Will the next president please comment . . .

Will the next president please comment . . .

Because of the self-confidence with which he had spoken, no one could tell whether what he said was very clever or very stupid.

— Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, Война и мир (War and Peace)

WHILE almost everyone is focusing on the forthcoming national and local elections come May 9 next year, there are some issues and concerns that face our country that we have forgotten to look at and give importance, which in the long run would be a matter of concern for our country’s next president.

Some of us have temporarily forgotten our present situation in the West Philippine Sea, which requires a military pushback against China and to expel the Chinese from our country’s territory, we actually cannot do so by ourselves so we would need the help of an ally which is at par militarily if not more powerful than Beijing and is also our true friend and defender.

This can be none other than the United States of America, which we all know is at loggerheads with China in many global policies— one of them expansionist motives in Asia.

So suffice it to say that we propose that, upon assumption in the office of our next president and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) — who must, we pray, be competent, sane, pro-Filipino, pro-Western and not pro-China, our government should begin negotiations with the US for the conditional return to the Philippines of US military bases the size of the former Clark Air Force Base and Subic Naval Base, which were removed in the 1990s by our so-called patriotic politicians, among them convicted plunderer then senator Joseph ‘Erap’ Ejercito Estrada and also senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Agapito Aquino, Teofisto Guingona Jr., Sotero Laurel, Orlando Mercado, Ernesto Maceda, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Victor Ziga, Rene Saguisag, and Wigberto Tañada.

This may come as a surprise but this cannot be deemed as illogical as we face a bully like China which flaunts and often flexes its military muscle to the chagrin of our lowly fishermen who subsist from the marine resources now being blatantly stolen by the Chinese right under our very noses.

But in asking for the return of the US bases, certain conditions must also be met.

First, there should be a renegotiation of the PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty to clearly specify that the US will immediately and automatically give succor to the Philippines if by any event any foreign third party attacks our territory, exclusive economic zone (EEZ), or any of our aircraft, ship or boat — government-owned or private.

Secondly, the US must also be ready to immediately and automatically evict—using whatever force is necessary—any foreign third-party intruder, civilian or military that enters or occupies any part of our territory, territorial seas, EEZ or any island, reef, shoal, rock or sandbar that belongs to us, based on arbitrary rulings under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The truth is that because of a president who has been drunkenly infatuated with Beijing and its president Xi Jinping, the People’s Republic of China has become very aggressive and in recent months has started occupying some parts of our territory and EEZ.

This only actually came about after the US bases were removed. We thus realize that without the massive American military presence and support, we have become China’s plaything. This is why we are afraid that one day, China will just annex the Philippines as a colony or vassal state and enslave the Filipino people under its authoritative hegemony.

And there is nothing unpatriotic about having US bases here in our country. Other countries also host US military bases, among them Japan, Italy, and Thailand, and these countries are indeed protected by the US defense umbrella.

The 2016 Arbitral Award by the Permanent Court of Arbitration places the Philippines on high legal ground in this military pushback against China. Furthermore, China’s ancient maps show that Hainan is China’s southernmost territory.

Alongside and simultaneous with the return of the US bases, we must also build strong military alliances with other friendly Western nations, namely the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, as well as member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as well as with friendly, like-minded neighboring countries such as Australia, Japan, India, and South Korea.

And most important of all, with the US bases back and with additional military support from our other allies, we could buy time to make the Philippines militarily strong. Our government and the private sector must exert an all-out effort to build and maintain our own armaments and munitions manufacturing and naval shipbuilding industries.

During the war and also in peace, we must realize that these industries must provide our armed forces with a continuous supply of indigenous modern warplanes, warships, missiles, tanks, ammunition, and other advanced military equipment because through military-industrial cooperation, the armed forces will crush and defeat bullies and fight to win even decades-long protracted wars against invaders.

Moreover, the same industries could turn our country into an arms-exporting country. Thousands of Filipino workers will be employed in these industries, thus reducing unemployment in our country.

So, can any of those running for president please comment on our opinion?

(ai/mtvn)

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