Many of us, for one reason or another, have ax to grind against President Benigno Aquino’s (PNoy) governance.
That is how it is in this country, when free media influences much of our perceptions as an outsider and a citizen looking in at how leaders, government officials and politicians carry their duties and perform as public servants.
But being a non-conformist, especially for those in the opposition, does not always mean that credit cannot be given to the president, if he so deserves it.
There are times when the president makes a stand for the best interest of the country and the general welfare of the people, that he should be given unconditional support, with the Filipino people standing four-square behind him.
It is in this light that I am urging Filipinos in all sectors of society to rally behind PNoy as he stands up and hold his ground against the might of China over the South China Sea (SCS), locally called West Philippine Sea, territorial dispute.
War of words have erupted lately when, in an interview with New York Times, Aquino had called on the international community to support the Philippine position of resisting China’s hegemonic moves in the SCS and not to make the mistake of appeasing the Asian superpower.
As it is known already, the Philippines and China have overlapping claims over areas in the South China Sea together with Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
“At what point do you say: ‘Enough is enough’? Well, the world has to say it – remember that the Sudetenland was given in an attempt to appease Hitler to prevent World War II,” Aquino told the newspaper.
Aquino’s remarks evoked memories of the failure by Western nations to back Czechoslovakia when Adolf Hitler-led Nazi Germany occupied western parts of the European nation in 1938 ahead of World War II. Sudentenland was the region given over to Germany to appease Hitler. Yet, the Fuhrer went on invading more countries.
Aquino’s admonition and comparison in the ways China is doing, not only in the SCS, but also in the East China Sea, where China and Japan are also having territorial dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, obviously did not sit well with China as it called Aquino’s approach as inflammatory.
Now, what is more inflammatory than China building up structures and claiming the whole of the SCS, while flexing military muscles in the region and disregarding the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)?
The fact alone that the Philippines has taken a “very determined” position in defense of its sovereignty in the SCS/WPS, with PNoy telling the whole world that the Philippines will not surrender the WPS to China, is enough ground for Filipinos to rally behind the country’s leader.
A sense of pride can be had from the statement made by Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., saying: “Our advocacy of rules-based approach and respect for the rule of law has gained credence, and has gained support from the region, and has also been affirmed by other countries such as the US and Japan that are not members of ASEAN.”
Determination, grit, honor and diplomacy – that is all we have.