China’s In­de­pen­dence Day gift

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

I t’s quite a co­in­ci­dence that while the coun­try cel­e­brated In­de­pen­dence Day, a Chi­nese ves­sel col­lided with a Filipino fish­ing boat and left the lat­ter sink­ing in the West Philip­pine Sea. What a rare gift to the whole coun­try on such a memorable hol­i­day. And while twenty-two Filipino fish­er­men were float­ing in the sea, the Depart­ment of Na­tional De­fense said that it would plan to con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion as to what re­ally hap­pened.

There is noth­ing sub­stan­tial to ex­pect from Mala­canang on this is­sue. I am sure that by the time of this article’s pub­li­ca­tion, most prob­a­bly, Pres­i­dent Duterte would have said some­thing with the best of his “bravado” im­age. But I am also sure that that’s all. I mean, af­ter all the friendly smiles and ges­tures in a num­ber of oc­ca­sions with China’s Xi, what are just a few fish­er­men com­pared to the loans that we need from this pow­er­ful neigh­bor. Pre­cisely the ad­min­is­tra­tion is even will­ing to give as a col­lat­eral the souls of all Filipinos, those in pur­ga­tory in­cluded, just so that this won­der­ful and ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship with China would not end.

Ob­vi­ously, the treat­ment we got and have been get­ting from China is not only luke­warm but also one-sided. It is an im­pos­si­ble dream to always be­lieve that this PH-PRC re­la­tions will be that ro­man­tic. An­a­lysts and IR ex­perts both le­git­i­mate and oth­er­wise can do all the political anal­y­sis they can. They may quote or in­voke all au­thor­i­ties in geopol­i­tics in or­der to ra­tio­nal­ize the how’s and why’s of the cur­rent state be­tween PH and China. At the end of the day it is the “real” and “ac­tual” treat­ment that we get from this “bully” that truly mat­ters.

Re­spect is a very basic hu­man need. Every­one needs re­spect. There is no need for one to have an ad­vanced de­gree in diplo­macy and for­eign re­la­tions in or­der to un­der­stand what re­spect means. Yes, Mala­canang and its high priests can again spin in­ter­pre­ta­tions and ex­pla­na­tions but the “truth” is out. What truth is that? I would not say: “China does not re­spect us.” I would rather say our gov­ern­ment is re­spon­si­ble for mak­ing this coun­try worth the dis­re­spect of the Chi­nese.

We don’t need to men­tion the loans and how we dumped an ar­bi­tra­tion rul­ing that was fa­vor­able to us. An ace in our cards was thrown all for the pur­pose of political pos­tur­ing against a pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion that it hated. While a stronger case and de­fense could have been built on top of the rul­ing, Duterte in­stead ex­per­i­mented on some­thing hol­low. He is try­ing to con­vince his fans and sup­port­ers that his im­age is “charis­matic enough” to deal with an ex­pe­ri­enced political tac­ti­cian like Xi.

At the ex­pense of the pres­i­dent’s moves are his peo­ple, poor, op­pressed and depressed. More than ever be­fore, this coun­try has never been that de­mor­al­ized in the global com­mu­nity. We are mak­ing our­selves like dis­pos­able toi­let papers, and the sad truth is we are that will­ing and glad to make our­selves door­mats all in the name of friend­ship with a schem­ing neigh­bor.

I am sure that in a few days’ time, the ex­pe­ri­ence of the twenty-two fish­er­men will be used in or­der to all the more boost another ro­man­tic pro­pa­ganda: the need to re­vive ROTC. In­deed, this coun­try is full of won­der­ful and bril­liant gov­ern­ment think tanks. Re­ally, we can­not but mar­vel and praise such a won­drous gift from the Most High. He has given us not only a bunch of clowns and court jesters dis­guised as bu­reau­crats but also a pres­i­dent who can never com­mit an er­ror in all the things that he would say and de­cide be­cause he is more in­fal­li­ble than the Pope in Rome.

And when things go bad or even worse, Filipinos are as­sured that there is noth­ing to worry be­cause ev­ery­thing is just a joke.*

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