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TURNING POINT: A Friend to None, an Enemy to All

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NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 1 August) – President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (PBBM) should not give a thought but dismiss outright the Chinese proposal for a joint military exercise. To welcome it is to sleep with the enemy, our only foreign enemy and an extremely dangerous one at that.

By any measure, China is an enemy. It has persistently violated our territorial waters within the South China Sea, declared by the Arbitral Tribunal of Hague as our exclusive economic zone, therefore, our sovereign territory, we now call the West Philippine Sea.  Openly, the Chinese built military facilities within our sovereign territory, have deployed their coast guards and massed hundreds of maritime militia-fishing vessels in the area, raking in daily and destructively our marine resources worth millions of dollars, and driving our own fishermen away from their traditional fishing grounds. And yet, this bully of an imperial power, who has no respect for international law, has the gumption to propose a joint military exercise with us.

The Chinese proposal is an insult to intelligence. Yet, some personalities of the present dispensation see nothing wrong with it in the context of “a friend to all, an enemy to none” foreign policy of PBBM. After all, China, they say, has also been good to us. It was the first advanced country to donate to us a sizable volume of COVID-19 vaccine during the pandemic. It has also, accordingly, given some weapons to our military.

But in the equation of things, the Chinese gesture of goodwill is nothing but a deodorant to their ill will, to their repetitive aggression in our sovereign territory and their continuing thief of our marine and fishery resources.

Accepting the Chinese proposal might yet make PBBM a pariah among leaders in the community of nations, particularly in Southeast Asia for it would project inability to make a definite stand on a crucial state relationship issue.

It’s either you are with the US or you are with China. You can’t be in both camp preparing for combat to this one or the other. As the Tagalog says “Mahirap mamamangka sa dalawang ilog.” Meaning it’s difficult, if not impossible, to row your boat in two rivers at the same time. It is a serious loyalty issue that favors you not at the end.

It may be high time for Mr. Marcos to scuttle his “a friend to all, an enemy to none” foreign policy. It sounds cute but is not really beautiful. In fact, it’s operationally stupid and crazy. We can’t be friend to foreign invaders. Our alliances should only be with friendly nations not with our enemies. Otherwise, we end up with no friend but an enemy to all.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental)

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