FVR’s former DILG secretary says it is time to rally to the Flag

Rafael M. Alunan III, former DILG Secretary of FVR, to all of us Filipinos writes:

Dear All,

The time to rally to the flag has come. No less than the President has called for unity in action to deal with this fast brewing crisis that holds dire implications to our future in the years and decades to come.

China is wresting control of the West Philippine Sea despite the objections of claimant countries like the Philippines and Vietnam, and has clearly rejected a rules-based regime to settle the claims in dispute. It has instead caused alarm bells to ring as far as Washington DC which has been warning China to act responsibly, not provocatively.

The trouble is China does not want to be denied its place in the sun as a superpower, and it needs to push its boundaries outward to ward off its perceived containment by the US and to control the rich oil and gas reserves in the West Philippine Sea to sustain its economic growth end development. its internal power struggle is also driving its aggressive actions in the WPS.

So, it has been sending “fishing fleets” escorted by “surveillance vessels” to our EEZ at will, and is setting up or planning to set up multi-purpose structures for military-civilian joint use on our reefs. The US is threatened by this as it is seen as part of an elaborate construct to deny its ships freedom of passage, and obstruct the free flow of commerce in this crucial trade route.

A conflict with China will result in unrestricted warfare based on its playbook. That means warfare by any means – militarily (conventional, unconventional, wmd); economically; cyberwarfare; sabotage of strategic infrastructure (information, financial, energy, telecommunications, etc); exploitation of socio-cultural-economic stresses to divide societies further; etc, etc. We have been given a preview of what it will do to us when it halted the flow of tourists and stopped banana imports for a while a few months ago over the Scarborough issue.

Our preparedness has to be total as well: we need to “harden” our economic defenses by, for example, actively expanding our markets and trade partners; ensure our food and energy security; and industrialize to generate jobs that may be lost abroad. We need to forge unity by settling the civil wars that divide us; that means removing the root causes of our discontents to prevent its exploitation and our division. And we need to build a credible defense shield over the next 10 years, particularly our navy and air force, something we’ve neglected for decades.

In this case, I will be specific – the P75-B to be spent over the next 5 years for defense is grossly inadequate. A proper needs assessment must be made to determine what is really needed to attain the desired “minimum credible defense posture.” Then cost it out. Whatever it costs (I personally calculate that $2-B annually for 10 yrs is the bare minimum) will require pro-action from our national security experts, economic managers, captains of industry, diplomats, congress and local governments to weigh in on the issue to find the funds needed. Too little, too late is what we must avoid. Time is not on our side.

Diplomacy should forge strong bonds with the UN, ASEAN and friendly nations like Japan, South Korea and Australia, in partnership with the United States to provide the back-up muscle, to get China to back off and sincerely live up to its declared “peaceful rise.” Diplomacy must forge close security ties and supply agreements at concessional terms during our build-up phase.

We also need to prepare ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, our communities physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. There is a whole range of ideas out there on how to prepare for such crises. The action required from us is long-term, and realizing that is the first psychological barrier to hurdle.

To be fair, the government is quite aware of all these and is doing what it can under the circumstances. Let us support our government. However, it needs to be more methodical and cohesive; it must have clear-cut goals and strategies; and it needs to galvanize society more to get the nation marching to the beat of the same drum.

Do spread the word, if you agree. The article below is a good waker-upper for those just tuning in.

Many thanks, best regards, Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!
Raffy Alunan

Image credit: U.S. Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Mark Logico, Public Domain

Rafael M. Alunan III

Rafael M. Alunan III was the former Department of Local Government Secretary of former President Fidel Valdez Ramos.