China is wielding a big stick, Mr. Aquino is invoking boilerplates

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IN the entire course of Mr. Aquino’s presidency, the arc of governance has not risen beyond prosecution, audit and tax collection. The outsized roles of four institutions – the DOJ, the COA, the BIR and the Ombudsman – are proof that Mr. Aquino’s main thrust is the prosecution side of governance. No other government in contemporary times has tried Mr. Aquino’s experiment, which is to make Ms. De Lima et al. the front, back and center of government.

In a peaceful world, with saber-rattling versus other countries almost non-existent, that experiment could hold. In the Old Order, under the bipolar word, we just took cues from the US and very little diplomatic brinkmanship was done. But right now that is not the case. External affairs is a now major preoccupation of countries big and small, First World or Third World. All corners of the globe, including us, are affected by an ascendant China.

Correction. China’s ascendancy is not just affecting us. It has been quietly annexing our share of the West Philippine Sea, building off Zambales with frenzy, driving off our fishermen from their natural fishing grounds and mocking our puny military status. In short, China is challenging – and mocking with abandon – our innate right to our territory.

And because the China problem is something that cannot be solved by Ms. De Lima’s prosecutorial zeal, Mr. Aquino has been talking about these two things:


Taking China’s territorial intrusions to the UN

Asking the Asean to unite against China’s aggression in the WPS

These are the boilerplate, de kahon response to China ‘s determination to establish possession of the West Philippine Sea and Mr. Aquino cannot invoke anything beyond the two. Why? Do you want to know the answer? Here it is.

In an environment wherein the zeal and the entire energy of government are vested on Ms. De Lima et al. – the prosecution side – the other major institutions of government suffer and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has been a natural casualty. The DFA, under Mr. Aquino, has been sapped of its analytical powers and intellectual rigor. We are right now clueless on how to deal with China’s flexing of might on the West Philippine Sea because we have no expertise on how to deal with that issue. For a country of over a hundred million people, there is not one think-tank analyzing geopolitical issues. Those who claim expertise are mostly poseurs and cranks.

This left Mr. Aquino with no fresh and profound ideas on how to deal with an ascendant China, a China predisposed to bamboozle neighbors, especially those with neither military nor economic clout. Such as the sad sack of a country that governs on empty sloganeering, principally the tortured phrase “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” Surely, we cannot invoke sloganeering against China, which in 2030 is projected to have an economy the size of $22 trillion. And right now, the only country with a standing army of over 1 million.

What has Mr. Aquino made of the DFA?

An agency supporting the export of overseas manpower

An agency supporting the evacuation of our OFWs from troubled spots

An agency supporting our workers that figure in oil rig explosions

A once-glorious and intellectually-endowed agency that is now practically an adjunct of the Department of Labor and Employment.

An agency with a DFA secretary doing the job of a labor attaché

While the DFA does not need the likes of George F. Kennan, the intellectual, or the likes of Richard Holbrook, the tireless diplomatic troubleshooter, the foreign affairs department should be staffed with analysts and experts that can study global affairs in-depth and craft an appropriate Philippine position or response to most if not all vexing global issues.

Thinking and analyzing are inherent mandates of the DFA and eggheads and intellectuals and strategic thinkers should be allowed to flourish in that agency. But in the close to five years that Mr. Aquino has been president, he has allowed the DFA to be a sub-agency of the DOLE. And made his DFA secretary the point man in the evacuation of OFWs. There was no formal memo on this but Mr. Aquino literally posted this sign on the DFA entrance: “No thinking / analyzing allowed.”

Mr. Aquino is now reaping the brutal wages of trivializing the DFA and making it an adjunct of the labor department. The China question is now torturing him and all he could invoke are the usual boilerplate responses.

China is now in its 37th year of economic expansion and the more it accumulates wealth, the more it will increase its role in global affairs. The West Philippine Sea will remain a special point of interest given the importance of the area to the maritime world and the reported presence of rich oil and mineral deposits there.

From their embankments off Zambales, from time immemorial part and parcel of the Philippines, the Chinese military will continue to mock and challenge the integrity of our nationhood.

That problem, unfortunately, is outside of Ms. De Lima’s prosecutorial zeal, and the COA’s audit powers.

With nothing to unleash against China, Mr. Aquino is helpless and clueless. He must have rued the day he banished all critical thinking and analysis from the DFA. Correction. He must have rued the day he replaced critical thinking and analysis with empty sloganeering.

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15 Comments

  1. Roldan Guerrero on

    Top Gun Technocrats and Accomplished Intellectuals do not submit themselves as subordinates to a person/s whom they know are below their level of intellect. It is a general rule for wise men never to be ruled by inferior leaders. Marcos was able to attract top level technocrats during his times because he is an accomplished man and was even considered a political and law genius.We at present have a STUPID President who is even considered a law retardate. What would you expect would be the qualities of his key men? Naturally an ARMY of STUPIDS!

