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Editorial

Fighting speech


President Benigno Aquino III’s Independence Day speech on Wednesday was unusual for two significant reasons: He read it in Liwasang Bonifacio, in honor of the revolutionary supremo Andres Bonifacio, and he based his current reading of the meaning of independence on the prospect of external security risks. In other words, on China’s escalating aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

The President adopted a measured tone (which is why it is incumbent on us to quote him in the original Filipino), but it would also be fair to say that his remarks helped more Filipinos realize the true stakes involved in the country’s maritime territorial disputes with (mainly) Beijing.

The choice of a Bonifacio monument as site of Independence Day rites, and then as backdrop for an important speech, was carefully calibrated. The nation will mark the 150th birth anniversary of the founder of the Katipunan in November; the President only did right in honoring Bonifacio’s undisputed but underappreciated role as a founding father in the fight for freedom. (He also chose the Liwasan instead of the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite, the actual site of the independence proclamation.)

At the same time, he repeatedly and rightly invoked Bonifacio’s spirit of self-sacrifice, as a reminder of freedom’s true cost.

“Maliwanag po ang pahiwatig ng kanyang tindig: Karangalan ang magtaya ng buhay para sa bayan; taas-noo nating maipagmamalaki ang mga naiambag natin para sa kalayaan (The meaning of his stance is clear: It is an honor to stake our lives for the country’s sake; we can then proudly boast of what we have contributed for freedom).” Mr. Aquino spoke of the living lesson we must learn again and yet again from heroes like Bonifacio: that no one else can defend our rights, or fight for our future, or push for true freedom, except ourselves.

The true context of the President’s speech, however, was something very much in the news: the worrying aggressiveness of recent Chinese conduct. He did not need to mention the obvious to make his point. “Naninindigan tayo para sa ating mga karapatan bilang bansang may sariling soberanya, bilang bayang nagbuwis na ng buhay para sa kalayaan, bilang Pilipinas na may sariling bandila na kapantay ng lahat. (We are standing up for our rights as a sovereign country, as a country that has sacrificed for freedom, as a Philippines with a flag that is equal to all).”

In what context can his assertion of our rights as a sovereign country be understood, except as a reference to the continuing dispute with China? This marks the first time in many decades that the Philippines sees an active external security threat—not war, but the prospect of an increase in the number of hostile encounters, over conflicting territorial claims.

The President tried to strike a balance. “Wala sa lahi natin ang pagiging agresibo, pero hindi rin tayo titiklop sa anumang hamon. At habang naninindigan tayo para sa ating mga karapatan, at nakikipagugnayan sa lahat nang panig upang maghari ang hinahon at pagkakaunawaan, kailangan din nating iangat ang kakayahan ng ating Sandatahang Lakas (Aggression is not a trait of our race, but at the same time we will not fold before any challenge. And while we stand up for our rights, and deal with all sides so that calm and understanding will triumph, we also need to raise the capacity of our Armed Forces).”

This belated modernization of the Philippine military will be denounced in Beijing as unnecessarily destabilizing, but in fact it is China which is engaged in a massive capacity-building program for the People’s Liberation Army.

Given the stakes, and the limits of our resources, the true support for the Aquino administration’s three-track approach to the territorial disputes with China (political, diplomatic and legal) cannot lie in a better-equipped military. It must rest, instead, on unity of purpose. The President referenced Bonifacio’s monument to ask a question he has kept asking of Filipino citizens, but in a different vein: “Tila mapanghamon din ang titig ni Bonifacio. Tila ang sinasabi: Ikaw, Pilipino, ano na ang nagawa mo para sa bandila at kapwa mo?”

The difference is in the notion of fighting for freedom. “Bonifacio’s look seems to challenge us. It seems to say: You, Filipino, what have you done for flag and fellow citizen?”


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Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=54491

Tags: 115th Philippine Independence Day , Benigno Aquino III , Independence Day , independence day rites , liwasang bonifacio , People’s Liberation Army , West Philippine Sea

  • watsupdoc

    All blah blah blah but nothing is done about the incursion by China at Spratly’s. Maybe P-noy might as well give sling shot weapons for our Marines and Navy. If he cannot match action with his fighting words might as well shut up. Kiram matched his. He gave up lives of his men but never gave up his conviction to get back what he believes is his. Ironically he is being stifled in his efforts by our own President.

