More Fundraising work to be done

by jun asuncion

A cruel twist of fate would have it that the Ketsana Foundation’s library project be deferred to another propitious time. The unimaginable scale of destruction to lives and properties, the unfathomable depth of sorrows and pains, existential angst and social displacement of the victims which typhoon Haiyan had left required from us a reflexive change of plan and priorities. Even Switzerland had to defer some planned activities last November 18 by declaring this day  a national fundraising day for the typhoon victims in our country. So every sensible individual and nation saw the urgency of the situation, hence, a shift in priorities.

In keeping with Ketsana Foundation’s rule of thumb of helping the affected directly, two of its members will be going to these typhoon-ravished areas to give some families things they needed for their livelihood, such as fishing boats, garden tools, etc. Simply said, tools they need to start rebuilding their lives and immediate environment.

We have decided, however, that only half of the total proceeds of the benefit concert last week would go to the south and the remaining amount for our library project in Bulan.

This means, we have to organise another fundraising activity next year to reach the amount needed for this project. For those who may be reading this message and who feel the need to help Ketsana Foundation to finally  realize this project, please contact us. Soon Ketsana Foundation will have its own website where we can publish in detail all our activities and report the financial status. This is in keeping with transparency and credibility for we know that those who want to help also want to know what happens with what they give.

The benefit concert itself was a total success. Many people came that evening of November 21 in spite of the sudden snowfall which caused a little turbulence in the otherwise always orderly streets of Zürich. The pianist Dr. med. Robert Siebenmann did his best to make the cold evening a pleasant one for all with his warm and very personal rendition of Brahms and Chopin. The apero held at the lobby was opulent as  many friends came with their home-made specialties like Christmas cookies, Glühwine, cake, sandwiches and wines. It was a crowd of medical people, of artists and musicians.

I thank Mila, Elizabeth and Franklin Patricio and Madeleine Borel for their priceless help in making the event a success. Our biggest appreciation naturally goes to our pianist Robert Siebenmann for inspiring others to help and to all of our sponsors, friends and guests. Last but not least, our best appreciation and acknowledgement goes to our consul Miss Tess Lazaro (who delivered a nice  spontaneous inspirational speech) and cultural attaché Irene Sadang for gracing this memorable evening with their presence. Photos of the concert to follow.

For the meantime, we ask the children of Bulan to be more patient as we work more to realize our plan. Thank you and carpe diem.

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A minute of silence, long hours of work

by junasun

Two weeks after the super typhoon Haiyan, we are faced with the herculean task of recovery and rebuilding. How do we build homes to the hundreds of thousands of homeless people and how do we give medical care to the wounded and sick among them without water and electricity and existing hospitals – and even medical staff for they, like all others, were victims themselves. This is such  an unimaginable logistical problem. Though help and support of all kinds are coming from the international community and the national government, still it takes time to build the most needed infrastructures like roads, hospitals, water and electric plants, bridges and the hundreds of thousands of homes needed. Many have died the day the typhoon hit these areas, but many more will die in such conditions of hunger, shock, trauma, homelessness and zero infrastructures, services and facilities. The government is doing everything but it needs time, – and time is running out to save the weakest and vulnerable among the survivors.

Most of the dead were buried by now. And while we still have hundreds of hours of work before us, to take a minute of silence that will bring us to that quiet place in us where no typhoon can ever penetrate, a place where we all feel at home together as a people, will do us good.

In the face of all these  destructive calamities that have recently befallen the country, we shall all agree that life shall go on and that the life and dignity  of every human shall be respected and protected. And also, as we now pick up our tools to start rebuilding, we should not neglect to treat nature with respect  and consider her in our planning so that she will treat us the same way. We are inseparable from nature, therefore, it’s just wise to live by her rules.

