The ‘budol-budol’ nation
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced this week that he has allowed Dito Telecommunity to establish cell towers inside Philippine military bases. Dito Communications is 40-percent owned by China Telecom, a state-run company of China. Lorenzana says Dito gains the same access as Smart and Globe cell towers. Locating them in bases is intended to protect them from extortionists and saboteurs. Lorenzana said the Senate reviewed the decision to locate towers in military camps in 2019 but posed no objection.
Over at Sangley Point, the Philippine Navy is opposing the plan of the Cavite provincial government to eject the Philippine Navy from its facilities as part of a P500-billion airport project to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The Navy is incensed that the China Communications Construction Co., which helped build illegal artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea for which it has been blacklisted by the United States, is a joint-venture partner of the airport project. Sangley Point has, since the Spanish period, been a strategic military base with air and naval facilities. Vice Adm. Giovanni Bacordo, Navy FOIC, said: “It is guarding the entrance to Manila Bay and Manila Bay is the center of gravity of the national government. If Manila falls, the whole country falls.”
We would have wished that the Chinese presence were a benign one, for Filipinos have learned to assimilate the Chinese into our lives and culture. We have not seen in the Philippines the rioting, murder, and rape against the Chinese as have occurred at certain flashpoints in Indonesia or Vietnam. Yet, that openness of the Filipino in the face of impending danger is the bane of our future. It is presumptuous of our leaders to say: I have made the decision. It is within my power and authority. No one can question my prerogative. Is that President Duterte pardoning Joseph Pemberton? Is that Roy Cimatu ordering the dolomite makeover of Manila Bay? Is that Teddy Boy Locsin saying no worries about China’s toehold in Sangley? More and more we see this kind of imperial air in justifying the unjustifiable, bartering the future of Filipinos in slices of flesh, without any effort to be transparent and accountable.
The China that is encroaching on the West Philippine Sea and on the other side, the Benham Rise, is the same China that is slowly insinuating itself into the political, economic, and social fabric of the Filipino nation. Each additional layer of presence is a wider platform with which further control is acquired and consolidated. The Duterte administration is only six years, the equivalent of a blink of an eye in the life of the nation, but in that blink the security of the country may have been compromised forever. For how can you reverse the Chinese invasion when they can call the shots in the very decision-making system that can theoretically reverse their presence?
China is likely upgrading its tail-hold on the Philippines by now going for the throat, as any animal in the wild would do to its prey. And that throat is the government. We expose that throat each time we have an election. I would not be surprised if China is poised to buy the 2022 presidential and general elections. How much will it take to tip the electoral balance in favor of a friendly candidate for governor or mayor that will open the province or municipality to black sand and copper mining, land-grabbing, polluting chemical industries, and other nefarious activities?
And how much will it take to buy the presidential election? That should be less than one tranche of the social amelioration program. Buying the votes of the same poor people prostrated by the Wuhan virus, using the same amelioration list, would make for a truly Machiavellian brilliance. For insurance, the same troll “cyberforce” now in operation can be contracted to warp the climate of public opinion, making devils look like angels and vice-versa.
What a bargain. We have begun to lose our sovereignty, patrimony, democracy, liberty, sense of security, and peace of mind just because we wanted our problems of crime and drugs solved in three to six months. Is this the Filipino—forever prey to “budol-budol” and get-rich scams? Like many OFWs losing hard-earned money in an impulsive investment decision back home? We deride and lament this foolish decision-making, but that is the same decision-making that Delfin Lorenzana just made on behalf of the whole nation.
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