    • Handiong

      What do you propose to do? Start a war with China?

  • baldong

    small kiram versus big malaysia was not afraid even it cost the lives of his men, so why not make action on panatag shoal, if United Nation will not act then we will act, wipe this insects Hard in our territory and fast and put back our navies on guard, if they fight back make noise around the world.. that is ours and very close to luzon, kung punong kahoy pa yan branches yan ng Luzon.

  • JustWords811

    ganda nitong speech. if only we have the teeth , and the backbone. but judging from the reactions fielded majority hanggan crabs na lang.

  • doctor_mengele

    There are dark clouds in the horizon and there is a storm
    brewing.

    I fear, hopefully wrong though, that our sovereignty and the lives
    of our soldiers will be in jeopardy before this year, or two, ends.

    Assuming the new ships are paid tomorrow, being brand new, they
    will take at least two to four years to deliver. To be of any credible
    deterrent, they have to be armed with SAM’s, CIWS’s, Anti Ship Missiles, and
    Anti Submarine Weapons Countermeasures, both passive and active. Training men
    and women for this technology will take at least three to four years. Improper
    training could mean errors in operating the system, or even worst, start a war
    due a mistake. Not easy to have your trigger on the button. It takes more discipline than you think.

    If tomorrow, the US would give us, one or two full squadrons of F/A-18 Hornets,
    24- 48 aircraft, it would take at least 2 years to train the pilots, weapons
    officers, ground crews and maintenance personnel to learn everything about the
    aircraft.

    This would cost hundreds of millions in fuel, flying hours,
    man-hours in operational cost.

    To efficiently monitor our coastlines from submarines and
    poachers, we would need land-based radar, over the horizon radar, over a dozen
    coastal patrol planes, air defense radars to guide our Jet fighters and
    adequate patrol ships. What is the use of detection if there is no
    interdiction? This means thousands of
    man-hours of training and refreshers, establishing protocol for various scenarios.
    Note that we have the 5th longest coastline in the world.

    Lastly, you will need to set up a Command and Information Center.
    You will need a central body to process all the information so that the people
    in charge can make the proper decision. Setting up such a structure, takes
    years of training and is constantly perfected through time

    I would love to have our men and women in the armed forces
    doings these tasks, defending our homeland. I would want them to be paid well
    and to be proud of what they do. This beats moonlighting as a bodyguard for
    some corrupt politician, trigger-happy gambling lord or sidelining as an FX
    operator, just to make ends meet.

    But as of today, we are not able to defend our selves. We are
    brave and we have courage. But our weapons will not be able to defend our
    homeland though our blood will show our valor. As Patton said, “No one ever won
    a war by dying for his country, you let the other dumb b—tard die for his
    country”.

    What I am saying is, If absolute control of the South China Sea is what China seeks, I am afraid to say that now is the best time to attack our installations in the
    Spratleys and the Scarborough Shoal. We have the law on our side, but
    unfortunately, no means of dispensing Justice as far as the United Nation Law
    of the Sea is concerned. If China takes those islands now, the cost to them
    would be minimal. The whole world will condemn them, but what can the world do?
    Amongst all the claimants, the Philippines is the weakest, militarily speaking.
    China will not dare cross Taiwan and Vietnam.

    The only way for all this to stop is for the US to side with us.
    The worst thing the Pentagon fears today, is for the West Philippine Sea to be
    controlled by China. Any carrier battle group will have to deal with threats from
    Hainan Island on one side and Chinese forces from the Spratleys on the other.
    This is like shooting fish in a barrel.

    Japan would also have much to fear. There is no love lost
    between China and Japan, the last thing Japan would want is a China having a
    choke hold on the alley way with brings much of the raw materials and oil to
    the resource scare Land of the Rising Sun.

    But the US has to consider the economic repercussions of making
    such a stand against Chinese aggression. If the Chinese make their move now,
    the US’s military “pivot” to Asia would be moot and useless. Even if
    we gave them back Subic Bay and Clark (which is next to impossible), the
    presence of the Chinese in those contested islands they are trying to wrestle
    away from us, will be like a gun pointed at any prepositioned military forces
    based in the Philippines.

