Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. calls it a “strange bedfellows” relationship, the 1Sambayan Coalition, reportedly formed to represent the opposition in the 2022 elections. “Strange bedfellows” because those in the relationship are not supposed to share a common bed if you know what I mean.
Actually, the phrase is a title of a popular Hollywood movie back in the 1960s about two males in an amorous relationship. At a time when people’s attitude toward LGBTs was not quite as liberal as today, the theme was rather controversial, accounting for the movie’s success at the tills.
Picking up the subject matter, I wrote in this column on March 28, 2021: “While the article clearly delineated what he termed, ‘strange bedfellows’ relationship among those composing the 1Sambayan coalition, i.e., former senior associate justice Antonio Carpio and former Foreign Affairs secretary Alberto del Rosario, for instance, who are unabashed United States mouthpieces, and former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, for another instance, who is said to be a card-bearing member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP), together with Yellow Senators Kiko Pangilinan and Franklin Drilon with retired Philippine Navy Rear Admiral Rommel Ong to boot, I can’t help the feeling that the exposé actually raised the specter of such awful a phenomenon as a genocide that uniformly attend anti-communist campaigns.”
I had in mind the 1965-1966 genocide of communists in Indonesia that culminated in the military ouster and replacement of President Sukarno by Maj. Gen. Suharto. General Parlade’s assessment on 1Sambayan composition struck me as exposing the breadth and width and height reached by the CPP-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front insurgency to the extent that the Sisonites are already in a modus vivendi with otherwise their class enemies for the purpose of ousting President Duterte.
And such an ouster may not even be through the electoral process but through something that has the likes of Suharto’s ousting Sukarno in 1967 — as indicated by General Parlade’s question at the end of his piece to retired Philippine Navy Rear Admiral Rommel Ong: “Why are you there, bok?”
If this perception of mine were to be true, then the formation of 1Sambayan reflects an advancement in the strategy of the United States to get the Philippines embroiled in a war with China in order to reassert its lost status as the world’s leading hegemon.
The transpirations at the US-China Diplomatic Dialogue in Anchorage, Alaska, recently indicated that the US ploy in the Indo Pacific Region is for a continued demonizing of China instead of a peaceful win-win relationship proposed by China for enjoyment of world development equally among countries.
The US particularly castigated China for violations of what it calls rules-based international order, which the US and its Western allies promote at the expense of the United Nations rules on international relations, which China upholds in their entirety.
Simply stated, there appears no way China and the United States can agree in the South China Sea (SCS) over which China promotes a Code of Conduct among Asean nations, with no interference from outsiders, while the US and its allies insist on freedom of navigation operations. Germany is the latest reported to have sailed a war vessel in the SCS.
Mark it that the advocacies of the 1Sambayan are in perfect accord with the United States position. To fan Philippine discord with China, the issue of the South China Sea is high on the agenda of the coalition. It sticks to the line that the Philippines has won over China in the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling in the country’s dispute with China over certain portions of the region.
Even before that ruling was issued, I already pointed out in 2015 that sovereignty was never at issue in the PCA proceedings, and that at any rate, China had never participated in the arbitration so that the PCA ruling could never be binding on the Chinese.
But the way the tandem of Carpio and del Rosario has been raising hoots over the issue, it is as if the PCA did rule that those disputed areas between China and the Philippines are Philippine territories. No such thing.
What the PCA ruling says is the Chinese nine-dash line stand is illegal. Just because the Chinese nine-dash line is illegal, does it make the Philippines the owner of those Chinese-claimed features of the South China Sea? It does not follow.
Readers must be enlightened that the entire region of the South China Sea is being disputed by other Asean nations, including Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, and non-Asean Taiwan. Carpio, del Rosario et al. in 1Sambayan hoodwink Filipinos with distortions of what the PCA ruling really is in order to make them believe that China is on a rampage against the Philippines in reclaiming shoals and features in the area.
But the friendship struck up between Presidents Duterte and Xi Jinping has been so true and strong over the past four years of the Duterte administration that any strategy to sour it up for purposes of advancing US belligerence against China will fail.
It behooves the two leaders, but more so President Xi Jinping, to make a determined counter-propaganda to enlighten Filipinos on the incessant hate campaign against China by US. On this, I stand by my assertions from way back when that China has never been known to exercise aggression upon another nation and particularly in its differences with the Philippines over their South China Sea disputed areas, China will never, I say never, war with the Philippines.
All US machinations to bring this about will fail. Hence 1Sambayan is doomed from its very inception. Its touted Philippine victory over China in the PCA arbitral proceedings, for instance, is deemed by General Parlade (“The Unending story of red-tagging, courtesy of CPP,” The Manila Times, March 26-27, 2021) as a mere “piece of paper.”
Of late, Western media purveyors of US propaganda CNN and Al Jazeera made big waves of so-called 200 Chinese militia ships having moored at the Philippine-occupied SCS feature Julian Felipe Reef. Al Jazeera even accompanied its report with a huge photograph of a protest action by Filipinos at the Chinese Embassy in Makati.
How true was that report? Were those vessels really carrying Chinese military personnel? An unassuming new tabloid published and edited by this writer, Pwersa, ran this innocent-looking report in its April 1 issue, part of which read:
“AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) representatives engaged on March 24, 2021 their Chinese counterpart[s] in a meeting to discuss the situation obtaining in the WPS (West Philippine Sea or South China Sea) as reported. We conveyed the Defense Secretary’s (Delfin Lorenzana) demand for the vessels to leave Julian Felipe Reef where 183 vessels were sighted per AFP’s recent aerial patrol,” Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman, said.
According to Arevalo, in a meeting of the Philippines with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China, the latter’s representatives assured that the boats spotted on Julian Felipe Reef were not militia vessels but were there to take shelter from bad weather.
No big deal
But true to form, the US seized the propaganda value of the incident, distorted it to suit its objectives and caused it to be ventilated worldwide, with its traditional rah-rah boys in the Philippines led by the Carpio-del Rosario duo picking it up voraciously.
1Sambayan, by its very name, seeks to highlight patriotism as its prime bonding thread. But its falsehoods and prevarications on truly significant Philippine national issues make it dangerously unfit to accomplish such noble an ideal. On the contrary, the opposite is true.
Again, take it from General Parlade, “Talk about patriotism and bring on board the Aquinos, and that’s a perfect recipe for people now to be outraged. It’s a powder keg waiting to blow up.”