The Philippine archipelago is endowed with natural beauty, but beauty has its price. The Philippines is on the front line of natural calamities and danger may come from above and below. Danger from above are the typhoons. The Philippines is the only large country that is geographically very exposed to tropical cyclones. There are about 20 to 24 typhoons that hit the Philippines, and a few of them are devastating. The most recent one, super typhoon Haiyan, has occurred just two weeks ago and which has practically obliterated Tacloban city and many more places in this region. Around 44,000 of 55,000 houses were wiped out, the rest may still be standing but heavily defaced. Those buildings near the shore just disappeared with the storm surge and over 5,000 people disappeared in a wink of the eye of the storm.

Typhoons are just normal  for Filipino people that a child by the time he is ten years old will have already experienced around 240 typhoons. But this month’s typhoon has surpassed them all. And this typhoon Haiyan has given us a glimpse of the probable nature of typhoons yet to come, – that some of them could be as strong or even stronger than Haiyan. That’s a grim reality to come we have to brace ourselves for.

The danger from below our feet and houses are the earthquakes. The Philippine islands lie in the so called Pacific Ring Of Fire, hence, many earthquakes occur in the islands. The last one just last October 2013 which damaged among others Bohol and Cebu. If this happened that a strong earthquake and a super typhoon occurred in  just a few weeks of interval, the worst that one could imagine is if they would happen at the same time sometime in the future. Better not.

If beauty has its price, then it’s a high price. A single typhoon costs millions or billions of pesos. This typhoon Haiyan alone has cost around P25 billions. But that’s the loss and how about the cost of rebuilding? Aside from thousands of human lives, the country losses therefore tens of billions of pesos from typhoons and earthquakes alone every year.  And we  don’t even add to that the cost of the damages of the typhoons of political corruption that befall our senate and house of representatives and the provincial and municipal buildings. A total shame.

One thing is clear: We cannot move the Philippines away from these typhoons and earthquakes.The people have to  live with it, have to stay in their homeland and rebuild their cities and homes. For the responsible and sensible world citizens (or Netizens) who live in fortunate locations, their only option is to help. The Philippine islands have a life-saving role to play, – as a typhoon shock absorber or shield because after a typhoon has hit the Philippines with its full impact,  it normally continues its course to Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia but already weakened to a certain degree, hence, saving countless lives in these neighboring countries. Haiyan was already over 100 km/h slower when it approached Vietnam. Tha’s a big deal.

Typhoons here, earthquakes there, still life must go on like that of one father in Tacloban who lost his wife and five of his children instantly as the killer waves surged into their village that he is now left with only one child who survived with him. He said that the pain of loss was  hard to bear but he still has a child who needs him that’s why he chose life.

For us then who are not regularly affected by such devastating natural calamities, let’s choose to help them recover from their severe nightmare.

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Benefit Concert: Message Of Ambassador Leslie Baja

Leslie.baja
 Ambassador Leslie J. Baja

Philippine Embassy, Berne, Switzerland

MESSAGE

Congratulations to the Ketsana Foundation, especially to the two individuals who started  it, Franklin Patricio and Milagros Asuncion, and its two active members, Jun Asuncion and Elizabeth Patricio, for successfully organizing another charity event for the benefits of our less privileged brethren in Sorsogon!

I was moved while reading the story of how your library project came about. I hope that the magnanimity, determination and the noble cause you have always espoused will be
an inspiration to the other Filipinos in Switzerland to continually share the fruits of their  success to our less fortunate countrymen in the Philippines.

I share your pride and congratulate you on your past achievements of providing mobile tent centres for the medical missions in Sorsogon, as well as the other assistance you
have extended since 2008 to help brighten up the lives of the victims of natural disasters  in the provinee. Your untiring efforts and unwavering enthusiasm has continued to be the source of  strength for our less privileged people in Sorsogon who have been the recipients of numerous tragedies in the recent past. It should be an inspiration to many to pitch in doing deeds of kindness and acts of charity.

I thank Dr. Robert Siebenmann for generously offering to do this classical piano concert and sharing his talents to help build a brighter world for the children of Sorsogon.
Helping build a humble library for these children is already one big step towards the realization of their dreams. I also thank all the friends and supporters ofthe Ketsana Foundation who, through these years, have tirelessly supported the cause of the foundation. May your unflagging support and generosity inspire others to do their share in building a world free from the bondage of poverty.