    We are splintered politically. Maybe, this problem would make
    our people one. We have the money to spend to defend our selves and stop being
    bullied, as long as we stop the corruption, pay our taxes and begin to love our
    country and stop stealing from it. We will have to stand together to be able
    to weather this challenge. We have to honor or soldiers and people in
    government trying to get us through these trying times. We have to jail those
    who have stolen from the people, murdered our people and persecuted our people
    so that this will not happen again.

    Does it not body all of us, when there are a few, unfortunately, powerful people here in the Philippines, who are working against their own country, literally, selling it, over the sake of personal gain of their family, extended families and friends? The are greedy, selling our country like a pimp pushing their prostitutes. I pity my country.

    Notice that there is a politician, very well known for his/her presidential ambition, not taking a stand against China getting into our territory. This politician, is now being prepped and supported by GMA’s cronies and allies, meeting with them in some offices in Makati. He is GMA’s bet for pardon/amnesty and he is GMA’s hope to finally fulfill her commitments to China to exploit our natural resources in the West Philippine Sea. Remember, during GMA’s time, China was constructing the world’s largest offshore oil-platform, betting on a non-Pnoy presidency. Since Pnoy has been President, deployment of this oil platform has been put on hold. This politician will probably be China’s bet in 2016. He will free Arroyo and give China what it wants. This is still only on the oil.

    China is abundant in ALL minerals except Nickel. The Philippines is the world’s second largest producer of Nickel ore. A lot of the foreign partners investing in Nickel mines, here in the Philippines, are Chinese or Chinese government fronts. The Chinese provide lobby money and probably grease money to our so predictable politicians so they can have their ways. They provide funding for those pickets and rallys that you see at the US Embassy and Mendiola. How often do you see pickets by the “paid masa” at the Chinese Embassy? That is why certain governors are willing to kill for political control in the provinces rich in nickel ore.

    Why does China need so much nickel? It would interest you to know that nickel based superalloys are a very, very critical component in the manufacture of 4th and 5th generation military aircraft engines, due to its high resistance to heat , , corrosion, excellent mechanical properties and resistance to oxidation.

    Thus, being the closest source to the Chinese mainland and by having a few critical buyable politicians and government workers, willing to sell their country and dignity, for money, are we not the obvious choice? China got spoiled with the Philippines during the time of GMA.

    Pray for our Soldiers. They have the most difficult duty as
    their blood will be the first to be spilled. Say prayers for them before your meals and
    before you go to sleep.

    To China, I say this…” Think twice before waging war on the Philippines. Do not under estimate the Filipino’s love of their country. Our people, together with the indomitable spirits of our heroes who perished in the mountains of Bataan and Corregidor, and all over the archipelago, will give you a battle you can never hope to win.”

    There are dark clouds in the horizon and there is a storm
    brewing……

  • AllinLawisFair

    Nasaan ang mga leftists na ginagawa ang lahat upang labanan ang sinasabi nilang imperyalismo ng mga Amerikano? Nasaan ang mga maiingay na tumutuligsa laban sa sinasabi nilang pananakop ng Amerika?

    Bakit hindi nila pinapansin ang tunay na panganib na nakaamba sa bayang Pilipino na diumano ay ipinagtatanggol nila laban sa nagbabantang pananakop mula sa kabilang ibayo ng dagat Pasipiko?

    Ang mga leftists na ito ba ang pangunang pangkat ng tunay na nagbantang pananakop ng kanilang mga kaüanalig ng Intsik?

    Mga Maoist rebels talaga kayo. Mga taksil at traidor sa bayang Pilipino.

    Masahol pa kayo sa mga Makapili noong panahon ng Hapon.

    • generalproblem

      si Fulpol ang nag iisang leftist dito tauhan ni joma

  • Fulpol

    the Vietnamese proudly declared: “we beat the Americans.. we invaded Cambodia.. we also beat the Chinese who took revenge for Cambodia”…

    what is the “unifying factor” that made Vietnamese successful in war?

    .. COMMUNISM…

    everyone must embrace communism.. to be united as one..

