China’s Independence Day gift
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.*