Ayungin incidents: A diabolical propaganda operation

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I HOPE gullible Filipinos, or those awed by the US media apparatus, found enlightening, and atrocious, the recent Reuters investigative report — confirmed by the Pentagon — that an American “psywar” command from 2020 to 2021 ran a black propaganda operation to discredit Chinese anti-Covid vaccines as ineffective mainly through social media*. (https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-covid-propaganda/).

Analysts point out that this operation aimed at discrediting Chinese-made vaccines led to skepticism over all kinds of vaccines among Filipinos that could explain the fact that the country had the worst inoculation rates in Southeast Asia resulting in about 50,000 deaths.

If the US military can do this in the case of Chinese vaccines, they have done and are doing similar “psy-ops” over our dispute with China over the South China Sea in order to demonize it as a “bully” and an expansionist power. The Americans aren’t doing this to help us pursue our claims in that sea region but to paint China as the new Evil Empire, even if our Filipino servicemen are hurt or even killed. They will just segue to claim Taiwan is another “country” China would be bullying soon.

China, China, China: Some of Philippine Star’s banner headlines for June.

The recent events about our military’s efforts at supplying the BRP Sierra Madre grounded at Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal, Rén’ài Jiāo) provide us with a “fresh” example of how this was undertaken, a diabolical but indeed clever propaganda operation.

That these have been purely propaganda operations is revealed by a simple question: What did our military hope to achieve with this resupply mission?

Freeze over

Hell will have to freeze over before China surrenders it to us, or allow construction and materials that would strengthen the Sierra Madre’s stability to stay on top of the coral reefs, indefinitely. The Chinese Communist Party will be overthrown if it allows a small country to recover an area it had de facto given up for 25 years. The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Navy would know that no kind of expert maneuvering can be undertaken to supply the Sierra Madre under cover of darkness.

Their legal consultants would tell them the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) cannot be invoked since China claims it as its sovereign territory, while the Philippines claims a weaker form of sovereignty — the exclusive economic zone.

The arbitral panel’s ruling in 2016 even declared that Unclos cannot be invoked in the Philippines’ demand for it be allowed to supply anything it wants to the Sierra Madre. Attempts to do so, as happened in 2014, would be a “a quintessentially military situation, involving the military forces of one side and a combination of military and paramilitary forces on the other, arrayed in opposition to one another…” (Award, paragraph 1160).

Because it created a dramatic theater for propaganda. Scene after scene, video after video taken by local and international press embedded in the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard vessels, of huge China Coast Guard vessels water cannoning our people and maneuvering to block our vessels. The best scenes were the last as Chinese inflatable boats were mobilized to surround our PCG vessels, with the Chinese brandishing knives, axes and spears.

The military’s script obviously was to have casualties, since US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told President Marcos that one Filipino killed would be sufficient to invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty. They were disappointed as the most serious injury happened was when a Chinese inflatable boat that was ramming ours had its bow fall on a Filipino sailor’s thumb.

It was a high drama of China “bullying” the country; one Philippine Star banner headline: “China boards Phl resupply boat: Navy man hurt.” Ignorant ambassadors of the US’ Western allies added their voice to condemn China for its “aggressive actions.” The Philippine Star, which has been the worst paper for its anti-China reportage and editorial, had eighteen banner stories on the Ayungin incidents for just June alone.

In every article or editorial on the Ayungin incidents, the following statement or versions of it are made:

“China claims almost all of the South China Sea through its nine-dash line, infuriating neighboring countries. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 found China’s sweeping claims to have no legal basis, a ruling Beijing rejects.”

Falsehoods

These two statements, of course, are colossal falsehoods, China claims the Spratlys and three other island groups in the Spratlys since it has exercised sovereignty over these, as proven in the maps since the 17th century and declared as such in its laws. China’s claims are totally independent of the nine-dash line, so that the arbitral panel’s (not the Permanent Court of Arbitration) ruling that the nine-dash line had no legal basis is irrelevant.

The outrage against China because of these essentially staged encounters appeared to be getting out of hand that Marcos Jr. called his Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin — his alter ego — to call for a press conference in which he reversed the defense secretary’s condemnation of the last incident, to instead claim it was a “an accident, a misunderstanding.”

At the end of the day, what did we get from these operations? A poor sailor lost his thumb. The US has a huge library of videos and photos of China’s “aggressive actions” in the South China Sea, to be distributed worldwide through social media.

After Ayungin, what propaganda script could the US think of?

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee should undertake hearings to find out who directed these operations that yielded nothing for us, what did they hope to achieve, and if President Marcos approved these. And then recommend firing whoever were involved, especially the defense secretary, the heads of the Armed Forces, Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard.

*One columnist in the Philippine Star though, known for his incessant anti-China pieces that included outrightly fake news, wrote a column on April 14, 2021 toeing the US military’s propaganda line, titled “Govt’s Chinese vaccine inept: just give us a fighting chance.” Retired justice Antonio Carpio wrote several columns in 2020 claiming that President Duterte had set “aside our sea rights just for ineffective vaccine.”

Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao

X: @bobitiglao

My website: www.rigobertotiglao.com

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Gurgur all the little brown Amboys starting with the US-compromised “Asian Zelensky”, Bonget Kutingsky, with the same predilection for the white powdery substance as the original American lapdog, before the declining Murican hegemonic empire succeeds in making the country a battleground for their continuing imperial machinations.

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