Whoever incited the members of the May One Movement workers’ federation to hold a protest against the planned visit of US President Barack Obama to the Philippines in April haven’t consider seriously what it is that is tormenting the country these days.
Not only is Obama or the USA, for that matter, a misplaced target, but the rally itself was senseless, at best, and bigoted, at worst.
Right now the US is a balm that soothes the irritation and the pain in the neck that the Filipinos are suffering from the aggression and bullying of the Chinese military in our own territorial waters – more known to us now as the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Only very recently it was reported that China’s Coast Guard fired water canon at Filipino fishermen on Jan. 27 near the disputed Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), a rich fishing ground off Zambales province in the WPS, part of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.
Aside from the Jan.27th incident, numerous cases of harassment in the past were also reported, which included one wherein Philippine fishing vessels were driven away from the area despite the inclement weather conditions.
Talking about barking at the wrong tree and for the outrageous reason that the protest was meant to show opposition to what the protesters called a “conspiracy” between the Philippine and American governments to maintain U.S. troops in the country by raising the “China bogey.”
It is not a conspiracy at all, but rather a coalition of friendly nations tied up by a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that allows limited US troop visits, mostly in the south where Filipino troops are trained in battling militants.
If ever there will be more US troops and military hardware in the future it is simply because we ask for it under the Mutual Defense Treaty Agreement (MDT) – being helpless when push comes to shove in the WPS territorial dispute, where we see no light at the end of the tunnel with the Chinese agreeing for a legal and peaceful negotiation under the banner of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The May One Movement workers’ federation would be doing the nation a service if they, instead, hold a protest at the Chinese embassy, without let-up, in sympathy with the fishermen whose livelihood has been greatly affected.
And if the protesters would still want to do good for the country, I urge them to invite the rest of their ilk to rally and make noise until the congressmen and senators implicated in the P10-billion pork barrel resign from their office.
They, too, like the Chinese out in the seas, are irritants and pain in the ass on the ground.