Saturday, December 27, 2014

The price of oil and our West Philippine Sea fortunes

At an oil price below $40 per barrel, Moscow's re-armament dreams will start to evaporate...

Unfortunately, Beijing's will gather even more steam...

And if you are Beijing, once you are awash with cutting-edge weapon systems, which would be an easier target?

The vast mineral-rich Russian territories east of the Urals?  Or those miniscule rock outcroppings in the West Philippine Sea?

Brilliant ex-KGB man Vladimir Putin can easily figure that out.

His Georgia and Ukraine (mis) adventures are beginning to bite him from behind.

He better reverse course soon before Beijing grabs a big piece of Asian Russia...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Philippine Military Unit with the most Communist Chinese combat experience

I just got this from the mail.

This is the shoulder patch of the Philippine Military Unit with the most combat experience against the Communist Chinese.

Can anyone guess what the name of the unit is?


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Can the Philippines afford the F-35A?

Eight (8) F-35As would only cost about $0.8 Billion.  Even if we double that amount to take into account the weaponry and electronic equipment needed for these planes, that will only be about $1.6 Billion.
That is only about half of the Malampaya cash currently at Malacanang's disposal.  Maybe even less.  So I do not think that money is the problem.
The main problem is that buying the F-35A would give us a definite technological advantage over any warplane Beijing has currently deployed in the West Philippine Sea.
So the National Politicians who will support such move will surely incur Beijing's ire.  Because that will effectively remove from the table any possibility of limited punitive airstrike against us. 
To  force us to kowtow to the her imperial machinations in the West Philippine Sea through gunboat diplomacy, therefore, Beijing will have to launch more warplanes.
But the higher is the number of warplanes involved in an attack, the higher is the degree of negative backlash from American Public Opinion.  I like to call that the "U.S. Evening News factor".
And it is American Public Opinion that substantially dictates the intervention red line of the U.S. Military...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The December 15 UNCLOS Snub - the Gentle Giant Panda is in reality a Honey Badger...

December 15, 2014 was the deadline for Beijing to formally file a written response to the arbitration case the Philippines filed against her under UNCLOS.  She chose to ignore it.

Instead, she publicly announced her "legal arguments” to the court of public opinion last week. 

Which is the international due process equivalent of choosing to rant in a public park with a megaphone instead of appearing under oath in front of a judge.    

Which did not really come as a surprise to the international community.

It is common knowledge that Beijing's claims in the South China Sea have no basis at all in international law.

Its claim of "ancient historical rights" over the entire South China Sea will quickly unravel the moment legal experts try to trace back Chinese history - and point out the obvious fact that the current  Chinese Republic was only born in 1911.  Before that, China was ruled by the Manchurian Chings.  A race of people which is not only not Chinese, but has virtually been culturally “erased” in present-day Chinese life (and is maybe a hint to the peoples of Southeast Asia on the fate that awaits them should they fall under the control of Beijing too).  

This will be further compounded by the fact that, in the 300 or so years the Manchurian Chings ruled China, they have never made any claim of sovereignty over the entire South China Sea.  Nor does it appear in any Manhurian Ching map that the entire South China Sea is part of Manchurian China.

Which again is not surprising.  The Manchurian Chings were no fools.  If they publicly made that claim, they would have been the butt of ridicule of the European Powers - whose navies ruled the waves at that time.  And who, in the first place, were the ones who named these waters “South China Sea”.  Not the Manchurian Chings or any other previous rulers of China.  Ethnic Chinese or otherwise.

So this snub by Beijing of the Hague-based UNCLOS arbitration tribunal is really a big moral and psychological victory for the Philippines.  Avoidance is always associated with guilt in any arbitration situation.

But more importantly, it demonstrates to the whole world that Beijing substantially marches to the beat of its own drum.  And merely pays lip service to international laws and agreements which she is a party to.

She will take what she wants.  And it is either her way or the highway!

The Gentle Giant Panda is in reality a Honey Badger…  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Why the Philippines is now weak militarily...

The initial salvo came from the 1987 Philippine Constitution itself. When its authors misguidedly included a provision prohibiting our defense spending from exceeding our education spending.

The 1989 Military Uprising was the nail on the coffin.

