Friday, October 31, 2014

Economics of War and Peace by Erick San Juan

"Business as usual in unusual times" was the punch line and the theme of the business forum hosted by the Manila Times at the Dusit Hotel in Makati City the other day.

The forum was a success with the former President Fidel Ramos as the main speaker.  To name a few popular personalities like Rodger Baker, vice president for East Asia  and Pacific of the Stratfor Global Intelligence, former Secretary Bobby Romulo of AIG Insurance Inc., NEDA Sec. Arsenio Balisacan  and Wang Yang, head of commercial affairs of China Embassy in the Philippines as other resource speakers.

The forum aimed to lead in intelligent brainstorming on how to do business in both China and the Philippines thus avoiding frictions between the two nations, crafting mutually business relations and assist both government leaders reconcile their differences.

Instead of political bickerings with economics in mind, saber rattlings can be averted and it will be a good prescription for peace and prosperity.

Rodger Baker of Stratfor and Richard Cant of Dezan Shira &Associates explained how they help in identifying opportunities, make strategic decisions, manage risk and how to establish operations in the region.

The input in this forum could be a wake up call to 'hawks' and 'chicken hawks' here and in China that peace is still achievable through regular dialogue and economic bilateral agreements.

The forum could be of help to President BS Aquino III, in time for his trip to China next month to attend the APEC international conference in addressing sensitive issues like the joint exploration of gas and oil in the contested areas in the South China Sea.

The perceived hindrance is the 'big brother'. Will the American government permit it? Despite the knowledge of the world that we are treated like a territory of the US, the Filipinos  nowadays have awakened to the issue that most of our leaders have been known to be 'stooges' of Uncle Sam.

We are treated not as a co-equal and always shortchanged because of our colonial mentality plus most of our leaders are allegedly blackmailed to follow orders.

We never contested our treaties with the US. We signed the MDT(Mutual Defense Treaty) with the US on August 1951 in Washington DC. Despite the agreement that both US and the Philippines support each other especially if there's an external aggression, it's only the Philippine congress who ratified the treaty, not the US. Making the treaty a one sided agreement.

What was not told was how the Philippine senate was gypped to vote against the extension of the bases. The truth of the matter, an expert volcanologist, Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo, accurately predicted the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo years before it happened and saved the nuclear armaments and the US military arsenals stored at Clark and Subic base.

The worst, the Senate won in ousting the Americans without asking them to leave some of their weaponry to secure us and gave our AFP military capability to fight and protect our nation.

When the volcano stabilized, the need for basing right was revived and initiated by some pro-American legislators. In the guise that we are defenseless against external attacks, the Visiting Forces Agreement was approved by then President Joseph Estrada, one of the signatories in the ouster of the US bases.

To circumvent our constitution which prohibits the permanent basing rights of foreign troops, the VFA initiators played with words saying the presence of the US troops is on a rotational basis, plus the usual community assistance like medical, construction and civic actions.  

The problem lies with the  lopsided deal that just in case of foreign aggression, there is no assurance that the US will automatically act to support and fight for us.

I have seen how other nations handled the US bases in their homeland. A so called 'house rules' should be respected like what the US military is observing in the former Southcom. Thanks to the DND's constant monitoring and proper communication with it's counterpart.

What went wrong? The Nicole rape case and the Jeffrey Laude, a transvestite killed in Olongapo  by a drunk US Serviceman in a motel should be a lesson to our government.

Proper coordination must be made before hand especially with local government units to be strict and should not give permits to bars and restaurants acting as sex exchange if we want to be respected by these visitors.

DND Sec. Voltaire Gazmin claimed that abolishing the VFA as initiated by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago will hurt our security. Do we have a choice? Especially now that China is flexing it's muscle and bullying us?

I prefer the Manila Times agenda that adheres to 'politics begin and end in economics' and have peace.

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