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Resolute, Fearless and Just

Resolute, Fearless and Just
Ronald Roy — 2013 June 25

As of this writing, American Danny Russel is still a nominee awaiting confirmation and appointment as his country’s top diplomat for East Asia, but already he has told a US Senate panel he would “lower the temperature” in the territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas, and urge the six claimant countries to take the path to sober diplomacy in settling their differences and, with respect to the Chinese bête noire, to get together as a “bloc” for better leverage.
Russel, a mainstay in Obama’s foreign relations circles, has worked as a diplomat for 26 years in Japan and Korea. His association with Asia started when he studied martial arts in Japan in his twenties. There’s reason here to believe that his martial arts experience has moulded the kind of discipline and mental toughness required in confronting the overbearing tyrant in the region.
Prior to his confirmation by the US Senate, Russel denounced China’s oppressive tactics by saying there was no place for “coercion and bullying” in the region’s seas. In no uncertain terms, he said, “I certainly will do everything in my power to try to lower the temperature, push claimants, including China, into a diplomatic track and continue to warn them that the region in which China will flourish is a region of law, a region of order and a region of respect for neighbors, not one where there is space for coercion and bullying.”
He stressed, while recognizing US-China competition, that the US applauds the rise of China that that is stable, prosperous and abides by international rules and norms, and that his country seeks “practical cooperation” that benefits both countries and the region. Russel likewise said that positive cooperation with China would be essential in persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons.
Well, if he does get appointed as Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, it remains to be seen how well the administration can respond to Russel’s call for cooperation, given P-noy’s other pressing concerns, like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s growing restiveness over the fact that the peace talks have slackened down to a stalemate.
It is much too tempting not to digress at this point, but allow me to do so just the same. My personal opinion about the snail’s pace taken by the peace talks is that the Aquino administration fears that the whole idea of a Bangsamoro sub-state, will be resoundingly voted down by the Filipino people when it is presented to them for approval in a plebiscite or constituent assembly. In fact, right now they’re not sure about their next step!
Gone now are the alleluias and hoopla that announced to all nations that peace in Mindanao was nearing a breakthrough, had brought down the barriers to foreign investments, and offered prospects of wealth sharing to all Filipinos! So outstanding was his feat that Bangsamoro Framework Agreement chief negotiator Marvic Leonen was given (prematurely?) his most deserved (?) reward: a seat in the Supreme Court!
So, at our end there is nothing we can do except to wait for further developments. It’s P-Noy’s call — at the prompting of the Americans, of course — and nobody else’s.
Getting back to Russel, well, I don’t believe his leadership will be enough to effectively interdict China’s domineering behavior. I’ll say it again: only world opinion can soften down China. Let’s recognize that it is to China’s characteristic bullheadedness, truculence if you will, that it attributes its current status as the second strongest country in the world.
I don’t see a new “Russel factor” as substantially significant, but it may be enough to trigger a global reprimand or censure of China’s peace-threatening belligerence in our region. And it does behoove us to contribute to Russel’s efforts at locking horns with a Goliath-like neighborhood bête noire, such as by way of activist mass actions which, incidentally, we’re supposed to be good at.
Come to think of it, no one has heard as much as a whimper from activist civil society. Maybe not here, but well, from faraway America, perhaps? Particularly from my cousin, Loida Nicolas Lewis? Courtesy of Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau — I got wind last June 14 from my friend Glenn M. Dumlao, an IT security architect — of Loida’s latest typical gung-ho bustle via the internet, and this got me to connect with her as a volunteering assistant.
What I gathered straight from New York was news that China had threatened to invade another Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea, and that according to Loida Lewis, head of US Pinoys for Good Governance, a Philippine maritime surveillance vessel had spotted 3 Chinese ships around Ayungin Reef in the Spratly Islands, which lies within the 200 mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
Lewis also disclosed that China was asserting ownership of “1 million square kilometers, which is where Ayungin Island is, which is the gateway to the Recto Bank.” She stressed that “Recto Bank is known to contain 2 billion barrels of oil, and several trillion cubic meters of natural gas.” Additionally, she said, “Chinese vessels have established a blockade to prevent the Philippine Navy from sending personnel, food and supplies to the Philippine Marine base there.”
Accordingly, Lewis is planning to stage a protest rally this coming July 24 in front of the United Nations building in New York City. She has asked me to help disseminate information regarding the scheduled event in order to beef up the rally with warm bodies.
I join Loida in calling on our compatriots here and abroad to assist in making the rally successful. Interested parties will please contact her event coordinator, Liza Bangash, at 899-7939 or 7938 for details. Those who are not planning a trip abroad will please urge their friends and relatives to join the rally, or persuade others to do so, whenever possible.
Let us unite and show China we do not intend to sleep on our rights. Let us demonstrate to Mr. Russel that we are his allies by taking a position that is resolute, fearless and just.

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