Opinion

Time to stand up to the bully

Time to stand up to the bully

It’s high time the Philippines stood up to China’s bullying over our territory in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

China’s transgressions should no longer be tolerated.

We have come to the end of our patience.

President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte should put his counterpart, Xi Jinping, on notice that any more violations of our rights to our territory would endanger diplomatic and trade relations between our two countries.

As a former special envoy to China, I found the Chinese people amiable and peace-loving. They want our friendship and our fruits, seafood and other food products on their dinner tables.

I’ve had the good fortune of having broken bread with some Mainland Chinese officials and businessmen as a special envoy; always my lunches or dinners would end up with all of us soused up on Moutai, their national drink.

When our wooden-hulled fishing boat was rammed by a steel-hulled Chinese vessel at the Recto Bank three years ago, a Chinese billionaire replaced the destroyed fishing boat; he did so without asking permission from his government.

I was among those who facilitated the replacement of the sunken fishing boat.

But alas and alack, the Chinese government is very much different from its people!

The government under Xi Jinping seems to be arrogant in dealing with the Duterte government.

The Chinese government seems to think that our proffered hand of friendship towards them is a sign of weakness.

The Chinese government is like a school bully who will not stop until the object of his bullying fights back.

We should fight back with all our might and meager resources to stop China’s bullying tactics on our fishermen and coast guard units in our territory.

This is the time we’ll know whether our neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will come to our aid, when our confrontation with China graduates from a push to a shove.

This is also the time when Australia, France, Germany and Japan, which have expressed serious concerns over the latest Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea, will side with us during an armed confrontation with the giant country.

This is also the time when we’ll know whether the United States will help us fight off a giant bully.

Perhaps the reason China continues to violate our territorial integrity is our meekness, due in part to our puny armed forces.

Even if the countries mentioned above did not help us during our confrontation with China, the Chinese government would become a pariah of the world.

China, of course, would not want to become a persona non grata to the rest of the world.

Indonesia stood up to China over territory that both claimed, and China blinked.

China retreated for the reason I cited above; now, the two countries have become friends.

Let’s not blame Digong for China’s bullying on us.

The United States under President Barack Obama left us to fend for ourselves when we tried to enforce the arbitral ruling of the International Tribunal in our favor.

Mr. Duterte just inherited the China problem from Corazon C. Aquino and her son, B.S. Aquino.

Cory Aquino didn’t push hard enough for the retention of the US bases in the country after their lease contract expired.

Cory could have influenced the then Senate to extend the stay of the US military bases.

The world’s “democracy icon” was so influential with the legislative and judicial branches of government that her appeal to the Senate for an extended stay of the US military bases would have carried weight.

Noynoy Aquino, on the other hand, didn’t ask the US to help us deal with China over the West Philippine Sea issue.

The US government was just waiting for us to seek its help, but we didn’t.

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President Digong lambasts former senator and presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos as “weak” and a user of cocaine.

Digong could have ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to have surveillance done on the namesake of the ousted dictator, if his accusations were true.

But even the PNP didn’t know what to make of its commander-in-chief’s accusation. The PNP said it didn’t have any record of Bongbong using cocaine.

Why has the President made an about-face in dealing with Ferdinand Marcos Jr.?

Mr. Duterte said early on that if Marcos won his election protest against Leni Robredo, he would step down and give the presidency to Bongbong.

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This column on Nov. 11, 2021, accused Joel Pinawin, section chief of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, Port of Manila, of being hunted by authorities for a failed extortion attempt in his office.

I said that Pinawin was probably being coddled by some politicians as his assistant, Warren Reyes, was caught red-handed by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents for receiving bribe money.

In the interest of journalism fair play and objectivity, I am publishing Pinawin’s denial of involvement in the failed extortion attempt.

“At the outset, I didn’t know of the alleged extortion activity inside my office, truth be told,” Pinawin said.

“On Nov. 3, 2021… after briefing my staff about the activities of the day, I left around 3 p.m. to attend to an important official operation with other investigation agencies, i.e., Anti-Organized Crime-NBI allied with the Bureau of Customs,” Pinawin said.

He said he was not aware of any dealings that his subordinate, Warren Reyes, had with a certain Rosemarie Roldan, a representative of JN Riqueza, an importer.

JN Riqueza’s shipments had been cleared and delivered, so why should he negotiate with that company for any release of shipment, Pinawin said.

If Reyes made that illegal negotiation, that was his fault; it so happened that Reyes used his office, according to Pinawin.