Marcos and his generals deluded over Bajo de Masinloc

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IN the past weeks, the truculent-to-China Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the media have managed to again pry out of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s mouth statements that confirmed that like his generals and his defense secretary, he is in deep delusion over the status of Bajo de Masinloc, internationally known as Scarborough Shoal.

In a chance interview with reporters at the airport before he left for Australia, Marcos said that the reported presence of Chinese warships and a helicopter near Bajo de Masinloc was “worrisome,” but the Philippines would continue to defend its maritime territory. Of all the more important topics involving Australia-Philippine relations, Marcos in a speech before the Australian parliament chose to highlight his paranoia over China: “I will not allow any attempt by any foreign power to take even one square inch of our sovereign territory.”

Let me first be clear on what I mean by delusion. It is, as the standard dictionary says, “a false belief or judgment about external reality, held despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.” The dictionary even adds that the worst type of delusion is that when it is a symptom of serious mental disorder, when a person in delusion experiences “hallucinations, delusions, anxiety and agitation along with dizziness and nausea.”

Marcos’ statements that I quote above refer to Bajo de Masinloc as the Philippine sovereign  territory he promises to defend. He refers to it as being the target of a “foreign power” to take, although he would not allow it to take even one square inch [of it].

These statements point to Marcos’ delusion, his belief “despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.”  Bajo de Masinloc is de facto no longer our maritime territory. China – the “foreign power” referred to —  can no longer take it, since President Benigno Aquino 3rd had already lost it to the superpower in 2012 because the US duped him.

Takeover

The takeover was not illegal by international law as it wasn’t taken by force. A similar takeover occurred when the Vietnam in 1975 grabbed Pugad Island (Northeast Cay) through a ruse, when Filipino soldiers stationed there were hoodwinked into leaving their post and joining a birthday party hosted by the Vietnamese in a nearby island. The next morning as the Filipinos soldiers the returned to Pugad, they found Vietnamese ordering them not to land on the island, or they would be rained upon by machine gun fire.

It was Aquino 3rd who triggered the Scarborough Shoal crisis in 2012 when he ordered the Navy’s biggest warship BRP Gregorio del Pilar, to help the PCG arrest Chinese fishermen who were allegedly capturing endangered giant clams. The deployment of the warship gave the Chinese the high moral ground as they claimed the Philippines militarized their dispute over Scarborough by sending a warship.

Apparently to boast that the Aquino government was exercising its sovereignty, then foreign secretary Albert del Rosario released Philippine navy photos intended to document its operations for internal use to the Philippine Daily Inquirer which showed showing sailors with Armalites guarding unkempt Chinese fishermen were distributed globally. Del Rosario’s move backfired: It  triggered national outrage over the humiliation of the Chinese fishermen.  China’s social media were flooed by angry posts: Why does China,  a superpower allow a weak nation to “bully” it?

In response, China Maritime Surveillance vessels and a flotilla of Chinese fishermen’s boats rushed to the lagoon’s mouth to prevent the Philippine vessels with the arrested Chinese from leaving. Thus a stand-off ensued when Chinese and Philippine vessels refused to leave the lagoon, which risked violence breaking out between the vessels of the two countries.

Nine weeks into the standoff, when Chinese and Philippine vessels refused to leave the lagoon, then US state assistant secretary Kurt Campbell told Foreign Secretary del Rosario that he had struck an agreement with the Chinese to leave the shoal,  simultaneous with Filipino vessels moving out. Del Rosario believed him and forthwith ordered the PCG ships to vacate Scarborough Shoal.

Filipino fishermen aboard their wooden boat sail past a Chinese coast guard ship in Scarborough Shoal. Photo/AFP

No agreement
But there was no such agreement, although Campbell tried to convince Chinese vice foreign minister Fu Ying to agree to his proposal. The latter however said this decision would have to be made by her bosses in Beijing. Even before Beijing could discuss the proposal though, Campbell told del Rosario the Chinese had already agreed to the plan.

The Chinese of course didn’t leave the shoal, and would consequently strengthen its hold over it, claiming that it has been even before the stand-off its sovereign territory called Huáng Yán Dǎo.

