Wanted: Patriotism at the top | Inquirer Opinion
Glimpses

Wanted: Patriotism at the top

“The military said on Monday that the Philippine Navy was towing a suspected rocket debris to Philippine-held Pag-asa (Thitu) Island, some 480 kilometers northwest of Palawan province when a China Coast Guard ship appeared and blocked the boat, then “forcefully retrieved” the debris.

The Chinese vessel then sent an inflatable boat with some of its personnel on board to the floating object and cut the towing line attached to the Philippine Navy boat, Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos, chief of the military’s Western Command (Wescom), said in a statement.”

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There is one big elephant in the room – China. It is not a nice elephant; it is, in fact, a bully. Filipinos have known China to be a bully ever since it has both threatened and actually used its superior force to claim, invade, and occupy Filipino territory. It has not yet used its bombs to destroy Philippine military equipment or buildings, military or civilian, but it might as well do. It is more shameful to fall on our knees without a fight.

What shame, some may ask. It is the shame of cowardice, not yet the people’s cowardice because the people have not been put to the test, but that of leaders. I cannot understand how officials of the Philippine government can just sweep under the rug the fact that China has imposed its will on our territory and people in the Western Philippine Seas.

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I know China is big and has a population that is 14 times ours, or 1.4 billion to our 110 million. But it is not easy for 1.4 billion to cross over to Philippine shores without losing millions of their own soldiers. China will not do that. Bullies do not do that. China will simply use missiles and bombs to wage war remotely. That way, killing human beings becomes more acceptable to the Chinese people, who have no quarrel with Filipinos.

At the very least, we can condemn China’s incursion on our territory – not by words alone but by still, vocal, and determined resistance. But, of course, we have to accept the possibility that China will be very physical. But before going very physical, before using its military assets, it will first use scare or bullying tactics. Then, it will entice Filipino officials into cooperation or submission with its massive monetary resources.

We have to talk about the elephant in the room. We cannot allow government leaders to use diplomacy to excuse their fear of China’s military power. We cannot just continue to accept lie after lie laid upon us about China’s friendship and cooperation while, simultaneously, it invades and occupies Philippine territory. Simultaneously, too, it threatens any development we want to do in our own backyard, as though they already own it.

To my mind, China has already deluded itself that it owns much of our territorial waters and islets. Their actions amplify this delusion. They have taken over, Scarborough Shoal to several other islands, and forbidden Filipino entry without their permission. That, my fellow Filipinos, is conquest. If we are too young to remember the Japanese invasion and takeover, the American and Spanish invasion and takeover, be very aware of how China has begun to give us that experience.

For six years, the Philippine government tried to promote China to the Filipino people officially. It has tried its best to regale us with China’s promises of massive investments, a tiny portion of which has materialized. In other words, the lie is already out. Years have passed and the promised huge investments are nowhere. If Google, Amazon, or Facebook had promised as much, they would already be deep in delivering their commitment.

All we had was POGO. And what has POGO done to us but shame us all over again? It is as if we had been bought – but we never got the bribe money. However, it is stupid to believe that nobody profited from POGO and/or Chinese money. We may not prove who these traitors are, not yet, but life has proven to be stranger than it seems.

I, too, tried to keep as quiet as I could over the last six years. I had hoped that a president friendly to China could make China friendlier to the Philippines. But so many incidents had China continue to disrespect and humiliate us while officialdom played possum (in other words, feigned sleep) rather than confront China.

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How can we ever have good relations with a current invader? I am also not alone in carrying this shame and resentment. Talk to the Philippine Navy. They know more than I do.

All the while, I am reminded that our youth have been blamed for not being patriotic enough, so much so that they may be required to have military training. Yet, it is not the youth; leaders and elders have not been models of patriotism. It is not the youth who played and continue to play footsies with China. Not the youth have forgotten that diplomacy is a nice way of telling the truth but should never mask cowardice.

The Filipino youth have not been threatened, not yet, by China. The Filipino youth have not been bribed, not yet, by China. So, instead of military training by official mandate, show the youth models of patriotism from the ranks of elected and appointed officials. Teach our youth what it is to lose their freedom, dignity, and birthright by enlightening them about China’s behavior towards us. That will make them more patriotic than weekend military training.

But suppose patriotism is to be pushed if Filipino lives are used to defend our country against foreign bullies and invaders. In that case, I have no problem if the government builds a youth army of millions. If they understand the situation, accept who the enemy and the traitors are, and with true patriots to inspire them, I know the Filipino youth will take the challenge.

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TAGS: China, South China Sea, West Philippine Sea
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