“We cannot violate our Constitution just to accommodate Australia to include it in securing its interest against China”
To carry out intelligence and military operations outside the country though purportedly intended to monitor the activities of China in the South China Sea would still require military bases.
Without our Constitution extending its approval under a treaty or executive agreement, those bases would not be able to operate.
Australia cannot even avail itself of the privilege we granted to US military personnel under the visiting forces agreement (VFA) or under the enhanced defense cooperation agreement (EDCA).
Our national interest is personal to this particular country; that it cannot be transferred collaterally in a manner of treating Australia as an ally, all because we have a string of military alliance with the US.
The old ANZUS (stands for Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.) treaty only applies to Australia’s security interest and to the members of that pact made up of New Zealand and the US.
The same can be said of the newly organized AUKUS agreement between Australia, UK and the US for the construction of eight nuclear-powered submarines to deter China’s alleged naval expansion in the South China Sea, it being integral to the area except to geographically remove China.
If one will have to scrutinize the impact of AUKUS, one gets the suspicion that the treaty was purposely organized to deter China from expanding its influence in the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
Political analysts see AUKUS as a specialized form of military alliance zeroing in on China.
The two military agreements which Australia entered into with the US, UK and New Zealand have no precedent similar to NATO.
Our permission to have an Australian military base in our country is more difficult because, even if we desire to enter into an agreement, the Philippines is prohibited by our Constitution.
The wording is rather prohibitory to us. We cannot violate our Constitution just to accommodate Australia to include it in securing its interest against China.
Notably, China just completed a large military exercise in the waters off the Hainan Island where it issued a navigation warning.
Unfortunately, it is poking the dragon under the guise of freedom of navigation to gather intelligence on Chinese warships at its naval base at Yulin in Southern Hainan where it harbors some of its nuclear-powered submarines.
US-made P-8As are armed with torpedoes, harpoon anti-ship missiles and other weapons.
The P-8A is a militarized version of the Boeing 737 commercial aircraft, intended to replace the US Navy’s ageing P-3 Orion fleet as the service’s front-line anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
Those P-8As cannot drop sonobuoys to gather information on the performance capabilities and signature of surface vessels and to locate and track those submarines.
If P-8A attempts to “out” a submarine, China may see that as a threat or an “unfriendly” act. This may have indicated on the use of “laser” in Australia’s northern EEZ in February when Chinese warship fired a laser at an Australian P-8A that was dropping sonobouys.
The question is “where was the P-8A located?”
Most dangerous is the failure by Australia to promptly inform the Philippines of its violation of our air space pursuant to its use of the Philippines as base operations.
For instance, the Australian defense ministry did not inform us that the Chinese aircraft flew very close to its P-8A when China’s jets released flares to ingest chaff putting in danger their engines and threatened the security of the aircraft and its crew.
Australia’s defense ministry never reported that it was Australia’s aircraft that seriously threatened China’s sovereignty and security, and the countermeasures taken by the Chinese military were reasonable and lawful.
The information gathered was that RAAF P-8A flew out of the former US Clark Air Base in the Philippines and headed directly to the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands).
If true, this means the Philippines enabled the mission to violate our territory without permission.
Both the secretary of foreign affairs Teodoro Locsin and defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana remained unusually silent about the incident that could have pushed the Philippines to war without us knowing it.
Yet, the two clowns easily made so much noise to protest China’s anchorage of its fishing fleet on international waters off the South China Sea.
Last February, Australia’s “surveillance plane” P-8A was intercepted by a Chinese J-15 jet fighter based on Woody Island in the Paracels.
If the P-8A flew over China’s claimed high tide features or its 12 nautical mile -(nm) territorial sea, that clearly violated China’s sovereignty.
Probably, China considers the deployment of sonobouys as abuse of rights under the UNCLOS because “maritime scientific research” in its EEZ requires its consent.
The ugly thing about the incident is it seems Australia is the one carving our foreign policy while PBBM is doing his best to cement relations initiated by his late father.
As one would put it, the people behind the deal with Australia are the remnants of the old scouts out to defend the remaining bastion of US imperialism and Australia’s new neo-hegemonistic role in the Pacific.
To avoid being entrapped into violating the Constitution, it was President Duterte who assigned the job of letting his defense secretary sign an agreement which in law is “ultra vires” act, meaning that his subaltern has no authority or right to sign such agreement.
In the meantime, as people wonder about the viability of that unconstitutional agreement, many of them are made to believe that everything is alright – that both the US and Australia can continue to operate their bases in this country with absolute impunity.