Credits: VOA News
“Do we have an interest in acceleration over the subject of Taiwan? No. The worst choice would be to think that we, Europeans, must be followers on this subject, and adapt ourselves to an American pace and a Chinese overreaction.”
— French President Emmanuel Macron
LAST FRIDAY, April 14, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian “advised” the Philippines to oppose Taiwan’s independence instead of offering the US access to its military facilities near the Taiwan Strait.
“Philippines is advised to unequivocally oppose ‘Taiwan Independence’ rather than stoking the fire by offering the US access to the military bases near the Taiwan Strait if you care genuinely about the 150,000 OFWs,” Huang boomed.
Sounds like a veiled threat, really, and I can only imagine the Chinese envoy saying this without batting an eyelash.
“The Taiwan question is entirely China’s internal affair, as is the Mindanao issue to the Philippines. You will never allow any third party to meddle with resolving rebel issues in Mindanao,” Huang stressed.
Ironically, despite the probability that the Philippines could be dragged into a war not of its own choosing in case the US meddles if China invades Taiwan, many Filipinos still want to work in this tiny island long considered a rogue province by the mainland.
They could be thinking that if a US-China war breaks out, then our country’s former colonial master will still emerge victorious.
But what if China strikes first and targets the nine Philippine bases that serve as hosts of the American forces under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)?
Signed in 2014, EDCA grants US troops access to designated Philippine military facilities and allows them to build facilities, and preposition equipment, aircraft, and vessels.
The five existing EDCA locations are Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu, and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City.
The new EDCA sites designated by the two sides are in Balabac Island in Palawan and in Naval Base Camilo Osias in Sta Ana, Cagayan; Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo, Cagayan; and Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela which are both near Taiwan and Benham Rise.
These areas are in danger of being pulverized before the Americans can do a MacArthur.
It can be recalled that during World War II’s Pacific Campaign, General Douglas MacArthur, along with his family, were located on the island of Corregidor, strategically located at the entrance of Manila Bay, just south of Bataan province in Luzon.
MacArthur oversaw more than 90,000 American and Filipino troops who, lacking food, supplies, and support, would soon succumb to the advancing Japanese imperial forces.
But as neighboring strongholds fell to the Japanese, US President Franklin Roosevelt, grew concerned that Corregidor would also fall and MacArthur would be captured or killed, so he directly ordered him to leave the island.
When he left in March 1942, MacArthur then vowed, “I Shall Return.”
Yes, MacArthur did fulfill his promise to return after two and a half years.
The Filipino guerillas, notably the Hukbalahap (Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon), valiantly fought the foreign invaders.
But just like the Katipuneros, victory was grabbed again by another foreign power in collaboration with the local elite.
Now, can we afford another war not really our own choice?
Remember that Japan invaded the Philippines because our government chose to ally with the United States which only bought our country from Spain for 20 million dollars.
After enslaving the Philippines for 330 long years, it refused to yield to the Katipuneros and sold our archipelago to the Yankees who colonized our forefathers for more than 40 years until the second world war erupted.
It’s really heartening that French President Emmanuel Macron, formerly a member of the Socialist Party, boldly refuses to let his country get involved in the US-China row over Taiwan.
“Being an ally does not mean being a vassal… doesn’t mean that we don’t have the right to think for ourselves,” Macron said at a recent press conference in the Netherlands during his two-day visit.
A vassal is defined as a person or country in a subordinate position to another.
But will President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. follow in the footsteps of Macron who chooses to be fiercely independent?
We can only hope that PBBM will also be reminded of an African proverb that says “When elephants fight, the grass gets trampled.”