Chinese army immersion a serious historical threat

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - March 11, 2020 - 12:00am

Throughout history countless battles have been lost by miscalculation. The military cannot afford to belittle reports of up to 3,000 Chinese soldiers on immersion mission in the Philippines.

The source of the info is no mean layman. Sen. Panfilo Lacson had graduated from the elite Philippine Military Academy and officered the Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group. He headed the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force and the Philippine National Police. As chairman of the Senate committees on national defense and security, and on public order and illegal drugs he is privy to intelligence gatherings by varied credible groups. Intelligence savvy shows in his legislative work. As example, by deep sleuthing in 2010 he pieced together the PNP chopper scam, for which a dozen generals and colonels were dismissed and indicted, along with a presidential spouse. In the past two years he unearthed multibillion-peso pork barrels embedded by two Speakers in the government budget bills, leading to itemized presidential vetoes. Lacson’s staff is adept at vetting raw into usable data.

An unidentified high military officer tried to downplay Lacson’s disclosure. In so doing he only affirmed its seriousness. “More likely there are only 300 People’s Liberation Army operatives in the country,” the officer said. “The 3,000 is an exaggeration. I do not know who Lacson’s source is. But a country that undertakes foreign intelligence operation will not deploy that many, because easily detectable. If China wants to obtain information from another country, it can always employ cyber-espionage, which has less risk of exposure than deploying an army of agents. China has the Ministry of State Security in charge of foreign intelligence, though some operatives come from the PLA.”

Three hundred, he says. That’s still too many soldier-spies from an aggressor neighbor. They are highly trained men of the 2.25-million strong PLA, an adjunct of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party. Why, Lenin had sought only “a handful of 50 professional revolutionaries to turn the whole of Russia upside down.”

Who and where are those 300, if not 3,000, PLAs? What illegalities are they up to? Which military or civilian facility, public utility, dam, power plant, transmission station, seaport, airport, telecom tower, radio-TV transmitter, or hospital are they assigned to sabotage? China covets Philippine marine and mineral resources. It has aggressed Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea; poached fish and corals; occupied Scarborough Shoal; concreted seven reefs into island fortresses; leveled mountains in Zambales, Samar, and Agusan for nickel; and even explored Benham Rise on the Pacific side. Those are grave threats to national security.

Military immersion in World War II was the surreptitious fielding of soldiers to a target country’s civilian communities prior to invasion. The Japanese Imperial Army dispatched to the Philippines hundreds of Kempeitai undercover policemen, disguised as merchants and workers, to gather various data. They surfaced during the Occupation as tormentors of Filipino resistance fighters and patriots.

It is different from today’s student immersion in which university youths worldwide are sent to communities or factories to expose them to different lifestyles or familiarize them with the workplace. Speaking of which, the Army hotly is monitoring Manila university students recruited by the communist New People’s Army for “countryside immersion.” If it’s so concerned that those students might become cadres of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought, then all the more it should track down trained spies of the original MLMTT Party in China.

Three thousand or 300 is alarming though not surprising. The Chinese military is used to operating in big numbers. In the Korean War, Beijing ordered wave upon wave of Red Army troops to attack enemy forces. In 2018-2019 it swarmed Pag-Asa Island in Palawan with up to 625 fisheries militia launches to prevent Filipino sailors and fishermen from setting foot on newly emergent Sandy Cay two kilometers away.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

Gotcha archives: www.philstar.com/columns/134276/gotcha

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