Why mock our leaders?

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Sunday, April 6, 2014


ASIDE from picking on smaller kids, bullies prefer to settle things directly with their victims simply because they enjoy the upper hand. Children should settle fights themselves, they say. Parents and godfathers, better stay away.

No, this column is not about that controversial football brawl. I am talking about China and her vehement protest of the Philippine move to seek international arbitration of the West Philippine Sea controversy.

The immense Chinese economic growth through the years has, as expected, translated into military strength. And China’s leadership is now looking at controlling this resource-rich maritime corridor in Southeast Asia.

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I just want to say at the onset that China and the Philippines are not the only countries involved. Other Asean nations, especially Vietnam and Malaysia, also have their own territorial claims.

However, it is China going about claiming even islets located close to other countries like the Scarborough Shoal without clear justification. The West Philippine Sea, after all, is not just full of rich fishing grounds.

To appreciate the strategic significance of the West Philippine Sea, consider that oil passing through the Malacca Strait from the Indian Ocean towards East Asia is triple the amount passing through the Suez Canal and 15 times that of the Panama Canal.

According to Stratfor’s Robert Kaplan in his book “Asia’s Cauldron,” the oil passing through the West Philippine Sea is “roughly two-thirds of South Korea’s energy supplies, nearly 60 percent of Japan’s and Taiwan’s energy supplies, and 80 percent of China’s crude oil imports.”

Kaplan adds the presence of “proven oil reserves of seven billion barrels, and an estimated 900 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.”

Unfortunately for the Philippines, China finds us the weakest. We are weak militarily.

Although we have shown rapid growth the past two years, our economy is still way behind our neighbors. Compared to the fiercely nationalistic Vietnamese, for instance, many Filipinos including even the Philippine media mock our weakness.

In a Facebook group “Maghisgot Kitag Politika, Bay” discussion, one tried to make fun of the fact that there was a time when the Philippine Navy would chase away Chinese fishing boats. Today, it is the other way around. Chinese coast guard ships are chasing away our fishermen.

We know that the territories we are claiming are part of our continental shelf. But against the might of a bully, the Philippines needs the help of powerful allies like the US and our neighbors. And we need the support of the rest of the international community.

Of course, China won’t submit to arbitration. Culturally, some are saying that the Chinese would consider going to court as losing face, an insult.

But if we follow this ridiculous Chinese reasoning supposedly based on history, then Greece can claim most of the Middle East while Rome can call the whole of Europe, northern Africa, the Middle East, and Britain as its own too. If China will persist on its justifications before an international arbitration body, it will certainly suffer defeat and, thus, lose face.

Thus, we can expect China to protest loudly our move to seek arbitration. Bullies don’t want their victims to seek help from their parents or from authorities. When a victim does go for help, expect the bully to find fiercer ways of getting back.

It is just unfortunate that instead of expressing outrage, many Filipinos find it better to mock our weaknesses. This sends a signal that moves against the bully do not have popular support. And this encourages more bullying.

***

The Cebu Coalition against the Pork Barrel System has joined voices pushing government to move faster in getting pork scammers punished. As of the moment, those accused of pocketing billions of pork barrel funds could easily escape abroad.

For an online copy of the statement, check out “Maghisgot Kitag Politika, Bay” or my blog “politika2013.wordpress.com.”

Already, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla have left the country. Jinggoy is accompanied by wife Precy in Los Angelos. Bong, on the other hand, is on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with his wife Lanie and kids.

While Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile is still in the country, his former chief of staff and travelling companion and … err yup, his friend… Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, who used to handle the senator’s affairs, left last year.

I don’t expect a bolt of light striking Senator Bong and granting him the gift of tongue of an honest man. Jinggoy? I bet he would rather give up his vices except for one. Unsa man? Tweet or post your answer via my Facebook.

(Follow me @anol_cebu on Twitter)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 07, 2014.

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