By BENJIE OLIVEROS
I cringe whenever I hear the Aquino administration justifying its declaration that it would seek expanded access of foreign military troops, specifically that of the US and Japan, to the country’s military bases, ports, and other facilities.
“At this point, we cannot stand alone. We need to form alliances. If we don’t, bigger forces will bully us, and that is happening now.”
“We brought this up before the court but in spite of that, they (Chinese) are still there. They refuse to leave. What will we do? Are we going to wait for them to enter our doorstep?”
These statements were quoted from, no less than, the Aquino administration’s Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin.
After Gazmin received a lot of flak, no less than President Benigno Aquino III, came to his defense saying:
“If we don’t get in touch with them in putting order to our system in cases of conflict, then I think that is the kind of wrong preparation. So, they also need someone who knows our terrain, and we also need inter-operability with them.”
PhilSTAR.com, in a July 3 article reported Aquino saying that “the country needs all the help it can get from allies, particularly the US and Japan, in enhancing its defense capabilities and in dealing specifically with China’s growing military presence in the West Philippine Sea.”
Philippine Defense Sec. Gazmin and President Aquino’s statements are downright pathetic wishful thinking.
First of all, the US never said that it would side with and come to the aid of the Philippines in the event of an escalation of the territorial disputes with China. Perhaps this false hope that the Aquino administration is clinging to was reinforced when US Ambassador Harry Thomas reportedly said during the launch of the National Renewable Energy Plan:
“We are allies. We will continue to work with each other in all issues including the South China Sea and Spratlys.”
Even the Philippine Daily Inquirer had the same thinking as the peg of its June 14, 2011 report read: “The United States has finally expressed its support for the Philippine government over issues involving its disputes with China over the Spratly Islands.”
But read carefully, did US Ambassador Thomas say anything about coming to the aid of the Philippines in the event that the territorial dispute with China escalates into armed clashes?
But, later reports reveal more categorical statements from US Ambassador Thomas, which should have dashed the illusions of the Aquino administration.
“We take no sides in this territorial disputes as we are also partners of other claimant countries.” (gmanews.tv June 21, 2012)
“US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas reiterated May 24 that Washington will remain neutral on the Spratly Islands issue.”(Philippine Mabuhay News: West Coast Edition, July 2013)
The most the US has so far done is to sell to the country two decommissioned US Coast Guard cutters, but only after removing the cannons of both ships. And to hold joint military exercises near the areas of dispute, which has not done anything for the country but to provoke China. Besides, the purpose of the US for doing so is not to show that it would come to the aid of the Philippines, but to demonstrate its military might to China.
Second, the US would not engage in a war with China just to defend the Philippines. China is, in fact, a much more important, and definitely larger, market and business partner of the US.
Third, the US has always acted according to its own interest. There has been no instance in history when the US involved itself in a war out of pure concern for an “ally”.
It did not do so in Afghanistan nor in Iraq. It is now common knowledge that the US attacked Afghanistan and Iraq to corner the region’s oil and gas reserves and secure oil and gas pipelines passing through the region. The Afghan and Iraqi people are currently engaging the US occupying forces in a long drawn-out war.
The US did not invade Panama in 1989 to save the people of that country from a dictator involved in drug trafficking in the person of Manuel Noriega. In fact, Noriega was a close ally of the US, was in the payroll of the CIA and was, up to May 1986, being praised by the US Drug Enforcement Agency. It invaded Panama because Noriega was becoming adamant at a time when control over the Panama Canal was about to be gradually transferred to Panama beginning in 1990.
Nor did the US get involved in Korea and Vietnam out of its love for the two nations. In fact, the US imposed itself on the Vietnamese people when they were able to oust the occupying forces from France. South Korea gave the US a foothold in the Northeast Asian region and is host to around 15 US military bases.
Likewise, the US did not get involved in the Philippines to save us from the Spanish colonizers, it even stole the victory from the Filipino revolutionary forces under the Katipunan. The US killed a lot of Filipinos, from an estimated 250,000 to a million, during the three-year Philippine-American war to be able to occupy the country. When the US retook the country from Japan, during World War III, it did not do so out of the goodness of the heart of the late General Douglas MacArthur. The US was just taking back its colony.
When the US ‘granted’ the country’s ‘independence’, it did so only after it has secured its interests in the county through unequal treaties. Again the US did it not because it loved the Filipino people, it gave up its policy of direct colonization to preempt a war of national liberation as what was happening in Africa, Latin America, and the rest of Asia then.
Allow me to quote from the great Albert Einstein: “All of us who are concerned for peace and triumph of reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field.”
How would the country then defend itself in the highly unlikely event that China would knock on our doorstep?
Well, the Vietnamese people were able to defeat the strongest military force in the world, the US – which used its most modern weaponry against them – through a determined war of national liberation. We could also do the same if the Filipino people would want to. Of course, that would depend on whether the Filipino people believe that the government is working for the nation’s interest. If not, then the government could not rally the people to defend the country. It would have to rely on its weak, backward armed forces.