Monday, December 21, 2015

Our humiliating alliance

Our humiliating alliance

The country’s alliance with the US after that short interlude of having to leave in September 1991 has gone through “an ugly metamorphosing” process.

The US forces are back with a vengeance through our signing  of the Visiting Forces Agreement. Now under the renamed “Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)”, the Philippines is not only committed to provide facilities to protect the Americans’ interest in this part of the world with the usual trappings of according them extra-territorial privileges, but with an added premium that we contribute to the cost of their presence—as if to prove our hospitality and make sure their soldiers would truly have fun in the Philippines. 
Our negotiators led by Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario acted without hesitation by ceding all that the US demanded, even allowing them to interpret their view of jurisdiction in relation to our claim against China’s over those islands in the China Sea, and in sealing our mouth to our Sabah claim forgetting that in the conduct of foreign relations, the issue of jurisdiction is an integral component.
This insidious pattern of recolonization could be observed on how we deal with China, with the US standing as our most ardent agitator, while advising us to drop our Sabah claim, and even prodding us to cede a portion of our territory to the Malaysian-sponsored Islamic secessionist rebels for us to achieve peace in Mindanao.  
It is for this why nobody has taken us seriously.  Our conduct of foreign relations has somewhat been frozen in time. We act as though the Cold War has just started and Chinese people continue to eat porridge, their soldiers still in their pajama uniform.  Our co-members in the ASEAN and the rest of the international community are confused whether we are really talking on our behalf, or whether it is the US that has been doing the talking for us in the name of securing our interest.
Our situation has become hilarious; our interest has become more of a fiction, and in every aspect where we invoke our interest, the international community interprets it as, in fact, an interest of the US.  
The latest statement released by the US State Department stating that China’s “nine-dash line” claim is not in accord with the International Law of the Sea has not been greeted with much respect, not so much that the US is the number one violator of international law, but of the truth that the one talking for us is not even a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
No member of the ASEAN and even those countries that have contentious claim over those islands in the China Sea has come out to endorse that statement.   China’s rejection is not so much that it amounts to undue interference, but of the fact that the US cannot invoke the convention for which it refused to sign as member.  
Moreover, our premature rejoicing over the fact that Vietnam has joined us in bringing its dispute with China to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based at The Hague has only exposed us to further ridicule.   A close hard look at Vietnam’s decision will reveal that although both the Philippines and Vietnam sought the auspices of that Court to help them resolve their claim (assuming China would accept and submit to its jurisdiction), a decision of the PCA on the claim of Vietnam would have no bearing on our claim.  Their claim has reference to their dispute in the Paracel Islands.  It would have been different if the claim of Vietnam covers the same disputed area in the Spratly islands where Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have laid down similar claims.
In fact, many are wondering why the US did not propose a similar action of bringing our Sabah claim to the PCA.  The PCA is a better venue than the International Court of Justice where we were not even allowed to take our first step of submitting our memorial, even if expectedly Malaysia would refuse to submit to its jurisdiction.  Because of that askance attitude shown by the US, Secretary Del Rosario perhaps thought it wise to drop the idea, hoping that time will allow us to forget another ignominious chapter of betrayal in our history.  In that, one could clearly deduce that we have been completely reduced to a pathetic stooge that we could not even open our mouth without clearance from the US.
 As our supposed indefatigable ally, US has no reason not to support our claim over Sabah.  First, we have a historic and legal title to our claim.  Second, Sabah’s annexation by Malaya to form the present-day Malaysia has no basis in international law, except that Sabah and Malaya were former British colonies that need to be consolidated under a regime amenable to its former colonizer.  It is on this context why the US did not see any value in our argument. It considers their alliance with the British as more valuable than their alliance with us.  In other words, Sabah under Malaysia is more beneficial to US than in seeing Sabah as part of our territory.   
Our position has become humiliating. How could we pursue our claims in the Spratly islands and Sabah when we could not even enforce our jurisdiction within our own territory? We even allowed the US to define for us our interest under the guise of an alliance, while distancing from us when it would not contribute to their interest. The US refusal to surrender to our custody serviceman Joseph Scott Pemberton for the murder a transgender, Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude has made us look more like a pathetic clown, The statement by US Ambassador Philip Goldberg was more of an insult than an explanation when he said that their refusal to give surrender is in line with the provisions of the VFA.
While obviously trying not to  mention the recently concluded EDCA to avoid antagonizing the Supreme Court for reasons that there is a pending petition to declare that sellout agreement unconstitutional, the US ambassador forgot that the VFA has already been superseded by the signing of EDCA, and that means the VFA has been abrogated and no longer in existence.  The intransigence of the US ambassador only highlighted the issue of constitutionality for which the US and this pathetic government has been trying to avoid.  By downgrading the substantive issue of jurisdiction which is indivisible to our claim of sovereignty, like having custody of persons who violate our laws while in the country,   China and Malaysia are surely snickering behind our back as they could see us desperately trying to exert our jurisdiction over those disputed territories, yet could not enforce the same to US servicemen whose country they serve claims to be our ally.

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