  2. Instead of hosting a dinner for carpet baggers, Tonyboy could just have invited the members of our National Security Council to an informal dinner or tete-a-tete and got their views regarding the tsaynah adventure. From such brainstorming, he could have gotten a perspective and presented it to his cousin. Surely, because of his Asperger Syndrome, simyon will always fear inferior to great minds and will never convene the NSC on an official mission.

  3. judging from every statement this government is saying, from top to bottom, geopolitics is not in their dectionary. kanto boy statement has no room in world political arena. we have a prez and his bodies confronting tabloid writers in china. perhaps they forgot that every statement by the prez made publicly is the official position of the state he represents. chief of staffs of the AFP making statements here and there. a DFA whose eyes only focus on USA, hoping they will help. they won’t….PH goverment is doing everything but diplomacy, the only tool we can have but pnoy gov’t can’t afford either …….guys game is over. china wins!

  4. Amnata Pundit on

    Bobo na, mayabang at may sayad pa, tapos nagpapagamit sa kano, so what can you expect? How do you balance the interests of two colliding elephants if you are the ant caught in the middle? That takes a lot of brains, a commodity you will not find among the ranks of the yellowturds. Expect more of the same if the yellowturds Binay, Grace Poe or Roxas being nominated by the SWS for president makes it to Malacanang in 2016.

  5. Bert O. Romero on

    You hit it right on the head. The DFA has lost its primary mandate of analyzing geopolitical developments – the South China Sea ( SCS) issue, for one – and based on it, making sound and actionable proposals. From the SCS to the Sabah claim questions to the Middle East and war on global terror to climate and other environmental concerns to poverty alleviation and economic growth inclusion questions, the DFA has dramatically lost its traditionally leading role. It has been trying hard, with pathetic consequences , to compete with DOLE and OWWA on concerns where it has barely nascent competence. Why compete with other government agencies which exercise primary mandate and responsibility on matters affecting OFWS and abandon areas of competence – analysis, research, reports preparation, developments projections and speeches making, etc – where it used to enjoy comparative advantage ? Obviously, the DFA has lost its way in goal prioritization.
    The unnerving, perhaps unintended blowback of this unminded goal redirection has been the trigger -happy and bellicose rhetorics uttered by no less than the Philippines’ president and foreign secretary in regional and international fora on the SCS issue in the near past. He has the propensity to talk loud without carrying a big stick. Not that the Phillippines has a big stick to carry in the first place. China’s on-going construction of a run-way on an island claimed by the Philippines in the SCS is a direct response o our country’s bellicose statements as if daring us to walk our talk. And it should not be a surprise if this construction is but an opening salvo.

  6. Good analysisi of the current mess we are in….who are the people that voted these corrupt, inept traitors to the nation…?

    Never LP again, or anyone remotely yellow…we need someone who promises to jail Pnoy and his KKKs…in 2016!

    Go Miriam Santiago, please rise to the occasion…

  7. Dominador D. Canastra on

    China will surely deal more like a kind superpower toward us once the president is no longer BS Aquno. But when that happens, let us not be fooledinto thinking that China will stop wanting to take over the whole West Philippine (South China) Sea.

  8. Bernardo B. Racca on

    Kaya ganito tayo dahil ang pwesidente ay walang puso para sa kapakanan ng mga mahihirap. siya ay pwesidente lang ng mga naghaharing elitista at oligarcheya…..sa madaling salita, siya ay nagsilbing salot ng ating lipunan at hindi gumawa ng aksyon para sa kapakanan ng abang mahihirap.. wala siyang ginawa kundi ang maghigante sa mga kalaban niya kesehodang magdusa ang sambayanan…

  9. So what now? China is openly intruding into an area which has been “historically ours” and is mocking our “puny” military capabilities. If by some luck the UNCLOS decides in our favor what do we expect other than hope that China either respects the decision and withdraws or China gets so unpopular in the international arena that it rues its negative image and just the same withdraws. I don’t think either will happen and neither can we rouse the support of the Asean nations to condemn Chinese aggression none of whom is willing to risk their trade relations with China. It’s also too late to think of reforming the DFA into an effective agency to figure out how to deal with this problem diplomatically it takes a lifetime to develop such expertise within the ranks of this agency. And finally it is a no brainer to think that we can ever hope to pose a military deterrent. So now what? For starters let’s tone down our sabre rattling and stop suing for support from the Asean neighbors both being pathetic and useless. Let’s pursue bilateral talks and accept that in negotiating with China we are in a subordinate position. Instead of challenging China in our “fishing grounds” let’s fish in other areas where it not controversial and at the same time enhance our inland fish raising ponds to cover a shortfall, if any, in our fish production. It’s also too late to replace the key people in government let’s just see these dumb and dumber gang fade away with their idiotic leader at the end of his term and calmly pray that no further harm will be caused by them meanwhile.

