If it had still been Noynoy Aquino in Malacañang and Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe had offered what he similarly offered President Rodrigo R. Duterte last week, i.e. the offer of Japanese missiles for the Philippines, we would now be facing a major crisis with China again. The consequences would have been dire.
Since I have been out of the public commentaries scene for some time I hoped and expected that some other media analysts and commentators would raise questions over Abe’s offer that is pregnant with malicious meaning. The offer contained within it a time bomb what would start a countdown if and when accepted by the Philippines.
Now I have to write this piece to point out the deeper implication of Abe’s missile offer, the first of course if the essential arrogance of this war faction leader of the Japanese political right. It’s clear that he believed there was a good chance President Duterte would not see through the ploy that would entrap the Philippines in a political-diplomatic bind.
What would have been the immediate impact if Duterte accepted the offer of missiles for the Philippines? Some will claim that missiles would be a basic weaponry for the country to defend itself from external enemies. The purchase of such missiles has been advocated by the likes of former NSC chief Roilo Golez specifically for the purpose of “defending Philippine territory claimed by China”.
The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) opposed the acquisition of the Golez proposed P 6.5-Billion deal is being shelved in favor of acquiring protective and combat gear for AFP troops engaged in neutralizing “internal security threats”. However, Golez and news reports kept stressing that the “biggest threat” to the country is “China’s occupation of islands and reefs in the South China Sea”.
Former, AFP Chief Gen. Hernando Iriberi was criticized heavily for the shelving of the missiles deal when the anti-China hype was being drummed up in the midst of the U.S. backed Arbitration Panel decision on the South China Sea issues. President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s diplomacy with China has since put that issue to rest and instead China-Philippines relations has taken a peaceful and positive track since then.
Imagine now what perception the government and the people of the People’s Republic of China (PROC) would be to the Duterte government accepting Shinzo Abe’s missiles. First, it will be an immediate sense that all the friendly and fraternal understanding developed between China and the Philippines under Duterte’s new “independent foreign policy” is nothing at all but a sham.
Second, there will be an immediate economic debacle with $ 25-Billion in investment and development assistance agreed upon between the government of the Philippines and China as China puts on hold such promising deals as $ 1-B imports of foodstuffs from the Philippines and cancellation of planned additional 500,000 tourists from China to the Philippines.
Duterte obviously saw through the loaded offer but politely kept it from the media until several days after Abe left the country. Duterte later revealed what he told Abe in reaction to the offer, “If we start a third world war, that would be the end (of the world)… Actually, I told (Prime Minister) Abe, I don’t need missiles,… if you just see now, Putin is conciliatory and now Trump (is reaching out to the world)…”
Duterte was telling Abe that the major powers are going for peace and reconciliation. Again, Duterte was polite in not mentioning China in his public narration of his talk with Abe, apparently to downplay the problem Abe faces with China and clearly the reason for Abe’s sly and loaded, provocative missile offer.
If the country were still under a Yellow political leadership Shinzo Abe’s missile offer would have been accepted and a vehement and combative reaction from China would have been inevitable. The Hawks in Washington and Tokyo, and war mongers in the Philippines would have been delighted to rack up tensions and sabotage the peace and economic prosperity for the region and the country.
(To be continued: Abe’s $ 19-B investments and aid – Johnny come lately; and part III Tillerson’s bluff. )