Ramon Farolan, a retired general, wrote a very interesting piece about our security in his column today at the Inquirer. The topic is about external and defense capabilities of the Philippines, something which is highly debated among various circles for some time now. We are discussing this now in the context of the Philippines pull out of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), one of three pillars in the Mutual Defense treaty between the United States and the Philippines.
Many saw the actions of the President as foolhardy because the pull-out from the treaty had created an imbalance of power in the region and exposed us to further threats from China.
I disagree with this presumption simply on the basis that actual US troop presence in the Philippines is entirely not necessary to maintain the balance of power in the Asia Pacific. Unlike decades ago, stationing or having a military base is crucial for the deployment of US troops in the arena of war. Now, with more sophisticated technologies and the existence of bigger and more sophisticated aircraft carriers, the US military can deploy any of their military assets at anytime, anywhere and at any kind of battleground. An attack against the Philippines coming from China would be responded by the US 7th fleet, and other assets coming from Diego Garcia and even from Singapore.
Besides, why would China undertake an imperial invasion or actual invasion of the Philippines when it can deploy non-militaristic means to achieve its objective of dominating us as a race? All China has to do is further finance legislative measures meant to fully liberalize the Philippine economy, change the ownership structure of private properties especially land and ensure that foreign investors could take part in owning critical infrastructures in the Philippines—those are enough already to transform the Philippines into a silent satellite of China.
Actual invasion of a state of another state, especially a neighboring one with a sterling reputation among the international community is out of fashion. The employment of hard power is being discouraged and assessing Sino-RP relations right now, an invasion is definitely not among those being considered by China. First, such a thing would surely damage Sino-RP relations which is being described right now as having entered a reinvigorated “golden age.” Second, China can very well do its thing thru its proxies who now dominate not just the economic sphere but also the political system as well. Third, an invasion would surely create tactical alliances among ASEAN member-states against China, a scenario which Malaysia, Vietnam and even Indonesia, to an extent, would welcome. The fact is, right now, there is an existing defense alliance among ASEAN and other Asia Pacific powers such as Australia which is posed against China. These states are just waiting for China to move in an aggressive fashion.
While China is definitely considered as the major external threat to the Philippines, it does not necessarily mean that we have to go to great lengths asking its competitor, the United States, to continue its troop presence here. For one, even in an actual war, the Philippines will be extremely hard to defend. Our long exposed coastlines which most are without naval defense capabilities are pieces of evidence which prove to us all how futile building a strong and fortified defense parameter is. The Philippines is indefensible. What we can only do is to contain foreign intrusion in one part of our archipelago while ensuring that the rest remains with us.
What US military participation in an event of an attack against the Philippines could actually accomplish is provide us with sufficient time to preserve our Republic or what remains of it, in the event of an actual invasion. The tactics employed by Manila during World War two gave us a glimpse of the after-effects of an invasion. Manila fell to the Japanese but it took the foreign invaders several months more before the rest of the Republic surrendered. In a modern war, a foreign invader could actually be extinguished by several weeks thru the employment of an asymmetrical warfare.
What we must prepare for are asymmetrical war campaigns which includes, among others, guerilla warfare, which Filipinos are extremely known for. We have about four million short firearms scattered throughout the archipelago which Filipinos would actually use to maim and even kill foreign devils who would try to conquer these lands.
The question really is— do you think the Communist Party of China (CPC) is foolish enough to undertake such a costly zero-sum game? I don’t think so.