IMAGINE yourself as the owner of a tract of land that you have lived in, cultivated and used for as long as you can remember. Then you saw the need to expand and embellish it to be more useful to the family. But you are cash-strapped, and here’s a seemingly friendly and harmless neighbor awash in cash who offers to upgrade your place on the condition that, in case you defaulted, he will take over your prized property and all things in it. While disadvantageous, you bite the bullet. And then you wake up to find yourself suddenly without a roof over your head, without a piece of land to use.
This scenario is real. The friendly neighbor is an intruder who wants to strip you of what you own because of a one-sided agreement. I bled inside myself as I wrote this allusion to the ugly side of the Philippine-China relationship that is too painful for me even to comprehend.
This repulsive facet of the Philippine-China alliance started showing when President Duterte opened up the Philippine economy to China. From mere hundreds, thousands of Chinese from the mainland now begun flooding into the country. As compassionate people opposed to discrimination and racism, we don’t label immigrants as undesirable aliens, as Trump does. The influx of foreigners like the Chinese is not something we see as inherently wrong. What makes it repugnant is when our own government’s subservience to Beijing results in the displacement of more Filipino workers.
This shows that the father of our nation has become hostile to his children, allowing them to be robbed of their precious source of livelihood. From infrastructure to marine resources, the government is openly giving away everything while maintaining an awkward stance for the Chinese people. The president’s high-handedness against those he perceives as enemies is the opposite of how he treats China, unable to resist every encroachment Beijing has done. “May magagawa ba tayo?” says his spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
Heck, the government is being so cozy with China that the sentiment in the air is that China is preparing to plant its flag not only on Scarborough but in every area where the Filipino flag is hoisted.
Heaven forbid that the Build, Build, Build mantra of the present administration is just laying the groundwork for China’s takeover. This seems to be the prevailing view. Over the past few days, no less than Justice Antonio Carpio expressed the fear that “in case of default by the Philippines in repayment of the loan, China can seize, to satisfy any arbitral award in favor of China, patrimonial assets and assets dedicated to commercial use.” Among the loans from China that appears suspiciously disadvantageous is the one for the controversial Kaliwa Dam.
Makabayan’s Neri Colmenares believes that the Philippine-China partnership is a sellout. He accused “the government of turning a blind eye because of China’s loans.” Fortunately, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, former Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and the nameless aggrieved fishermen filed a case against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court for the atrocious actions of Chinese officials in the South China Sea and within Philippine territory.
The Chinese government has the upper hand, thanks but no thanks to its economic might and our very own government’s capitulation to Beijing. We should expect it to resist any opposition to its onerous claims.
The challenge for Filipinos is to continue making noise, to continue asserting that there’s only a room for one flag in our land, the Filipino flag. The time to be cordial to foreign lenders like China ends when their diabolical plan to seize our birthright begins.
We are riding high on the hope that more Filipinos will stand up for national patrimony. We long for patriots who have a cause greater than themselves and whose integrity cannot be traded for a few pieces of silver. (Laguna Now)