Wed. Jun 23rd, 2021

As I prepared to write this article last August 24, I had planned to use all my time researching and finishing several articles I had scheduled for the week. I called a volunteer assistant of mine- to do all the nitty-gritty for the day while I try to keep my mind centered on finishing this column.

After some time, however, my volunteer texted back saying it’s not possible for her to travel. I replied, saying that the General Community Quarantine has already allowed public transport to resume.

She explained that the jeepneys from her residence in Punta aren’t running their routes yet, instead, only mini-buses are available. These are paid by “cards” that one buys for P 150.00 each, which would already consume almost half of the allowance I give her for a day’s work with me. Plus, the P50 round-trip fare of the tricycle ride from her residence to the main road would all but totally wipe her out.

As I pondered the problem, I wondered what the government – as represented by the likes of who I now call the “Three Stooges” – should be doing to solve this transportation cost problem of our working class. After all, the Three Stooges had grandstanded the past week on that ridiculously frivolous and trivial black propaganda gimmick of a beauty product labeled “made in Manila, province of China.”

The Three Stooges – Ping Lacson, Isko Moreno and Jerico Nograles – hogged the top news, front pages and social media posts for a few days, railing and flailing against the “insult” of the supposed beauty product made in China with supposed printed packaging that declared the product “made in Manila, province of China.”

Now I don’t know what numbskull, even a Chinese unfamiliar with English, would make that mistake. Many products that I see are made in China don’t even put the country of origin at all.  I could only conclude that this gimmick was done by the usual suspects, such as Jover Laurio. 

In 2018, Jover Laurio started this “Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China” gimmick with streamers fixed onto pedestrian overpasses around Metro-Manila to revive the anniversary of the PCA arbitration “victory.”

 We remind one and all that Jover Laurio – better known for her Liberal Party loving, Anti-Duterte and Anti-China @PinoyAkoBlog – got funding from Liberal Party stalwarts and Yellow movement supporters like Kris Aquino. Her trolling work was also linked to Kris Aquino’s business manager Nicko Falcis who got hundreds of thousands for his work in social media trolling.

That 2018 “… Philippines, Province of China” campaign was followed in 2019 by the propaganda gimmick timed to coincide with that year’s Independence Day celebrations. Caught on the Luneta Park CCTV cameras were three men who were paying vendors at the park to carry Chinese flags. The three men also posed for pictures that were spread in newspapers and social media. This was also part of the “… Philippines, Province of China” campaign.

 The gimmick for 2020 is timed for August 21, the infamous holiday of the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, so-called martyr and hero who is famous also for his own statement “I worked with and not for the CIA”. The day is also infamous for the Plaza Miranda Massacre, which was blamed on Marcos but committed by Joma Sison and his cadres. This year, it is the incident of beauty products labelled “Manila, province of China” that represent a national crisis worthy of the focus of all domestic media and the actions of the Three Stooges.

Like periodic ovulations, the South China Sea also bob up from the sea with regularity; this month, anti-China propagandists, starting with Rappler, had to retrieve May news report– fully three months past – to  revive the alleged Chinese Coast Guard confiscation of Filipino fishermen’s fishing gear at Scarborough Shoals and the ensuing perfunctory diplomatic protest lodged the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs.

In my FB account response to the torrent of howling brain-challenged, knee-jerk anti-China reactions, I made two points.

First, May is the height of the Chinese moratorium for all fishing in the SCS. This was declared by China to conserve the fish population, an annual move by China that is good for all fisheries in the SCS. China, after all, is by far the largest fleet in the region. Cooperation helps the other countries around the sea, such as, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, etc.

Very few Filipinos are aware that Vietnam is the most frequent poacher in all the waters claimed by the different countries in the region. This has been confirmed by our Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana in his statement of October 2020 that was published in most of our mainstream newspapers.

Malaysia has been confronting the same problem with Vietnam, and so is China. Vietnam and the Philippines have been protesting the fishing moratorium, but it is clearly time for all countries around the SCS to have a summit to discuss these issues together.

 Fishing boats of all sizes and makes, which now includes Vietnam’s reported 30,000 fishing boats as well as the Philippines’ 800,000 small-scale fishermen and 11,000 commercial fishing vessels (note: all figures are mere estimates and subject to updating). The Scarborough Shoal is one of the key breeding grounds of the SCS; hence, it is understandable that many seek to fish there despite necessary seasonal moratoria.

As I said in my FB comments and posts, the multi-sided diplomatic protests and tit-for-tat over these recurrent issues are but perfunctory actions. If at all, they merely confirm the effectiveness and efficiency of regular, bio-annual bilateral talks to thresh out these expected occurrences and creases in bilateral relations. As usual, however, the politicians and anti-China mainstream media insist on making tidal waves out of ripples.

The repeated echo of “Philippines (or Manila this time around), Province of China” is as ridiculous as the call of the late Assemblyman Bartolome C. Cabangbang who crusaded for U.S. Statehood for the Philippines. The Americans were quiet through decades of such calls as, like China, the Philippines as a state or a province of the United States is like asking for a hole in the head. Any country that would integrate this oligarch-infested, cacophonous rudderless “democracy” must be out of its head.

The Philippines’ choice is to stand up on its own, steer clear of the confusion created by mental dependency on the West, and be what it could be its best role once-and-for-all – as the cosmopolitan center of the Asia-Pacific and the peacemaker in an otherwise conflicted world, taking full advantage of its cultural and geopolitical diversity to unite East and West by its active neutrality, dynamic engagement with all sides.

The Filipino people, starting with the nation’s political leadership, must frown upon these black propaganda gimmicks instead of playing up on them. As a people we must  focus all energies on re-organizing our society and economic structure – Build, Build, Build and produce, produce, produce, and export, export, export while in all fields from agriculture to industries (the latter with international partners), and receive tourists from from the harsh winters and viruses of the temperate zones.

 We must discipline politicians and chastise them when they grandstand and dance the jig dance around these ridiculous issues, as well as the media that play them up. The President must also ramp up the state media and increase its budget, solicit more international support – to enable state media to fight the disinformation campaigns against the state and the people’s welfare. Medium power states have always relied on its diplomacy and international relations to proper, grow and achieve long term stability.

 Let’s take care of our suffering people’s needs first before going into an aping of U.S. style political circuses. 

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