To all of you at Ketsana Foundation, your friends and supporters, my best wishes on your future projects and hope that the little drops of kindness from your heart will make a mighty ocean of love!

Leslie J. Baja            Message of Amb. Baja to Ketsana Foundation ( original in pdf)

Ambassador

 

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info@philembassyberne.ch

www.philembassyberne.ch

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Benefit Concert 2013

by junasun

The Ketsana Foundation in Zürich which was founded by Franklin Patricio and Milagros Asuncion, with active members Jun Asuncion and Elizabeth Patricio, has organized another Benefit Concert in Zürich this coming November 21, 2013 which will  be held at the Gemeindesaal Zollikon, Rotfluhstrasse 96,  8702 Zollikon, Zürich.

This will be another  classical piano evening which will showcase for a charitable cause the musical talent of Mr. Robert Siebenmann, himself a seasoned Swiss heart surgeon working at the world-class Hirslanden Clinic in Zürich.

P1180632-002

Dr. Robert Siebenmann, classical pianist and heart surgeon

Convinced of our cause of helping young people develop love and passion for reading printed books, and impressed at how the Filipino pianist Mr. Cases played for the Ondoy victims last 2009 to help our medical missions in the Philippines, Dr. Siebenmann readily offered his precious hands to help us raise funds for our project of building a modest public library in Bulan for the young students.

To add extra boost to the morale of the Swiss-Filipino friends who support this project, we have also invited our Philippine Ambassador in Berne Mr. Leslie J. Baja to join us this evening. With Dr. Robert Siebenmann’s precise and relaxed hands as a surgeon, an evening of quiet and relaxing classical piano music of Johannes Brahms and Frederic Chopin  awaits us on the 21st of November for sure.

We also invite friends of Bulan Observer from all over the world to join us and to help support this Library Project.

library

My personal message for the Concert on November 21:

Now, may I ask? When was the last time you were in a library? Long ago? Not me, for I’m every day in a library, – in my mini library at home. Indeed, it’s such a special privilege or a luxury to have one at home where you can read and write undisturbed to compose your mind. In my library, I have written many articles for my blog. A library is very similar in a way to a Karate Dojo because it’s a place of quiet, respect and introspection; a place for working and of balancing your mind and body.

The Roman Orator Cicero once said that ” if you have a garden and a library, then you have everything you need”.  The same Cicero said that  “We are not born, we do not live for ourselves alone; our country, our friends, have a share in us”, – kind words from a man who existed over a hundred years before Christ.

It is in this context of garden, library and sharing that we felt moved to take Cicero literary and continue with this project of building a modest library in Bulan for those children who don’t even have a garden or a proper home. A library is a meeting place, a very democratic place where young people learn to know their culture. Hence, raising funds to build a library is building up culture as opposed to destruction of culture by  cutting funds meant for public libraries as some government leaders do.

There is a personal background to this library project. For it was once my plan to help a primary school in Bulan by sending boxes of books in English I have bought myself for their library which in itself is in a very desolate situation for lack of government funds. But on their way to Bulan, in 2009, these books were destroyed in Manila by a series of heavy floods that hit the Philippines at that time. Instead of replacing those books, my friends here decided we would rather send medicines and first aid materials to the victims in Bulan. Yet along the way we have never given up this library project in spite of the typhoons, floodings and earthquakes that batter the archipelago every year.

But a noble dream remains just a dream if one does not act.

We acted and that’s why we are gathered here tonight because we invited you to help us make this dream a reality. The fact that you are here tonight means you support culture and you feel that others have a share in you.

One person who felt the same way even went beyond that for he volunteered also to play piano for us tonight. As a heart and vascular surgeon by profession, his duty is about saving lives of people who come to him with broken hearts in the true sense of the word, people who are between living and dying. The same hands and fingers that have saved people from dying will be playing the piano tonight and thereby saving a piece of culture in Bulan someday soon, – i.e., as soon as the library building has been built with a little help from all of  us.

