Flexing the muscle, not wagging the tongue

TO THE QUICK - Jerrt Tundag - The Freeman

Unlike before when our top defense and armed forces officials were quick to telegraph our intentions, this time we did what we had to do without a word to anyone. And thus it came as a pleasant surprise to find out that the Philippine Navy has quietly beefed up patrols in the West Philippine Sea by the Philippine Coast Guard. Two gray ships plus three white ships. Bravo.

I also like it that the Philippines is intending to purchase even more surface warships, some of which may even be contracted out to any or all of the shipbuilding companies presently located in the western Cebu town of Balamban. While not exactly known to engage in defense contracts these companies are world-class and have built some of the biggest ships in the world.

No less than Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said it was part of the overall long-range military modernization and defense procurement plan of the government to acquire some of the future assets locally. And he specifically mentioned Balamban because of its reputation as a world-renowned shipbuilding hub in the Philippines.

I do not think it is wise, useful, and practical for the Philippines to acquire submarines, as suggested by some top military officials a couple of months ago. Submarines do not fit into any tactical operational routines that may require their deployment in the very shallow waters of the West Philippine Sea. Besides the area is already swimming with enemy ships from which there is nowhere to hide or take evasive action.

On the other hand there is nothing in the Philippines defense posture or security interest that would require it to send any submarines to far-away deployments we only have our own archipelago of 7,641 islands to protect. We are not like the United States which has bases in roughly half of all the countries in the world and political and security interests in almost every place on earth.

Let us stop toying with the useless idea of buying submarines. They can only lead to corruption from huge commissions that may derived from such transactions. At least with surface warfare ships their high value and usefulness may allow us to ignore what little movements maybe shuffling under some corner table.

There is also a plan by AFP Chief Romeo Brawner Jr. to buy even more missile batteries. We should line up the western coast of our country with many of these missile batteries for our immediate use and defense. Let us not rely on the EDCA sites as these military installations are primarily for US interests and defense purposes. Nothing will stir from them unless the US is threatened.

It is good that we have something ready that we can let fly immediately in case all our efforts at peaceful responses to Chinese provocations in the West Philippine Sea fail. Missile batteries by the dozens plus guided missile warships will at least give China something to think about. They of course will in no way destroy the Chinese Navy but they sure can inflict some damage not just to Chinese military hardware but more importantly to Chinese national pride.

Our military readiness and respectable defense capabilities might also drive the US to rethink its new-found proxy war policies and it may opt to be even more directly involved where the Philippines is concerned. We do not want to be another Ukraine, left with some of the biggest sticks to fight the enemy alone. The US will see that a better-armed Philippines may just become a little too adventurous.

We do not want war but I am tired of always having to pray for peace. I have long reserved my prayers for other things, family, friends, health, guidance, and help for those who truly need it. I only have one prayer left for China. Dear Lord we do not want war but if China does let's give them hell in God's name. Let your will be done. Amen.

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