On the Duterte-Carpio debate, legal luminary and former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile compared the position of the two opposing camps in his latest FB post.
First off, Enrile called Carpio’s position as the best approach. However, until the country don’t have the assets to back it up to enforce our UNCLOS victory, Carpio’s approach is not practical. Enrile praised the arbitral decision as a great feat and a proud feather on our national cap.
On one hand, Enrile noted that realistically speaking, we are not Japan, Taiwan and even Vietnam in terms of military capability. The same cannot be said in terms of economy to enable us give a credible challenge against China. In terms of fishing, Coast Guard vessels, we are no match to China either.
In other words, we have too much to lose than gain if we make the wrong move. Putting up an aggressive stance might imperil our people, our core territory and our economy, Enrile said. In case the war eagles among our citizens forget, a war with China will also include economic war.
UN some groups saying that we can call upon the UN to help the Philippine cause, Enrile told these groups to stop pinning their hopes if they are not ready for the biggest disappointment of their lives. He also told these people not to expect the US or any other country to come to our rescue and enforce our victory in the Arbitral Court because they have their own national interest to protect. In addition, there is no world government with an international police organization to protect us.
To Enrile, the best we can do now is to bide our time, make our economy, defense and military stronger before we raise our fist!
DUTERTE VS. CARPIO
A few days ago, I saw on TV a mini verbal tussle between President Rodrigo Duterte and retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio. Their topic was the opposing claims of the Philippines and of China over certain islands, islets, reefs, atolls and sandbars in what we call the West Philippine Sea. Evidently, the clash between them involves two different approaches to a foreign policy concern of the country. Justice Carpio wants the President to take a harder, more assertive, and more aggressive stance against China.
The position of Justice Carpio is the best approach, if we have the wherewithal to back it up. But, to me, it is not feasible at the moment under our current national circumstance. All we have right now are our patriotism, our courage, our sovereignty, our rights under generally accepted international law and under UNCLOS, and under our arbitral decision and victory. No doubt our arbitral decision was a great feat and a proud feather on our national cap.
But realistically, we are not Japan, nor a Taiwan, nor a South Korea – not even a Malaysia or a Vietnam – in terms of armed capability. Our economy is not that big and strong enough to enable us to make a credible challenge against a country like China. Our fishermen and our naval and air capability are no match to the swarm of Chinese fishermen, to the swarm of Chinese Marine Militia, and to the swarm of Chinese Coast Guards operating in the contested area.
We have too much to lose, if we make a wrong move. If we make a harder, more assertive, and more, aggressive stance, we might imperil our people, our core territory, and our economy. We might even dishonor ourselves in the eyes of the world, if we cannot back up our rhetoric with or military strength.
There is no world government with an international police organization to protect us. We have to protect our national interest ourselves. The UN cannot help us against China. It has no capability to enforce its decisions, and its members have their own individual interest to protect. Besides, there is the veto power of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, which include China.
Neither can we depend on the United States to protect us against China. It has its own national interest to serve, besides its internal and external problems that limit her capability to help anyone.
To me, it is better for us to bid our time, male our economy bigger and stronger, and strengthen and modernize our defense and military capability before we raise our fists.