My heartfelt thanks then to our pianist Dr. Robert Siebenmann, a heart surgeon with a heart for the less fortunate children, for taking with us the very first concrete step to realizing this library project, – where  children living ten thousands miles from here  may have dreamed of.

About Dr. Robert Siebenmann (English translation of the German original by junasun)

Robert Siebenmann began his piano studies at the age of 12 years with piano lessons at the music school and the Winterthur Conservatory with Emil Schenk.

During his High School in Erlangen ( Germany ), he continued it with Karl Pratter. In addition to the study of medicine in Zurich , he took piano lessons with Alfred Ehrisman . The time-consuming and demanding training as heart- and later as  vascular surgeon, had left him at times with little or no time for playing the piano, However, he had never given up completely to continue with his favorite hobby. But as a busy cardiovascular surgeon at the clinic Hirslanden he has but only on the weekends the time to practice and play .

He feels honored to receive as  an amateur the opportunity to play for a charity event in front of an interested  audience. The main thing here  is primarily to support a charity event, an event being organized now and then  and with success by a group of Filipino nurses of Clinic Hirslanden and their friends. He asks the audience not to expect a professional performance yet  he hopes that he is able to do justice to  the music and to the composers..

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NPA’s OUT OF TOUCH, ANACHRONISTIC!

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2013 Fil Am Extra Exchange)

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – The New People’s Army used to have my respect for championing the causes for social justice and reform in the countryside.

Not anymore.

If they keep on their murderous streak, like what they did to my first cousin, Virgilio “Bilyong” Miguel Garra, based on their faulty intelligence, they would turn up like the boy, who cried wolf. Nobody would believe them anymore that they could be the
alternative law enforcers or vigilantes for the oppressed Filipinos in the rural community.

Saying that they killed Garra, a retired Senior Police Officer 1 in the Philippine National Police, for being active in intelligence work in Matnog, Bulan and Magallanes in the Philippines against the NPA’s last July 24 at 6:45 a.m., the NPA’s took matters into their hands by executing (salvaging) him extra judicially without mercy in the middle of the street.

The NPA’s accused Garra of reporting their activities to the Philippine government’s Commanding Officer of the 31st Infantry (Army) Battalion.

So, what if Garra would still remain to be in the intelligence community after his retirement? If he would be reporting only the truth, I don’t see anything wrong with him taking a post-retirement second career path!

Garra was like some retired policemen joining a private security agency or as bouncer of some nightclubs or bodyguard to some celebrities and politicians, which are very much part of a field of his expertise. Other policemen, who retired from the mounted service, would even form an escort service to cater to funeral processions and wedding events.

At 55, Mr. Garra was too young to retire and to give up the knowledge he learned after years of training in the field that contributed to the maintenance of peace and order in his neighborhood.

His killers, the NPA’s so-called Celso Minguez Command in Matnog, had blamed him for causing the surrender of two members of the Command during the 90’s and in 2006.

Why would Mr. Garra be deprived of doing something that he loved to do that made him an effective supplier of prized information that helped the local military keep the peace in the neighborhood?

 TRAITOR TO NPA’s, HERO TO THE GOVERNMENT

 In the eyes of the NPA’s, Garra was a traitor to their cause. But in the eyes of the Philippine government, Garra was a hero!

This bunch of thugs and outlaws could not manufacture a more credible accusation against Bilyong. So, they contrived a ridiculous web of lies that Bilyong was being punished for being a “dealer of shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) that wrecks havoc on the health of Sorsoganons.

If my cousin were a drug dealer in the community, “in the schools and in the offices,” why was this accusation not ever raised when he ran for town-wide councilor of Matnog last May?

A real drug dealer, in his right mind, would not run the risk of exposing his reputation as a drug dealer by running for a public office, like Virgilio.

At a street value of 5,000 pesos (US$ 119.00) per gram or $167,683.30 to $251,524.90 (P6.7 million-P10 million) per kilogram, shabu should have made Virgilio a very rich man. He could have financed the surgical operation and the professional fees of the doctors, who could treat his “two baseball-sized boil” in the back of his neck. If Virgilio had sleepless nights, it was not because his conscience was bothering him because he was a  drug dealer but because the boil in the back of his neck could not let him sleep if he lied down flat on his back!

