War without gun smoke | Inquirer Opinion
Kris-Crossing Mindanao

War without gun smoke

Revisionism of the FB Gem-Vir 1 sinking began unnoticed when Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was said to have altered the incident’s date to June 10, 2019, because June 9 is Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day. For starters, this article does not obey the Lorenzana command, if true.

We also use the Chinese Embassy’s admission that the boat, which it identified as Yuemaobinyu 42212, was “a Chinese fishing boat from Guangdong province.” We disavow Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol’s attempt to put words into the mouth of the fishermen that they were “not sure” if it was indeed a Chinese boat. Forget Piñol.


With the President’s men assuming our collective ignorance, truth-telling becomes our best weapon. Research has actually been prolific on the existence of the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM), China’s third Navy.

On April 12, 2016, the Chinese Chen Yuguo told The Washington Post: “When our country needs us, we will go without a second thought to defend our rights.” The podcaster Jeremiah Jacques, writing for the religious sectarian publication The Trumpet, explained: “If Chen were a sailor in China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), or perhaps an officer of the Chinese Coast Guard, his pledge to use force for his country would not be particularly noteworthy. But Mr. Chen is a fisherman.”


China’s third Navy after the PLAN and the Chinese Coast Guard was estimated in 2016 to have a force of about 6 million plus fishermen and 2,600 distant-water fishing trawlers. Organized over decades, PLAN recruited and trained fishermen using their own fishing vessels that can be activated for missions on demand. Given China’s depleted fishing resources along its littoral coast, the numbers are expected to have grown by now.

An authority on the matter is Dr. Andrew Erickson of Harvard University’s John King Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and the US Naval War College’s Chinese Maritime Studies Institute. Since 2014, he and his colleague Conor Kennedy had collected extensive research on the PAFMM.

Writing for the National Interest of November 2018, Erickson avers: “They conduct operational deployments using larger vessels with mast-mounted water cannons for spraying, reinforced hulls for ramming, and reported weapons stores … It operates in disputed sea areas and serves Beijing’s interests through the [People’s Liberation Army] operational chain of command under Commander in Chief Xi Jinping himself.

“By choosing to employ soldiers disguised as civilian mariners, not conventional naval forces, Beijing has expanded the geographic scope of its influence and control without resorting to war, a classic case of ‘winning without fighting’.”

It is a perfidious force designed to expand China’s presence in disputed maritime space with little cost or risk, thus covert and inconspicuous to hide its true military nature. Erickson thus strongly cautions: “To remove the camouflage of Chinese deception and spin, accurate terminology (not ‘civilian, irregular, innocent, [merely] fishermen,’ etc.) is essential.”

Erickson’s list of publicly documented manifold maritime incidents involving the PAFMM is long: 1974 seizure of the Western Paracel Islands from Vietnam; 1978 swarming into the Senkaku Islands’ territorial sea; involvement in the occupation and development of Mischief Reef resulting in a 1995 incident with the Philippines; harassment of various Vietnamese vessels; participation in the 2012 seizure of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal from the Philippines; 2014 blockade of Second Thomas Shoal; 2014 repulsion of Vietnamese vessels in disputed waters surrounding China’s HYSY-981 oil rig; layered “cabbage-style” envelopment of the Philippine-claimed Sandy Cay where China has sustained a presence of at least two PAFMM vessels since August 2017.

The last time treason of tremendous magnitude was seen in the Philippines was in World War II when the mercenary Makapili squealed on fellow Filipinos. Today we have a government made up of many “abogado de China” whose job is to shield the PAFMM from the public narrative.


On Twitter: @AntonioJMontal2

E-mail: [email protected]

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TAGS: Antonio J. Montalvan II, Gem-Vir 1, Kris-Crossing Mindanao, Recto Bank incident, Reed Bank incident, Rodrigo Duterte
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