Abrigo: Scared of coup d'état?

Abrigo: Scared of coup d'état?

PRESIDENTIAL Spokesperson Salvador Panelo is like a circus juggler, handling a dozen of hot potatoes while maintaining a balance on a tight cable at 20-meter height from the ground. He calmly managed a harmonious catch and up, careful not to drop a single tuber in dealing with the palace reporters on the amplified issues related to the disputed West Philippine Sea (WPS).

In 2013, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay who also ranked first place in the 1999 Philippine Bar exam filed the international case against China to the Permanent Court of Arbitration. He served as the Philippine agent since the court hearings started on July 7, 2015 until the court ruled in favor for the Philippines on July 12, 2016 that nullified the historical claim of China for the WPS.

The WPS is tremendously important for us, aside from being a source of food and having a huge oil deposit in its seabed; it is the second most used sea lane in the world where one third of the world’s shipping, carrying more than $3 trillion trade a year passes through it.

Despite the court ruling, the Chinese is adamant and still mooring at WPS. The US, on the other hand, even if not a signatory to the UNCLOS wanted to dominate the world affairs while with the ongoing trade war with China. So with the RP-US relationship, US maintained position its naval vessels and warships in the area.

Armaments, social and economic favor, made president Duterte indulgent to visit China than any other countries. For the record, in his three years stint, he went to China four times already; while China imperceptibly installed seven military outposts equipped with surface-to-air and anti-ship missiles at the WPS. The anti-ship ballistic missile guided warheads can hit moving vessels and capable to destroy aircraft carriers (large ships).

The June 9, 2019 ramming incident involving 22 Filipino fishermen on anchored boat raised the tension. Duterte was blamed for allowing the alleged Chinese militia cladding to be fishermen to continue their activities, including the supposed anti-ship ballistic missile test on July 2-3, 2019 as reported by the NBC News. Many opined the matter as impeachable. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana denied knowledge on the test conducted near the Kalayaan Islands but Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Dave Eastburn confirmed the incident and described it as “disturbing”.

Two things here are crucial: evoking impeachment (with local players) and coup d’etat (with international players). During the PAF 72nd Anniversary president Duterte appealed not to attempt to grab power like coup d'état. He said if you don’t like me “just call me and we’ll have coffee and I’m ready to say it’s all yours.” His appeal is a foolproof that he can only challenge anybody to file impeachment case because he knows it would not prosper, but he cannot challenge the AFP for a coup especially with the Philippine Airforce. Coup d'état as we all know is the most damaging attempt to oust leaders, especially if it involves air assets. The most horrible one in the Philippine history was in August 1987 led by Col. Gringo Honasan, in which 53 were dead and more than 200 were wounded. Honasan is now the freshest among the throng of PMA alumni holding key cabinet positions.

Whether or not the threat and issues in the WPS is alarming, the AFP, through its spokesman Brig. Gen Edgard Arevalo, reaffirmed that the military is loyal to the flag and the constitution (only).



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