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...from the perspective of the Americans. But did we think that the foreign policy of the Philippines under the Marcos administration would look this way?"
Well, to be honest, I think one thing at least I got right was that he will not be like Duterte. You can look at my writings back in June last year. I said he'll be more like his father, multi-vector, close to the U.S. but reach out to the other side.
But yung pivot niya back to the U.S., yung velocity has been much faster than I thought. So honestly, I was expecting ma-finalize itong ETCA coverage and ma-doble potentially after yung kanyang official or state visit to the White House in April pa.
So on the record, I said let's wait until April, just the other day. And boom, pagbisita ni Austin pa lang, eto na. I mean, interestingly, it seems like every time Secretary of Defense Austin comes to the Philippines, something major happens.
The last time he was here in 2021, na-restore yung VFA, si Pangulo Digong ay nagpasalamat sa kanya for showing solidarity because of the vaccines and everything.
This time he's here, boom, already na-finalize na, hindi lang yung full implementation of ETCA doon sa five bases. Dalawa dyan, may direct na kinalaman sa West Philippine Sea, Bautista Air Base, Palawan, Basa Air Base, Pampanga.
But now, four undisclosed locations. The question is how north is north? Is it going to be in Cagayan, in Isabela, mainland proper in Luzon? Or are we going to go all the way to Fuga Island?
Yung tanong ko, how open are you to keep calling that undisclosed locations? Or are you fairly confident? Because there are a lot of reports going around kung saan malalaga ito. A lot of it in the north, near to Taiwan, we're talking about Cagayan.
How confident are you in projecting where they will likely be?
For me kasi it could be a mix of things. So for instance, alam natin the Balikatan will be in Ilocos Norte in April. That's also north, right? And it's going to be the biggest Balikatan ever.
Like 16,000 troops potentially from 8,000 to 9,000. Now, ang pwede kasing gawin is we know what's going to be the menu, we just don't know the exact ingredients that will go into some of the dishes there, main dish there, right?
So it could be some of the bases sa northern Philippines, Luzon mismo. And then siguro yung Mavulis and Fuga could be potentially open up to US bases if an actual war happens.
Remember, between peace and war, so many things can happen, right? So yung pag-implement ng ETCA could be adjusted to all potential contingencies na pwede mangyari between now and a potential warfare.
So in short, it's not only na hindi finalize siguro yung locations, it's hindi rin siguro ma-finalize anytime soon yung exact way the ETCA will be expanded in its implementation.
We're talking about number of exercises, number of US troops coming in, the nature of weapon systems that will be prepositioned.
So in short, I don't think we have crossed the Rubicon yet, but I would say this is the most consequential decision of President Marcos Jr. so far, only seven months into his office. Kaya sobrang mahalaga ito.
You said between peace and war. I don't know if you meant that in temporal terms.
No, no, in terms of range of options.
Exactly. So before we cross the Rubicon, before we cross any line, what might aggression, what might attack, what might unhappiness from Beijing look like?
Kasi we're all, we're talking about this, we're talking about bases, we're talking about military exercises, but let's face it, it won't necessarily come to traditional warfare and there are many ways that we can get hurt.
So there's a 50 shades of potential contingency before all out conventional warfare, yung tinitawag na hybrid warfare to get it from the Russian strategies.
So there could be a full scale cyber attack against Taiwan and potentially also against Philippines. There could be a partial or full embargo making it very hard for Taiwan to trade with the rest of the world.
May tinitawag din na short sharp war. You target few Taiwanese military installations but don't go all the way war.
So in short, between one to ten, peace and war, total war, there's so many options China can do.
So ang idea dito is if the U.S. has more access to bases in the north of Philippines, it can have better preparations, then it can make it harder or costlier for China to do any of those 50 shades of threats I was talking about.
Not only all out conventional warfare but also cyber capability, etc.
Kasi alam natin yun yung soft underbelly literally ng Taiwan, southern shores niya. Any full invasion will be happening there.
