Offline: A unified Senate takes a stand
I have to give credit where credit is due, and in the case of Senate President Migz Zubiri he must receive praise for his consistent stand where the Chinese intrusions into Philippine territory is concerned.
Ever since he assumed the top post at the Upper House of Congress AKA the Senate, Zubiri has been warning all against China which says one thing and does something else, time and time again.
This is happening now, as soon after the last water cannon incident involving the Chinese Coast Guard and the Philippine Coast Guard, China appeared to be taking a most rational stand of telling the Philippines and the great majority of Filipinos not to overreact over the incident.
In so many words, China says we are still friends and our disagreement over a certain territory in THEIR sea should be settled via dialogue and diplomacy.
Allow me a bit of racism when I state that Beijing was really saying, “Tayo usap, hwak tayo gyera…” Ok, ok, apologies to those who feel slighted in any way. Like most Pinoys, I am still seething at what those Intsik under Xi have been getting away with for so long.
So anyway, this is all well and good, but China does have a habit of saying the same thing only after they have caused damage to the Philippines. It has never been the other way around.
They’ve never apologized for their actions, and now they have the gall to say that it is the Manila which is to blame.
This week, Zubiri said Filipinos should not succumb to China’s psywar.
Zubiri explained that China has been claiming that a former Philippine president had promised to withdraw the Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal as far back as 1999.
This is nothing more than psychological warfare, according to the Senate president.
In a statement before the Senate plenary, he said: “When we are all rallying ourselves together behind the men and women of the Air Force, of the Navy and the Coast Guard, they try to come up with a statement that will make us fight internally. It’s psywar, we should not succumb to this psychological warfare.”
The Philippine president China was referring to has to be Erap Estrada, and his family led by his two sons in the Senate have flat out denied that there was ever any promise, written or otherwise.
The Defense secretary at that time, former senator Orly Mercado, has pretty much confirmed this. The mere notion that the Philippines would in effect surrender Ayungin Shoal to China was absurd, he said.
Our own sources say that China was actually referring to the Foreign secretary at that time, who is unfortunately no longer with us.
How convenient to point a finger at someone who cannot answer the ridiculous claim.
Incidentally, an ageing columnist of a small broadsheet claims that there really was an agreement to pull out the derelict warship from the shoal, but no one is buying his story.
I, however, would not go as far as to support the claim from a senior officer of the Armed Forces that Filipinos who took the cudgels for China were, in effect, siding with the enemy.
Another official said that the action of China’s coast guard was tantamount to an act of war.
Yet another senator, Chiz Escudero, said this week that he would ask that PHP100 million be included in next year’s budget, which is set to be approved sometime next month, to create a permanent post in Ayungin Shoal to replace the Sierra Madre, which isn’t even seaworthy anymore.
His logic seems sound enough. Escudero said that when China started building structures in contested waters, we never told them that they shouldn’t do that because we have a claim to that selfsame territory. So now, it would be all right for us to build our own structure in a shoal which we own anyway, but which China is claiming as theirs.
Selfish little buggers, ain’t they?
It’s a tit for tat argument that will likely end up with China warning the Philippines that such a move will have consequences.
But as Escudero said, the best way to stand up to bullies is to tell them to go fck themselves. Most bullies usually backdown when they sense that the party they are bullying just might fight back.
Thus far, no one in the Senate has taken the side of China. Not the overwhelming majority of 20 senators, or the two independents, or the two minority lawmakers.
This may be one reason that President Bongbong Marcos suddenly put up a brave front and said he was scrapping the agreement of towing the Sierra Madre if such an agreement ever existed.
After Marcos Jr said those words, China did seem to back down by saying that identifying who made the promise had become irrelevant as the incumbent president had already made his stand known.
This can be perceived as a bully backing down just a little because there may be other factors to consider. It may even be a case of taking one step backward in order to take two steps forward. It was their Chairman Mao who said that, if memory serves.
One thing though. While the Senate has made its feelings known, the same thing cannot be said of the lawmakers in the Lower House, AKA the House of Representatives.
I may know why, if I am allowed another foray into minor racism. But take a good look at the names of our honorable men and women of the House. Heck, do the same thing with a lot of our mayors and governors. Note that a good many of them have Chinese surnames.
I am not saying that their allegiance is under question. For all I know, most of them are probably patriots whose loyalty is to the Republic of the Philippines, and not the People’s Republic of China.
As for our taipan families, they very likely do not give one whit as long as they’re allowed to make their billions with a minimum of government intervention.
I honestly do not know if billionaires like Manny Villar, the Ayala family, or Ricky Razon are any more or less patriotic than the Sys, the Gokongwies or the Tans.
Their attitude may well be, let the politicians take care of the country’s political problems, and when push comes to shove, let the Armed Forces of the Philippines seek help from the US by virtue of the Mutual Defense Treaty.
PS – to the Senate. Just to be clear: I still haven’t forgiven you guys for that Maharlika bill that you passed in too much of a rush. That was unforgiveable.