By Ellen Tordesillas
President Aquino committed a major blunder when he disclosed to Reuters his plan to ask the United States to deploy spy planes over the Spratlys in South China Sea to help monitor the area which is being claimed by the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Reuters' quote of Aquino was "We might be requesting overflights on that."
The report said Aquino was referring to U.S. P3C Orion spy planes. "We don't have aircraft with those capabilities," Reuters further quoted Aquino.
The blunder was shocking enough. Imagine the chief executive of the land announcing a major national security plan that would cede Philippine sovereignty to the United States!
But the tragedy is that Aquino does not know that he committed a blunder.
In an ambush interview yesterday, he put the blame on the reporter even as he stood firm on his plan. He was asked if there has been a request for the spy planes that he mentioned in the Reuters interview.
His reply: " Alam mo nagkamali 'yung nag-interview sa akin 'nung isang araw. Pumasok siya, naniniwala siya may request na tayong ganoon e, ano. So hindi ko maintindihan, if you will go through the transcript of the interview, sabi ko: 'We might.' 'Yung doon e bigla na lang nagkaroon na ng request or nagkaroon na ng overflights which wasn't what I stated. So, i-correct lang natin, 'yung America is a treaty ally. Meron tayong kakulangan, meron silang kapasidad. Kung saka-sakaling kukulangin 'yung ating kapasidad, palagay ko pwede naman tayong lumapit sa kanila para madagdagan 'yung tinatawag na situational awareness natin lalo na dito sa West Philippine Sea."
(The one who interviewed me the other day made a mistake. When he came in, he believed that we have already made a request. I didn't understand. If you go through the transcript of the interview, I said: 'We might.' Then it came out that we made a request or there were overflights which wasn't what I stated. So let's correct that. America is our treaty ally. We are inadequate. They have the capacity. In case we are inadequate, I suppose we can approach them to beef up what we call situational awareness in the West Philippine Sea .)
There was a follow up question to confirm that no request has been made.
Aquino's answer: "Nandyan 'yung ating mga ships e at saka ating planes. (Our ships and planes are there.) 'Yung ating…both the Coast Guard and Navy islander have been performing the surveillance using our planes and our cameras."
Earlier, in response to China's advice for the Philippine not to issue provocative statements in reaction to Aquino's Reuters interview, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang clarified ""The President said that that was one of the options."
It's dismaying and alarming that Aquino and his men don't realize the implications of his announced strategy against China.
It doesn't matter whether a request has been made or not. What is worrisome is that the President is planning to give up Philippine sovereignty.
In the first place, does he understand what "sovereignty" is?
Maybe it would help to remind him this number one item in the Declaration of Principles and State Policies of the Constitution: "The Philippines is a democratic and republican state. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them."
Sovereignty is one of the four elements of state. The other three are people, territory, and government.
Sovereignty is the supreme power of a State to command and enforce obedience.
You may have a territory,people, and government but if you don't have sovereignty and cannot enforce obedience within your territory, you are not a State.
The dispute with China over Scarborough Shoal and the Spratlys islands is an issue of sovereignty. Aquino's solution of asking the United States to do the monitoring through their spy planes over those disputed islands is tantamount to ceding sovereignty over to the United States. That's treason.
Just consider this: US spy planes that would be operating over South China ((if Aquino's request is granted) would be under the command of the United States Armed Forces. The US will never allow their military operations to be under another country's command. What would happen to Philippine sovereignty then?
A reporter who asked not to be named was able to interview a senior American diplomat and he shared with me his notes. He said the US diplomat told him, "There has been no request for overflights from the Philippines." Although the diplomat added,"The Philippines is our oldest and closest ally in Asia any request received is normally approved."
However, the US official said: "US forces do not lend out our aircraft nor comment where or when or why they fly when over international airspace."
I hope President Aquino knows and understand this US military and diplomatic policy.