‘Get out of the way’


Expert urges Manila to step aside as US-China row heats up

Better get out of the way when titans clash.

A national security expert gave this sound advice to the Philippines on Tuesday as a word war between China and the United States over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) got more intense.

Clarita Carlos, former president of the National Defense College of the Philippines who is now with the University of the Philippines’ political science department, said while she does notsee the war of words between the superpowers escalating into a shooting war, it would be better for smaller countries like the Philippines to step aside.

“I don’t see them ending up in a full-blown clash. The US doesn’t want China to seek hegemony in the region while China wants to deny the region to the Americans. That’s their rivalry and we’re just ants. We might get trampled, so let’s get out of the way,” she said in Filipino in an interview with GMA News TV.

Carlos made the comments as China said it will project its military power further beyond its borders at sea and more assertively in the air, defending the construction of artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea that sparked concerns in Washington.

She said Washington’s move to send an aircraft carrier battle group to Japan—which is also locked in a territorial dispute with China in the East China Sea—as well as a much publicized surveillance flight over areas where artificial islands were being created was meant to challenge Beijing’s 9-dash line territorial claims.

“All of these are provocations,” according to Carlos.

The Philippines and later Vietnam had challenged China’s territorial claims before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (Itlos) in The Hague, whose jurisdiction on the issue is not recognized by Beijing. The tribunal is expected to make a ruling next year.

Carlos,however, expressed concern over the publication of an editorial in a Chinese-controlled newspaper which said that “war is inevitable” unless the US drops its objections over Beijing’s activities in the West Philippine Sea.

“There are ongoing talks on different levels and I wish there won’t be any accident, recklessness or carelessness. That’s where world wars start,” she said.

Malacañang also on Tuesday reiterated its statement that Manila would not resort to harsh actions in responding to China’s provocations.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. maintained that diplomatic means remain to be the country’s best approach in dealing with maritime disputes.

“Our principle is based on the national interest of the Philippines. We don’t get easily rattled by statements coming from other countries,” he said in Filipino.

“What we want is to prevent the escalation of conflict instead we want the tension to simmer down. That is why our focus is to deal with the issue peacefully and diplomatically.”

Coloma said the country is pursuing a two-track approach to disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s “declaration on the issue is clear, that our position is dual track, one is arbitration, the other is Asean-centered,” he added.

The spokesman for the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Manila is prepared for whatever “post-arbitration scenarios” it would face once the Itlos hands down its verdict.

“Of course, we already have a post-arbitration scenario but this time, we can’t really discuss this [in public],” Charles Jose told reporters

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who published and headed a presentation of ancient Philippine maps showing the country’s sovereignty over the contested waters, warned that Manila should be ready to file a second case if the arbitral tribunal in The Hague decides in favor of China’s nine-dash line claim.

“We recognize the reclamations being made by China… [they are]already changing the situation on the ground. But the arbitration decision will serve another purpose, this will clarify maritime entitlements,” Jose said.

“This should be a strong basis or foundation to establish the rule of law when it comes to claim on maritime entitlements. We are hoping to be able to use this decision of the tribunal in trying to convince China with the help of the international community that it would be to its best interest to respect and follow the decision of the tribunal,” he added.

‘Open seas protection’
China also on Tuesday said its navy will put a greater emphasis on “open seas protection,” rather than “offshore waters defense” alone, the State Council, China’s Cabinet, said in a white paper.

At the same time, its air force will shift focus “from territorial air defense to both defense and offense,” it added.

The People’s Liberation Army will increase its global mobility and artillery forces will strengthen capabilities for “medium and long-range precision strikes,” the State Council said.

Official Chinese media also on Tuesday said China will build two 50-meter-high lighthouses on reefs on the Kalayaan (Spratly) islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines.

The facilities will be built on the Calderon (Cuarteron) and the Mabini (Johnson South) reefs, the Xinhua news agency quoted officials as saying.

Mabini saw a battle between the Chinese and Vietnamese navies in 1988.

Beijing has increased annual spending on its military—the largest by personnel in the world—by double-digit annual percentages for several decades as it seeks to modernize its forces.

It has focused on increasing its naval power, commissioning its first aircraft carrier in 2012 and rapidly adding to its submarine and surface fleets.

Several of its Asian neighbors have been alarmed by the military build-up, although Beijing insists that its investment is purely defensive.

Military spokesman Yang Yujun also on Tuesday said the island building was “beneficial to the whole of international society” because it aided China’s search and rescue, and environmental protection work.

The white paper singled out the US’ announced “rebalancing” toward Asia, and Japan’s revision of some of its defense policies as objects of “concern.”

“Some external countries are also busy meddling in South China Sea affairs,” it said.
“A tiny few maintain constant close-in air and sea surveillance and reconnaissance against China.”

The white paper said China’s army would boost its online capabilities, after the US accused Chinese soldiers of cyber-hacking.

“China will expedite the development of a cyber-force,” the paper added, without providing details.

China remains far behind the United States in military capacity and reach despite recent increases in defense spending.



