Between A Wreck And A Hard Place

Posted at 06/02/2013 10:20 AM

We are simply not getting along with our Chinese neighbors.

Taiwan has threatened our Republic with all sorts of nasty things over the death of a fisherman allegedly by a member of our Coast Guard while protecting our waters. Now comes the threat of China in the Second Thomas Shoal which it claims is theirs as part of the Spratlys. Chinese warships are circling an abandoned shipwreck in which a number of Philippine Marines are stationed.

In the first case, Taiwan is demanding an apology, an investigation by Taiwanese authorities, financial compensation for the family of the dead fisherman and the criminal prosecution of the Philippine Coast Guard members. Taiwan has threatened to stop the entry of OFWs and to curb tourist and trade relations until the matter is settled.

Malacanang has acceded to the first two conditions. It is studying the third to establish if it will undermine our legal position and present a dangerous precedent. As for prosecution, politically the President can hardly agree to the indictment of our soldiers in the line of duty without raising the heckles of the public and the military.

The President could offer to submit the controversy to an international body acceptable to all parties for adjudication. This would take the matter off his hands. On financial compensation, I am certain many a private body, say the Filipino-Chinese Chamber, would agree to foot the bill (This would partly make up for all the taxes the President suggested its members have not been paying).

If Taiwan wishes to hang tough, we should stop taking their calls. As a diplomatically challenged nation, Taiwan needs us more than we need them. The same goes for our OFWs (who will do their menial work?) and their honeymooners (Boracay is getting too crowded anyway). Trade wise, our businessmen and theirs will find ways to do commerce. What we cannot accept is for Taiwan to dictate how they want us to conduct ourselves. The original premise, after all, is their fishermen encroached on our waters.

The U.S. wants its two Pacific partners to kiss and make up. The State Department must be burning the hot lines.