What if war breaks out?*

FEAR that war may break out any time between the Philippines and China continues to haunt many Filipinos with the growing presence and repeated incursions of the Chinese military and its ships in the West Philippine Sea.

Having foreign soldiers in Philippine waters with vessels armed with missiles is no laughing matter and remains a threat. Members of the China Coast Guard regularly board the boats of Filipino fishermen, pick out the best among their catch and take it home sometimes without any permission at all.

It seems that China is merely waiting for any move from the Philippines that could be deemed a provocation for them to justify military action.

A former Beijing bureau chief for an international news network disclosed that in the Philippine territorial waters, China has laid out an inner layer that consists of Chinese fishermen. Found on the layer above it are the paramilitary maritime unit known as China Marine Surveillance (CMS) and Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC), a unit assigned to protect Chinese fishermen. These two units are heavily armed but still considered civilian units. The warships of the navy are in the outermost layer where they hover to protect all the other layers.

This is called the “Cabbage strategy,” a blockade made up of several layers. This whole setup is some sort of trap merely waiting to ensnare the Filipinos who would make a mistake of provoking them into action. It intends to squeeze out Filipinos from their own territory.

Experts believe that Manila could be spared from any attack. But the Chinese could divert their attention to the Kalayaan Group of Islands which they claim as part of their territory or another islet or shoal. They could simply occupy and control these islands without breaking a sweat by preventing the supplies from coming in.

But China should not be too overconfident since this sort of action could make its neighbors cautious enough to band together and ally themselves with the leading world power, the United States, which still has a treaty to side with our country in case of invasion.

President Duterte has continued to maintain good ties with Beijing after admitting that the country has no chance of surviving a war against China. There is no question that our military pales in comparison with the forces of the gargantuan China. But what Filipinos can boast of is the brave heart that we and our ancestors possess that has enabled us to endure and rise against foreign invasion as our history reveals.

*              *              *

SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/


*The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

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Robert Roque Jr.
Robert B. Roque Jr. is a veteran journalist who started out as a correspondent for Manila Bulletin's tabloid TEMPO in 1983. In 1989, At age 27, he rose to become the youngest associate editor of a newspaper of national circulation. In mid-2000, he took the helm of the paper as its editor until his voluntary retirement in 2012. He currently writes a syndicated column for TEMPO, Remate, and Hataw newspapers, and for this site, Beyond Deadlines. A former journalism lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas from 1992 to 2002, Roque is also an active member of the Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world, having served as head of the Philippine Lions (council chairperson) in Lion Year 2011-2012.

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