  10. Patrick Posadas on

    Mr. M. Ronquillo,

    what then are your recommendations to address this China problem ?

  11. Pete Gabriel on

    I also do not hear anything much from our Senators and Congress men & women. Every one is more interested in the up coming Pacquio fight, exposé of corrupt officials, political brinksmanship, posturing for the next election, not that these are not important. All these things might not amount to anything if China takes over our back yard, our fisherman can not go out and fish, depriving them of livelihood and us with fish to buy and eat. We have been dependent to the US for our economy and security, yet when this bonehead politicians thought that it will benefit them to get elected, kick America around. During the EDCA negotiation we should have included a preferential treatment for the Philippines for our products, and the easing and increased quota of our citizens to immigrate to the US. I believe that our politicians are sell out and do not care what happens to our territories that are right fully ours just as long as they keep themselves in power, so they can keep lining their pockets, and, keep the majority of the Philippines poor with limited opportunity that they have to go outside the country, leave their family to find work, and send money back home. This remittances keeps the government afloat and keep the status quo to serve the dirty politicians and the filthy rich and in essence enslave the majority. We need leadership that can give us a common vision to see beyond the present reality to where we want to end up and how to get there. Our leader should be able to sell that idea to rally around a common vision to make it a powerful movement. Our leader must be able to get people exchanged information to focus them on that objective. Our leader must have character that is a totality of qualities distinctive to a leader to be able to carry out his or her values, ethics and morals. Last but not the least our leader must truly care, one who is willing to act on behalf of another person, group, ,team, government or cause. Currently many at the highest levels of our government have forgotten these basic core of leadership, they however enjoy and abuse the enormous privilege entrusted to them by the Philippine people. We are a nation in the midst of a leadership crisis.

  12. indeed, china is wielding a big stick!!!! everybody knows that. but pnoy is wielding something big too!! his mouth!!! has anyone noticed that? and with such, pnoy speaks faster than his brain can think. puro siya satsat. bahag naman ang buntot. he can take his case about china’s buildups and intrusions in the west philippine sea, but who will act on it? the united nations can’t do anything? even if it can, what would they impose on china to stop them from doing what they are doing? none! nor can the united states. and why would the united states stick its nose into the matter? afterall, we drove them out of the country, right? so, who is suffering now? pnoy? naaaah. he sleeps well at night. he is not counting sheeps so he can sleep. he is counting the days until he is back to being an ordinary citizen. a private citizen, that is. he is itching to pass this problem to the next guy who will occupy the palace in 2016. and what would mar roxas, jejomar binay, and all the wanna be president? i guess we will find out.

  13. Sa sobrang pagsunod sa gusto ng US na maibalik ang base nito sa pilipinas,imbes na diplomasya ang ginamit,,nagpagamit siya sa kano,na takutin ang mamamayan niya sa banta ng china,upang maipasa niya ang edca na walang sino mang kumekuwestyon at tumututol dito at totoong na uto niya ang maraming!
    Binigyan niya ng dahilan ang china na mag-advance ng depensa nila sa US power na nakabase sa atin!
    Wala ibang dapat sisihin dito kung hindi si Aquino tuta ng kano!
    Kung walang base ang kano dito hindi mag-aaksayan ang china na magtayo ng military base sa tabi natin!dahil wala silang aalalahanin!
    Ngayon kahit ano pa ang gawin natin walang bansa ang tutulong lalo na ang US!
    Ang pilipinas ay state na ng US as military base!

  14. The Abnoy’s concept of governance is nothing more than to exact vengeance on his enemies, appoint his KKK and LP groups to power positions and help them to plunder government coffers. Wala tayong magagawa. That’s all he knows of governance.We must never expect him to come up with the thinking of Lee Kuan Yew because he has no capacity to conceptualize beyond computer games. And he has no one in his group who can assist him along the lines of geo-politics. This Abnoy has nothing to spout (walang ibubuga) in terms of leading and directing the country to real progressive measures domestically and internationally.

    The former Senator Joker Arroyo already warned us. We are simply getting a “student council” govt and a corrupt one at that.

  15. sonny dela cruz on

    The writer is asking how we can confront the aggressiveness of China towards their intrusion to our sovereignty, deprived us of our food supply inside the area of our jurisdiction. The question is not like a puzzle word, so hard to see the real picture of the problem. The question is how we can get rid of the present administration and replace it with a new administration who may have good ideas to confront the Chinese diplomatically. Military diplomacy is out of the question because the Philippine has no capability to wedge war with a super power in Asia. The real solution to the writer’s question is to get rid of the present administration now before its too late. Don’t wait for 2016, get rid of them now , don’t wait for more problems for the people and the country brought by the present administration. We may consider a military junta to replace the present government and replace the present constitution with Federal system of government, first let’s borrow the U.S. Federal system of government or draft a new Philippine constitution pattern to Federal system, then a snap election to follow to elect new people in the government.