Time for another dialog

The different signals coming from the leadership regarding Chinese intentions on the country such as Rody thanking China for loving the Philippines while Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana issues statements that Chinese ships have been abusing Rody’s friendship has become a source of public worry.

Last March 8, Rody gave his gratitude to China for financial aid worth $100 million to spur agriculture growth and another $100 million for the earthquake victims in Surigao when China’s Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan visited him last Tuesday.

“That’s why I am really thankful and they have really lightened up the economic life of our country,” Rody said referring to the Chinese government.
Rody said he made a “correct decision” in mending ties with the Chinese.

“You can really see the sincerity of Chinese so let me publicly again thank President Xi Jinping and the Chinese people for loving us and giving us enough leeway to survive the rigors of economic life in this planet,” Rody said.

The next day, however, Lorenzana told media of a Chinese survey ship lingering off Benham Rise, which is near Aurora and Isabela, that is already beyond the disputed territories on South China Sea, giving an impression that the Chinese are abusing the revitalized relations with the Philippines or that some form of a deal has been struck with China regarding exploitation of resources to which unfortunately Lorenzana does not seem to be privy.

Considering that Rody is forthright, whether intended or not due to his volatile mouth, to the public about his dealing, an under the table deal is highly unlikely.

Lorenzana said the “survey ship has been regularly visiting Benham Rise and it was monitored for about three months going there apparently surveying the seabed.
The 13-million-hectare Benham Rise is believed to be a fuel-rich area and awarded to the Philippines by the United Nations in 2012.

The Chinese government’s response was that the vessel was merely carrying out “normal freedom of navigation and right of innocent passage.”
Lorenzana said the Philippine Navy was ordered to drive away the Chinese ships if ever they return to the area.

The growing worry is that China is exploiting Rody’s friendly overtures to further push expansionist aims well beyond the disputed South China Sea area.
Rody has proven that he has keen intuition regarding the true intent of those with whom he engages and it seems that thus far his judgment on China is that improved relations with the Asian giant would benefit the country.

Public apprehension, however, can’t be avoided due to the rising maritime tension around the country mainly from the intensified rivalry between the United States and China.

The administration’s resolute action, however, is missing since it seems the President and the Defense secretary are not on the same page regarding the country’s engagement with China.

Lorenzana also fed a few questions about his allegations on China shortly after he along with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and US Ambassador Sung Kim were toured in the US aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

Amid the allegations of Lorenzana of Chinese vessel intrusions, Rody remained silent that added another layer of doubt on what really is going on.
Rody and Lorenzana should jointly apprise the public on the real score with China before his political foes exploit the situation that will happen as sure as the sun rises in the east.

Indeed China has been providing the country with the needed financial boost but this should not be at the price of sovereignty.
A deeper dialog between both countries will offer the best assurance the government can make to the public on China’s true intentions.

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