|Mortz C. Ortigoza (Left) interviews former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos|
Northern Watch political columnist Mortz C . Ortigoza sat again with former President Fidel V. Ramos, a West Pointer, recently in Dagupan City to discuss the growing belligerence of Mainland China in the West Philippines Sea and the state of the Philippine’s armed forces vis-à-vis the incessant Chinese's intrusions in the territorial waters of the Philippines, Excerpts:
MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA (MCO): Mr. President, some quarters said armed conflict between the United States and Mainland China is inevitable. But the U.S has $1.164 trillion of debt with China, notwithstanding the latter as the U.S’s biggest trade partner. Do you think war is indeed inevitable?
FIDEL V. RAMOS (FVR): You know I hope you read my Sunday columns in the Bulletin. I’ve been writing about , No. 1: “Who is Scared of Scarborough? Or Panatag Shoal which is 124 miles only from Masinloc, Zambales, 550 Miles away from Hainan, Islands – the southernmost place of China, thereby we have some advantage already. No. 2: If we sacrifice our trade using the 200 miles EEZ or Exclusive Economic Zone provided for long by the UN (United Nations) Convention of the Laws of the Sea, UNCLOS tagilid diyan si China (that will be China’s dilemma).
But China was nonchalant on this EEZ thing. She keeps violating our territorial water?
In my view she cannot be an aggressor forever because there are also other nations like ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) which has 600 million people. Kasama ang Philippines diyan (the Philippines is included there). They are also rising like China and democratic and observe and respect the right convention and covenant especially the rule of human rights and equal opportunity. Meaning (they) keep the sea lanes of peaceful commerce, aviation and people’s interaction open and hindered by decrees. This is how the 21st Century and no country, and no people within the country can just dictate like that because the people everywhere will not allow it. Look at what is happening in the Middle East and in North Africa.
Are you in favor the Philippines buttresses her armed forces like buying T-50 Golden Eagle and F-16 Falcon supersonic multi-role jets from Korea Aerospace Industries and U.S based Lockheed Company ?
You know the best way of acquiring modern equipments was what we did back in the 1990s with Cory (President Aquino) up to 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994 during my time. It was not outright purchased; it was co-production and counter trade. This was how we bought jets, trainer planes from Alenia Aermacchihe S-211, one squadron 24 of them But one half of them were paid in hard cash. The other half were completed by bartering by ordering shoes, woven fashion wear, leather goods, and lingerie fashion materials made in the Philippines but Italy wants to brand them with their (products).
How about Co-Production?
Plus co-production. If we talked about co-production it does not have to do with flying the planes and jets. The non-avionic parts or the parts that do not do have to do with flying the plane, firing the guns, providing the radar like the seats, the canopy, the upholstery, the glass. It must be made in the Philippines. And yes we have so many retired air force people, and aviation personnel who can do all of these dirty works. We did that in 1991-92-93.
During your time Mr. President, were planes’ crashes common that snapped out the lives of our air force pilots?
Saka noong panahon namin maniwala ka, the quality of the (planes) of the air force then was very high (Believe you me, during my time the quality of the planes of the air force planes were very high). Walang namamatay na cabinet members kahit na sumakay sila sa Philippine Air force Force. Pati ang presidente hindi nag-a-arkila ng private planes bukod sa foreign trips by using Philippine Airlines. Iyong Philippine Air force gamit namin sa local sorties (No cabinet members were reported dead who rode in an air force plane in my time. Even the president of the land did not lease private planes except when he went abroad by availing Philippine Airlines. The air force planes were used in local sorties only).