18 point reply to: (i) gemarcher23's emotional rant; and (ii) tonnyc's excellent first post, spread across three posts to put the latest developments in context.
because of a very weak armed forces, the philippines have no choice but to seek the help of friendly countries like the US and Japan. the proposed basing of foreign military forces has the approval of the majority of the filipinos.
1. We really prefer members who contribute rather than post childish emotional rants (without sources), that deserve a little correction on the 3 Cs of candor, competence, and conviction - all of which are lacking in the ruling political oligarchies of the Philippines. What you see now, is years of under-investment in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) by a political leadership that is deeply skeptical of the military, given the number of prior attempted coups conducted by rogue elements of the AFP since the fall of Marcos. The AFP has a problem with its reputation because from 1972 to 1981, it was an army that had a country (not a country with an army). Further, the local media hysteria with respect to the grounding of USS Guardian on 17 Jan 2013 showed the degree of Pinoy ambivalence to US military presence.
2. As the saying goes, lions do not care for the opinions of sheep, and you belong to a herd of sheep. Let me expand your limited understanding the harsh geo-strategic realities of the world, with three conceptual issues that you may not have considered:-
One, resourcing the AFP is the responsibility of the Government of the Philippines -- it is NOT the responsibility of the US or Japan to pay for your country's defence. Normal people in other countries understand this. There is a world of difference between having capability gaps and being not capable.
Two, not only is your defence spending on the low side (at about 0.9% to 1.2% of the country's GDP), the money is spent poorly. Let me illustrate with an over-simplified comparison between the Philippines (a country with a population of about 92 million and a 2011 GDP of US$213.13 billion) with Brunei (a country with a population of about 380 thousand and a 2011 GDP of US$15.5 billion).
Brunei has built a navy is more capable and advanced that that of the Philippines. It's not just in area of brand new, 80 metre Darussalam Class OPVs, where they are superior. Brunei also operates CN 235MPAs, which give them an over-the-horizon targeting ability. The Philippines' annual defence budget is about 5 times more than Brunei's defence budget. Yet, they have a more capable navy with a over-the-horizon targeting ability. Think of the standards set by Brunei as the 42 inch high hurdle of minimum naval capability for a self-respecting ASEAN nation. The recent Philippine acquisition of two over 40-year old former US coast guard vessels represents clearing a 16 inch hurdle of basic naval capability. Buying harpoon missiles to arm them and equipping them with a hull mounted sonar, can be likened to raising the bar by another 16 inches, to the total height of 32 inches (ten inches lower than a standard hurdle).
Three, despite the fact that the Philippine Navy in 2006 created 15-year 'sail plan', the plan does not match the resources. No wonder nothing gets done. Technologically, the Philippines has the least advanced naval ships of any claimant in the South China Sea. Normal people understand that, if the AFP is incapable of defending itself (against external and internal enemies), the country is not sovereign. Patrolling your EEZ waters is your country's own responsibility. This role cannot be outsourced to an ally. If you don't or cannot effectively patrol your country's waters, you are not sovereign in those waters.
china doen'st respect a small neighbor like us and the latest threat of a "coutnerstrike" smacks of arrogance in the highest form that can only be countered with the presence of strong friendly forces.
3. I've got news for you. It's not only China's media
. Be honest. Who would demand respect a navy or an air force that can be spanked by any other claimant? Tiny Brunei's missile equipped navy can spank your navy that is armed like a coast guard, at any time. The continued presence of numerous insurgent groups within your borders, and their continued and occasional killing members of the AFP, means local insurgents do not respect the AFP. For others to respect you, you must first respect yourself. There are 3Cs lacking in any discussion about Philippines, namely, the lack of candor, the lack of competence, and the lack of conviction. Let us look at the three inter-related factors for some context:-
One, your politicians lack the candor to tell the Philippine electorate that building and sustaining a proper navy and a proper air force requires money and sacrifice (against other competing domestic priorities). Instead, of a commander-in-chief, you have elected a beggar-in-chief; where you have Philippine politicians begging other countries to give your country ships or aircraft. Media coverage of the disputes in the South China Sea from the Philippine press perspective is not comprehensive, and most analysis based on this sort of bias in coverage is misleading; it is misleading because it misses the 'real action' of the geo-strategic chess game being played among competing powers in Asia.
Two, your politicians lack competence in defence and alliance management. In December 2011
, the Philippine President spoke about asking the US for EDA F-16s. As we know now, the US answer is NO. Why NO? Your President spoke out of turn because he did not know that your country's air force does not have the institutional capability to train fighter pilots, nor the ability to sustain F-16s even if they were given to the Philippines. The fact that the Philippine President spoke out of turn, is a reflection of chronic incompetence. It is not in US interest to embarrass the Philippine Presidency. Your country's incompetence in alliance management, laid bare how poorly your air force is regarded in professional circles. President Aquino III amplified his incompetence with a speech at the Philippine Navy’s anniversary on 21 May 2013. Like most external obsevers, Rigoberto D. Tiglao of Manila Times, also thought poorly of President Aquino III’s speech at the Philippine Navy’s anniversary on 21 May 2013. He describes it as: "Aquino rattles non-existent saber
". This editorial opinion suggests that your President is incompetent, when speaking on matters of defence. Respect is earned and it is hard to respect a leader that has demonstrated incompetence more than once.