But if the U.S. also has more exercises in the area, more coordination with Philippines, and potentially also Japan.
Remember, President Marcos is going to go to Japan next week. That's going to be an important visit.
I'm sure the Taiwan issue will be discussed because the Japanese also have a direct interest in Taiwan on so many levels.
So that's what I'm saying. Ngayon palang, we are already preparing for D-Day because as the Roman saying goes, if you want peace, prepare for war.
Because if you're prepared, you have contingency plans, you will make the other side think twice.
So the hope here is to prevent conflict by showing a strong force.
But then again, I see all of that from a military standpoint.
There is a show of force and I completely agree.
When he talks to Japan, when Australia comes into the picture and so on, then there is that show of an alliance.
And therefore, it will defray and discourage anything on the military side.
But the passive aggression can look so many ways, never mind Taiwan.
I really just want to talk about Manila and the Philippines.
There are so many ways that China can express its displeasure.
It's still the biggest trading partner for the Philippines. What will that look like?
A cyber warfare with Beijing, what will that look like?
In other words, we saw that.
Mag-excuse lang yung bus sa EDSA, tigil na yung NCR.
That's what we're talking about.
So when we say that we have to be prepared, okay.
E nakita na natin yung nangyayaring ngayon on the military side, on the military presence side, on the alliance building.
But what else should we be preparing for and what should preparation look like?
On all these other fronts.
Increasingly, it will be impossible for the Philippines to be neutral on the Taiwan question.
While we have disputes with China in the West Philippine Sea.
So medyo double front yon.
Now for me, the challenge for the Philippines is this.
Actually, the challenge also for China is this.
If China does countermeasures aggressively, medyo ipitin tayo lalo sa West Philippine Sea and all,
then it will make it easier for the defense establishment in the Philippines to say,
Mr. President, I think we have to double down on our alliance with the United States, right?
So I think the best option for China moving forward, if I were to advise them,
is offer something tangible, concrete, that you didn't to President Duterte.
Because President Duterte forward deployed all concessions, really didn't get much.
So alam natin just the other day, kausap ni President Marcos,
yung main construction company ng China, including a very controversial one.
So China can say, ginito, Mr. Marcos, you want our help on infrastructure development and all?
Then slow down on the U.S. part, because we're really not happy about this.
Because, Robby, I mean, the response that China gave to the Austin visit
was far more aggressive than the response they gave to Kamal Harris' visit to Palawan.
So that tells you, this was something big that happened.
So I think the best course of action for China is to offer carrots.
And then from there, kasi pwede i-dribble din ang Philippines yung EDCA.
Na-dribble ni Duterte for six years, pwede rin dribble ni Marcos.
So that's why I'm saying we have not crossed a ruby point yet.
By expanding EDCA locations, that's an expression of dribbling?
No, no, no. Dribbling the full implementation of EDCA and dribbling the American access
to the four additional bases, right?
I mean, as I said, the number of exercises, the nature of access,
the nature of weapon systems, pwede mo pa rin negotiate lakin.
Sige, sige. Iiwan muna natin ang U.S. and China on the question of dribbling.
Therefore, how would you now rate President Marcos in his foreign affairs game?
Well, I mean, the number of foreign visits is a bit too much probably,
and we still have to see.
But for me, I just hope that he has really prepared himself for all the potential contingencies.
But for me, ganito, let's be very clear.
The ultimate goal is for the Philippines to have the maximum deterrence capability on its own.
At narinig natin kanina, sinabi ni Lloyd Austin na tutulungan nila ang Pilipinas
to develop our own capabilities.
So we're not here trying to say, umasa lang tayo sa Amerika para i-dissuade ng China,
because it's a very risky thing, and it undermines our sovereignty.
We want an independent Philippines.
So for me, if we're going to give Americans some precious access to precious bases,
by God, we have to get them to get us really good military hardware
so that we have the capabilities.
That's actually a knock on his father, on Marcos Sr.
During his time, the knock on Marcos Sr.