The challenge to Vice President Binay

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THAT China will not attack the Philippines and the United States has been doing just that is the proposition that will decide who the next president will be.

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Of the two superpowers contending for world hegemony, the latter is on record of having aggressed other nations; the former, nonesuch. While the United States had joined European nations in annexing territories during the age of colonization, never has China gone out of its boundaries in order to expand its territory. Except in the case of the Philippine reefs, shoals and islets in the West Philippine Sea.

In last Monday’s filing by Vice President Jejomar C. Binay of his certificate of candidacy for the presidency, somebody made a show of burning small replicas of the flag of the People’s Republic of China. To the keen observer, the act should stir the question: how would VP Binay handle the China-US conflict over the South China Sea?

The conflict over the Spratlys is, to me, less a Philippine concern than American.

These are the givens on the issue. In a report delivered in January this year by outgoing US Navy Pacific Fleet intelligence chief, Capt. James E. Fannel, he disclosed the specific reefs and islets China had already occupied, enumerating developments made thereon, as follows:

*Mabini Reef (also known as Johnson South Reef) – a three-storey concrete building ringed with gun emplacements and a helipad; feared capable of being converted into a military base.

*Mischief Reef – a three-storey concrete building ringed with five octagonal concrete structures. It has search lights and radar.

*Cuarteron Reef – a permanent reef fortress, supply platforms, and naval and anti-aircraft guns. An airstrip is reportedly being planned.

*Fiery Cross Reef – A marine observation station designated in 2011 as “main command headquarters” equipped with surface and air search radars and armed with at least four high-powered naval guns.

*Gaven Reef – a permanent reef fortress, supply platforms an harbor for navy patrol boats.

*Subi Reef – a permanent reef fortress and supply platforms that can house troops, has a helipad and is armed with four twin-barrel 37mm naval guns. Also houses a Doppler weather radar.

Fannel urged US decision makers to face the problem squarely.

“China’s rise, if left unchecked or undeterred, will necessarily disrupt the peace and stability of our friends, partners, and allies,” he stressed.

That Monday, while we delighted at the usual entertainment characteristic of the advent of the election season, we hardly noticed a horrible news: US to deploy warships close to the Chinese-occupied territories in the Spratlys.

Times of trouble, indeed. But times calling for utmost circumspection.

We must understand that the crisis in South China Sea is a result of an adventure intrinsically American. This adventure had been defined by former US State Secretary and now presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton as America’s Pacific Century, an article she published in the magazine Foreign Policy in November 2011.

In the article, Clinton made known US strategy in the Asia Pacific region for the next one hundred years. Acknowledging the rising threat to American power in the region from rapidly developing Pacific nations, particularly referring to China, she wrote: “One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment—diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise—in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama already set to motion the machinery for pushing the strategy. That same month he toured various countries strengthening security alliances and working out the formation of a new trade block called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which excluded China. That exclusion found added impact in Obama’s declaration at the subsequent East Asia Summit of a not-too-subtle challenge to China right in the face of Chinese Premiere Wen Jiabao: “…while we are not a claimant in the South China Sea dispute, and while we do not take sides, we have a powerful stake in maritime security in general, and in the resolution of the South China Sea issue specifically — as a resident Pacific power, as a maritime nation, as a trading nation and as a guarantor of security in the Asia Pacific region.”

Less than a year later, the Chinese seized Scarborough Shoal and held on to it since then.

The Philippines avoided physical confrontation by withdrawing the lone navy ship that had been deployed to respond to the crisis. It brought the matter to the United Nations for arbitration. In response, China went on frenzied reclamation on occupied reefs and islets.

Now, with US warships about to be deployed to the Spratlys, what is the Philippines to do?

Against this question, here is a piece of advice which appeared in the English-language state-owned China Daily: “No matter how willing we are to discuss the issue, the current Philippine leadership is intent on pressing us into a corner where there is no other left but the use of arms… Manila is living in a fantasy world if it mistakes our forbearance for timidity. This is a dangerous delusion. We have never been a trigger-happy nation. But nor have we ever been afraid to fight when necessary… the Philippines should stop being a troublemaker and drop its ridiculous claim. Otherwise they will learn to their cost how serious we are about our land and sea.”

According to Philippine security expert Rafael Alunan, a former cabinet member in the Cory Aquino and Ramos administrations, China’s ultimate goal is to deny the United States unrestricted passage in the South China Sea. And that’s not attacking the Philippines.

Here, then, is the final challenge to Vice President Jejomar C. Binay as he enters the threshold of the Philippine presidency. The country is increasingly being inclined to a war that is somebody else’s making, therefore a war that it does not want, but a war in which it has been inextricably enmeshed. Will the imminent Binay administration be just one more bead in the country’s rosary of US puppet regimes or will it write finish at long last to the long history of that puppetry and proclaim, “The Philippines is not at war with China. The US is.” But in that event, won’t the Philippines be just watching with arms akimbo while China appears to be annexing it, albeit in slices. Are we to take China’s attack without a fight?

How as President will VP Binay make that extremely difficult task of statecraft of having to walk the exquisitely thin line between political pragmatism and national surrender.

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15 Comments

    • Not so. We (more like B S Aquino the THrd) are being forced to be a proxy fighter by the USA here. Their end goal is of course to maintain their dominant status over everything.

  1. The Manila Times led the fight against the “crook” Marcos many generations ago, now it is leading the fight on behalf of this crook Binay. What happened?

    REPLY–
    We are not leading any fight for any politician!!!!

  2. Paitoon Charoenkrung on

    This is out of the world commentary and purely pure chinese. I bet the one writing this is a chinese and his loyalty is to China rather than the Philippines. He should be deported to China and serve his master there. China is already stealing our territory right in our backyard but this guy is praising the robber rather than the one protecting us the americans

  3. danilo de leon on

    mr samonte we only need to look into our history for guidance in charting our destiny.

