Recently, former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile said something that speaks about the painful reality of the Philippines chances against its territorial dispute with giant neighbor China in the Spratly.
Enrile said that China’s claim is grounded on historical ground and uses her huge army and naval armada to enforce its alleged right.
On one hand, the former Senate President said that RP’s claim is based primarily on the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea and has enforced its right through the legal processes of the UNCLOS.
Enrile believed we have a strong case under UNCLOS. Here’s the painful part according to JP Enrile: We have no case at all under the law of the jungle. We are no match to China. And worse, we cannot depend on our ally. He doubted the US will go to war with China for us.
Enrile’s opinion was echoed by former DLSU History Professor Van Ybiernas who made public his sentiment in a Facebook post.
“Tama si Manong Johnny Enrile. Napaka talino nya kasi minamatyagan na nya ang sitwasyon sa mundo simula pa noong Stone Age,” Ybiernas wrote.
“Law of the Jungle ang namamayani sa West Philippine Sea,” Ybiernas reiterated Enrile’s opinion on what law reigns supreme in the Spartlys.
Ybiernas hinted that the Philippines needs to outfox might China militarily because we are a small country.
“So kailangan natin ng diskarte laban sa dambuhalang Tsina kasi masyado tayong maliit (militarily).”
Ybiernas reasoned that alliance is useless because no one wants to confront China, even the US.
“Walang silbi ang mga alliances kasi wala naman gustong deretsahang banggain ang Tsina, maski US.”
Ybiernas credited Vietnam and Indonesia for standing up against China but he said their situation is different from ours.
“Sure, nagpapakita ng kusug at isog (di ba Bagwis Ng Habagat) ang mga bansang kagaya ng Vietnam at Indonesia pero magkaiba ang sitwasyon natin sa kanila.”
Ybiernas elaborated that our military capability is different from these two countries. The Philippine proximity to China is also different from that of Vietnam. Because they are so near, Ybiernas said Vietnam is forced to show to China that he is not scared. And Indonesia, which is far from China compared to the Philippines, they can put up a brave front knowing that China cannot easily go after them.
“Iba ang kakayahang militar natin sa kanila. Iba din ang proximity natin sa Tsina kumpara sa Vietnam (sobrang lapit kaya obligado ang isog at kusug) at Indonesia (masyadong malayo sa Tsina kaya pwede din ang isog at kusug dahil hindi ito madaling mabalikan ng Tsina).”
Ybiernas isn’t done yet explaining his argument why China isn’t taking Vietnam very lightly and in fact, apprehensive of of its next door neighbor. Ybiernas cited the history of the two neighbors and that Vietnam is capable of stirring up trouble inside China because they share a border. He said China’s weakness is local politics, their domestic stability which Vietnam can exploit when push comes to shove. In other words, Vietnam can choose to press China’s pressure point. Besides, the whole world knows that Vietnam will not back down in any fight, even if it means their total annihilation.
“Ilag ang Tsina sa Vietnam dahil sa proximity: historically, kayang guluhin ng Vietnam domestically ang Tsina kasi they share a border. Ang weakness naman talaga ng Tsina ay yung panloob na pulitika nila, yung domestic stability nila na pwede guluhin ng Vietnam kapag sinakal ito ng Tsina. Historically, problema ng Tsina yung borders nya with Vietnam. Kaya pwedeng gamitin ng Vietnam yan as a pressure point. Saka alam na ng mundo na makikipag pitpitan ng bayag ang Vietnam kahit magkaubusan. Nakita na natin yan sa Vietnam War.”
Ybiernas remarked that the Philippines does not enjoy the tactical advantage Vietnam or Indonesia has over China.
“Tayo kasi ay katamtaman ang proximity: hindi sobrang lapit o sobrang layo. Hindi available sa atin yung mga options na meron ang Vietnam at Indonesia kasi iba ang sitwasyon natin.”
Ybiernas reckoned that we need to find a strategy that works. A strategy that is doable for our situation.
“So kailangan natin diskarte ang gumana. Ibang diskarte. Yung diskarte na babagay sa sitwasyon natin.”
Source: Van Ybiernas