After the 1989 military uprising, the Philippine Civilian Establishment developed a serious case of miitary jitters. It then embarked on a crusade to de-fang the Philippine Military Establishment.

The dissolution of the Philippine Constabulary... the transfer of the INP to the DILG... the closure of the military camps in Metro Manila... the transfer of the armored units to Tarlac... the closure of the Scout Ranger camp in Tanay... the closure of the CAT Program... the downgrade to non-mandatory status of the ROTC Program... were all driven by this inner fear of the Philippine Military Establishment... and its game-changing role in Philippine national politics.

The subsequent EDSA II, EDSA III, Oakwood, and Makati Peninsula capers just further reinforced this fear.

At one point, they even dissolved the Honor Guard unit guarding the Rizal Monument and replaced them with civilian security guards!

If we are now being militarily humiliated by China in the West Philippine Sea, we are just reaping what we have misguidedly sown.

Beijing just saw the opportunity and is going for the jugular.

And unless our Civilian Leadership can get out of this paradigm (to the credit of the Incumbent PNoy Administration, they appear to have turned the corner, even if just very slowly), we are going to lose a big chunk of our national territory and suffer even more national humiliation. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Is China really no. 1?

I just saw a news item in Yahoo Philippines claiming that China has now the biggest economy in the world.  This has taken me by surprise because, early this year, I checked the economic scoreboards and know for a fact that China is a distant No. 3 to the US (the EU is No. 1).  A sample excerpt from this news item is shown below:

'The International Monetary Fund recently released the latest numbers for the world economy. And when you measure national economic output in “real” terms of goods and services, China will this year produce $17.6 trillion - compared with $17.4 trillion for the U.S.A.'

So I made a quick Wiki and came up with the following:

Per IMF (2013 figures)

1. EU - $17.5T
2. US - $16.8T
3. China - $9.5T
4. Japan - $4.9T
12. ASEAN - $2.0T

Per World Bank (2013 figures)

1. EU - $17.4T
2. US - $16.8T
3. China - $9.2T
4. Japan - $4.9T
no data for ASEAN

So where did the discrepancy came from?  Apparently, the article used GDP figures based on PPP (Purchasing Power Parity).  Normally, national wealth is measured in terms of Nominal GDP figures, which has no adjustment for cost of living, but takes into account the value of economic output in international trade.

The release of the article to a primarily Philippine audience, therefore, is a little bit fishy to me.

Was this really meant to inform Mr. Average Filipino?...

Or was this a subtle psy-war move to erode our national will to resist Beijing's imperialist moves in the West Philippine Sea?...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

ASEAN Summit: Myanmar did not do a Cambodia

By all appearances, Pres. Aquino was given a free rein to push Our Country's West Philippine Sea agenda at the recently-concluded ASEAN Summit in Myanmar.  This is in sharp contrast to what happened in 2012 at Cambodia.

It is possible that with the Damocles sword of the Rohingya crisis hanging over their heads, the leaders of Myanmar thought that they would need all the friends that they could get at the Summit.  Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei are definitely not too happy with what's happening to the Rohingyas right now.

But I think we are just seeing the independent streak of the Myanmarese at work here.  These people have always followed the beat of their own drums. 

Unlike Cambodia, Myanmar cannot just be pushed around to do Beijing's will.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Will Myanmar do a Cambodia at the ASEAN Summit?

Pres. Benigno Aquino III is expected to push for a legally-binding code of conduct in the disputed waters of the West Philippine Sea at Myanmar.

ASEAN members who have a more or less direct stake in the issue (i.e. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore) are expected to support this initiative.  The long-term integrity of their territorial possessions in the area will probably depend on it.

Some ASEAN members (take note, not all) who do not have a direct stake in the issue, on the other hand, might seize this as a golden opportunity to wrangle economic carrots from Beijing.

Cambodia played this stalking horse strategy in the past.  Expect them to do it again.

But in situations like this, the most valuable foreign policy Judas act of all from the viewpoint of Beijing will be that of the host.

Only the na├»ve, therefore, would still believe that, by this time, Beijing has not yet greased the proverbial wheel that will compel Myanmar to do a Brutus on the rest of us.

Et tu Myanmar?