Noynoy's biggest challenge is handling the US and China
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-06-10

In the May 31 interview of actor Robin Padilla by ANC show host Karen Davila, it was disappointing to see Padilla’s views on the Mindanao Peace Negotiation cut short by Davila in order to go to showbiz trivia about the life and loves of the actor.

Your Chair Wrecker was pleasantly surprised to learn that Padilla had his pulse on the Mindanao situation which stands to affect our future in a way far bigger and more potentially damaging than a continued Muslim secessionist war. Padilla was in the process of sharing his interesting views about the aborted Mindanao peace deal when Davila opted to shift the discussion to showbiz matters and other inconsequential topics.

Few Filipinos know and realize that the big US interest in Mindanao will place our country as the frontline of a potential US-China conflict. There are the big oil and gas deposits in the South China Sea which both countries are after. But more than just the oil and gas, there is the strategic US military capability (CSL or Cooperative Security Location, FOS or Forward Operating Site and MOB or Main Operating Base) that must be situated in Mindanao if the US is to be able to engage China in a projected conflict.

Without its desired military capability in Mindanao, the US will be confined to a strictly defensive posture in such a conflict. To a superpower like the US, this is unacceptable.

As discussed in previous Chair Wrecker columns, this is why the US was very keen to ensure that we had a peaceful and orderly transfer of power here. Your Chair Wrecker is convinced that US pressure compelled the Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime not to attempt to tamper with the recently concluded national elections. That was discussed in our April 25 “The Yankee phobic GMA regime” column.
Per the findings of the House Suffrage Committee hearings, the likelihood is that poll cheating could have taken place in the local level but not in the national elections. That the national election results matched the credible exit polls bolsters that finding.

There are three national interests at play in the Mindanao situation, as follows:

1. For the US, it is to situate their military capability where they are in a better position to win in the event of a war with China. It is also to have a hand in the big oil and gas deposits in the South China Sea. This also protects US economic interests in the world’s most exciting region — Asia.

2. For China, it is to prevent US threats to its national security and economic interests and be able to project its economic might in Asia without the US to curtail it.

3. For the Philippines, it is to prevent transforming the country into a frontline of a looming US-China conflict and become the fulcrum of peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

Outnumbered in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, faced with a big budget deficit — yet these are nothing compared to the challenge Noynoy Aquino will face in trying to protect Philippine interests between the US and China conflict of interests here. Realistically, we are like ants trying to referee a clash of two elephants. It is easy to be mashed to the ground by the gigantic feet of the clashing behemoths.

The ideal Philippine position is to serve as a balance between the two clashing interests and in so doing — to gain maximum benefits from both major world powers. But that is easier said than done. Noynoy Aquino could well end up the victim of both combatants who could not attain their national objectives through him. The truth is this — either one of them is capable of creating a lot of problems for Aquino.

The copout decision will be to fully support one side and junk the other. Many past Philippine presidents did that and gave full cooperation to the US to get its way here. But the problem here is this — the side we will junk, be it the US or China, will not take it sitting down. Either side can undertake measures to cause inconvenience and even serious destabilization in order to regain their leverage here.

If indeed forced to take one side — which side will the Philippines support? We have had a long and rocky relationship with the US. They have taken advantage of us more than what we ever gained from them. What’s more is that the US is a world power on the decline while China is the world power on the rise. The 21st century has been dubbed as the China century.

China on the other hand, while awash with wealth, is not exactly known to be a promoter of democracy. China has actively supported tyrannical regimes in North Korea and Myanmar. China can just as easily undermine a weak Philippine government in order to place their puppet at the helm here. The Chinese community here and its economic clout is reason enough to be wary of China domination. In this case, the US may offer itself as the “Devil we know” — the Devil we are used to dealing with.

Noynoy must bring us beyond the reach of any Devil that can harm us or take advantage of us.

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  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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