“The US has to deal with China, both as a military power and an economic behemoth.”
The incoming BBM administration would have difficulty trying to accomplish what BBM’s father achieved from 1965 to 1986.
The late President accomplished many to bring about economic transformation. Unfortunately, he fell victim to retribution because the circumstances in the change of government were determined to write their history of him.
This factor now serves as a ledger in measuring what the present administration seeks to achieve.
The issue about Philippine-Chinese relations has become relevant because the competition between China and the US has intensified.
The victory of BBM affirmed that China finally has gained an upper hand in winning the friendship of the Filipino people.
The political contest to capture Malacañang was fierce that it divided families between pro and anti-Marcos. It was like reviving the old wounds.
One could see the ambivalence of people divided on issues. People who narrate the “horrors of martial law” were people yet to be born during that period.
Most were either students from exclusive universities operated by the Catholic Church and economically well-off or were from the upper middle class.
Many were simply agitated by the Church. They were not politicized by the traditional Marxist concept of class struggle.
Their view was rooted with on a much deeper objective. In fact, a Jesuit university republished the book of lies written by a casino gambler, and reprinted it to dissuade the popularity of BBM indicating he would obtain a runaway victory in the May 9 election.
It was not a simple case for the opposition fearing the return of the Marcoses, but the fear of the future status of the US bases.
As one would put it, a Marcos victory would result in political tsunami for the opposition.
They fear a repetition of the cycle of political retribution although the young Marcos is not inclined to repeat the infamy of exacting vengeance.
Most Filipinos know the real power brokers are eager to push our people into the pit of divisiveness.
The pro-American elements are still hoping to add color to politics by injecting racism to resurrect the popularity of Robredo and the consequence of the future status of the US empire.
They could not raise the issue of economic exploitation by China for that could backfire with people asking, what have we got under the tutelage of US occupation?
Most interesting issue about the South China Sea has intensified during the Aquino administration.
US fears that China would encroach its turf based on their unilaterally “rule-based” principle of international law.
This column instantly became a sensation after I wrote that most of the islands in the SCS are located outside the boundary demarcated in the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898 between Spain and the US.
This created a sensation after I stated the boundaries indicated in latitude and longitude demarcated are close to the island of Palawan with little or virtually leaving no space of the 12-mile limit, an area reserved as part of our territorial waters under international law.
Moreover, PD No. 1596 merely stated that Kalayaan is part of the continental margin of the Philippine archipelago.
This was followed by our accession of the UNCLOS which expanded to 200-mile limit our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) which invariably included the Kalayaan Group of Islands. In fact, the other islands nearby have been illegally occupied by Vietnam.
China’s CGTN took notice and immediately sent their reporter to interview this column.
Because of my assertion that most of islands are outside the boundaries demarcated in the treaty of Paris, CGTN took notice that they belong to China by historic right in the absence of effective occupation.
We only managed to bolster our claim under the newly-approved UNCLOS. This was followed by our standoff with China over the Ayungin Shoal culminating in the filing of our claim in the Permanent Arbitration Council, and got complicated by each of the claimant’s interpretation of UNCLOS.
Incidentally, the Ayungin Shoal is outside of UNCLOS.
The only concession we obtained in our negotiations with China is the exploitation of natural gas found in the Reed Bank. In the service contract for Malampaya, the partition of natural gas extracted allowed the government only 10 percent while Shell and Chevron got 90 percent to be divided at 45 percent each. Malamapaya is about to be depleted by 2025.
The agreement between Wang Yi and Locsin in 2019 in the exploration of natural gas in the Reed Bank, rectified the iniquitous partition to 60-40 in accordance with our Constitution, the division was reached despite the contentious issue that it remains within the territory disputed by Philippines and China. The division remains favorable to the country.
Another important item the incoming administration should tackle is the renewed presence of the US bases.
We can no longer view the US bases on the original goal of wanting to keep our security.
The division of the world between the “Free World” and the Socialist World has become less relevant, particularly after the country opened diplomatic relations with China in 1975.
The new equation today has nakedly been identified to the core interest of the US and China in the SCS.
The trouble is that US interest is tied up to the concept of hegemonism; that they have to remain in the country is vital to deter the alleged expansionism of China.
As Imelda Marcos once said, one cannot change geography. But in the US, such is given a different version that the US bases are here for our security.
When then President Marcos opted not to renew the Laurel-Langley Agreement, he acted with judicious wisdom in not renewing the agreement beyond 1974.
It was a blessing in disguise because it helped implement the long-delayed land reform program.
The program got complicated because the US-installed government wrongly equated the concept of free trade to freedom and democracy; that to lower the tariff of sugar, the country would be able to resurrect the ailing industry.
The effect was a disaster, for, according to nationalist economist Alejandro Lichauco, the entry of duty-free commodity ultimately led to the bankruptcy of Hacienda Luisita. The Aquino family had to pay the salary of their contractual sugar workers (sacadas).
This explains why the Aquino administration, instead of pursuing the policy of taking a neutral stand to implement the Marcos-Johnson Communique signed in 1965 giving the US up to 25 years, flip-flopped by signing EDCA in 2013.
EDCA granted the US five military bases, using mostly the existing facilities of our armed forces.
Many suspect the US purposely wanted to heighten the tension in the SCS and the festering problem of Islamic secessionism to justify their presence.
This would appear that the US is helping us shore up our defense against China.
The mad scramble to contain China turned complicated. The US has to deal with China, both as a military power and an economic behemoth.
It has to set up a “chop suey” alliance as if to embrace all existing economic blocs to be on its side.
Today, the Philippines cannot just detach itself from the alliances that emerged with the openness of China to world trade and its adoption of the policy of multilateralism and openness.
This was reinforced by its gargantuan economic project called Belt and Road Initiative to facilitate the trans-Asian forwarding of goods.
The country is not just committed to upholding the principles of ASEAN to which it is an original member but to abide by its membership in RCEP, which has a total 16 member-countries with the entire ASEAN bloc participating.
The countries of RCEP constitute about 30 percent of the world’s population (2.2 billion people) and 30 percent of the global GDP ($29.7 trillion).
They already constitute the largest trading bloc in history. Signed in November 2020, RCEP is the first free trade agreement among the largest economies in Asia, which include China, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea.
In fact, the Philippines under Marcos administration floated the idea of joining the non-aligned countries known as Group of 77.
To show his earnest desire, he went to Kenya to meet the venerable African leader, Jomo Kenyatta. In 1978, first lady Imelda Marcos visited Cuba to meet the revolutionary leader, Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
All these moves, beginning with the opening of our windows to the socialist world, did not please the US. They simply had to bide their time to remove him in 1986.