(Part 2: Is Locsin, Pompeo’s newsboy?)
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. last August 28 said he would “strongly recommend” terminating local contracts with any Chinese companies involved in the reclamations in the South China Sea, days after the United States slapped sanctions against firms backing Beijing in advancing its claims in the region.
Earlier he was clickbaited by ABSCBN News Channel, and pitched over for “echoing” by the South China Morning Post, PhilStar, Bangkok Post, Manila Bulletin, Politics.com.ph, Free Republic, WarNewsUpdates, The Star (Malaysia) that Manila would continue air patrols over the South China Sea despite Beijing’s calls to halt what it described as “illegal provocations” by the Philippines.
This time in an interview over CNN Philippines, Locsin said he was not aware whether any of these enterprises had a contract in the Philippines, but should he find out they are doing business with Manila, he “would strongly recommend we terminate that relationship with them”.
“If they were in any way involved in the reclamation, then it becomes consistent on our part to terminate any contract with them. Of course, since the contract was already entered into, they could sue us back… I’m very careful about validating anything China does by inaction,” he said.
Again, Locsin pissed his pants.
This time the clickbait by CNN, was “echoed” by Politico.com, Philstar, Philippines Daily Inquirer, Asian Journal, Rappler, Canadian Inquirer and Philippine News Agency, aiming at a “catch”.
Wikipedia explains what a “catch” is – In baseball, a catch occurs when a fielder gains secure possession of a batted ball in flight, and maintains possession until he voluntarily or intentionally releases the ball. When a catch occurs, the batter is out, and runners, once they properly tag up (retouch their time-of-pitch base), may attempt to advance at risk of being tagged out.
This time it caught PNA the official news agency of the Philippine government and today’s leading Manila broadsheet the Manila Times. A follow-up update by Philstar makes it suspect the infowars is being staged from the Port Area.
The Manila Standard also reported two local lawmakers Samar 1st District Rep. Edgar Sarmiento and Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate adding fuel to ambers being floated by the US State Department.
Washington this week imposed sanctions against China state-owned enterprises and visa restrictions on individuals behind the dredging and militarization of the disputed features in the South China Sea.
Among those covered are subsidiaries of the state-owned China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), which the US accused of leading the “destructive dredging of the PRC’s South China Sea outposts”.
Is Locsin, Pompeo’s newsboy?
In a press readout dated August 26, State Secretary Michael Pompeo claimed that CCCC “have engaged in corruption, predatory financing, environmental destruction, and other abuses across the world” and that China should not be allowed to use it and other companies as “weapons to impose an expansionist agenda”.
CCCC appears to be a strategic target because it is one of the leading contractors in Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative, is also part of a consortium that bagged the Sangley Point International Airport (SPIA) project in Cavite.
Karen Davila bedevils Locsin
In the first part of this thread where we mentioned how an earlier ABSCBN News Channel interview sent Locsin rushing to the john but ending up peeing his pants, presenter Karen Davila pressed the foreign affairs secretary on the circumstances that would make Manila make the call to the US, he refused to go into specifics, saying “I will not discuss that because the essence of deterrence theory is uncertainty.”
In the Philippine broadcast industry, Davila is the queen of “what ifs”. She really has no substance to share with the public but is best in twiddling his guests to comment on rumors, conjectures, speculations and her wet dreams, not to enlighten her audience about the relevance of her guest over trending news, their gravitas and implications for public or even human interest.
What happens next is she becomes the news!
She has been best at this rabblerousing, to Gabby Lopez’ best delights, ever since she herself was rumored to have been “holding court” inside cars in the ABSCBN parking lot, engaged in some un-confirmed dalliance with network executives and personalities.
Locsin was vulnerable for clickbaiting because he had earlier spoken to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, after Washington rejected China’s claims to the resource-rich disputed waterway through which US$3 trillion of trade passes and said the US would support countries who believed Beijing had violated their own claims.
Pompeo had spoken to a host of foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) bloc including Locsin, with a State Department note on the call saying both men “discussed the recent change in US policy on maritime claims in the South China Sea, US support for coastal states … and opportunities for further US-Philippine maritime cooperation.”
Tiglao holds no punches
As of this writing, the country’s number one columnist, and already dean of journalists, former Ambassador to Greece Rigoberto Tiglao Jr. puts a leash on Secretary Locsin’s collar.
Bobi starts by saying “Pompeo announced to the world what should have been a confidential phone conversation. Locsin I’d bet was clueless that he was being played. The US secretary of state sent the impression to China and the world that he could ask Locsin to say something against China and he would ask, ‘When?’