  4. Imminent Binay presidency???? Talaga ba? Tunay ba ‘yung RMN survey na number-one si Bise? Abangan ang susunod na survey. Nanghina ubod-sama ang panga-ngandidato ni Bise nuong barred-permanent-from-public-service ang kaniyang paboritong si Da-yunyor.

  5. “The conflict over the Spratlys is, to me, less a Philippine concern than American.”

    VERY WRONG! Spratlys, and not just the conflict, is VERY MUCH a Philippine concern than American’s. Spratlys is in the Philippine backyard. No country, including China, should annex it for its own. We blow American’s response out of proportiononly because we, the Filipinos, could not stand up and fight for what is ours. We instead rely on others to do the fighting for us.

    As for Binay’s position on this matter? He already made it known. He’s in favor of ‘joint ventures’ with China. Yes, that traitorous spineless Binay would rather pay China for ‘joint ventures’ than stand up and fight for what is ours! He would gladly sell the Philippines to China to get his 13%.

  6. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    23 October 2015

    While the presidential and vice presidential candidates are now focused on their campaigns, in this Commentary of his, “The challenge to Vice President Binay, Mauro Gia Samonte focuses on an issue which has the potential to be a life-or-death struggle for the Philippines.

    Not only Jejomar Binay but all the other leading presidential candidates should be confronted with the same challenge: What they intend to do in the event that they get elected President and China and the United States are already at war?

    Tensions in the South China Sea [the Western Philippine Sea], already at a high pitch now, are bound to ratchet up with the US Navy’s plans to patrol the area close to the 12-mile limit of those disputed maritime structures which China has already MILITARIZED, ominously clear evidence of her hegemonic designs in the South China Sea.

    This is the very same area where, says the United States, it has a national vested interest in keeping completely free for navigation because it is here that an estimated $5 trillion in sea trade passes.

    In the event of an “accident” which is bound to occur once those US Navy warships go on patrol, there is no telling whether that could be the trigger for a full-blown war between the United States and China.

    The challenge for the next president, whether it is Jejomar Binay or someone else, is WHAT IS HE OR SHE GOING TO DO?

    MARIANO PATALINJUG. patalinjugmar@gmail.com

    • If there is any war it would be world war III! We have to align to US who is our natural ally and gave more than 3 million of Filipinos to lived and became US citizens. Can you say the same thing about China? We need to open our eyes how the Chinese is destroying our country little by little. They are involved in corrupting our government officials, drugs, abduction, blackmail, fake goods, dollar salting, plunders, prostitution, sex massage, etc. Same thing is being done in other countries.

  7. Why is the question of the rising tension in West Philippine Sea being addressed to VP Binay? Is he the favorite to win the election? This issue should be included in the presidential debates and should be addressed to all candidates so that the voters can gauge who among the presidential candidates has what it takes to be the next commander in chief of the AFP.

  8. cenon bobadilla on

    china did not invade other countries in the past because it does not have the power to do so….I read a story that China, many years ago, tried to invade Japan but their ships were sunk by powerful storms in the sea of japan…power corrupts people’s mind and now that China has both economic and military power, it absolutely thinks it can do whatever it pleases…it is even more dangerous now because china has not wielded such enormous power before…with power comes responsibility and maturity, but in china’s case , responsibility appears lacking and stubbornness seems to prevail …who can check a bully??? a stronger bully???…phil is just a small fry in this geo-political development, so what is the correct action to take?? if armed conflict between the USA and China happens, Japan will surely join the fray because of it’s new policy of helping it’s main protector/ally(USA)…whether we like it or not, the Phil,Vietnam and other countries will be involved…the most appropriate measure to take therefore is to upgrade our Navy and Air forces so that we can contribute something to whoever we decide to ally ourselves

    • Paitoon Charoenkrung on

      yeah I think this commentator go back to history class. Let him study how China annexed the smaller nations since the beginning of times

    • Absolutely correct and I agree that China will invade any countries in the near future. The Chinese (Han Chinese people to be exact) have invaded lands/countries in the past. These are the same people who are selling you fake goods and sealing secrets. Remember the famous “Qin Dynasty”. The Chinese (mainland) politburo are building another two or three aircraft carriers, stealth bombers, ICB missiles, etc. Thanks for stealing or I would say copying the technology of the west. China has land grab part of Tibet, India, Myammar, Vietnam, Korea, Mongolia, Turkmenistan, and latest PH islands, etc. Realistically, we have no match to the military might of China what therefore the government is doing is trying to resolve the issue in a more professional and peaceful means. Aligning our country with countries opposed to China’s aggressive behavior.
      By the way, I agree that this issue should not be addressed to Binay (he has corruption charges and problems of his own) but to all candidates, in the Presidency, VP, Senate, Congress, Mayor, Governor, etc.
      Mr. Samonte, have you lived in China long enough to understand the real feeling of the politburo and what ordinary Chinese really wants? If not. please do so and find out what the Han Chinese have done to the Chinese minorities.

  9. Why are you alluding Binay as “president”? He is not even a frontrunner! But Binay and China has things in common: China, does not respect the rights of small nations, Binay does not respect the authority of the Senate. How can you trust China to lead the world with that bully attitude? How can you entrust Binay with the Office of the President when as VP, he does not recognize even the authority of the Senate what more if he’s President already? NO to CHINA, NO to BINAY!

    • art divinagracia on

      Of course Binay should not trust Senate because they are corrupt, vindictive, selective justice and majority are Pnoy’s trained attack dogs.
      Court is the proper venue for BInay’s case NOT the Senate.