Sanchez: Friendship

Nature speaks

WHO does not like friendships? The kinds that we have with our partners, family members, co-workers and the people we have known for a few years now or since we were kids.

Or even with people we have never even met at the other side of the world or country.

I have Jia Ping, a Chinese friend lawyer from Beijing. The friend and colleague that, tightwad as I am, would invest on a round-trip plane fare just to meet him in Manila.

From Ping, I learned a few Mandarin phrases. Or that not all Chinese could understand that Tsinoys speak Hokkien, the dialect spoken in Fujian province where most of the Chinese-Filipinos come from.

Or Liu “Tracy” Jie, also from Beijing. I met Ping for one semester in New York and Tracy in Montréal.

The real friends are the ones who walks in when the rest of the world walks out, to paraphrase Walter Winchell.

It saddens me that geo-politics have somehow intruded into these friendships.

President Duterte has maintained friendly relations with China despite its continuous activities within the country’s exclusive economic zone. Duterte defended his policy by insisting that it would be suicide if the country would go to war against China.

Thank God for people such as Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio who advised Duterte on several options to enforce Manila’s legal victory against Beijing’s environmentally destructive activities in the disputed waters.

Indeed, there are many ways to skin a cat, or of “many ways of enforcing the arbitral award without going to war with China.”

“We cannot adopt a defeatist attitude and just sit idly by and let China seize what international law has declared to be our own Exclusive Economic Zone,” Carpio said in a speech at the Ateneo Law School’s graduation rites.

“We must use our creativity and resourcefulness to defend and protect, through the rule of law, what belongs to the Filipino people—the present generation of Filipinos and the generations of Filipinos still to come,” he added.

There are many peacemakers on both sides of the aisle, where resorting to war is the last thing on their minds. They combine rights-based and also interest-based approaches that can result in win-win solutions.

After all, it’s not just China who has conflicting claims. Just think of Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. Yet no one is proposing going to war against these countries.

And I might add, let’s add people to people relationships where the ordinary people can give their politicians a second think of resorting to fights in resolving rights. Right is might, not the other way around. (


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