SOME COMPATRIOTS' IRRATIONAL REACTIONS
The report of a Chinese rubber dinghy boat ramming a wooden Filipino fishermen's boat came out four days ago. There were numerous immediate reactions from my compatriot Filipinos with understandable reactions of anger among some and from a few some very extreme reactions like cursing and posting of pictures of a dog defecating on a Chinese flag. The last among these reactions I cited is indeed reprehensible reflecting the crude mentality of those who did it than any legitimate anger.
But I am very careful not to react immediately to such news and such emotional responses from my compatriots. One that I know personally commented "PutanginanyoTsina" bluntly. He's a former navy personnel and a bit crude, but I was incense since I never heard him speak of the US in such a manner even when that US marine killed the Filipino transvestite. Yet, that should be expected of some of the lower-level minded fellow Filipinos of mine, I said to myself – and postponed my reaction.
Scrutinizing the news reports about the boat encounter incident I noted several important particulars which emotionally charged reactors wouldn't analyze.
First, the alleged offender in the ramming used "rubber boats" which presumably is the tpe used by the Coast Guards of very country – sturdy, solid but in no way comparable to any steel hull vehicle that could inflict really serious damage. My compatriot Filipinos should note this and give credit where credit is due in that – there was no way any charge of "superior force" being used could be hurled. Despite the rubber boats being used some mainstream Philippine newspapers still used photos of steel hulled huge ships in their reports the images on the incident.
Secondly, the Philippine news reports did narrate the stoning of the rubber boats and portrayed this as the reaction of our compatriot fishermen fending off the rubber boats. The question why the fishermen would be carrying stones (or rocks) was explained by later reports, which could have been only an afterthought to explain a curious situation, that these were weighs for fishing nets used by the fishermen. That may be true as gill nets would need such weights to keep the meshes stretched downward – but they are normally tied to the nets and not of enough numbers for the scene described.
Thirdly, and this came out only much later when the China Daily and other Chinese newspapers reported on the incident, the fishermen used "fire bombs" which I would think are "Molotov cocktails". The Chinese media is always meticulous in its factuality, if there is any information it wants to avoid it will keep quiet but never lie. This is unlike the Philippine mainstream media which, in the case of Philippine Coast Guard use of machine guns against a Taiwanese fishing vessel in 2013 where it lied outright.
The "fire bombs" could be merely the makeshift lamps used by our compatriot fishermen, a beer bottle filled with petrol or kerosene and plugged with a cloth and lighted. That's what activists frequently used, during the early rallies in the 60s and 70s. What is good news is that not even our compatriot fishermen reported any overreaction from the Chinese side, such as using guns. Of course, this time there was no way to report that the Chinese side used "water cannons" on our fishermen because the rubber boats don't carry those.
The question, however, must be asked by our compatriots watching this development objectively. Is there a possibility that this incident was a contrived event intended for provocation and raise tensions again. This has happened time and again before, from the arrest of Chinese fishermen at the Scarborough in April 2012 using a Nay "grey" ship the BRP Del Pilar to the false accusation by defense secretary Gazmin a year later in October about "concrete lblocks" for Chinese construction which turned out to be anchors for US target practice, etc.
But it was more likely a case of misunderstanding again as even the Chinese news reports stting that the Chinese Coast Guard was carrying out "governance" activities, that a term that must be clarified. In the past our compatriot fishermen would even state candidly and contradicting local sensational but erroneous news reports that they were being prevented form fishing in traditional waters in disputed areas. Is it true they are being prevented now? This must be clarified and subjected to discussion by the authorities from the two government in an amicable manner.
In the final analysis, misunderstanding can and should be avoided – through constant and continuing dialogue and open communications by representatives of the two countries in the spirit of mutual protection. In legal form, this is by way of a Fisheries Agreement. The intransigent position of the BS Aquino-Del Rosario government the past six years in scuttling dialogue with China has prevented this rational solution from being laid down on the table, there is no reason now to delay such talks with Aquino on the way out and Del Rosario already out. ###