    Instead of just uttering rhetorical speech, BS Aquino-Makapili III should defined the unifying factor for Pilipinos.. China’s aggressiveness is not a perfect alibi to unite.. because it is empty.. just a “reactionary”, a typical behavior of a mob who lacked the intellectual motivation..

    a typical speech to gather a mob again… not healthy.. not good for long term..

    what happened to EDSA People Power? less fruitful for the ordinary people.. because it was reactionary devoid of philosophical and ideological foundation…

    • Gyrating Monkey

      So COMMUNISM is the path to success? – I wonder about the logic that led to that. First of all, the communism practiced now in both Vietnam and China are not the same ideology according to its original conception. Both countries have embraced the essence of capitalism while maintaining the dictatorial party leadership. If you want the real communists remaining in the world, look at NoKor and Cuba….but even now, Cuba is trying out capitalism, albeit in a more smaller, controlled capacity.

      No-it is not ideology that has to be the defining method. It is laying out a clear Filipino identity, love of country and most important of all, nationalism. Communism will never work for Filipinos.

      So now I know where your sympathies lie.

      • Fulpol

        your People Power democracy didn’t work.. your constitution didn’t serve you well, especially the poor and ordinary Pilipinos..

        Vietnam communism works well to them in repelling foreign forces..

        what will work with Philippines? the mob democracy devoid of philosophical and ideological foundation?

        nationalism?? communist Vietnam is so nationalist..

        love of country?? communist Vietnam is full of people who love their country, willing to die for it..

        and what about you Pilipinos?? mob?, mob?, mob?? no intellect.. just emotions..

      • Gyrating Monkey

        Communism claims that it strives for a utopian society devoid of hierarchical order according to acquired & accumulated wealth.

        That is the ideal.

        What is the actual condition? Elitism to it most banal forms. Take for example the case of North Korea. An extreme form of nationalism tainted or centered around a cult of personality which has eventually evolved into an accepted for of god like dynastic rule.

        Communisim cannot survive with the following in place:

        Freedom of speech
        Freedom of the press
        Freedom of movement

        Those three alone are detrimental to communism. Before we start arguing the pros and cons. Are you willing to loose those freedom?

        Surely you are a teenage/college kid in the LFS aspiring for a certain ideal. I once was enamored by the idea of communism in my youth. Specially with the struggle in the country. But I’ve seen their side. It’s not something to be idealistic about. You’re free to speak against what they are against but not free to speak of anything that goes against the grain unless of course you are a core member of the party itself. Elite.

    • generalproblem

      hehehe kahit kelan talaga fulpol ka buti na lang retired general na ako kung hindi problem mo pa din ako

      • Fulpol

        pulpol na naging general?? LOL.. no wonder..

  • Descarte5E

    Ang alam ko kung sakali man dumating ang oras na kailangan magbitbit ako ng armas para ipaglaban ang bayan ko ay gagawin ko dahil Pilipinas lang ang bayan ko. Wala akong sapat na kayamanan para manirahan sa ibang bansa at wala rin akong ari-arian sa ibang bansa kagaya ng iba na marahil sa pagdating ng kaguluhan ay agad na iiwan ang bansa para sa sariling kaligtasan. Hindi ko pinangarap na manirahan sa ibang bansa dahil sa puso at isip ay Pilipino ako. Kutyain at maliitin ang aking pagka-Pilipino, siguradong makakatikim sa akin.

    • RN-EMT.PH

      wow!! mabuhay ka, kabayan!!!

  • AlzheimersC

    Kailangan natin ng huge coastal naval guns in the vicinity of Zambales and Palawan capable of throwing cluster/proximity bombs/shells with a radius of 100 miles kesa missile technology na wala namang nagtuturo sa atin…mga 20 piraso lang na artillery pieces e pwede na pantira ng mga barkong pumapasok sa ating territoryo na walang pahintulot…or mga unsinkable floating platform na hindi kayang palubugin ng mga missiles pero armed also with huge naval guns…mas malaki pa sa main armaments ng USS Missouri.

    Bukod sa kaya nating magmanufacture dito lang sa ating bansa mas immune ito sa electronic warfare(defensively pwede itong gawan ng bomb/missile shelter)…may spotter ka lang sa target at RADAR directed ito eh ok na….



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