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Marcos has taken us to the brink of a calamitous war vs China

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UNBELIEVABLE. While President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. says he doesn’t want conflict with any country, his statements and actions, and those of his officials, especially those in the Philippine Navy, have thrown down the gauntlet at the feet of the military and economic superpower in the region, China. Marcos will go down in history as the first president of a weak country to go to war against a nuclear-armed superpower.

And war over what? Over proving its sovereign rights over an 85-km permanently submerged Ayungin Shoal that Filipinos hardly know where it is and which would fit in less than half of Taal Lake.

If the Philippines clashes with the third strongest military and the No. 1 economy in the world, it will be the worst mistake ever made by a president, not just of our nation but of any nation. Whatever angle you look at it, whatever logic you use, it’s insane. Marcos said melodramatically in a video clip: “We are Filipinos. We do not yield.” That’s melodramatic bullshit, fit only as a line in the movies, not in real life.

China’s People’s Liberation Army marines in a recent exercise invading an island. XINHUA PHOTO

With China being our second or even the largest trading partner (us, on the other hand, just its 19th biggest), the economy will be thrown into a tailspin from which it would take years to recover. Vietnam, which claims whatever we and China claim in the Spratlys, will continue to be the favorite investment site for Chinese funds, as it was last year when the former got $24 billion in Chinese investments, compared to our $1.1 billion.

If conflict does break out with China, we will be the Asian version of Argentina, which insisted that the Falklands were theirs and, therefore, invaded these in 1982. The British, who claimed the islands, of course, fought back, defeating the Argentinians in 75 days and killing over 700 of their troops. Argentina’s economy lurched in recession, with the damage to the economy still unrepaired to this day.


Because of that ignominious defeat and the economic recession, Argentinians booted out President Leopoldo Galtieri and his junta, who ordered the invasion of the Falklands. He was convicted of war crimes and other offenses by a court-martial, pardoned by Carlos Menem in 1989, and lived in obscurity until his arrest for new charges shortly before his death in 2003.

Maybe Marcos’ war against China isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Marcos was delusional when he announced yesterday that in the succeeding weeks, relevant national government agencies and instrumentalities will implement “a response and countermeasure package that is proportionate, deliberate and reasonable.” Does he think that our military — and state — is on par with China’s that he can undertake such precise actions against it?

Marcos’ bravado that the Philippines can violently clash with China over the Spratly Islands is due to his blind faith that the US would defend his forces because the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 binds the Americans to do so. But that treaty was signed in 1951 when the emerging superpower, the USSR, had no nuclear weapons, while China was a poor country dealing with a monstrous famine.

Will the US go to the defense of the Philippines when this could trigger China’s nuclear attack on its cities? A well-known axiom in geopolitics is that any treaty can be broken if it is not in the interest of a country. In this case, the US would even argue that the treaty should not be implemented if it would mean the end of our species, which a total nuclear war triggered by the US coming to our aid would result in. Will Marcos scream, “Never mind if all humanity is killed?”


The US would simply excuse itself from not aiding the Philippines by pointing out that it requires the US Senate’s authority for its president to order its forces to war. And, of course, they would also point out that the treaty very clearly defines an “armed attack” as one on the country’s “metropolitan territory or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific Ocean.” The Spratlys cannot be defined as the Philippines’ metropolitan territory, and the islands are not under its jurisdiction since these are disputed areas claimed not only by China and the Philippines but also by Vietnam, Taiwan and Malaysia.

Related to Marcos’ blind faith that the US has his back is his repeated declaration that other countries, such as the UK, Australia, Japan and several other European countries, will aid the Philippines in a war against China.

This idea is so naïve. Statements of support in international conflicts are worth nothing. Governments issue those statements as it costs them nothing, especially if these support mere generalities such as a “rules-based order.” They may have indeed helped the US in the case of Ukraine, which has received some form of assistance from 45 countries. But most of these are token contributions that have hardly made a dent in defeating the Russian assault. Japan’s assistance to Ukraine, for instance, consists of such things as Toyota Hilux trucks and six Isuzu crane trucks. Estonia listed “two saunas” as among its assistance.

More importantly, in the case of an actual conflict, countries would not risk their own interests, which would be the case if they contributed something to the Philippines for its war against China. The countries Marcos says would assist us against China are linked so much with the Chinese economy. Japan is China’s 3rd biggest trading partner, Germany its 7th, Australia its 8th, and the UK its 17th. The US, of course, is China’s biggest trading partner. Why would these countries endanger their economies by helping the Philippines fight China over some disputed shoal?

Worse time

Marcos deciding to go to war against China couldn’t have happened at a worse time. US presidential elections are due this November; Biden wouldn’t want a war in Asia at this time, especially as his head is about to explode with Israel’s refusal to end its genocide in Gaza and Russia’s growing strength in the Ukraine war.

In the 2012 Scarborough Shoal stand-off, President Obama rejected President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s request to have US Navy vessels sail to the area to show support for the Philippines. Obama wouldn’t risk a shooting war with China, especially as he was running for reelection scheduled that year. To prevent the Scarborough Shoal stand-off from erupting into an armed conflict, the US fooled the Philippines into leaving the shoal, telling our officials that the Chinese had agreed to a simultaneous withdrawal. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario ordered our two ships to leave the area, only to find out later that while the US had offered that solution, Beijing still had to approve it.

It’s hard to predict, though, how the US would handle this deadly conundrum that it really created with its incessant propaganda to portray China as a bully while preventing an all-out war that it would get involved in. But watch for creative solutions.

Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao

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My website: www.rigobertotiglao.com

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Dorina S. Rojas

    FPRRD sent rore missions using helicopters, why is it not being done now? Or does our administration really want to satisfy the US by sending message to the world that China is a real bully by sacrificing our people to play “paawa”or “aping-api “? Bangag na decision talaga.

  2. Diode G. Lantoria

    Mr. R. Tiglao,
    What is your solution to stop this bullying made by Chinese coast guard to our resupply mission to Ayungin shoal? When you criticize, you have also to propose solution to solve the problem.

    1. River Dweller

      “Bullying”? What are you, some elementary kid?

    2. The solution was there since at least PNoy’s time: China had proposed bilateral negotiations, and even offered a 60:40 split in favor of the Philippines on any resources found in those areas. Unfortunately, the little brown Amboys and greedy Western-brainwashed capitalist elites want 100% of nothing, and allowed themselves to be used as pawns by the Muricans for their geopolitical scheme of containing China’s inevitable rise as a superpower surpassing the declining empire of the US.


    Somebody tell those melodramatic Amboys that fighting a 21st century war is different from sending some half-Pinay to the Miss Universe.

  4. That’s why the release of the pulvoronic video should be expedited so that the people can kick out this murican lapdog Andres De Saya and his scheming and corrupt JahasSmuggs controller/”wife” before Filipinos die and suffer for a totally silly and unnecessary manufactured conflict!

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