First issue for presidential debate: China and US in Asia
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - November 1, 2015 - 9:00am

The leading presidential bets who are being recognized as legitimate candidates (not the nuisance type) must be prepared to tackle the very urgent and vital issue of national defense in relation to foreign affairs. This issue of how the next administration should lead our country in the light of the recurrent bullying incursions of China into our national marine territories, as well as its abuses against international waters that are covered by the 200-kilometer Philippine economic zone. The current provocative act of the US in deploying a warship in the area has all the makings of preemptive unilateral action that may exacerbate the tensions in Asia. When the elephants dance in mutual provocations, the tiny creatures like our nation are bound to become the victims of collateral damage.

Now, if there is going to be a presidential debate, each of the hopefuls must present to the whole nation a viable and technically feasible as well as politically sound and affordable master plan for the defense of our national territories. Now that the International Arbitration Tribunal in Hague, Netherlands, has ruled that it has jurisdiction over our territorial dispute with China, all presidential bets should show us their preparedness.  Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas must be able to convince us that he will not just continue the current administration's defense policies and its strategic plan vis-a-vis China's and America's posturing in Asia-Pacific. The truth of the matter is that PNoy does not appear to have a real honest-to-goodness master plan of that sort. He does not even have an ASEAN agenda.

So far, Mar Roxas has not presented any national defense blueprint or even policy statements, if he would invoke confidentiality or top secrecy about defense strategies. Much less does Grace Poe appear competent to tackle national defense or foreign affairs. Her statements are all motherhood slogans, theoretical generalizations. With all due respect, when it comes to the defense of our national territories, I don't think we can entrust our country to Grace Poe. She neither has the training, the exposure or even the inclination to consider national defense as a national top priority. It is very risky to make her the Commander-in-chief of all our armed forces.

This is not about gender. It is about the competence and character of Poe. I'm sorry, I cannot sleep soundly with her leading national defense. She has been trying her best in projecting an aura of toughness when she presided over the Senate hearings on the Mamasapano tragedy. But the defense of the whole nation is much, much more than parliamentary posturing. We need a strong hand like Rody Duterte who can lock horns with the Chinese and the Americans and tell them to their faces that they cannot make our national territories as the terrain for their warmonering and territorial exploits and pseudo-colonizations.

Perhaps Vice President Jojo Binay understands international law although he may not be able to hold a candle in front of experts like Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Both Binay and Lady Miriam are alumni of the prestigious UP Law School, where they do not only teach law. They claim to teach law in a grand and elegant manner. And Senator Miriam has more than ten doctorates in various fields of law and humanities. But we need something more than mastery of laws. We need presidential guts and respectability before the international community of nations.

I do not wish to prejudge the outcome of the presidential debates. But when it comes to the topic of national security in relation to foreign affairs, even before they open their mouths, I would rate Defensor-santago 95%, Binay 85% perhaps, Roxas 78%, and Poe 70%. That is if she decides to attend this time because she skipped the first one. If Rody Duterte who is a San Beda lawyer will join with my good friend Roy Villareal Seneres, I would rate Duterte 98% and Seneres 90%. He was an ambassador and a Labor Attache aside from being chairman of the NLRC and labor arbiter. When it comes to this field of national defense, I really cannot entrust the nation to Grace Poe.


  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with