Wenceslao: Rough days ahead

Candid Thoughts

Iran recently upped the ante in the Middle East conflict by sending some 300 drones and missiles to Israel, 99 percent of which, according to Israel, were intercepted before these could reach their destination and do damage. Iran said it was done with the “show,” which was done to show that the country has the means to wreak havoc on its targets if provoked.

This means that the Middle East conflict would not widen if Israel shows restraint, meaning that it would not retaliate. The US, which helped Israel intercept the projectiles, seemed to be pressuring the latter also to show the restraint required so the conflict would not spiral into a world war. Israel essentially sparked this recent round of violence by hitting the Iranian consulate in Syria, killing a few Iranian military officers.

But it, too, was part of the bigger war started by Hamas, a proxy of Iran, which attacked Israel on Oct. 7 last year. If Israel retaliates by directly attacking Iran, a bigger conflagration might erupt, and that is something that the world may not be able to put off. Thankfully, though, Iran is still not a nuclear power even if Israel already is. But a World War 3 can still be an Armageddon if nuclear powers are drawn into the conflict.

As usual, the Philippine concern is its nationals that are spread, although thinly probably, in the conflict area and its environs. Add to that the heating up of our conflict with China in the West Philippine Sea and the administration of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. surely has its hands full. Our national security advisers need to work overtime to prepare us for the rough days ahead for Filipinos.

Marcos is home after attending a trilateral summit that also featured the US and Japan on the South China Sea situation. China has been voicing its opposition to the summit, which only shows the move’s effectiveness. The trilateral meet shows China that it could not continue its saber rattling without getting a deserved backlash from the other global powers that have some presence in the Pacific.

But it would be easy to see what China’s next move would be, which is to regain the political advantage it lost when Marcos became president. Vice President Sara Duterte seems to be hoping she would get China’s support in the 2028 presidential elections by keeping silent on the matter. Former president Rodrigo Duterte was known to be more pro-Beijing than pro-Washington as far as foreign policy was concerned.

What should warm the hearts of China is that Sara is the current frontrunner for the 2028 race. Only a president friendly to China can undo what Marcos is doing, which is to edge closer to the US in the West Philippine Sea row. In a recent survey, only Sen. Raffy Tulfo is putting up a fight against Sara, and Tulfo is an unknown entity as far as foreign policy is concerned.

Former vice president Leni Robredo is silent for now, although she already voiced her opposition to US interference in the country’s affairs in the past. But she is not pro-China either, meaning that Sara would be China’s logical choice for 2028.


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