by Erick San Juan
THE New York Times Sunday magazine cover story (October 27) – “A Sea of Trouble,” with the second heading “A Game of Shark and Minnow,” is actually an eye-opener for all of us especially to our leaders. Why is this so?
The New York Times story cited the following: In a remote corner of the South China Sea, 105 nautical miles from the Philippines, lies a submerged reef the Filipinos call Ayungin Shoal.
In most ways it resembles the hundreds of other reefs, islands, rock clusters and cays that collectively are called the Spratly Islands. But Ayungin is different. In the reef’s shallows there sits a forsaken ship, manned by eight Filipino troops whose job is to keep China in check.Yes what we have in the contested area is an eight-manned ship, a dilapidated one, actually “a World War II-era ship called the Sierra Madre, which the Philippine government ran aground on the reef in 1999 and has since maintained as a kind of post-apocalyptic military garrison.
The small detachment of Filipino troops stationed there are struggling to survive extreme mental and physical desolation. And this same decaying ship could be the next battleground between China and our country, whether we like it or not. “The Sierra Madre at one time was the U.S.S. Harnett County, built as a tank-landing ship for World War II and then repurposed as a floating helicopter and speedboat hub in the rivers of Vietnam. In 1970, the U.S. gave the ship to theSouth Vietnamese, and in 1976. It was passed on to the Philippines. But nobody had ever taken the time to strip all of the communications gear or even old U.S. logbooks and a fleet guide from 1970.” (Ibid)Recently, the Filipino troops manning the Sierra Madre were given a power point presentation of the real situation in the contested area particularly in Ayungin. Just imagine the magnitude of the role these men have in the whole region that will have a great impact in the confluence of events particularly in geopolitics.
Unfortunately, China through “Maj. Gen. Zhang Zhaozhong, of China’s People’s Liberation Army, said in a television interview in May, using the Chinese term for Scarborough. (That there are three different names for the same set of uninhabitable rocks tells you much of what you need to know about the region.) He described a “cabbage strategy,” which entails surrounding a contested area with so many boats —fishermen, fishing administration ships, marine surveillance ships, navy warships — that “the island is thus wrapped layer by layer like a cabbage.”There can be no question that the cabbage strategy is in effect now at Ayungin and has been at least since May.
General Zhang, in his interview several months ago, listed Ren’ai Shoal (the Chinese name for Ayungin) in the P.L.A.’s “series of achievements” in the South China Sea. He had already put it in the win>> column, even though eight Filipino marines still live there. He also seemed to take some pleasure in the strategy. Of taking territory from the Philippines, he said: “We should do more such things in the future. For those small islands, only a few troopers are able to station on each of them, but there is no food or even drinking water there. If we carry out the cabbage strategy, you will not be able to send food and drinking water onto the islands. Without the supply for one or two weeks, the troopers stationed there will leave the islands on their own.
Once they have left, they will never be able to comeback.” (Ibid)The PLA’s cabbage operation in Ayungin is a clear sign how desperate they are to occupy the area, first in Ayungin and before we know it, the whole group of islands known as Spratlys. And the only thing we have there manning the “Dangerous Ground” (a reference made to Spratlys by navigators since the 18th century) is the Sierra Madre with our troops miserably hanging on to what was left of the vintage ship.I just could not imagine that in the midst of all of these huge funds misused by the chosen few, there in the middle of the sea, our Filipino troops trying to survive in order to protect our sovereignty.
Any sane person will ask after reading this cover story of the NYT magazine: Is the Philippines’ present administration numb on the plight of the eight Filipinos living (or slowly dying) there inside the Sierra Madre? And if not, why the hell are they are not doing anything?All the rhetoric and doublespeak about military modernization through the controversial Malampaya funds to address the South China Sea issue are all BS if such a simple thing as this will not be resolved to save what is left of our sovereignty.China’s cabbage op is already in place now and through this scheme, any miscalculated move will always be perceived as an act of provocation. A provocation that might lead to a regional conflict in the process. God forbid.
