Recalling the question thrown at then presidential candidate and now Senator Grace Poe’s way during one of the election debates last year, Facebook user Bernard Ong slammed President Rodrigo Duterte for being an “unfit” commander-in-chief.
The question was what would Poe do if she was woken up one night to be informed that China was attacking two of the Philippine Coast Guard boats. He called it a “commander-in-chief” question,” which could help determine the right politician would “lead the country in war and peace.”
While Poe resorted to enumerating generalities such as diplomacy, code of conduct and modernizing the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Ong though that these would have been the right answers:
“1. Immediately convene National Security Council
2. Place AFP on maximum alert
3. Get all available intel
4. Call the president of the US, our treaty ally.
5. Call Asean, UN, EU, Japan, etc – start diplomatic offensive to condemn & isolate China
6. Make a live address to the Filipino people, explaining our position – resolve thru peaceful means, but affirm our rights”
Ong recalled how President Duterte merely talked about taking a jet ski to the Spratly Islands, planting a Philippine flag there, and challenging the Chinese to a shootout. But when Duterte disclosed a year after the elections that the China threatened the Philippines with war if we start drilling oil in the West Philippine Sea, “no jet ski stunt from him yet.”
He also summarized what Duterte actually did to handle this said “threat” from China.
“1. Attacked US – our treaty ally & only power that can stop China
2. Set aside UN Tribunal ruling which rejects China’s fictional claim over seas far from its territory
3. Attacked UN & EU which are important partners in any diplomatic offensive
4. Abandoned ASEAN united-front position of negotiating multilaterally (where they have more clout)
5. Adopted Chinese position of negotiating bilaterally (where we have less clout)
6. Legitimized China’s claims by saying they have ‘historic rights’ and UN Tribunal ruling is only ‘piece of paper’
7. Begged for money from China which would weaken the Philippines’ bargaining power
8. Forged secret agreement allowing China to enter and explore Philippine EEZ including Benhan Rise
9. Considered joint exploration of resources inside our EEZ – in clear violation of PH constitution which says only Filipinos can exploit such resources”
Ong said that Duterte’s endgame is “to kowtow to China diplomatically, politically & economically. Make the Philippines a 21st century colony of China.”
He also gave a list of at least 12 things that a “good” commander-in-chief would have done, including being open to the Filipinos about everything from the threats to relationship with allies, bringing China’s threat to the UN, strengthen relationships with the US, EU, and more.
“1. Explain the situation honestly to the Filipino people – threats, risks, options, allies, peaceful approach
2. Raise China’s threat of war to the UN
3. Lead diplomatic initiative to isolate China on this issue
4. Strengthen ties with US, Japan, ANZ, India, EU
5. Talk face-to-face with US president & defense officials. Get firm commitments and agree jointly, publicly ‘red lines’.
6. Build strong ASEAN consensus for resolution based on rule of law, UNCLOS, UN Tribunal ruling.
7. Build defensive alliances within ASEAN – Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore in particular
8. Modernize military especially coastal, naval & air defenses. Do not procure from China – your #1 threat
9. Allow basing agreements for friendly forces
10. Build economic options outside China – BPOs; exports to EU, US, Japan, ASEAN; tourism; etc
11. Assert rule of law – based on UNCLOS, UN Tribunal ruling
12. Assert Philippine independence, rights & sovereignty”
President Duterte should have used diplomatic, political, defense, and economic tools, without waging war, to assert the Philippines’ rights over what’s ours, Ong said.
“Duterte has said the UN Tribunal ruling is only a piece of paper. By the same token, the Constitution which made him commander-in-chief is only a thick pad of paper. His disrespect for both shows he is unfit to be commander-in-chief. The Philippines deserves better,” Ong added.
As of writing, Ong’s post has been shared over 1,300 times and reacted to 2,400 times.