But instead of spending the money sent Virgilio by his nephew, who is in the U.S. military, to have his boil treated, Virgilio used the money to buy a van that he needed in his small auto repair business. But when Virgilio’s wife needed the money to treat her cancer, Virgilio sold his auto repair business lock, stock and barrel to pay for the hospitalization of his cancer-stricken wife, who died last year.

To support his family, Virgilio started a rattan furniture business, which would not have been necessary, if he had a lucrative business in dealing shabu.

THEY SHOULD SHED THEIR DUTCH COURAGE!

 I challenge the killers of Virgilio, who owned up the crime, to come forward and present their evidence against him and extricate themselves from the crime of murder. They should not hide under the skirt of anonymity or have the Dutch courage of their leader Jose Ma. Sison, who waged his war against the Marcos dictatorship from Utrecht.

For the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, it’s about time they give up their arms, come down from the hills, and join the mainstream society. World War II was over a long time ago!

The Hukbalahap (Hukbong Mapagpalaya Laban sa Hapon) has long disbanded. Your North Star, namely, the Socialism in Russia and the Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, had crumbled and is now turning capitalist! Your raison d’etre is gone!

Why don’t you step out of the shadows and help the Philippine government in its peace and order drive? Tama na an pasaway san mga bulan-bulanan! (Grow up. Enough of being a nuisance!)

If you don’t return to mainstream society, you are just common criminals and petty extortionists, who are considered terrorists by the international community.

If you return to society by renouncing use of arms, you can run for public office. If your campaign would make sense, I am sure you can get some votes and you can even win!

But you have to step out of the shadows as Communism as an ideology, except perhaps for Cuba, is now becoming extinct. And your murderous spree will never endear you to the rural folks either nor to your supporters, local or overseas, who should now be wearing out your welcome.

If your children will realize that their education and their goals under Communism are very limited to taking up arms against their kababayans (countrymates) and the government, they should be deserting you so they can live peacefully by embracing the rules of society. But of course, your children’s desertion will only be possible if the Philippine government can bring education to them and provide them jobs and treat them humanely, not with iron hand.

These children will leave the aging NPA warriors to fend for themselves. When this time comes, it will be the end of Communism in the Philippines.

But if the NPA’s will insist on leading a life on the run, it is entirely up to them to lead an everlasting life of isolation and more hardship. Nobody will cry for their loneliness nor covet their godforsaken kingdom. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 Virgilio Bilyong Miguel Garra, the candidate for councilor

Photo of Virgilio “Bilyong” Miguel Garra (left), whose hand is being raised by Sorsogon leader, Hermie Aquino, during the election campaign last May when he ran for Matnog, Sorsogon, Philippines councilor. (From the Facebook of his daughter, Versie Garra Antonio)

 Virgilio Bilyong Miguel Garra Shot in the middle of the street

Photo of Virgilio “Bilyong” Miguel Garra when gunned down in the middle of the street by the New People’s Army last July 24 in Matnog, Sorsogon, Philippines. (Facebook of the NPA’s, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006470253173)

Joseph G. Lariosa
Correspondent
Fil Am Extra Exchange
Journal Group Link International
P. O. Box 30110
Chicago, IL 60630
Tel. 312.772.5454
Telefax 312.428.5714

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Filed under Bulan Observer and Fil-Am Friends, Crime, Joseph Lariosa, The Matnog Environmental Advocates Organization (MEAO)

PH MILITARY POINTS TO “USUAL SUSPECTS” IN THIS MURDER “WHODUNIT”

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2013 Fil Am Extra Exchange)

 

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – The .45 caliber pistol was invented by Mr. John Browning to stop cold a raging juramentado, a Muslim armed with a kris, a jagged sword, on a suicide mission for martyrdom to kill Spanish and American invaders in Mindanao at the turn of the 19th century. These juramentados were the precursors of the suicide bombers in some Muslim extremist countries scaring the hell out of their visiting military forces.

