President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that China has promised to protect the Philippines from external threats immediately raises two questions.
Who or what these external threats could be is the first. But the second is, Who will protect the Philippines from China?
In the aftermath of President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar announced the availability in that country of scholarships on media and communication studies for his staff, and, presumably, for anyone else qualified and interested in a career in government media.
The death of Mao Zedong in 1976 led to the dominance of Deng Xiaoping and his like-minded colleagues in the Chinese leadership. To Mao’s insistence that China should hew to the socialist path of development, Deng argued that “it doesn’t matter whether a cat is white or black so long as it catches mice” — i.e., that capitalism could just as well, and even better drive, China’s development.
Thirty-eight years later it seems that Deng had a point. Although socialist in name, China is now a capitalist society. It has the world’s second largest economy, and its cities throb with all the appurtenances of progress and development. China has also reclaimed its place among the world’s powers. No issue of global significance, whether Iran or North Korea, can be addressed, resolved, or even discussed without China’s participation, concurrence, or at least its silence.
THE LAST time US forces occupied several military bases all over the Philippines, among them Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, it took a decades-long campaign against their presence, a volcanic eruption, and over 40 years to get them out.
Anticipating the need to get and keep them out, the 1987 Constitution barred foreign troops and military bases without a treaty ratified by the Senate, which, despite then President Corazon Aquino’s advocacy, refused to renew the US lease in September1991. Not that the US was at the time still seriously interested in keeping the latter, the global projection of US power through its nuclear submarine complex and aircraft carrier tax forces being then seen to be less costly and more effective. The cleanup at Clark because of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in June 1991 would not have been worth the expense and effort anyway. The Senate action wasn’t as disastrous to US strategy as some thought at the time. But it did end a long period of occupation by foreign troops in places where they were the undisputed, non-accountable sovereigns.
DO most of the country’s media organizations, among them the broadsheet that claims to have the largest audited circulation in the country, want war with China? Do they think the Philippines could win such a war? Do they believe the US would go to war with China in support of the country’s claim over the Scarborough Shoal?
Judging by the way they‘ve been reporting the Philippines-China impasse over the Shoal, the answer to all three questions is “yes.”