Biyernes, Pebrero 24, 2012

Q and A Spratly Islands’ conundrum:” We should play the Philippines Card” – De Venecia

In a recent article of the Global Times published by the Communist Party’s People’s Daily, the tabloid exhorted China to punish economically the Philippines because of its recent military dialogues with the United States to host a more regular and much bigger military exercises on her territory.Former five-time House Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr., an imminent connoisseur of geo-politics, was interviewed by Mortz C. Ortigoza, political columnist of Northern Watch, on the Chinese’s threatening belligerence towards the Philippines and the East Asian Countries who have claims on the Spratlys and other island territories in the South China Sea (SCS), the United States growing presence in the SCS, and the debt crises at the European Union in the face of the forthcoming election in France and the volatile political coalition in Germany. Excerpts:

MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA (MCO): Mainland China’s president Hu Jintao recently said war is imminent between China and the United States, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Radio Commentator Mortz Ortigoza and former Philippines
House of Representatives' 5-Time Speaker in one of their
huddles that usually zero's on international  affairs.

JOSE DE VENECIA (JDV): Well, in the first place I don’t know whether it was true Hu Jintao made that statement that war is imminent against the U.S, Philippine, and Vietnam.

MCO: I read that in the internet an article entitled “China prepares for war over South China Sea Spratly Islands” after Hu reacted, in a speech he delivered at a military industrial complex in China, to U.S President Obama’s announcement in January 5, 2011 on a new military strategy in Asia as Vietnam and the Philippines were acrimonious on China’s incessant and aggressive encroachment in the Spratlys. 

JDV: I don’t think there will be war in the South China Sea.

MCO: How strategic is the SCS to the U.S and the claimant nations in South East Asia like the Philippines?

JDV: Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Philippines, Brunei and so to address to the U.S and the Europeans to insure an untrammeled navigation of the South China Sea that is their main concern because of the oiltankers of Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan would pass through these Spratlys in going to the Malacca Straits, going through the Andaman Sea, going toward the Indian Ocean, going toward the Arabian Sea. Imagine that our ship through Manila bring this (oil) through Corregidor. We don’t have tankers (to pass) to the front yard and backyard.

 MCO:President Barrack Obama has just decided to reduce the United States troops in Europe by transferring them in South East Asia like the Philippines and Vietnam, Guam, and Australia to buttress the U.S Military presence there. How did you see this latest U.S policy?
JDV: This is now the policy of Obama because there is no more threat of war in Europe. In the Pacific, for example, (U.S deploys troops) in Guam, for example, they want to have some in North Australia. In a sense that is also needed to insure that there is no vacuum in the Pacific theater.

MCO: With two military behemoths saber rattling someday in the SCS which do you, think the best side we should choose?
JDV: I’m the No.1 proponent that we should not play the U.S card or the China Card. We should play our card that should be the headlines on national dailies.

 MCO: That’s why sir I asked you these pressing issues. 
JDV: Not to play the US cards and the China card. We should play the Philippines card.

MCO: Was the latest U.S military policy in East Asia a ploy to put tension in the South China Seas so that these East Asian countries buy armaments from the U.S Arms Industry to complement the sluggish U.S economy?

JDV: Not really, not really. Right now the U.S is courting Japan again, India, Vietnam, Philippines. This is part of geo-politics in order to offset the emergence of resurgent forces. They are normal in geo-political theory. On the other hand the U.S should not overdo (otherwise) China will also react. The best thing to do here is to prevent reaction. Everything should be balanced. To prevent reaction so that entry will be balanced to do a political balance but reserved the geo-political balance in the Asia Pacific Region. What I have on the balances? The pressure, the balance in the South East Asia, the balance in South Asia which is India, Pakistan, China. The balance in Central Asia is vital now. We have thought of Central Asia into Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan where I came for two weeks ago. There are major geo-political forces, geo-economic forces that now energized in the development to our advantage. No to one’s advantage. It should be an Asian advantage.

MCO: Economists said the Philippine economy will take-off this year compared to her 3.5 percent Gross Domestic Product in 2011. The spoiler here however would be the debt crisis in Europe. German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy held a common ground despite differences to stave another blow to the European Union. But with Merkel struggles to hold her coalition, and Sarkozy (just like U.S President Barrack Obama) seeing a possible defeat in this year’s election to presidential front runner and Socialist rival Francoise Hollande who denounced the Merkel-Sarkozy agreement, experts said these could undermine the fragile EU’s economy as it plummet to the doldrums by pulling the world’s economy. How do you read these looming phenomena?

JDV: They will honor their commitment lead by France and by Germany. Because if they would not have honor their commitment the Euro will collapse, the European Union currently will collapse. It is just political statements on the eve of election.

