By Jun Ledesma

Be aware and beware 

CALL  it “Oust Duterte cabal”, “rabid black propagandists” “Dilawans”, “1sambayan”, “destabilizers” or “xenophobic clique”. When you put them all together you see the same faces.  It’s a coterie of whatever is left of the political opposition, the legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its Red Army -the New People's Army,  religious bigots, and dissidents who are funded by the West to stir the hornet's nest in the West Philippines Sea. 

This cabal is desperate and so are their sponsors they have weaved all fiendish plots to manipulate public opinion on  Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to oust him and to deter the rise of yet another Duterte-backed administration. 

Consider this. Duterte is the only President of the Philippines who appeared on TV weekly to address the nation. When he deferred his appearance for a week,  all sorts of innuendos cropped up laced with ill will and frustration he was alive and kicking. 

And now they conjured another lie which they spread across the globe. The top brass of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, including those who had retired from service,  have withdrawn their support from President Duterte over the handling of the conflict with China on the claims of islands in the West Philippine Sea.  The AFP generals had vehemently denied that. The AFP never had it so good even the opposition begrudge that. 

As if that was not enough they sowed fear and apprehension by spreading fake stories that warplanes have been landing and taking off from Clark Field (which used to be an American airbase). This is of course a serious case of hallucination from a very sick mind.  We can live with these fakeries but these diabolic propagandas have reached our Overseas Filipino Workers and Pinoys who have migrated elsewhere.  It creates anxiety even it's blatantly farcical. 

On the other hand, China and the Philippines are confronted with this conflict of claims of islands in the West Philippine Seas  - the Spratly and Scarborough. It’s actually multi-lateral claims that involve not only the Philippines and China but Vietnam, Malaysia,  Brunei, and Taiwan.  What drives these countries to claim the islands are their rich marine ecosystem, gas and oil deposits, and ideal location for military strategies.

On a sad note, “Philippines lost Scarborough Shoal to China after a controversial standoff in 2012 when the Aquino administration ordered the pullout of the Philippine navy and Filipino fishermen out of the area. China took control and thereafter blocked Filipino fishermen from Scarborough, also known as Panatag Shoal. Then Pres. Benigno Aguino III sent his Foreign Affairs Sec. Alberto del Rosario and Justice Antonio Carpio to the Hague to seek arbitration with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in an expensive exercise to recover the islet.  The Philippines won but it was an empty victory because  China refused to participate. Says Amb. Rosario Manalo,  with China and the Philippines, opted out of the United Nations Convention of the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) they can only resolve their conflict via voluntary arbitration. When one party declines, however, the only party who are happy are the ‘judges’ of the PCA.  Such was the case of what Carpio and del Rosario were boasting was the victory of the Philippines.

Fast forward, ex-Justice Antonio Carpio and ex-Foreign Affairs Sec. Alberto del Rosario and the opposition are now blaming Duterte for their foolishness and by saber-rattling wanted the Philippines with the help of  Uncle Sam to go to war against China. 

We hoi polloi are overwhelmed by the magma of arguments and discourses about the Philippines' position over the West Philippine Sea, our sovereign territory, and the Exclusive Economic Zone.  The explanation of Ambassador Manalo is simple, concise, and straightforward.  But we have to reckon with the positions of other claimants especially that of China. 

Duterte and  China’s  Pres. Xi Jinping started on the right foot. They set aside the issue of the PCA judgment and agreed to iron out kinks via bilateral talks. The series of engagements in just a short period of time between the two leaders had resulted in unprecedented progressive developments. For me, one of the most significant proposals that emerged from these talks is for the two countries to enter into a joint exploration of the West Philippine Sea.  After all the razzmatazz over the WPS it is really not about the fishes and clams but the trillions of barrels and gas that lie beneath the WPS. It was a 60/40 sharing term in favor of the Philippines.  I really cannot understand why  China and the Philippines are hedging in pursuing this partnership.  This is a panacea for the crises we are confronted with in that this will boost the Philippine economy which is in languish because of the Covid-19 pandemic and will explicitly prove our rights over our EEZ.  

We abhor war. China will not start one as this will effectively close its major trade route and jeopardize its burgeoning economy that had surpassed America. Make no mistake about that. Only America and its minions in the Philippines want to destabilize the region. For America, it is the only means to suppress the economic dominance and juggernaut of China. For the moribund opposition in the Philippines, it is their only hope for survival.  Be aware and beware. 



About the Columnist

Image of Jun Ledesma

Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.