In China’s Ukraine

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Sunday, May 11, 2014


UNLIKE Ukraine, the West Philippine Sea, or South China Sea, has many claimants. But like Russia, China is now using strong-arm tactics to strategically gain more than a foothold in this huge piece of disputed territory.

The Aquino administration has sought stronger commitment from and visible joint military exercises with the US before gaining the courage to apprehend Chinese poachers. Before this, Philippine boats either retreated or just watched from a distance or played a cat-and-mouse game.

Modern Chinese vessels have no qualms about dousing our small boats with water from fire hoses to keep us at bay. They behave like dogs pissing to mark territory as we bark from a distance.

Vietnam, however, is showing us how a small sovereign country should confront a big bully. A few days ago, a Chinese oil deepwater drilling rig was pulled by tugs to waters disputed by both China and Vietnam.

The first of its kind in China worth $1 billion, it was big as a football field and as tall as a 40-story building. It is a prized property of a state-owned corporation that China is expected to defend militarily. This is not a male canine pissing. It is more of a land-grab ploy of placing a big landmark monument saying “This is our territory.”

Vietnam was unfazed. It immediately dispatched ships that rammed Chinese vessels reportedly 171 times in four days. We are watching closely how this will further unfold in the next few days.

From my perch, I noted that the Chinese game-changing move was carried out right after the US-PH military and an ongoing Balikatan. China seems to be provoking an excuse to display its military might from a distance.

To understand these developments, let us bear in mind that China is traditionally a strategic thinker that looks beyond the 2016 mindset of Malacañang, the opposition, and most Filipinos who are divided in our stand on the West Philippine Sea issue.

Within this context, I think P-Noy needs to whip up popular support for his moves to strengthen his hand in the international scene like the ongoing Asean gathering in Myanmar.

Strengthening Asean unity in relation to China is nevertheless a strategic move, I believe. But Vietnam is providing Asean countries with a better example to emulate.

***

During a recent core group meeting of the Cebu Coalition against the Pork Barrel System, those present shared the sentiment that the whole truth in the Napoles pork scam must be revealed to the public. We also share the belief that more legislators are involved.

Still we agree that those who are already indicted should set the example and step down to preserve the dignity of our tainted institutions. I am referring to Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, and Juan Ponce Enrile. Baga-a gyud.

Personally, I find it problematic to read about the swift action against those who beat an allegedly horny celebrity inside a condo while the investigators of pork scams seem to be taking their sweet time.

***

The early ‘80s has produced a generation of young Filipino activists. Many may have faded into the mainstream as they struggled to earn a living and to raise their families. However, the activist ideals and spirit remain. This I sensed during a reunion of sorts of former martial law student activists in Cebu over the weekend.

Thanks to Facebook that provided the means and platform for reconnecting even when some are already settled elsewhere in the globe. We now look forward to expanding this ‘80s network.

One project that we could pursue is a book project to document those tumultuous years of living dangerously. My particular concern is gathering pictures and mementos aside from writing our experiences.

Unlike today when we have no qualms about taking pictures and posting these on Facebook, owning even an instamatic then was expensive and burgis. We also did not want our pictures taken for security purposes. I think only personnel from the Task Force Detainees, photo-journalists, and intelligence agents were taking pictures of our mass actions then.

But then, I hope readers who kept pictures and mementos of those heady days when we struggled against the Marcos dictatorship could prove me wrong. Contact me through Facebook or my Twitter ID @anol_cebu.

***

Even if the family goes somewhere special to celebrate Mother’s Day, somehow writing this column is already taking me over two hours away from them. Still, I hope all moms felt particularly special yesterday.

(Follow @anol_cebu on Twitter)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 12, 2014.

Opinion

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