“Locsin, feeling so important that he talked to the foreign affairs secretary of the most powerful nation on earth, even revealed a few days later [when asked by Karen Davila on an ANC interview]: ‘I was talking to the secretary of state and there are things that are not yet ripe for revelation.’ He in effect told the world: “I and Pompeo have secret plans against China, but I’m not telling you yet.’ What a talkative diplomat.”
Tiglao explains, “Analysts saw that move as absurd, as no court nor authorized international body has determined, nor can ever determine, which of the four claimants of features in the Spratlys — the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Taiwan and Malaysia — has legitimate sovereignty over these reefs.
“As far as China is concerned, therefore, it was simply building things on their sovereign territory, with the US meddling in an area it does not have any business at all. All of the claimants, including us, have since the 1970s been building structures on islands and reefs they have occupied.
“Yet Locsin didn’t even bother to ask his staff at the Department of Foreign Affairs to study the US’ unprecedented move. Nor did he clear his statement with the chief architect of our foreign policy, Duterte.”
This is curious because when Pompeo visited the Philippines in March 2019, Pompeo had said that “if China initiates an armed attack on any member of the Philippine armed force or public vessel or aircraft in the South China Sea, the Mutual Defense Treaty will be activated”.
And now, Locsin tells Karen Davila “[But if] something happens that is beyond incursion but is in fact an attack on say a Filipino naval vessel … then I call up Washington DC.”
Tiglao said Locsin portrayed to the world that the Philippines is just a phone call away from US military succor in case conflict erupts between the Philippines and China, and that Pompeo assured him of this.
The former ambassador minces no words and names Locsin our first foreign affairs secretary to announce to the world that we, an independent nation since July 4, 1946, remains a US protectorate!
So Tiglao sends Teddy Boy back to his doghouse:
“Rather than wasting his executive time twitting on every issue under the sun and spitting curses there, Locsin should spend more time studying the South China issue and its history.
“As early as 1971, China warned President Ferdinand Marcos that it wouldn’t allow a Filipino-Swedish-US consortium to drill for oil in the Reed Bank. When Marcos asked the US if it would intervene in case the Chinese attacked his navy escorting the oil drill ships, he was told that no, the Mutual Defense Treaty involves only an attack on ‘metropolitan’ Philippines, not on a Navy ship in disputed waters.
“President Corazon Aquino’s officials asked the same thing in 1988 when China occupied seven reefs in the Spratlys, their first attempt to establish Beijing’s claims in the area. The US said no, we can’t help you.
“President Fidel Ramos asked the same thing in 1995 when the Chinese built a structure on Mischief Reef. The US said no. US officials instead suggested to Ramos to transport he international press to the area and have helicopters fly them over Mischief Reef to take photos, which would create global outrage against China, especially if some trigger-happy Chinese militia stationed there would down the choppers, and kill the journalists.
“And the most recent case was when President Benigno Aquino 3rd and his Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario went to Washington, DC in 2012 to ask Obama to intervene in the Scarborough Shoal stand-off against the Chinese. They asked him to deploy US warships to the disputed area as a message to China that it can’t attack our ships.
“Obama refused, and his officials instead fooled Aquino and del Rosario into withdrawing our vessels there — claiming they had an agreement with China to simultaneously vacate the area when they didn’t — and consequently lose our hold on it.”
So now, Pompeo is under terrible pressure to feign a game changer, because as sovereignph.com Asian Century columnist Herman Tiu Laurel puts it, “Timing is a vital factor in Pompeo’s bait falling flat, coming as it did in the midst of U.S. President Donald Trump’s flailing and railing against his dwindling electoral chances.”
On July 13, 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a supposedly earthshaking, tsunami-stirring announcement of a basic U.S. policy shift on the South China Sea (SCS) disputes. The Pompeo statement came one day after the fourth anniversary of the so-called Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) judgment on the unilateral petition of the BS Aquino III government on the maritime entitlements of the Philippines in 2016.
Laurel said, “Strain our ears as we did for almost a month, reviewing the worldwide web for official and unofficial diatribes from Vietnam, the most strident claimant against China.
“However, except for an official reiteration of the Philippines that it will never give up its claim without the use of any hostile language aimed at another country, there was only the “sound of silence.” I was waiting for the earth to shake and the South China Sea waters to rumble and rise in a political tsunami, but calm reigned.
“While scanning Western-allied global media, which is expected to drum up any noise from SCS counter-claimants, I could only find this report from Nikkei: Asia greets US shift on South China Sea with hope and doubt… Skepticism lingers regarding Washington’s commitment to the region.”
“Trump is, grasping at straws in the air, from the “China virus” to “Kung Flu” to “Tik ToK” and “Huawei.” The U.S. policy shift on the South China Seas just runs smack of cynical, tasteless electioneering gimmickry.”
The Republican National Convention has just finished and Real Clear Politics polled Trump behind Democrat Joe Biden by 6.9%.