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Opinion

Manchurian Candidates imperil Phl sea patrols

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

Air and sea patrols secure the vast Philippine waters. Filipino fishermen, merchants and surveyors need their protection.

China aggresses such deterrents. In February 2020, a Chinese warship aimed its gun control director at a Philippine Navy patrol near Malampaya gas field, 36 miles from Palawan. A control director readies all weapons to fire instantly at a pinpointed target. The Filipino sailors were unfazed.

Manchurian Candidates in Election 2022 scorn the patrols. Parroting Communist China, the collaborators propagandize that any Filipino defense buildup incites war. Supposedly, the jets and fastcraft will be crushed within days of battle, so why waste money. If elected they will deprive Filipino flyboys and sailors of equipment and supplies. China can then complete its occupation of the West Philippine Sea.

Beijing mocks Manila’s diplomatic calls to leave the WPS. Two hundred-forty Chinese militia trawlers at first swarmed Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef in March-May, then spread out to the Kalayaan Isles and Recto Bank. Reinforced by a hundred more, they each poached 12,000 kilos of fish a day till August. Foreign Secretary Teddy Locsin fired off 153 protests, nearly one a day. Satellite images show 30 trawlers till today at Del Pilar (Iroquois) Reef, 150 miles off Palawan. All are within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

Chinese Navy and Coast Guard gunboats escort the fish thieves. President Rodrigo Duterte’s actions embolden them. He set aside the 2016 Hague ruling against China’s trespass in Philippine EEZ. He verbally agreed with President Xi Jinping for Chinese to fish there, no limits on area, duration and tonnage. He withdrew the Philippine military from joint patrols and drills with allies.

The People’s Liberation Army-Navy reports directly to the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Military Commission. So do the China Coast Guard and the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia. As CCP general-secretary, Xi Jinping heads the CMC.

China’s more than 500 “civilian” Coast Guard ships are equipped with cannons. Fifty have missiles. Two are extra-large, at 12,000-ton displacement, dwarfing the 8,000-ton destroyers of Asian navies. Filipinos are shooed away from traditional fishing grounds with machine guns.

The 6,000 militia trawlers are 60-meters long, the size of two basketball courts. The CCP equips them with light arms, communications and spyware. Steel hulls are reinforced for ramming. At Recto Bank in 2019, one such steel trawler rammed an anchored wooden fishing boat, then abandoned the 26 Filipinos thrown overboard.

The largest Philippine Coast Guard and fisheries craft are 40 meters long. The PNP-Maritime Command assists with rubber boats. Chinese trespassers have the temerity to radio them to leave Philippine waters.

Still, Filipino patrols go on, assures Vice Admiral Ramil Roberto Enriquez, AFP Western Command chief. He does not expect Chinese warships to stop radio challenges and other harassments to justify their intrusion. “What we’ll do is continue reporting and continue telling the world that we do not recognize their authority over the area,” he says. “We will not stop.”

Philippine patrols are outgunned. Manchurian Candidates will disarm them further. The traitors’ loyalty is to the CCP, not to Filipino servicemen.

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How do the presidential candidates stand on China?

Panfilo Lacson has warned about 3,000 Chinese army spies on “immersion mission” in Filipino communities and organizations. He wants alignment with world powers that are against China’s aggression.

Bongbong Marcos declared: “There are those who say that we should buy patrol boats and jets just in case we get to fight. Why would we think we will fight? That war will be over in less than a week. We’re defeated already.” He was special guest at a Chinese embassy event last week. In a 2018 Facebook post, he hails the CCP delegation that he and his mother hosted for lunch at their home.

Isko Moreno favors joint oil and gas development with China – under Philippine service contracts; that is, within Philippine laws. “What matters most to me is that the existing resources be utilized as soon as possible,” he said the other week. “Kung may langis, e di mapapamura ko ang kuryente ng mga tao.”

Manny Pacquiao finds wanting Duterte’s China policy. He says the President should toughen up like in the 2016 election campaign to gain Beijing’s respect.

Vice President Leni Robredo is open to cooperation with China on trade and investment. On the WPS, she says, “We cannot deal with them without their recognition of the arbitral ruling.”

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Correction: In Gotcha Oct. 22, 2021 (“Sleazy procurements follow a pattern”), I misstated that Pharmally Inc. “cornered P42 billion” in government procurements of pandemic supplies. From Senate investigations, the newborn shop, with presidential Chinese friend Michael Yang as financier-guarantor, bagged P12 billion in ten months. That P12 billion is 19,200 times its paid-up capital of P625,000. Apologies for any confusion.

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