Too gung-ho for our own good
TO THE QUICK - Jerry S. Tundag (The Freeman) - June 26, 2019 - 12:00am

For a country that is far inferior militarily and economically to many of its neighbors, the Philippines, or at least some of its citizens, appear too dangerously enthusiastic to go to war, for causes that, while undoubtedly unsettling, are not exactly the type you go to war over.

The South China Sea incident involving boats from China and the Philippines is just another example of an event that while without doubt infuriating does not exactly justify going to war, especially if it is a war we can only lose and lose badly. Let us not allow emotions and politics to hijack our grasp of what is right.

Let us review the facts. The incident happened in Recto Bank, not Manila Bay. Recto Bank may be part of our Exclusive Economic Zone but is not part of our territory, hence the careful use of the applicable terms "sovereign rights" as opposed to "sovereignty."

In the absence of any formal probe, let us assume the worst --that our fishing boat was deliberately rammed and damaged by a Chinese vessel operated, let us assume further, by that country's maritime militia. Then the Chinese vessel fled, leaving 22 Filipino fishermen in the water, in danger for their lives, and in violation of all known maritime regulations. So?

I know it was an infuriating incident. You probably would not be a Filipino if you were not angered by such an "attack." But go to war? Or do something that can trigger armed confrontation? How quickly these warmongers have forgotten that we actually had our chance to go to war with China in roughly the same area but our "new warship" hightailed it away from the Chinese.

Remember Flor Contemplacion? In 1995, this Filipino domestic worker was executed in Singapore in connection with what that country's laws determined to be murder. Some Filipinos at the time also wanted to go to war. Without meaning any disrespect for her memory, I do not think her case was something we can go to war over.

The same with the 22 Recto Bank fishermen, all of whom survived and whose recall of the incident has been further enriched by a visit from the Philippine vice president who just could not pass up on the opportunity to politicize the event but whose visit was so irrelevant that beyond the courtesy photos, no other details of substance was mentioned in the news.

By the way, there too was that bus hostage crisis at the Luneta in August 2010 in which eight Hong Kong tourists perished in a botched Philippine National Police rescue operation. The fiasco triggered outrage in Hong Kong and China. But China did not go to war against us despite the loss of several lives of its citizens, and even if it could have crushed us in a matter of days.

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