Three, AFP procurement officials lack the conviction to learn from past mistakes. Despite all the talk, it is clear that your country has not fixed the slow and broken procurement system - instead the Philippine Department of Defense pretends to do work by sending out a never ending stream of press releases. Since 2012, the AFP openly discussed acquiring Lead-In-Fighter-Trainer and Surface Attack Aircraft (LIFT/SAA) from South Korea (an essential tool if the Philippine Air Force were to go back into the business of training fighter pilots again). Till today, no contract has been signed between the parties for any LIFT/SAA. So enough with the modernisation by press release. Please get your country's act together.
4. Beyond the fact that the Philippine Senate voted not
to renew the lease to US bases in 1991 (resulting in their closure), we also have to look back to some events in the 2003 to 2004 period for another example of this lack of reliability by the Philippines. On 20 May 2003, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) spoke of "unshakable resolve" in their support for the US in the White House on the 'War on Terror' (after the US invasion of Iraq on 19 March 2003). In return, the Bush II Administration provided Philippines with US$1 billion in benefits on the generalised system of preferences, increased quotas on textiles from the Philippines and a US$200 million special line of credit. Unfortunately, James Tyner (2005), writing on "Iraq, Terror and the Philippines will to War", described your country's approach at page 94:-
(i) as "a member of the Coalition of Opportunists", who tried to capitalize on the Iraqi reconstruction efforts and angle for a piece of the action. Tyner quoted the then Philippines Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo as saying: "We have the names of 1 million workers, from skilled mechanical engineers to crane operators, with passports and are ready to go... But, when it comes to skilled labour, we definitely have the value added..."; and
(ii) fourteen months later, that "unshakable resolve" collapsed. In April 2004 a Filipino was abducted and in July 2004, another Filipino truck driver was abducted. In GMA administration's attempt to get the 2nd Filipino abductee released, Philippines gave in to the demands of the abductors and ordered the withdrawal of the Philippines' 51-strong contingent from Iraq. Subsequently, the GMA administration also banned Filipinos from working in Iraq.
5. The above incident clearly demonstrated to the Americans that when the going gets tough, the Philippines get going. Given the lack of candor, the lack of competence, and the lack of conviction on the part of the Philippines to fix what is broken, there is limited patience with unresolved issues in the US-Philippine alliance. Following the short but sharp down turn in the relations with the US (after the withdrawal of the AFP contingent from Iraq), Manila upgraded its relations with Beijing. This included annual defence talks and a visit to China by GMA in September 2004. In return the PRC donated US$1.2 million in heavy engineering equipment to the Philippines (6 bulldozers and 6 motorgraders). Despite the ups and downs of the US-Philippines relations, the US is traditionally interested in peace time and contingency access for its forces passing through the Philippines (or via over-flight).
6. If I may be candid with a person like you? Especially one that lacks competence on the larger geo-political issues. You have failed to take into account three important issues:-
(i) Obama's Asia pivot (which other ASEAN diplomats like to call re-balancing) is not a Philippines pivot. The Philippines is not in the list of other nations to be visited by Obama for the remainder of 2013, although he would in the neighborhood — in Indonesia (his third visit) for the APEC summit and to Brunei for the ASEAN meet both in October. For perspective, the Philippines will join Vietnam and Laos as the only countries among the ASEAN 10 that Obama has not visited (demonstrating your country's lack of relevance to the Americans); and
(ii) the Americans are increasingly looking for burden sharing partners and not an unreliable ally that is traditionally a burden. IMHO, the Philippines is a burden that the US; and they are seeking Japan's help in this case to jointly carry the burden. While both US and Japan are concerned about China's rise, they are not openly hostile to China. In reality the North East Asian powers of South Korea and Japan are far more concerned about a nuclear North Korea than your economic interests. The US and Japan need to work with China to manage the North Koreans. Along with other American allies and partners, the Chinese Navy (PLAN) has been invited by the US Navy to participate in the “Rim of the Pacific” exercise, RIMPAC 2014 (an invitation the PLAN accepted). As the US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, said on 1 June 2013
'Building a positive and constructive relationship with China is also an essential part of America’s rebalance to Asia. The United States welcomes and supports a prosperous and successful China that contributes to regional and global problem solving. To this end, the United States has consistently supported a role for China in regional and global economic and security institutions, such as the G20. We encourage our allies and partners to do the same.'
(iii) Kindly note Japanese policy makers do not mention the Philippines or ASEAN, given the lack of advanced naval capabilities in the littoral states with maritime claims to stand as counterweight in the South China Sea. As Shinzo Abe, Japan's Prime Minister noted
with regards to his concept of a security diamond:
'The ongoing disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea mean that Japan’s top foreign-policy priority must be to expand the country’s strategic horizons. Japan is a mature maritime democracy, and its choice of close partners should reflect that fact. I envisage a strategy whereby Australia, India, Japan, and the US state of Hawaii form a diamond to safeguard the maritime commons stretching from the Indian Ocean region to the western Pacific. I am prepared to invest, to the greatest possible extent, Japan’s capabilities in this security diamond...
...I would also invite Britain and France to stage a comeback in terms of participating in strengthening Asia’s security... The United Kingdom still finds value in the Five Power Defense Arrangements with Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. I want Japan to join this group...
...I, for one, admit that Japan’s relationship with its biggest neighbor, China, is vital to the well-being of many Japanese. Yet, to improve Sino-Japanese relations, Japan must first anchor its ties on the other side of the Pacific; for, at the end of the day, Japan’s diplomacy must always be rooted in democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.'