- The loneliest outpost in the Armed Forces (opinion.inquirer.net)
- Taiwan Expands Military Base in Contested Waters (theepochtimes.com)
- “Yolanda” kicks out Chinese from Ayungin Reef, Philippine Marines on grounded ship safe “Yolanda” kicks out Chinese from Ayungin Reef, Philippine Marines on grounded ship safe Read more posts and click here (h16613.com)
- A Game of Shark and Minnow (politicozara.wordpress.com)
- China’s aircraft carrier heading to South China Sea (stripes.com)
- Can Typhoon Recovery Help Resolve Conflict? (climateandsecurity.org)
- ‘Yolanda’ kicks out Chinese from Ayungin Reef, Philippine Marines on grounded ship safe (jcsmarinenews.wordpress.com)
- Philippines Armed Forces to build pier, harbor near Spratlys (stratrisks.com)
- A Game Of Shark And Minnow (nytimes.com)
- Editorial : Not So Perfect Alibi? (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
DIFFERENT speculations came out as to why US President Barack Obama did not attend the important summits together with his Asian tour particularly in the ASEAN nations. Some pundits believe that the so-called partial US government shutdown was not the real reason. And the situation became more suspicious when even US Secretary of State John Kerry also cancelled his visit to the Philippines ‘due to bad weather’ (kuno). The mere fact that this visit of President Obama and Sec. Kerry to the region, is very crucial to US pivot to Asia, particularly to its allies, one will wonder—did the sudden change of travel plans of both Obama and Kerry have something to do with China? Is the Chinese pressure so strong that such important plans had to be cancelled?
Just asking because both alibis seemed quite shallow.As what Manong Ernie Maceda said in his column in the Philippine Star last week– the cancellation of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Manila because of storm Santi shows the low priority that the Philippines has with US officials. Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was open. No flights were cancelled. The storm was coming in from Catanduanes, while the flight path from Brunei is through Mindanao.
Kerry’s visit was supposed to substitute for President Obama’s state visit. It should have gone through at all costs. Yes, at all costs, that is why the excuse he gave was not valid at all.We also have to consider the statement of President BS Aquino at the APEC about the Philippines-US Framework Agreement on Increased Rotational Presence. PNoy said the United States should be clear with the words they use concerning the said agreement.
“During negotiations, we always get entangled with all the semantics. Those words that are actually used to convey the thoughts.”He said that the words to be used in the agreement on increased rotational presence should “satisfy both parties needs and wants; and satisfy all or addresses all concerns and anxieties.”“Their language is geared to support the request for budget when they go to Congress,” the President pointed out. “Their language might be perfect in an American manner of speaking English but might be construed differently through a Filipino.” (Source: Aquino presses careful crafting of US rotational presence deal by Roy Mabasa mb.com 10.9.13)
If PNoy felt this urgency to discuss this executive agreement that entails another pact that will make the country beholden to a perceived master in the offing, it is very clear that our relationship with Uncle Sam is one way. So Manong Ernie is right, we are being given low priority by these US officials.
This is the sad reality I have been saying for so many times now, these so-called agreements and treaties we entered into with Uncle Sam are always for the benefit of their country than ours and in the process we are always shortchanged. When are we going to learn to assert our rights as a sovereign nation?
This is not a simple matter that we can just to ignore and let Washington craft the agreement to their own liking. This is about national security, and most of all, our sovereignty (what was left of it) is at stake here.
In the four rounds of talks that transpired regarding the access agreement, there are “gaps” in the “critical provisions” that need “more work,” according to Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, who heads the Philippine panel.
The military-to-military agreement is expected to boost the defense capability of the AFP amid growing territorial threats, increase the training of its troops, and improve disaster response.
