CHAFF FROM THE GRAIN
By HECTOR R. R. VILLANUEVA
“China sees itself as fixture of the universe: It always was; it will always be.”
— Graham Allison, Harvard University
China is gaining influence in the Philippines without trying.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte serves it on a silver platter.
Foreign affairs advisers must have whispered into the President’s ears that the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) was dispensable compared to EDCA and MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty) to assuage the President’s hurt and ego over the cancellation of Sen. Bato de la Rosa’s US visa which was a no-brainer.
For US President Donald Trump, the termination of VFA was “fine,” no big deal, as it saves American taxpayers money and minor irritants.
As the former Chinese foreign minister once remarked, “China is a big country and other countries are small, and that is just the fact.”
While we are not sufficiently conversant and privy to the ponderous issues in the VFA, and other such agreements, there are nuances, cultural and historical factors to be considered in our long-term relationship with the United States in view of present geopolitical conditions and deep roots even if in some cases, it causes inconvenience and leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
In the Muslim world, a Muslim devotee is expected at least to make a pilgrimage to Mecca and holy place once in his lifetime.
For most Filipinos, their Mecca is the United States of America, the land of opportunity where they can obtain US citizenship escape hardship.
The US is the home of the free and individual enterprise.
Thus, one cannot remove the colonial mind-set of Filipinos in spite of the difficulties of securing an immigrant US visa.
Predictably, the estrangement and alienation of the Americans will correspondingly increase the resentment of the Filipinos towards the Chinese and their growing presence.
On the other hand, the United States will not defend the Philippines unless there is an actual armed invasion by China, which is unlikely in the near future.
China vehemently denies that it has imperialistic and expansionist plans.
On the other hand, the United States is mainly interested in securing the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, and is relatively ambivalent and sanguine to the territorial claims of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea.
Instead, what we have is a POGO invasion which is impinging on the Filipinos’ happiness, livelihood and well-being, with the oligarchs and parvenus as the main beneficiaries.
Hence, there is wisdom in maintaining ties and avoiding upsetting the applecart, so to speak, for the sake of regional security.
Thus, the Filipino people are concerned and unhappy over the strained relations with the US, and are asking President Rodrigo RoaDuterte what is he going to do about it?
You be the judge.