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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Never-ending impasse

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“Other claimant countries in the wide SCS have come up with such arrangements without losing face, meanwhile profiting their economies”

The Atin Ito flotilla of small fishing vessels, with the encouragement of the Philippine Coast Guard which stayed on the sidelines of the expedition that did not reach the Bajo de Masinloc, claimed “mission accomplished” after placing some buoys in the disputed waters of our WPS that China claims as part of their SCS.

What mission, pray tell, did they hope to accomplish to begin with?

Pure propaganda with the local “patriots” and a disinterested Western press as audience, perhaps in the forlorn hope that China will be “shamed” into accepting an UNCLOS ruling that does not, in the fine print, even rule on the validity of our rights?

The Western media is concerned firstly with the war in the Middle East triggered by the brutal massacre of Jewish men, women and children by barbarous elements of the Hamas October last year.

The carnage continues, the war seemingly unstoppable, despite all the efforts of Biden and his cohort European leaders.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is now on its third year, with no sign of easing and with both sides digging in, causing consternation in the grains and oil market, along with blocked supply and logistic chains. That too is what the West and America are preoccupied with.

Here in our part of the world, even our Southeast Asian neighbors have been quite tepid in their response to China’s persistent “bullying” of a founding member of the ASEAN.

It is only the US of A, along with some “moral” support from Japan, Australia, the UK and France, which has been giving the Philippines a certain level of encouragement, that they “have our back” in standing up against China’s persistent needling.

Our government is encouraged by Western support, where words, words, and more words protest against the Chinese “belligerence,” but realistically, we are left to puny measures of resistance such as the civilian-led “armada” that we have launched for the second time, hoping to “shame” China before a world that cares less about us.

We certainly admire the patriotism that has spurred these protest measures against China.

But critical minds, no less patriotic, also ask: what will come out of these shows of brave resistance?

To even suppose that China will be shamed enough is to harbor a naïve understanding of the geopolitical power equation that has the sleeping giant pitted against a weakened and weakening America which once colonized our islands.

Out of a quantum of caution, understandable since the fishing vessels carried unarmed civilians and were faced with mightier vessels of the PROC, the expedition called off plans to sail to Scarborough, and, with media covering their derring-do, declared their mission “accomplished.”

Surely such acts of resistance awaken the long dead nationalism in the veins of our people, but then again, have not surveys continually sustained the overwhelming majority dislike and disdain of China due to its bullying in what we call the WPS part of the SCS?

But after that, what?

One wonders why our government officials refuse to seriously parley with our close neighbor, instead of relying on the words, words, words of an ally that in several countries have proved to be worthless, be it in Iraq or Afghanistan, and now about to be repeated in the Ukraine?

Duterte may have fawned too much over the dragon in his time, but surely Marcos Jr. could preserve the peace and maintain a stable détente in his own fashion?

Why is it so difficult to come up with a modus vivendi without surrendering our sovereign claims, between Xi and Marcos, after a round of preparatory talks between Manalo and Wang Yi?

Other claimant countries in the wide SCS have come up with such arrangements without losing face, meanwhile profiting their economies.

And in the face of the “bullying” by China, they have remained silent, some even wondering why we are too keen to be the “battleground” for war.

Meanwhile, we look for “traitors” among our midst, whether they are former leaders or even a military officer who surely did not possess effrontery enough to discuss an acceptable modus vivendi without approval by his superiors.

Whatever is wrong with seeking peaceful if temporary settlement through bilateralism just so dangerous waters are not roiled any further as to trigger an accidental confrontation where our people would be exposed to certain harm?

Relying too much on an UNCLOS document the other side does not recognize, and hoping for the rest of the world to condemn a taciturn China will not give us any benefits other than stress over an unending impasse.

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