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  1. How can the Philippines “get out of the way” when China has invaded and seized our sovereign territory. Where do we run to?

  2. William Tubig Dungo on

    My countryman just be prepared for nuclear shelter if China is still bullying us and the US. The battle group seven fleet arrive next month or two and they will be in the war zone theater that Communist China had choosen and made. Total naghahamon din and Communist China, Battle Group Seven Fleet carries with him ONE super aircraft carrier with 100 jet figther capable to carry bombs and nuclear warhead, Aiges class cruiser supporting the carrier with missile capable of 200 nautical miles range and nuclear warheads. Maybe about 10 of them(cruiser), and all their supply ship for logistics (food, fuel, personel), which make them capable to be at sea for one year because the AIRCRAFT CARRIER IS NUCLEAR POWER. Underneath support are submarine carrying multiple warhead ballistic missile, that can destroy the big country like size of USA because of its multiple warhead capability. So my countryman manohod na lang tayo at manalangin tayo sa diyos dahlian tayo Pilipino ay lahat catholica at muslim na may kasalpantayanan sa ating diyos. The chinese pabayahan natin sila dahilang wall silang diyos. The US soldier of the US are around there already because they are home-ported in Japan, where Pendeton is one of them.
    Thank you all at parati na lang manalangin sa diyos na sana ma stop ang pagbubuli sa atin at sa USA nang china.

  3. I completely disagree With the expert’s recommendation. In my opinion there is a very large mistake/error in the analysis given by the expert (Clarita Carlos) by suggesting that we get out of the way.

    “Ang US ayaw niyang magkaroon ng hegemony ang China sa ating rehiyon. Ang China naman wants to deny the region to the Americans. Ganyan yung kanilang rivalry, tayo mga langgam tayo na baka maapakan tayo, so let’s get out of the way.” [“I don’t see them ending up in a full-blown clash. The US doesn’t want China to seek hegemony in the region while China wants to deny the region to the Americans. That’s their rivalry and we’re just ants. We might get trampled, so let’s get out of the way,”]

    Unang-una hindi kikilos ang US or Japan kung hindi tayo kikilos at aasa lang sa kanila (they won’t send their sons and daughters to war for our sake). Also refer to the current US administration’s withdrawing to almost all military engagements (Iraq, Afghanistran, etc.), while the pivot seems to be unfortunately saber-rattling for now.

    As shown time and again, the superpowers themselves will respect or defer to each other, and loose/shutout/ignore the smaller powers (or non-powers). No, it is not “their” (US and China’s) rivalry. For example, China can or will allow, permit or even invite all US (civilian or military) craft in disputed waters and airspace but will deny even the smallest Filipino fisherfolk or the largest Filipino battleship. (China tried to invite the US once before and was denied, but in the future who is not to say that China will just ignore or permit US craft but will restrict Filipino.)

    The right solution is to be united and committed ourselves to find all ways to regain our territories. We also have to sincerely assure our Allies that we will also be in the war when they go to war. Sure we have to be safe but We cannot just “get out of the way”.

    In fact, instead of “getting out of the way” (or “stay neutral” or God-forbid abandon our Allies), we should not only support the US militarily (intelligence, some logistics, manpower, etc. or even bases accords) we should educate everyone about all the issues (Spratlys, Scarborough, 9/10/11-dash lines).

  4. Bert O. Romero on

    Perhaps now that the Philippines has succeeded in refocusing the US attention to the South China Sea issue even if rhetorically, president Aquino and his “able” foreign secretary may now , like accomplished agents provocateurs , may now step aside and watch with bated anticipation , whether the US and China will come to blows. It will be recalled that starting 2011, Aquino and del Rosario were militantly bellicose in their statements against China in international and domestic forums triggering fears in some sectors that the duo was provoking China to war. At that time there were fair-minded observers who cautioned del Rosario not to completely close the diplomatic doors to Beijing and to follow Vietnam’s way of establishing two-way consultation mechanism with China despite Vietnam’s equally vigorous pursuit of its SCS claims! In ASEAN, Cambodia for one, was alarmed by the Philippines’ anti- China bellicosity that during the 2011 ASEAN Foreign Mininsters’ Meeting in Phnom Penh, while del Rosario was delivering his speech, the Cambodians as hosts cut off the electrical power. The reminder that under the US – Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, the US will not automatically come to the aid of the Philippines but will observe Amercan constitutional processes in case the Philippines is attacked fell on deaf del Rosario’s ears. The bellicose anti- China rhetoric, without the big stick represented by robust military capability behind said rhetoric, continued to be dished out by the Aquino-del Rosario tandem!

    Under President XI Yiinping, China has apparently abandoned Deng Xiao Peng’s teaching for China to ” hide its strength, bide its time and never take the lead .” The long-held Chinese mantra of ” feeling for the stones underneath when crossing a river” has obviously also been cast aside. What reigns now is ” flex our muscles and cast aside centuries of foreign domination and humiliation.” But in the case of China, this robust militarily -inclined postures are backed by an equally robust military budget estimated at $115 billion , making it the second highest defense budget next to the US’ estimated $500 billion.

