Gazmin makes the Philippines look pathetic

Commentary

By Ellen Tordesillas

Never have I felt so kawawa reading the statements of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin justifying his plan to allow American and Japanese military access to military facilities in the Philippines to deter China’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea .

Newspaper reports quoted Gazmin as saying: “We cannot stand alone. We need allies. If we do not (seek allies), we will be bullied by bigger forces and that is what is happening now. China is already there, staying in our territory.”

Gazmin must be referring to the situation in Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal or Panatag, off Zambales which is no longer accessible to Filipino fishermen since April 2012 and Mischief Reef in the Spratlys , which was China occupied in 1995.

It is feared that China would take over Ayungin Shoal, some 25 miles away from Mischief Reef.

Gazmin further said: “What will we do? We cannot attack. We are just going after them in court. But in spite of that, they are still there. They do not want to leave.So what will we do? Should we just wait until they are at our very doorstep? They are already in our garage, right?”

This is not just any wimp of a bureaucrat talking. He is the SECRETARY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE!

Gazmin heads the department responsible for guarding against external and internal threats to peace and security in the country.

Is it any surprise that China’s People’s Daily responded with a rebuke:"The Philippines, knowing that it's weak, believes that 'a crying child will have milk to drink'.”

China’s rebuke hurts, of course. But what cuts deeper is Gazmin’s pathetic stance. His solution is even something to be concerned of because constitutional and sovereignty questions.

Also, how sure is Gazmin that the Americans will come to the rescue of the Philippines in case of hostilities against China in the South China Sea.

The Americans have always issued strong statements against China’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea and their new policy of re-balancing would move 60 per cent of their Navy’s fleet to the Pacific by 2020 but it is doubtful if it would want to be actively involved in a war against China in defense of the Philippines.

In fact, early this month in Bangkok, Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of the US Pacific Command, after saying the usual line that the US will not allow any change of the status quo by force, advised parties in the South China Sea conflict to compromise. He said the US would not take sides and stressed the importance of a code of conduct that would govern activities in the South China Sea.

Those who have the illusion that the US will come to the rescue of the Philippines against China cling to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty which states that “Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.”

““…in accordance with its constitutional processes” means even if President Obama wants to send troops to help the Philippines, he would need approval from US Congress. That would involve debates which could last months. While they are debating whether they would risk American lives to help the Philippines,the Chinese must have sunk whatever is left of the Philippine Navy ships.

Also, as we ask US and Japan to help us against China, we are also asking China a favor to save a convicted Filipina drug courier from the death sentence. China snubbed the request. They said they have no time to receive Vice President Jejomar Binay, who was supposed to personally convey the President’s appeal.

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