Is the military planning, and hoping, for Filipino casualties to trigger outrage against China?

  • Reading time:12 mins read

First of 2 parts

A SERIOUS accusation indeed, but all the facts support my allegations.

The other day, the Navy even nearly succeeded in doing so when the small wooden-hulled civilian boat it hired suffered “heavy damage” after it was shooed away by the Chinese firing powerful water cannons as it approached Ayungin Shoal. The boat was attempting to station a fresh platoon on the BRP Sierra Madre and provide it with “supplies.” (I will explain below why I have italicized “supplies.”)”Personnel are being rotated in to ensure that BRP Sierra Madre’s mission posture remains uncompromised. This rotation-resupply (RoRe) operation is again a manifestation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ resolve in rightfully and lawfully maintaining its presence at the shoal in the continued protection of Philippine sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone,” the AFP said in a statement.

The AFP is deceiving us, most probably upon orders of its US puppeteers.

Such operations have been done several times in the past six months and in 2013, with the same result: The “supply” missions have been blocked by the Chinese coast guard using water cannons and through dangerous vessel maneuvers, which force the Filipino boats to scamper away or be rammed by the steel-hulled China Coast Guard ships.

Insanity

Either our military is complying with that definition of insanity purportedly formulated by Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.”

Or, our military has been undertaking agent provocateur tactics, a textbook definition of which are actions “which incites opponent to do counter-productive or ineffective acts to create outrage against it.” In the case of the Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal dispute, these are the “rotation-resupply” operations of the Philippine Navy to challenge China’s hold over the shoal to create national and global outrage against China.

The military’s minimum goal here is to get photos and videos of a big China Coast Guard ship water-cannoning away from the shoal a small civilian supply vessel or undertaking sailing maneuvers to drive it away or be rammed.

These portray the Chinese as big bullies oppressing small Filipino vessels upholding Philippine sovereignty. Indeed, not a single RoRe operation has been without a big band of both international and local media people brought or escorted to the area by the Philippine Navy, as sailing through the waters there can be dangerous because of the unpredictable corals on its seabed. The AFP even brought a three-man team of CNN journalists from Hong Kong to one RoRe operation early this month. The CNN reporters uncritically reported what they witnessed with their own eyes, “this David versus Goliath struggle.” Not a word, though, on why the Chinese would allow themselves to be portrayed as a “Goliath” in this dispute over some small body of water.

Maximum

The Navy’s maximum goal was for the Chinese vessels to damage the small Philippine vessels to sink them and for Filipinos to be thrown to the sea and even drown. Or perhaps for a trigger-happy Chinese sailor to fire at a Filipino vessel and sink it in the false hope of invoking the Mutual Defense Treaty with the US.

Why do I dare make such accusations?

Because there can be no other explanation other than insanity for our Navy to be doing these RoRe operations and being shooed away again and again, actually embarrassing them, except to undertake “agent provocateur” tactics, which, they hope, will result in Filipino casualties, that would create international outrage.

Agent provocateur tactics in warfare have been part of military doctrine and of political warfare since ancient times.

Indonesian nationalist Sukarno was toppled in 1965 with the huge support of the US CIA after a brilliant agent provocateur tactic was undertaken. This was the assassination of six senior generals, purportedly by the Indonesian Communist Party, which supported Sukarno. The rightist generals β€” led by Suharto β€” used it as an excuse to topple Sukarno and undertake the horrific pogrom of over a million Indonesian communists and suspected sympathizers. To this day, not a single iota of proof has been uncovered that it was the Indonesian communists who assassinated the generals.

The late Philippine Communist Party chairman Jose Ma. Sison’s master agent-provocateur operation was the bombing of the opposition party’s meeting at Plaza Miranda in August 1971. The communist and Liberal Party propaganda machine blamed it on Marcos Sr., which created so much outrage against his regime that all the opposition senatorial candidates in the elections months after the carnage won.

History, though, had a cruel twist for the country: the bombing convinced Marcos Sr. that the only way he could survive was to declare one-man rule β€” which lasted for 15 years β€” and changed the course of Philippine history.

First Quarter

The massive demonstrations before martial law had communist agent provocateurs (recruited from the Tondo and Caloocan street gangs) using their gangland weapon called pillboxes (matchheads and screws shaped into a ball) that exploded upon falling on the ground or on the helmets of riot police. These provoked the police to retaliate and fire at the idealistic but naΓ―ve student and youth demonstrators, who romanticized the demonstrations to protest “police brutality” as the “First Quarter Storm,” a term that Sison picked to mimic China’s “January Storm” in 1967 that was the start of Mao’s disastrous Cultural Revolution.