But I never had any inkling that my once pilyo (mischievous but lovable) younger cousin, who had grown to become a policeman in my mother’s native town of Matnog in Sorsogon in the Philippines, would be felled by bullets from a .45 caliber pistol (http://tinyurl.com/ppp6bso). He was treacherously shot from behind his head allegedly by “suspected communist rebels.” My cousin was not even a Muslim, nor a juramentado! And he did not deserve to die from such cowardly act.

I don’t know if his murder was personal vendettas by his unseen enemies, whom he owed huge personal debts. But his enemies should have been men enough to face him or should have brought instead a case against him before the court of law if they wanted to settle a score. And not to resort to salvaging him!

If reports were true that Virgilio “Bilyong” Miguel Garra had drawn the ire of the rebels, I don’t know how he earned such wrath.

From what I know, the rebels only go after the big fish in the community, who oppresses the community. They usually go after ranking military officers, chiefs of police or mayors, who violate the people’s human rights. But not Bilyong. For the simple reason that he had lost any power and influence in the municipality after he retired from the police force that would enable him to commit human rights violations.

 

BILYONG DID NOT WORK IN LUCRATIVE PH BUREAUCRACIES

 

Bilyong did not make any money from the police force that should give rebels reason to “levy tax” from him. Unlike some of his rich neighbors, who made it big after brief stints with the Bureau of Customs and other Philippine government bureaucracies. Nor was he on the take in the lucrative Matnog ferryboat station franchise, a favorite milking cow by incumbent Matnog mayors.

Bilyong ran as a municipal councilor of Matnog in the last local lections. As expected he lost because he had nothing to offer but public community service, like his late father, Jose “Papa Tote” Garra, who was Matnog’s long-time Municipal Secretary. Bilyong had no money to buy votes either. So, how would he make the rebels’ blood boil when he did not even have a clout?

If his enemies were politicians, why would politicians still go after someone who is already down?

I do not know who shot and injured him when he was still in the police force when I last saw him in 1998.  Perhaps, police homicide investigators probing his murder should revisit his old case that reached the court.

From initial reports from my sources in Matnog, Bilyong was shot from behind his head in front of his house, which is near a Highway Patrol Group.

If this were so, why would the rebels still take special interest on a penniless election loser?

If Bilyong were shot near the Highway Patrol Group, why would the shooter/s be too brazen enough to fire shots within the hearing and visual distance of the Highway Patrol Group? Were the shooter/s in cahoots with the Highway Patrol Group? If not, did the Highway Patrol Group pursue the shooter after the shooting? If not, why not?

A lot of times after rebels conduct an operation, they usually claim responsibility right after the fact that, in effect, clears the military. I have yet to hear any claim of responsibility from the rebels for the slaying of Bilyong and their reasons for salvaging him!

If the military reports were true that Bilyong was felled by a bullet from a .45 caliber pistol, was the gun used a “colorum” or a “paltik? If it is, then, the chance of identification of the gunman is next to impossible.

 

GUN’S FINGERPRINT OR DNA

 

If not, then, this government-issued firearm can be matched to the serial number of the gun, which is only issued to a military officer.

In the U.S., and I hope in the Philippines, too, all registered firearms are “test fired” twice. One shell is sent to the owner of the firearm and the other shell with the expended bullets is sent to the FBI.

If the gun is used in a crime, the bullet recovered from the crime scene can be matched to the bullet and the gun formation that the gun manufacturer sent to the FBI, that is, if the recovered bullet is not completely messed up.

A Filipino American friend, who is also a gun owner, told me, when manufactured, gun’s “rifling impressions” (the inside of the barrel where bullets pass through) are different from another gun of the same make. Although, built by the same factory, using the same machine and material, the gun’s “firing pin and shell ejector mechanism” are also unique from another gun, and are the equivalent of the gun’s fingerprint or DNA.

If only the shell casing is recovered near the crime scene, gun matching is still possible as the gun leaves very distinct marks on it. The ballistic investigation will focus on the firing pin and shell ejector mechanism.

