THE Manila Times editorial of June 3, “Unnecessary provocation of China by the President,” took him to task for, first of all unnecessarily as the title suggested telling the world that he was going to discuss China’s bullying, reclamation-island-building and military fortification activities on Philippine territory. The editorial then reiterated The Times’ stand that President Aquino’s approach to relations with virtual-super People’s Republic of China is all wrong.
Mr. Aquino, like all human beings, is a prisoner of his own limitations. Some of us are able to free ourselves and sometimes surmount these limitations. BS Aquino cannot, for several reasons that come from his psychological make-up.
Having said that, I must give him praise in this piece for having been an outstanding success in Japan.
Success means achieving what you set out to do. He achieved what he planned and sought to do in Japan.
Some of us Filipinos will violently disagree with those plans and the philosophy behind them, but PNoy succeeded immensely.
The Japanese Diet gave him a standing ovation.
And if Japan’s parliamentary leaders and powerful bureaucracy do not derail the plan of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Philippines and Japan will soon have a Visiting Forces Agreement, like that which we have with the US.
He must pursue his China policy
Since his administration has already taken the strong policy of loudly and firmly opposing China’s invasion of our territory in the West Philippine Sea, BS Aquino must perforce pursue it. Doing less would be seen as Noynoying.
We may judge that anti-China-invasion policy wrong for the long-time interest of our country. But many Manila Times readers find it to be the correct and moral policy vis-a-vis China.
Here are some of his words at a press conference in the Tokyo National Press Club (submitted to The Times desk by Senior Reporter Jose Joel Sy Egco):
President Aquino was asked about China’s blast against the Philippines for fomenting tension.
President Aquino: Well, perhaps we should utilize their own words. In 2002, in an attempt to come to manage tensions within this area of the world, ASEAN and its dialogue partner China, came up—well, tried to come up with a Code of Conduct (COC). Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful, so they came up with the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). This was signed by all parties concerned and we assume that it is still binding on all parties concerned. And in fact, in all of the fora, all parties say they still adhere to the DOC and look forward to the formulation of the COC. May I quote the declaration items? (Pres. Aquino then quoted all of these, to which all signatories including China are committed,)…
“So, perhaps, we should request the spokesperson to revisit the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to refresh his memory to that which they pledged to. And the other aspect is something that we have often stated, perhaps in more private discussions, we were taught when we were younger that the ability to come to an agreement sometimes necessitates, or a lot of times necessitates your putting yourself in the other shoes. Look at it from the other perspective. If the situation were reversed, would they accept not meddling in, you know… If China’s and the Philippines’ position were reversed, would they accept the advice that they are now telling countries as small as ours? Thank you.”
Hurting Chinese feelings
His reply to another question:
President Aquino: “…With regards to hurting the Chinese feelings, we have no intentions of hurting anybody’s feelings. In 2011, when I had a state visit to China, we did point out that the relationships between our countries—if you look at it from an economic perspective—were very, very much in favor of China. For instance, in 2011—if I remember the figures correctly—China would send us 200,000 tourists a year; we send China 800,000. The Philippines’ population has just reached a hundred million. China’s population is 1.3 billion at least.
“In terms of indirect investment, China provided about 600 million (dollars) indirect investment in our economy. The Philippine corporations have put in about two and a half billion dollars into the Chinese economy. And we propose that stability is a very necessary component for prosperity, and prosperity seems to be the primary need or the primary mission of every government that exists in the world. And the response by then President Hu Jintao was the disputes in the South China Sea should not be the be-all and end-all of our relationships.
“So throughout the years, we have not answered, for instance, all of the attacks on the Philippines by their media. We have tried to do our best to de-escalate the situation. We have promised to abide by international law, and that’s why we went to arbitration, which is found as a means of resolving these disputes in UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). Scarborough Shoal, which is where one of the major incidents happened between the Philippines and China, is within 120 (nautical) miles of our coastline and therefore within our exclusive economic zone…”
For some reason, the speeches he gave in Japan are among the best ever since he became president in 2010. Perhaps speaking to audiences in Japan inspired him to greater heights. Is this because his grandfather was an ardent collaborator with the Japanese Imperial Occupation forces in World War II?
Here are some lines from his speech at the joint session of Japan’s National Diet last Friday:
“…It is no wonder, then, that for the latter half of the 20th century, companies from all over the world lined up to learn of the ‘Japanese method.’ Many asked: What sort of processes allowed such quality and efficiency to blossom?
“I respectfully submit, your honors, that the Japanese method is first and foremost not static. It is founded on the necessity for adaptation and innovation; it incorporates a thirst for knowledge and a passionate desire to achieve positive change. This constant polishing, this constant refinement, reflects your quest for perfection in everything that you do. This, in turn, has allowed your country to collectively overcome the challenges it has had to face in its history. Your kaizen philosophy of continuous improvement, which your country has been applying in production lines and supply chains, has been applied to the highest echelons of government.
“Truth be told, this process has been a hallmark of the Japanese spirit for generations. We only need to look back to the opening of Japan during the 19th century, which ushered in the transformation of your society. Up until that time, Japan was way behind in terms of technology; I would say that you did not only start from zero, but from the negative, given the advancements that everyone else had access to at that point. As Japan pursued a collective national effort toward ‘Civilization and Enlightenment,’ it was able to transform itself: Feudalism was shed, allowing for the formation of this very Diet; a once-cloistered nation began to welcome outside knowledge, and in fact sent its sons far and wide to acquire new insights; railroads, telegraph systems, and banks rose across your nation; backyard furnaces soon turned into state of the art factories, and within a few generations, Japan became among the most advanced nations of that age. Even after that, when new realities came about after the war, you again decided to change the status quo, directing your energies towards rebuilding, and thus becoming an economic powerhouse that has lent and continues to lend its support to so many nations.
“Time and again, when confronted with extreme challenges to society, you have adapted; you met and overcame them to rise to even greater heights. The anxiety you have faced in recent years is another such challenge. I point this out, because in my own country, there is a saying: Those who fail to reflect on their roots or where they came from will not be able to achieve their goal. I submit, therefore, that your past is proof enough that you will once again meet current challenges, and in doing so achieve even greater things.”
Let us pray, on this Sunday of Corpus Christi (feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Eucharist) that BS Aquino learns to apply what he admires in Japan to his own way of doing things.