Who is to blame for China’s island building?

Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo blamed her successor, Former Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III for ‘provoking’ China into building artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea

From Beijing’s perspective, they are claiming all of South China Sea for various reasons. First, because they’ve perceived that they lost prestige because they were weak before. Second, Western powers stole it from them because they were weak, and now they are stronger, they’re getting it all back — not just the ones in the West Philippine Sea, but the ones near Japan, Vietnam, etc. Third, it is about controlling West Philippine Sea so they have control over the shipping lanes. It is about power projection too. Those islands are like fixed Aircraft Carriers. I’m probably missing more reasons here but those are the ones pre-coffee that I remember. So yeah those are the Chinese reasons. They are doing to us what others have done to them. At least as they perceive others to have done to them.

There is enough blame to go around with the trouble in the West Philippine Sea. From a Philippine perspective, some would argue it can all be traced to the Philippine Senate kicking the Americans out of Subic Bay AND THEN the country never focused on picking up the slack. We didn’t focus on building a credible defense, and instead our Military was focused on internal defense. The fault lies with Ramos’ failure to modernize the AFP, and to focus on external threats when the Americans left Subic Bay. The same with Erap, no modernization happened. The same with Gloria Arroyo’s term where the focus was internal threats. When China started their incursion, Arroyo for example did not challenge Beijing. Not with diplomacy, not with any move to modernize the armed forces or to refocus to external defense.

It wasn’t until 2013-ish that the Philippines started a true modernization of the Armed Forces. In fact, PNoy asked in a SONA if he was going to spend some of our monies for a squadron of fighter jets or provide for poor Filipinos?

Aquino BEGAN the modernization of the Armed Forces that was suppose to happen many administrations before him. He did so while also providing CCT, health care for Filipinos. It wasn’t enough of course. How can it be enough when previous administrations squandered opportunities and taxpayers’ monies?

One example was Arroyo’s North Rail. Manila paid Beijing for Arroyo’s North Rail when China called in the debt. US$150M of the people’s money was paid for by Aquino’s government to Beijing when the debt that Arroyo incurred was called in during PNoy’s term. The money was spent. The project didn’t even get off the ground.

Arroyo chose to cozy up to China. Arroyo chose to spend and waste monies instead of doing what people in public trusts ought to do: the people’s work.

The people, of course voted Aquino’s government out of office. Voters chose people who stole monies from them to be brought back into power. Nation building is quite hard. It demands patience to run through admittedly, difficult, and often demanding process. It demands a citizenry who quite frankly must look beyond the headlines. It demands for a media that actually does its job to first understand, and then to inform as best they could about the issues of the day. It demands a citizenry that speaks up not out of anger, but out of informed passion.

In 2013, Time Magazine added Benigno S. Aquino III to its most influential list. Do you remember what they said about him then? At the time Howard Chua-Eoan was TIME’s News Editor. He wrote this about President Aquino.

“His father,” Chua-Eoan began, “was the Philippines’ most famous political martyr, his mother its most beloved President. Benigno (“Noynoy”) Aquino III inherited that legacy and, boosted by national mourning at the death of Corazon Aquino in August 2009, won the presidency in 2010. President Aquino quickly began making his own name. The sputtering economy stabilized and became hot. Aquino pushed through a reproductive-rights law that many said was impossible in the fervently Catholic nation. Most important, he became the face of the regional confrontation with Beijing over its claim to virtually all of the South China Sea. It is a brave stance, the long-term consequences still unknown.

In a country of nicknames, Filipinos proudly call their President PNoy — a pun on the word they use for themselves: Pinoy. For his courage, however, he really should have the pet name the family gave his eldest sister Maria Elena: Ballsy.”

You have the likes of Duterte and Gloria Arroyo willing to cozy up to Beijing. They are willing to give up resources, and islands to China. On the other hand you have people like PNoy who, running a country with hardly any military hardware to speak of, chose to stand up to a bully, chose to fight the hard battles that cowards and turncoats like Duterte and Arroyo chose to sell the Filipino out.

Between Ballsy and Coward, which side would you pick?

This post originally appeared as a Facebook post. It has since been edited to flesh out a bit more thought, correct grammar and spelling. 

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.