Treason, anyone?
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - September 3, 2020 - 12:00am

The coronavirus has kept me at home since the imposition of quarantine in March. It has been more than five months that, except in two occasions when I stepped out of our gate briefly, I have been in a house arrest. Among the chores that have kept me sane has been to pore over some of my old books.

One such volume is a treatise by Sen Vicente Francisco on criminal law. In Part I, Book Two of his 1958 edition of the Revised Penal Code, Francisco dissected the law on treason. While the code took effect on January 1, 1932, the provision found in Article 114 has remained substantially the same until the present. Francisco says that the crime of treason consists of two elements: (1) adherence to the enemy and (2) rendering him aid and comfort.

The treason of adherence, according to Francisco, consists in breaking allegiance to one’s own country by forming an attachment to his enemy. There is adherence to the enemy when a citizen intellectually or emotionally favors the enemy and harbors sympathies or convictions disloyal to his country’s policy or interest.

What I feared most from reading the work of the eminent senator was a citation he made. Francisco says that “it is not necessary that there be any formal declaration of the existence of a state of war xxx to justify the conclusion that those engaged in such an attempt are levying war and therefore guilty of treason”. My fear stems from an aggressive act of the People’s Republic of China. I believe that the Chinese invaded some islands in the West Philippine Sea which an International Arbitral Tribunal declared to be within our territory. Our super-power of a neighbor landed its military forces and seized a portion of our domain. We know now that military facilities have been recently built by the Chinese in these islands. I do not relish being suspected as an alarmist but really to me, the invasion and occupancy by PROC of these Philippine islets are deemed acts of war such that, theoretically speaking, China is an enemy without our having declared the existence of the state war.

The Red army that seized a portion of our national territory at the West Philippine Sea is, without doubt, insuperable. Navy vessels flying the China’s red flag are too modern and numerous compared to our largely antiquated ships. The airfield built by China on Philippine-owned territory serves as base of Chinese jet fighters ready to combat practically absent Philippine Air Force. We can never drive these chink-eyed invaders from our domain. President Duterte said this time and again. Sadly, our president has lost his swagger. He is not the same person who, during the 2016 national elections, promised to ride a jet ski to the Spratley group of Islands to drive away the Chinese there. His current pronouncements are not words of a wronged national leader. Instead of treating China as enemy of our state for having forcibly annexed our land, he has, by gesticulating his friendship to it rendered it aid and comfort. After having read the book of Senator Francisco, I am confronted by a disquieting if not fearsome question. If the senator still walked amongst us, would he view the actuation of our leaders, particularly our president, in tolerating the seizure and occupancy by China of portions of Philippine territory an act of treason?

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