    Another element that contributes to making the SCS situation precarious is the internal structure in China which lacks a centralized body to coordinate policies, decisions and actions among the nine or so entities that play a role on the SCS issue ranging from the local provincial governments of Guangdong, Xianshi and Hainan to such entities as Fisheries and Maritime Authorities, Coast Guard, Navy, etc. , all of which are equipped with military vessels and other wherewithal to enforce China”s nine- dashed line. China’s maritime policy circles use the phrase ” nine dragons stirring up the sea” to underscore this lack of coordination.

    Further, it will be recalled that in 2010 – coinciding with Aquino’s ascendancy to the presidency and del Rosario’s annointment as foreign secretary – it was reported that China had defined South China Sea as one of its core interests , elevating it to the same level as Taiwan, where China is unwilling to compromise its position and would resort to force, if necessary.

    And to think that China has rejected any dispute settlement mechanisms thru UNCLOS.

  5. Get out of the way cowards,this is about national security that will effect other countries that use that sea lane to transport goods.with those artificial island China can blockade the whole area by sea and air.That is why they need to be stop now if not war will come.

  6. Vic PenetranteVic on

    China now offers open sea protection: go away!
    We are ‘in the way’ and cannot step aside or go away.

  7. sonny dela cruz on

    What else can you do. The Philippines never allocated budget to advance the capability to defend the country from INTERNAL & EXTERNAL threats. Most of the money where pocketed by whoever benefited from the scams as now being investigated for corruptions. Those corrupt people should be ashamed of them self. HOW CAN YOU BE PROUD OF YOURSELF SAYING YOU ARE RICH BUT YOU STEAL IT FROM THE GOVERNMENT COFFERS. MARAMI DIYAN “PALA-SIMBA ” PA.

  8. apolonio reyes on

    I don’t believe Miss Clarita Carlos with regards to the opinion on the Binay’s, as per news report, Miss Carlos is the mother-in-law of Joey Salgado and so her view that US and China will just be word war. A USA Military Think-Tank just said in a news that what they see is that China will go to war with the USA by 2017. However, Miss Carlos is correct that we should step aside, as what Vietnamese say ” WHEN ELEPHANTS FIGHTS, GRASS SUFFERS AND WHEN ELEPHANTS MAKES LOVE, GRASS SUFFER ALSO “.

  9. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    26 May 2015

    With all due respect to UP Professor Clarita Santos, who was formerly President of the National War College, the Philippines may not be able completely to “stay out of the way” in the event that the present simmering “cold” war of words between China and the United States should eventually inevitably morph into a “hot” war.

    The reason is that the US and the Philippines are signatories to a Mutual Defense Treaty, now the EDCAP, under which if one party is attacked, the other party, is committed to help the other as an ally.

    The Philippines has a stake in defending what it asserts in the Spratlys group are parts of its territory under International Law []UNCLOS]. A peace-loving and member in good standing of the United Nations, the Philippines has gone to the UN Permanent Arbitral Tribunal on the Law of the Seas [ITLOS] for it to peaceably and legally resolve its territorial dispute with China.

    It is the United States, however, which has the larger stake in the South China Sea. It is committed to keeping completely open the Sea Lanes starting from the Middle East through which Oil passes and ends up as far east as the West Coast of the United States. The US cannot allow China to impede navigation through this area where, yearly, $5 trillion in annual trade passes. In the event that China imposes an ADIZ over this area, more likely than not “war” will be inevitable.


  10. Anima A. Agrava on

    Like his boss, the presidential spokesman is talking like a fool. We should pity him. I think he knows his boss has been a fool and has placed the Philippines in grave danger. But Coloma must echo the self-contradictory words and mental convulations of BS Aquino.

    Poor us, Filipinos, we are now like a people whose top political and government shepherd is an insane monarch as in old Europe and our local shepherds are so weak or controlled by the mad king’s Yellow Army.

    People Power na!

    • alvin stamaria on

      May karapatan po tayong mag-ingay dahil sa ginagawa ng China sa…..papayag ka ba na yung kapitbahay mo kunin sapilitan at nilagyan ng bakod ang lupa na nasa poder mo……kaya nagawa yun dahil mas malakas at mayaman siya kesa sa iyo….yun po ang logic diyan….kahit maliit kang tao dapat tumayo ka at magsalita. na hindi tama ang ginagawa niya…..

      Ito po ang sinabi ko nuong May 27, 2015 at 4:39 am:
      “Like his boss, the presidential spokesman is talking like a fool. We should pity him. I think he knows his boss has been a fool and has placed the Philippines in grave danger. But Coloma must echo the self-contradictory words and mental convulsions of BS Aquino.
      Poor us, Filipinos, we are now like a people whose top political and government shepherd is an insane monarch as in old Europe and our local shepherds are so weak or controlled by the mad king’s Yellow Army.
      People Power na!” End of my comment.
      Mr. Alvin Stamaria, Bakit po naman ang layo ng sagot nyo sa akin?
      May sira din po ba kayo tulad ni Abnoy?
      Anima A. Agrava