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Float On

Finally, the Philippines is doing something practical and concrete with the whole West Philippine Sea issue with China. Now, this is what you call getting down and getting one’s hands dirty. Initially, when I came across the news items, I didn’t really grasp the significance of the whole removing floating barriers thing. I guess, I was thinking that our coast guard would just be some sort of marine orange cones. But later, the whole gravity of the significance of this endeavor sank into me. Then, I stand up and exclaim, “This is open defiance”. “And congratulate and clap for the current administration for actually having the hard guts to really carry something like this out. The Philippine Coast Guard actually tore apart physical barriers which were actually installed by the Chinese. To top it off, they gave that hardcore commitment that they would tear it apart again if they got set it up again. Now, that is badass! The diplomatic protests were all good. But when we’re up against people who don’t really respect the diplomacy, something bare, bold and brave like this has to be done. If peasants tear down barriers set up by a greedy haciendero landlord to restrict them from farming, they might get rained on by a hail of bullets. That sort of scenario could have been highly plausible. (But then, I guess, the Chinese wouldn’t dare do something like that when the Americans, Australians, Japanese and even the EU have been all around just watching.)

We didn’t even know that there had been actual floating barriers afloat those contested waters. What I imagined was some intimidating large military vessels roaming around to give some unsuspecting fishermen a boost of a bath. When did the Chinese set up these floating barriers that keep our fishermen from their trade? Oh, they say it was around the pandemic a couple of years ago. Wait, who was the president who let that happen? Of course, the government would have known about it. I suppose they would have enough intelligence to be aware of the barriers being built as bars across our own territorial waters. Who was at Malacanang again at that time? Oh, it was the former President. Let me recall. Was he not that tough guy who would not let anyone step on his toes and would let everyone know that, including putting a TV network which wrong him out of free broadcast. He even openly declares that he would willingly go to jail for the drug war with Putin on the next cell. He struck me like me someon who wouldn’t want his neighbors to park their cars near his fenced property. Could it be that he let something like the floating barriers just pass by? I remember a spokesperson of the President reiterate that the Philippines did not lose any territory during that administration. (That made me wonder. Did we lose any territory in the Noynoy Aquino administration which filed and won that arbitrary case on those contested waters?) Well, by the looks of it, when the Chinese drew lines across the sea over our waters, that was tantamount to losing territory. That administration just kept mum and looked the other way while acting tough, high and mighty on other national issues.

On another hand, why is one of our officials showing off Mandarin speaking skills, much to the delight of the Chinese ambassador. In case you’re not aware, Mandarin is one tough language to learn. Our local Fookien speaking Filipino-Chinese would openly admit difficulty on speaking the official lingo. Their spoken language has some difficult specific phonics and intonations that could have a different meaning in the slightest change. So, you have to give credit to the effort on mastering the pronunciation; when a simple “ni hao ma” or xiexie would have done it. You know why teenage girls who are head over heels fanatics of K-pop boy bands learn Korean.

I wonder how that reconciles with the current President who gave the orders to take the floating barriers apart, and take them apart them again when the Chinese put them back. One is breaking borders; and the other is learning languages. One is making potential foes and one is fortifying friendships. This administration is getting weird.

So, what could happen after this? I hope no fisherman gets shot. The Chinese could set up those barriers again. Would the Coast Guard really tear them apart again?

Would the Chinese leave them open? Whatever happens after, this is a strong stand of defiance.

Isaiah 40:29: “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary…”


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