The Spratlys' Conundrum: FVR and JDV’s solutions
By Mortz C. Ortigoza 

 FVR and JDV as every Filipino knows is former president Fidel V. Ramos and former five-time House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.
During the stints of the duo, FVR achieved an average of 5 percent Gross National Product and a coup’d’tat’-free six year administration, while Speaker JDV chalked up the successful US Bases Economic Conversion Law that turned Clark, Subic, Camp John Hay, La Union’s Wallace Field into free ports and special economic zones and Forth Bonifacio into a satellite city, authored the Build-Operate-Transfer Law, which saw railways, electric power plants, airports, markets and infrastructure worth more than $30 billion at no cost to the Philippine government, and the Rainbow Coalition, which brought together more than seven political parties that enabled Ramos to govern even with his 24 percent share of the national vote.
Image may contain: 1 person
Author and former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos in one
of their huddles that usually zero's on international affairs.

In a recent ride on a river cruise in Dagupan City, I asked former President Ramos what was his take on the conundrum brought by the South China Sea (Spratlys) territories disputes primarily with economic and military juggernaut Mainland China. 
He told me the acronym UST. “Unity, Solidarity, Teamwork” He said the other buzz words for the solution of Spratlys problem is “Caring and Sharing for Each Other”. 
“You read my article at the Manila Bulletin on the Spratlys,” he told me.

 In his October 23, 2011 column at the Manila Bulletin FVR cited the prevailing opinion of audiences on the lectures and round table discussions he attended this year at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC about US-China rivalry at the South China Sea (SCS). They were the following:

(1) Any disputes and controversial incidents must be settled by peaceful means;
 (2) Binding commitments must be immediately undertaken by China/other claimants on a multilateral basis; 
(3) Confidence-building measures, instead of deliberate provocations, must be instituted;
 (4) Final resolution of SCS disputes must be done quickly at UN level in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea;
(5) Resources in the SCS may be developed jointly for the mutual benefit of claimants, and with full respect for UN covenants on freedom of navigation and environmental protection. 

The former president concluded that in consideration of the five observations the Philippines must: 
1) Defend the Kalayaan Island Group in Palawan and the West Philippine Sea;
 2) Press – and press again and again – for the multilateral resolution of the SCS issues at the level of ASEAN and the UN. 

 I asked him too how he sees former Speaker de Venecia’s consortium formula when claimant countries like the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Mainland China explore the minerals there and divide the revenues among themselves. 
Huwag na natin i-coment iyon kasi hindi pa buo (I would not comment on it because it has not yet materialize). Nine nations only (that are involved there), there are 195 nations at the United Nations’ roster my friend. And so this is everybody’s responsibilities, and not just nine countries, and not just our good friend Joe de Venecia. It is also your responsibility, and also mine”

Two weeks ago, I caught again JDV at his palatial home in Dagupan City as he fed in a concrete blocks his exotic huge inland water fishes he bought from Indonesia and Haiti. 
He told me that his consortium formula was the best solution to solve the Spratlys imbroglio. 
In my Question & Answer with him he explained that after World War II, England, Germany, and Norway came together and agreed to jointly explore the oil resources in the North Sea.
 “This is England; the oil field is here in Ecofisk in the North Sea. They took a median line partition so the oil flows to Stavanger in Norway. The oil is in Teesside in England. And the natural gas goes to Crimea, Germany”. 
He told me that he discussed before with China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping who proposed that claimant countries should not discuss sovereignty for the meantime because if China, Vietnam, and the Philippines insist on sovereignty the eventual result would be war. 
“So the practical step is to shelve the issue of sovereignty, and agree on one common development on the Spratly so that Vietnam, China and the Philippines that claims for oil and gas and hydrocarbons under an equity of 1/3, 1/3,1/3 profit sharing formula that eventually would have to bring in Malaysia, Brunei, whose acreage or whose claim, in the Spratly are smaller than that of the three. We should also invite them as part of this drilling coalition,” he stressed. 
He said his other model for claimant countries is to drill together and divide the profits among them. 
“Therefore that will solve the problem between China and Vietnam in the Paracel. This (in) the Spratly claim, Vietnam went to war over there a dozen years ago. This is the same formula that should be used (by) Japan in Diaoyu Strait, what the Chinese call the Senkaku Strait. This is the third formula that could be used on the Sea of Japan and the East Sea, between Japan and South Korea”. 

 After I ended my tête-à-tête with the rabble rousing former House Speaker, I egged him to write a regular column in either one of the three major national dailies.
 “We have a dearth of experts on geo-politics. We missed the likes of the late Maximo Soliven and Blas Ople, and the ailing Antonio Abaya, and others”
I added too that it seems it’s only FVR who has the monopoly of this craft nowadays at his Sunday’s column at the Manila Bulletin.
 “You can be the dean of foreign affairs in column writing,” I told him. 
JDV chuckled and told me he was preoccupied hopping from one country to another country steering his Global Christian-Muslim Coalition and the International Conference of Asian Political Parties which he chaired.

(You can read my selected columns at and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too at

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