Since it considers the shoal as its territory, China regularly does what a state does, which is to have it its coast guard and even its navy patrol it. Yet our deluded officials like PCG spokesman Jay Tarriela jumps up and down, yells to the press that our Navy had sighted warships in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc.

I have written probably half a dozen columns on this, with details in my book Debacle, which also cited the eyewitness account of then senator Antonio Trillanes 4th, whom Aquino appointed as his personal envoy to Beijing to resolves the Scarborough standoff.  There have been articles in US publications echoing my account, such as a chapter in the book  Countering Coercion in Maritime Asia: The Theory and Practice of Gray Zone Deterrence by the Washington-based  anti-China think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Even the Asia Maritime Transparency Institute set up by the CSIS as an anti-China propaganda platform on the South China Sea disputes lists on its website all the Spratly features according to the country which occupies it and chronologically with the date it was occupied. Scarborough Shoal is listed as the 28th and last to be occupied by China in 2012.

Obama

But why did the Americans fool the Aquino government, which ended the standoff?

Obama’s officials were worried that Aquino’s military would deliberately or accidentally provoke an armed conflict with the Chinese. In such an eventuality, the US would either have to militarily assist the Philippine vessels, under their Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), which however risked a nuclear war with China. The other scenario would be for the US to claim the incident did not fall under the MDT since it had occurred in a disputed area. In this case though, the US would lose its credibility as the force to deter alleged  Chinese “expansionism.”

One important consideration for the Americans at that time was that President Obama was running for re-election in a tight race, scheduled just four months away, on Nov. 14, 2012. A war or even just the threat of war with China during the election campaign would have undoubtedly doomed his candidacy.

These are all incontrovertible facts that the Philippines lost Bajo de Masinloc as its territory in 2012, twelve years ago. Yes, it is that costly to the nation to have had a dull-witted president and a foreign secretary subservient to US interests.

How could Marcos now bluster that he will not allow an inch of Bajo de Masinloc be taken over by any foreign power? Isn’t that a clear case of delusion?

A president with more gray matter in his skull would have declared: “We and China have vastly differing views on sovereignty issues over the Spratlys. We hope though that this dispute is resolved peacefully, and we call on the Chinese to sit with us as soon as possible to solve these very serious differences. We particularly hope China would make sure that Scarborough Shoal remains as a fishing ground for fishermen of all nationalities, as it  has been for centuries, even as it imposes protocols to prevent the area’s overfishing and destruction of marine life.”

But no, Marcos declares he “will not allow any attempt by any foreign power to take even one square inch” of Bajo de Masinloc even as Aquino 3rd had already lost it to China in 2012. And anyway, how would you take back Bajo de Masinloc, Mr. President?

“I’ll ask the US and Australia to help us fight China.”

Isn’t that another delusion?

Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao     

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Celia

    What about this scenario?
    Everyone is an Actor playing their part to Expose the evil, the idiots, the puppets, the corruptions, the criminals that run the world for centuries and wake up those who are so brainwashed to think their government will take care of them.

    2024 is the year of disclosures. People will come to know the lies that we have been indoctrinated to for centuries! So what you see happening around the world is part of the biggest film production in our lifetime.

    This is a lot to take but some will start thinking real hard and start searching for validation, some will automatically reject the idea and call me names and some who knows will keep quiet. Whatever you choose to do does not matter to me. But when the whole disclosures go down, some would not be able to take it because they will be exposed to the truth contrary to their core belief.

    When you know, you know!

  2. Jonathan B. Bangui

    When your head is polluted with COCAINE or Pulburon as we Filipinos fond of calling it, delusions become a reality. In addition, Mr. Marcos spouse is a true blue “Yellowtard”. All her moves can be attributed to the whims and caprice of her own kind.

  3. Dorina S. Rojas

    We have already lost Bajo de Masinloc just our President has already lost his credibility over the issue. US and Australia are very good in making promises but not in fulfilling them. Might as well be ready to lose our territories in the West Philippine Sea because our officials have already lost their minds because they believed in the wrong people just as they are wrong with themselves.

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