The best out of a bad situation
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - June 24, 2019 - 12:00am

No sooner had Philippine foreign affairs secretary Teddy Boy Locsin announced that there would be no joint investigation of that incident in the South China Sea in which a Chinese vessel rammed a Filipino fishing boat when Malacañang Palace issued a statement saying President Duterte has accepted Beijing's offer for a joint probe.

The statement had two vital components, one underscoring the need to find out what really happened, the other to arrive at a satisfactory closure to the episode. The first part is, of course, a humongous piece of shit. We don't need an investigation, joint or otherwise, to know what happened. Everybody, the Philippines and China included, knows what transpired.

What the joint probe will do, however, is make official the Chinese version of the incident. Even big bad bullies sometimes need a graceful exit and would even gladly pay for it. And that is where the second part of the Palace statement --"arrive at a satisfactory closure"-- becomes relevant.

Make China pay for the incident, in whatever form, by whatever means. For this is our situation in the South China Sea. We are alone against a big bad bully. Against China's rough-housing and land-grabbing, we are left to making one of only two choices: Man up to China and risk a war that we can only lose and lose badly, or make the best of a very bad situation.

There is no point in romanticizing our relations with the United States, to the point of actually believing it is our knight in shining armor. It is not. Any treaties we have with the US have all been worked out to favor American interests. Yeah, the US ambassador had been very specific --our mutual defense treaty will kick in if we are attacked, he said. Oh yeah?

What he left unsaid was the part that moist-eyed Filipinos imagine would sound something like “America is willing to shed American blood for Philippine causes.” But that is not going to be. Come to our aid? Yes, of course, America will come to our aid. But only in pieces of equipment and other war materiel, some old and already decommissioned.

What America will not do is go to war over the Philippines, especially against China, which is by now its near match militarily and economically. And since wars have become increasingly all about economics, it makes no sense to go into a shooting war with what is perhaps your largest market, and perhaps your biggest creditor.

So, since America is just massaging our livers for old times' sake, it is time we wise up and see our situation for what it really is. And don't talk of patriotism if the barrel of a gun is already halfway up your ass. Give patriotism a more practical twist instead. Let China pay for what it grabs. Better that than still getting robbed and dying with nothing to show for it.

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