Philippines odd man out in ASEAN due to its role as regional US proxy

Elfren Cruz was the head of the Presidential Management Staff during the presidency of Cory Aquino. The way he presents it in his PhilSTAR piece today “China’s great power ambitions”, the Philippines should join the “Quad” in an alliance against China. The Quad, writes Cruz, consists of “the four countries – India, United States, Japan, Australia – whose objective is to contain China’s expansionist threat” and have “no territorial ambitions of acquiring Philippine territory by force”. Framed by that context, Cruz suggests…

China’s neighbors will have three options – submit to a rising China, join the alliance to contain China’s aggression or remain neutral. This will not be possible because everyone will have to take sides. All these states which are weaker than China and America will need a powerful protector in the event their security is threatened.

The problem with Yellowidiot policy wonks is their bias. They don’t present the whole picture to the public. Predating the rise of China is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The latter is the primary regional economic group which evolved out of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO), which was the Asian counterpart of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

Why Cruz doesn’t mention ASEAN is significant because the Philippines is one of the original five founding members of ASEAN. Cruz wants the Philippines back in the US orbit. ASEAN was founded as a non-aligned grouping with the goal of promoting trade and harmony with other countries in the region. It has been successful as it has expanded its membership. Recently, it was able to solve the issue of Myanmar without having Western powers intervene. The annual ASEAN summit includes bilateral summits with Japan, Australia, South Korea and China, which are the more progressive countries in the broader Asia-Pacific region.

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The Philippines never got much for acting as the US proxy in ASEAN. Our regional neighbors actually frowned on the act because we have always been the odd man out; more Western than Asian as a result of our colonial past. One of our greatest weaknesses is the lack of a national identity. It’s been said that the Pinoy will identify as a Spaniard when he becomes rich and as an American when he remains a common man.

Joining the Quad as Cruz suggests, will only antagonize China. This has been proven during the Noynoy Aquino administration for which the country suffered economically because of the mishandling of the Luneta Hostage incident. Since 1986, we have had too much democracy. Yet the Yellowidiots go to the extent of comparing us to Singapore and Vietnam, whose political structures are variations of democratic authoritarian and communist authoritarian states. It’s about time that we put an end to this nonsense. By some miracle, we have managed to progress but we have fallen behind the other four founding members of ASEAN. Our obsession with American democracy should stop. We should develop our own version which will put us on the path to become at par with our regional neighbors.

It’s time for a new Opposition to rise from left field and not from the ashes of the old which continues to be a destructive and destabilizing presence in our society. We need continuity and consistency which is another reason to finally junk the 1987 Constitution. Maybe after this we can truly see the direction we should be heading.

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