But if the slug was recovered from the body, then, the investigator can compare it with the rifling impression from the gun’s barrel.

I hope the Philippine government has an airtight inventory of firearms in its database that should make it easy for homicide investigators to trace the owners of firearms used by hired killers.

As I told my relatives, if they happen to have a gun, like Bilyong, who was in the police service, they have to be doubly careful in leading their way of life as their enemies would not be confronting them face to face but would attack them from behind to even things up. And they should always pray.

Goodbye, Bilyong! May you rest in peace! (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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Aquino made right call in West Philippine Sea dispute

By Hermenegildo C. Cruz

12:14 am | Friday, June 14th, 2013 3 212 1

Three things happened recently in connection with the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea. Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing expressed her “concern” that the Philippines may be putting up new structures on Ayungin Shoal (Inquirer, 5/30/13). That is equivalent to the schoolyard bully telling you he is afraid you may beat him up. Earlier, President Aquino announced that we would “resist bullies entering our backyard” (Inquirer, 5/22/13). This statement by the President was followed a few days later by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin’s own, that “…we will fight for what is ours up to the last soldier standing” (Inquirer, 5/24/13).

The statements of the President and the defense secretary called a spade a spade. There is a possibility that we may have to shed blood to defend our territory. China has a record of using force in settling border disputes with its neighbors, to wit: Korea versus the forces of the United Nations in 1950; India over the Ladakh area in 1950; the USSR at the Ussuri River in 1969; Vietnam in the Paracels Islands in 1974, the “Punishment Border War in 1979,” and Johnson Reef in 1988; and Tibet in 1950.

The key features of these border intrusions by China are the following:

• The communist ideology does not count in China’s conduct of its foreign relations. In Marxist ideology, the state is supposed to wither away. However, the Beijing apparatchiks cannot wait for the Marxist utopia when national boundaries will become meaningless, to be replaced by a world proletarian brotherhood. Thus, two “fraternal socialist countries,” the USSR and Vietnam, had been victims of Chinese border incursions.

• All the border conflicts are limited wars except in the case of Tibet. The Chinese stopped their intrusions upon meeting resistance that could result in unacceptable losses. In the Ladakh area of India, the Chinese seized disputed territory and then stopped their incursions when they reached areas where there are fixed Indian defenses. In the Korean War, the Chinese stopped their offensive across the 38th Parallel in the face of the overwhelming firepower of the UN forces.

• In the dispute with the USSR, the Chinese stopped their foray when the Soviet Union threatened to use nuclear weapons.

• In the case of Tibet, it became a total war of annihilation. The Tibetans did not have a credible military capability, so the Chinese took over the entire country.

• The border disputes are in the continental land mass of Eurasia. The Chinese incursion into the West Philippine Sea is the first time it has tried to project its power overseas. The Paracels are an offshore territory.

From the foregoing examples, the lesson is clear: We must have a credible armed deterrent. Otherwise, any Chinese incursion into our territory can spread beyond the West Philippine Sea and, like the Tibetans, we may face unacceptable losses to our nation.

The initiative of our Department of Foreign Affairs to bring the dispute to the United Nations is a diversion.

A UN resolution awarding us the disputed islands will not settle the issue. China will simply ignore it. The UN does not have the means to enforce its decisions. Our hope that if we get such a decision, we will gain the support of the international community, is also wishful thinking. There is no such thing as world public opinion.

China is a big power with friends everywhere. A UN resolution in our favor will simply divide the world: Some countries will support us, some will support China, and most of the world will not care. Even within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, we failed to gain unanimous support for our initiatives on the dispute in the West Philippine Sea. Cambodia and Burma (Myanmar) did not align with us. So the bottom line is: We should strengthen our armed forces to resist aggression, and forget the UN.

In conducting foreign relations, a country should always prepare for the worst-case scenario. The worst thing we can do is to hope that China will make an exception in its dispute with us and use an approach different from what it has employed vis-à-vis its continental neighbors.

* Hermenegildo C. Cruz, a retired ambassador, has written other commentaries on the dispute in the West Philippine Sea. He holds a master of arts degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy.

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