As we go to the press, we are hearing so many “positive” news being ranted by the media about China’s new dealings with the Philippines. For one, we heared that it will now lift all restrictions on all Philippine agricultural products like bananas and pineapples, more than half of whose consumption come from the Philippines. Then, Filipino fishermen will now be allowed to fish in the Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag Shoal, after China banned them for years as they engaged in massive reclamation and militarization in the entire South China Sea which it claims to be its own. Also, China promises to provide assistance and financing to projects worth billions of pesos like a bullet train from Subic and Clark to Manila and the railway system to Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Batangas and the revival of the Bicol Express. China also promises to finance an all-Mindanao railway network. There is even talks of a railway system that will connect Luzon to the Visayas and Mindanao with a bullet train trip from Luzon to Mindanao making it in only three hours!
We could not readily comment on those promises and pledges because President Rodrigo Duterte, accompanied by his Cabinet members and some 500 Filipino-Chinese businessman for a four-day state visit, has yet to sign or witness the signing of contracts or agreements in Beijing. What is very clear at this point is that for years, China, boasting its giant army, grabbed Scarborough Shoal and other territories within the Philippine territory and its exclusive economic zone and readily reclaimed them, built airstrips and ports and military stations in the guise of civilian posts. This action deprived thousands of Filipino fishermen of their means of livelihood and was a clear threat to international navigation and flights above them. This prompted the Philippine government to raise the issue to the UN arbitral tribunal which backed the Philippines in a unanimous ruling but which China refused up to this writing to recognize and follow. Thus, the issue remains a concern and a flashpoint for an armed confrontation among the nations using South China Sea to transport people and goods.
Another concern is that in the current drugs war of President Duterte, it has become clear that the illegal drugs being peddled in the Philippines comes from China and the biggest drug lords are Chinese nationals. It could dawned to many that the drugs could be actually a weapon being used by China to “destroy” and conquer the Filipino nation, especially the youth, and the Chinese nationals into it may just be witting tools to that masquerade to destroy the Philippines for their own selfish plans.
The pronouncement of China that it will open up for Philippine agricultural products is laudable. However, China should rein in its people for smuggling billions of pesos worth of its own agricultural products to the Philippines like onions, garlic, carrots and vegetables who deprive the Filipino farmers of their livelihood and opportunities for growth. This is not to mention the massive smuggling of Peking ducks into the Philippines despite of a ban due to the avian flu in that country.
Filipinos are hoping for the success of the trip of President Duterte to China. They are hoping, too, that there will be no sell-out on the country’s rightful claims to certain islands, reefs and shoals and waters in the West Philippine Sea and that China should do something drastic about illegal drugs and smuggling of agricultural goods to the Philippines. Filipinos are not hoping for surprises that will blight their hopes for a brighter future for them and their beloved nation.