Duterte has chosen: Province of China | Inquirer Opinion

Duterte has chosen: Province of China

Our heroes who fought and died in the long struggle for Philippine independence, against Spanish, American, and Japanese colonizers, must now be turning in their graves. President Duterte has challenged the Filipino people: Choose to become a US territory or a province of China.

President Duterte stated: “Do we need xxx the might and power of the military of the United States to fight our rebellion here and the terrorists down south and control drugs?” xxx  “If we can’t do it, we have no business being a republic,” President Duterte said. “You might as well choose. We can be a territory of the Americans or we can be a province of China.”

President Duterte has presented us with a Hobson’s choice, predicated on an impossible condition, and based on the wrong facts. It is a Hobson’s choice because there is actually only one choice—to be a province of China.

The condition that only if we can stand alone militarily can we remain an independent republic is an impossible condition. Against a nuclear-armed regional superpower like China, even super-rich countries like Japan and South Korea need permanent US military bases as a tripwire against foreign aggression. Japan and South Korea manufacture their own missiles, artillery, destroyers, frigates, submarines, and fighter jets, and yet they host US military bases, even paying for stationing the US soldiers in these countries. Even member states of NATO, whether nuclear-armed or not, still depend on US military might against Russia.


We only had the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which simply allowed the temporary presence of US soldiers in the country. President Duterte canceled the VFA even if we did not have to pay for the presence of US soldiers. We do not manufacture any military armaments except handguns.

At present and in the foreseeable future, the undeniable fact is we cannot stand alone against a nuclear-armed China, which has the second most powerful navy in the world after the US.

President Duterte knows that militarily we cannot stand alone because he has repeatedly stated, “We cannot afford a war at this time because it will result in a massacre.” President Duterte has declared he will not defend the West Philippine Sea against an armed aggression by China because we will surely lose and lose badly. And to ensure that even our only military ally will not help us oppose China, he has terminated the VFA.

President Duterte has framed his Hobson’s choice in the context of “rebellion here and the terrorists down south and control (of) drugs.” This distorts the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and VFA because these treaties are about armed aggression by a foreign state, not about internal rebellion, local terrorism or illegal drugs. Certainly, we do not want the US to intervene in our internal affairs. The VFA has been invoked in the war against international terrorism because this is akin to armed aggression from foreign shores.


There is no doubt that our Armed Forces can deal with any internal rebellion or terrorism. We do not need the US military to fight local rebels, whether communists or separatists, or to fight local terrorists or drug lords. The MDT and the VFA are not about fighting local rebels, terrorists or drug lords, but about armed aggression by a foreign state. There is only one country that has territorial and maritime designs against the Philippines — China. President Duterte has chosen to side with China.

In his first state visit to China in October 2016, President Duterte announced to the Chinese people: “I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow xxx. So I will be dependent on you for all time.” President Duterte declared himself a vassal of China for life and beyond. Now, he wants Filipinos to join him by making the Philippines a province of China.


The option to be a US territory is impossible because the US had already rejected Philippine statehood way back in 1916 under the Jones Law. Besides, there is no way that the US will grant citizenship to 110 million Filipinos, who will then comprise a quarter of the US population.President Duterte’s Hobson’s choice is a choice of one—a province of China. This is the supreme insult to Philippine sovereignty and to Filipinos by a sitting Philippine President.

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TAGS: Antonio T. Carpio, Crosscurrents, MDT, mutual defense treaty, PH-China relations, VFA, Visiting Forces Agreement

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