy when it comes to geopolitics. We must gather our acts together and come up with a plan that is long term and will solve the country’s domestic problem instead of kowtowing to a perceived master that is dragging the entire nation to a conflict of their own doing. Without US support, who could have think that we have the capabilities to confront China? Wake up PNoy!

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