West Philippine Sea

We are now targets for not only Chinese but also Russian nuke-tipped missiles

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UNDER-REPORTED in the Philippine mainstream media, the US in April deployed to an unidentified military camp in Northern Luzon its state-of-the-art ground-based missile system consisting of a containerized system of four strike-length launcher cells and radar facilities linked to US satellites.

The US mobile, containerized Typhon weapons system, whose missiles can reach the Spratlys from Luzon. US ARMY PHOTO

Called the Typhon Payload Delivery System, all it needs to create a nuclear Armageddon in the South China Sea are the nuclear-tipped missiles themselves — mid-range Tomahawk and SM-6 — to be inserted into the launchers and fired at its targets.

The aviationist.com website described the system: “The MRC (mid-range capabilities)/Typhon missile system comprises the SM-6 air defense missile tweaked for anti-shipping roles and Tomahawk subsonic cruise missiles for land targets, respectively. The system bridges the range gap between the 482-kilometer range Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) and the 2776-kilometer range of the US Army’s hypersonic Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW). In other words, it requires missiles to reach targets up to 1,800 km away.”

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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.

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DefSec Teodoro belies Executive Secretary Bersamin

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ON Monday, I wrote a piece whose title is its gist: “We have become a leaderless nation.” With certain recent developments, I rest my case. President Marcos can’t even set policy on an urgent issue facing the nation, our conflict with China.

His Defense Secretary, Gilberto Teodoro, has publicly defied his alter ego, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin who had announced a de-escalation in government’s rhetoric against China.

On June 17, China Coast Guard vessels had several inflatable boats block Philippine Coast Guard crafts from supplying the platoon of Marines at the BRP Sierra Madre grounded 25 years ago at Ayungin Shoal. The Chinese even got to board the Philippine boats, brandished pick axes and spears to puncture and deflate dinghies to sink them.

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We have become a leaderless nation

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THE China Coast Guard’s pouncing on our vessels to prevent them from supplying the beached BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal reveals what has become of this nation since President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. took power: We have become a leaderless nation.

Of course, Marcos, with his family, wields the powers and enormous benefits of the presidency under the Constitution, but he has done after two years little, if any, to lead the nation.

By leadership, I mean what former president Duterte did. He waged a war against drugs, even if bloody, and broke the back of this scourge. He accelerated infrastructure construction through his build-build-build program. He enacted a Comprehensive Tax Reform Program which has strengthened government finances. He doubled our soldiers’ and policemen’s salaries, which was a factor in the low crime rates during his term. He all but dismantled the communist insurgency. Why, he undertook seemingly small reforms, such as the cleanup of the Manila Bay coast and the “detoxification” of Boracay, that demonstrated how much government can do if it puts its mind to it.

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Delusion or publicity stunt, or both

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NOW what?

I would think that after several attempts by the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard to deliver construction and repair supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal, which were easily foiled by the China Coast Guard, the latest June 17 being the most violent incident, the following would be inarguably clear.

These attempts were the result of President Marcos Jr. and his military brass’ deep delusion that they could ignore China’s position that Ayungin Shoal, which it calls Rén’ài Jiāo, is part of their sovereign outlying archipelago called Nansha Qundao. This was declared as such in Chinese maps in the modern era and enshrined in their laws, among them in its 1958 Declaration on China’s Territorial Sea.

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The other threat in the South China Sea (Philippine West Sea): Vietnam

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WHILE President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his military brass have been on overdrive to condemn China’s alleged aggressiveness in Philippine West Sea, another claimant, Vietnam, has been on an island-building spree, doubling its hectarage of reclaimed land in the disputed areas in the first five months of this year. Prodigious anti-China basher, former justice Antonio Carpio, who is married to a Vietnamese, has never ever criticized Vietnam for ignoring our claims in the Spratlys. Vietnam is the only claimant that got to grab in 1975 an island, Pugad Island (Southwest Cay), from us, although by subterfuge.

Vietnam has occupied the most features in the Spratlys — four islands and 29 reefs. The Philippines occupies eight islands and two reefs. China occupies seven reefs, which it transformed into artificial islands from 2012 to 2013, and three shoals, including Bajo de Masinloc, which the Philippines abandoned in the 2012 Scarborough stand-off.

As sure as the sun rises in the East, if China vacates its occupied artificial islands in the South China Sea, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam will be landing its troops on each and every island, and it has been preparing to do so for a decade.

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Is he mad, and a warmonger?

AT a security forum in Singapore on Friday, a delegate asked President Ferdinand Marcos Jr: If a Chinese water cannon killed a Filipino soldier, would he consider that a red line and invoke the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty?

Marcos replied as if he were a president of a superpower: “If by a willful act a Filipino — not only serviceman but even a Filipino citizen — is killed … that is what I think is very, very close to what we define as an act of war, and therefore we will respond accordingly.”

He noted that Filipinos had been injured in recent clashes, but none had been killed yet. “Once we get to that point, we would have crossed the Rubicon. Is that a red line? Almost certainly, it’s going to be a red line. (That idiom, meaning making an irreversible decision, is derived from Roman general Julius Caesar and his army’s crossing of the Rubicon in 40 BC to rule as strongman of the Roman Republic.)

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SCS hoax No. 3: ‘Court’ ruled vs China’s claims

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Third of four parts

THE third-biggest lie over our South China Sea (SCS) disputes with China has been disseminated in the Hitlerian tactic that a fallacy repeated again and again would be believed as truth.

Indeed, nearly all media reports on our SCS quarrel contain versions of the following statement: “The Philippines sued China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2013 over the country’s claims in the West Philippine Sea. In July 2016, the court ruled in favor of the Philippines and rejected China’s nine-dash claim, covering almost the entire South China Sea.”

That’s from a May 24, 2024 report in the Daily Tribune, ironically a paper financed and put up by the officials and supporters of former president Rodrigo Duterte, who called that “court’s” ruling a worthless piece of paper.

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Hoax No. 2: China’s claims are based on the nine-dash line

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Third of four parts

I DEBUNKED in my column last Monday the colossal lie that China has trampled on our sovereignty because it has been intruding into our exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and I do hope those who disagree with me express their views, which I will publish in my column so we could have a lively debate and ferret out the truth.

The gist of my argument: Areas that our leaders claim are within our EEZ are areas China has long claimed as its sovereign territory, such as the Spratlys, which in all its maps since even before the World Wars are depicted as part of its territory it calls the Nansha Islands. It’s moot and academic to argue which narrative is correct; all we can do is to recognize that a territorial (not maritime) dispute exists and to undertake cordial, not belligerent, bilateral negotiations without threatening China that the US will help us enforce our claims.

The second biggest hoax over our territorial disputes with China is the assertion, which is almost always stated even in straight news articles, that our neighbor’s declaration of sovereignty over the Spratlys is based on the so-called nine-dash line, a series of dashes drawn around the South China Sea. It’s as if one day, a Chinese leader woke up on the wrong side of the bed, drew that line, and declared everything encompassed by it as China’s sovereign territory.

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