Batino said they have narrowed down the framework agreement to 5 key provisions namely: scope, agreed installations/AFP Facilities, prepositioning of defense equipment, supplies, and materiel, ownership and security. (Source: Bases access: PH, US disagree on ‘critical provisions’ by Carmela Fonbuena, rappler.com)Now that the chance for our President and other government officials to tackle the crucial decisions covering the new access agreement was postponed (until who knows when), methinks that this pact is already a done deal on Washington’s side for their Congress to release the budget, and will left us (again) to just accept it with open legs, as usual. So, what else is new?And don’t forget (as Reuters reported last October 3), also on the cards is the development of Oyster Bay, which lies about 550 km (340 miles) southwest of Manila.”It will be a mini-Subic,” Commodore Joseph Rostum O. Peña, the commander of the Philippines’ western navy, said in the first public comments about converting Oyster Bay into a major naval base.
“A future port here would extend the reach of the navy’s two frigates, both former U.S. Coast Guard cutters, over the disputed Spratly Islands, in the southern part of the South China Sea.” he said in an interview from his office overlooking the mouth of the bay.
Oyster Bay is about 160 km (100 miles) from the Spratlys.
“In Manila, the leaders must move behind rhetorical blandishments about a new spirit of partnership and start to detail specific actions that will strengthen Philippine defense capabilities,” said Patrick Cronin, an Asia-Pacific security expert at the Center for a New American Security in Washington DC.
That includes building a permanent home for the Philippines’ two big warships. It also means finding strategic areas where the United States could rotate troops, ships and naval aircraft — all within easy reach of territory claimed by Beijing. Oyster Bay may be the best choice,” said Cronin.
After reading this, the access agreement is already a done deal, to hell with the other critical provisions that we wanted to further discuss with Washington.
Need we say more?
- The Philippines is Building a New Naval Base in South China Sea (thediplomat.com)
- Food security & food aid as alibi, GMO being massively pushed into Africa (ethiopiaobservatory.com)
- Philippines Set to Reopen Zamboanga Airport as Fighting Recedes – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Rappler Newscast | September 2, 2013 (rappler.com)
- Temporary structures by US troops may be allowed, says PH panel (globalnation.inquirer.net)
- Friends of Aurora kidnapping suspect claim he has alibi (kdvr.com)
- May I Have More Bread With That Baguette? (kneedeeplife.wordpress.com)
- Finding Coupons for Alibi Pizza in Troy (coupons.answers.com)
- Environmentalists warn of destruction with increase in US troop presence, military facilities (bulatlat.com)
- PH, US tackling ‘gaps’ in defense talks (globalnation.inquirer.net)
By Richard James Mendoza
IN the wake of the U.S. government shutdown comes an editorial straight from China’s state-owned media outlet Xinhua entitled: “U.S. fiscal failure warrants a de-Americanized world.” The editorial points out the increasing expansion of the U.S. as a “global empire by imposing a postwar world order” by citing the actions the U.S. government did after World War II such as “fueling recovery in Europe… and encouraging regime-change in nations that it deems hardly Washington-friendly.” The editorial was also critical of the hypocrisy of the U.S. government, mentioning its efforts to make it seem that they have the moral high ground, while pointing out the abuse of its status as the world’s superpower, such as “…torturing prisoners of war, slaying civilians in drone attacks, and spying on world leaders,” as well as “…shifting financial risks overseas, instigating regional tensions amid territorial disputes, and fighting unwarranted wars under the cover of outright lies.”
According to the editorial, the actions that were committed by the U.S. government had the international community reeling from the effects of a financial collapse due to the avarice of those in Wall Street, as well as agonizing many nations across the world, since their dollar assets are jeopardized due to the recent government shutdown after Washington failed to reach an agreement as to if they are going to raise the debt ceiling, as well as reaching for a solution for the federal budget.