The Navy and Coast Guard have hugely succeeded in portraying China as a bully ignoring Philippine sovereignty through these Ayungin RoRe operations because of the following reasons.

The military and its US puppeteers have managed to convince most Filipinos that we have incontrovertible sovereign rights over Ayungin Shoal since it is within our exclusive economic zone, and we have had been in control of it because we have a Philippine Navy ship there, the BRP Sierra Madre attesting to our sovereignty. China has no legitimate claim, as the propaganda goes because its nine-dash line has no basis under international law.

But this is brazenly false.

Nine-dash

First, China claims the shoal as part of its Nansha group of islands (the Kalayaan Island Group to us) not because of the nine-dash line but because, other than ancient historic claims, of its numerous declarations and government actions even before World War 2. The Philippines, on the other hand, claimed the island group only in 1978 when Marcos Sr. annexed into the country the entire group through a presidential decree.

While the Philippines claims it has sovereign rights over the area as it is within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) clearly provides that a nation’s EEZ does not automatically invalidate the territorial claim of another country and that the two nations should negotiate to settle the dispute, or for both to agree to take the case before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. For example, it took nine years for Indonesia and the Philippines to agree to the boundaries of their overlapping territorial seas and EEZs.

China took physical control of the shoal when it built a small facility on nearby Mischief Reef in 1995, which it transformed into a huge artificial island, complete with all the facilities of a fortress, in retaliation against the arbitration suit that the Philippines filed in 2013.

In 1999, President Joseph Estrada’s defense secretary Orlando Mercado β€” apparently without his president’s authority β€” ordered the Navy to ground one landing ship near Scarborough Shoal and another, the BRP Sierra Madre, at Ayungin Shoal. The Navy brass advanced a legalistic justification that a Philippine Navy ship is technically Philippine territory, so at least a part of those two shoals claimed by China would be Philippine territory.

Estrada

When Estrada β€” who was drawing his country closer to China, reversing his pro-US predecessor President Ramos β€” learned about it, he directly ordered the Navy to tow away the two ships so it wouldn’t become an issue when Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji arrived for a state visit in November 1999.

The Navy got to tow away the one at Scarborough but dragged its feet in removing the one at Ayungin Shoal. However, the pro-China Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon told the infuriated Chinese that the Philippines would remove the BRP Sierra Madre but would have to do it later, one source said, because the military was incensed over the Estrada’s directive.

However, Siazon told China that the Navy would have to station troops in the vessel β€” to guard it against scavengers who would dismantle it for its steel β€” and would regularly replace them with fresh soldiers. Siazon promised China that the resupply would not include construction materials that would maintain the vessel in spic-and-span condition, which would negate the commitment to towing away the ship.

The Aquino 3rd and Marcos Jr. administrations have insisted that there was no such agreement, denying the obvious reality that while we have maintained troops there since 1999, the vessel β€” since it hasn’t been receiving repair supplies β€” has fallen into extreme disrepair, covered with rust, with the troops unable to repair holes in its belly that would sink it into the sea.

Thus, the Navy has been allowed to deliver supplies to BRP Sierra for the troop’s sustenance and health, with this all-but-nutty Philippine Coast Guard spokesman declaring victory in their defense of Philippine sovereignty. The Navy and Coast Guard have deliberately not explained that in the Ayungin controversy, there are two crucial kinds of “supplies”: for the soldiers’ survival and the other for the vessel’s survival.

The Chinese have allowed our Navy to deliver supplies necessary for the soldiers’ sustenance. The Arroyo and Duterte administrations and most of even Aquino 3rd’s regime had not violated Estrada’s deal with the Chinese, so there had been no incidents at Ayungin during their watch.

President Marcos Jr. or his generals, however, have ignored Estrada’s pact with China and have tried to send repair materials to the BRP Sierra Madre, which, however, have been intercepted by the Chinese, which have portrayed them as villains.

Why would Marcos Jr. do this? The only explanation is that he has become part or a puppet of the US’ intensive campaign against China in recent years, mainly because of its worry that the Asian superpower would move to take back Taiwan in a few years’ time. China must be demonized as a recidivist power so the US could attract allies and even its local citizenry to stop the Chinese.

In the Ayungin shoal tension, our Navy has merely the agent-provocateur tack of provoking the Chinese to sink a Filipino vessel. Or at least to generate dramatic photos of Chinese coast guard vessels water-cannoning hapless Filipino wooden-hulled boats would create international outrage against China.

If the Marcos Jr. regime wants soldiers and even ordinary citizens to “die for their country,” at least tell them the truth.

On Friday: How the suit the Philippines filed against China in 2013 backfired to favor the Chinese behavior in Ayungin Shoal.


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