The editorial gave several ideas as to what can be done to start the “de-Americanization” of the world. Among others, it suggested for countries to learn the basics of international law and respecting other countries’ sovereignty. The recent disputes between the Philippines, China, and other neighboring countries in the Southeast Asian region regarding the ownership of several islands and shoals on the South China Sea (or the West Philippine Sea), most notably the Spratly Islands, is a good example. While China has insisted that the U.S. government keep its hands off the issue, the Philippines, mostly through the inanity of DFA Secretary Alberto Del Rosario, is practically begging for the help of the U.S. in settling the dispute.
As a sovereign country, we shouldn’t allow the intervention of other countries that are outside the matter at hand, most especially the U.S., since they’re only going to serve their own national interest and not ours. Those who believe that the U.S., either through plain ignorance or sheer idolatry of the U.S., are the ones who will save us from the “bullying” China fail to see that the ultimate bully is the U.S. government, using us as mere pawns to advance their own interests at the expense of our country and the region as a whole.
The Xinhua editorial also calls for the recognition the United Nations as an authority for global issues, explaining that no country can wage any military action against one another without a U.N. mandate. As detailed in the book “Rogue State” by William Blum, the U.S. along with fellow rogue state Israel, has nullified and overridden hundreds of U.N. resolutions and mandates with its singular vote. As long as the U.S. veto exists, as well as the manipulatory influence of Israel, the votes of hundreds of countries are effectively deemed null and void. The U.S. has also staged wars, especially in the last decade, without a congressional hearing or a U.N. mandate. Thus, it can be deducted that the wars that they’ve waged then and now are illegal.
I’ll add to the suggestion that the United Nations should change its address to a place that is considerably neutral, given that because the U.N. receives it’s funding from the U.S. since it is located there, its decisions are most likely influenced by the U.S.. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has called this “…an example of a relationship the US established with developing countries in the form of subordination.”
Calling on the world to embrace “substantial reforms” in the financial system, such as better representation on major financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, “so that they could better reflect the transformations of the global economic and political landscape,” the editorial also suggested for an introduction of a new international reserve currency that shall replace the U.S. Dollar, that could put the international community permanently away from the “spillover of the intensifying domestic political turmoil in the United States.” In his article for the Asia Times, Pepe Escobar says that China isn’t really advocating for the abolition of the Bretton-Woods system – for now – but it’s for more deciding power, given that they have slightly more weight in the IMF than Italy. He also notes that the move from the U.S. currency is underway, in particular the BRICS coalition. “The US dollar is slowly but surely being replaced by a basket of currencies,” he says.
Towards the end, the editorial says that the purpose of these suggestions “…is not to completely toss the United States aside, which is also impossible,” but simply to have the U.S. play a more constructive role in global affairs. I beg to differ. Throughout its history, the role of the U.S. has been that of a deadly harbinger which brought nothing but destruction and misery to the countries that put its cursed touch into. Unless their system changes, we can’t expect the U.S. to play a “constructive role” even if these reforms took place. Only through the national democratic revolution and international solidarity can we break the vicious cycle of US imperialism. A multipolar world free from US hegemony is possible.
Richard James Mendoza is an Information Technology student at AMA University; the administrator of the Bagong Katipunan blog site; and, a member of the youth organization Anakbayan.
- China calls for ‘de-Americanized’ world (mobile.wnd.com)
- China calls for ‘de-Americanized world,’ says U.S. has dysfunctional government (oldthinkernews.com)
- NWO – China now calling for a “De-Americanized World” (endtimeheadlines.wordpress.com)
- Wall St. elites reason it’s time for a ‘de-Americanized world,’ China’s news agency says (foxnews.com)
- The birth of the ‘de-Americanized’ world (sott.net)
- China Calls for ‘De-Americanized’ World (drudge.com)
- Xinhua’s ‘de-Americanized world’ report worries the US (wantchinatimes.com)
- Wall St. elites reason its time for a de-Americanized world, China news agency says (usahitman.com)
- World should ‘de-Americanize’, says China (marketsanity.com)
- Ted Cruz’s Tea Party Pomposity Precedes Him to Australia (usnews.com)