IN response to a previous column I wrote on China, a reader in Canada writes:
“I am an Indonesian-Chinese now residing in Canada and read your recent Manila Times piece with a sense of déjà vu as history seems sadly repeating itself in the Philippines. Thanks to my dad’s urging, I left Indonesia before the tumultuous, messy and bloody period when Chinese-backed Indonesian communists attempted a coup against Sukarno and replace him with their puppet. Fortunately, the putsch failed as Suharto mustered enough support from the people and military. What ensued was 500,000+ people killed and slaughtered during the purge, a dark period in Indonesia’s history. I would argue that it was genocide.
“I see a close parallel with what is currently happening in your beautiful country and my birth country in the 1960s. Same playbook but different actors. Like Duterte. Sukarno broke ties with the US and other Western allies and embraced China with open arms. I remember well the time when Jakarta’s main streets showed large billboards exhorting: ‘Crush USA!’ Indonesia was broke then from corruption and mismanagement but needed big bucks to continue financing Sukarno’s grandiose and trophy projects. China came to the rescue by offering generous grants of loans, entrenching themselves in the country in the process. The Indonesian communist party (PKI) was their trojan horse. At that time the number of PKI members was only second to China’s Communist Party.
“China’s strategy in the Philippines shows more finesse than that in Indonesia but I think much more insidious and dangerous. With the thousands of Chinese people already in your backyard, PRC will one day come knocking to collect the massive IOU Duterte has signed for. I am afraid this script will not have a happy ending.
“Only a fool thinks he can outsmart the beady-eyed Xi Jinping. ‘He who has the gold makes the rules.’”
Call for mobilization
The situation has prompted my good friend and colleague at the National Transformation Council, the former defense secretary and national security adviser Norberto B. Gonzales, to call for an urgent national mobilization to prepare for a possible (if not imminent) armed invasion. The Chinese embassy in Manila has dismissed this theory as laughable, but it has found instant and enthusiastic support in some national security circles.
My own fear is that President Rodrigo Duterte, who has the power to push for such mobilization or to avert it, may not be as eager as my friend NBG to effect it. After all many see him as the “Trojan horse” (to use my correspondent’s term) that let the enemy in.
I am still trying to reach Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and our Ambassador in Beijing Chito Sta. Romana to confirm reports that the Department of Foreign Affairs has authorized three million visas to be issued to Chinese nationals who are being programmed to come as “workers.” But DFA sources insist on the story. Before the Japanese invaded the country, many nondescript Japanese individuals hired themselves out to Filipino employers as “gardeners” or household workers. When the war came, they suddenly metamorphosed into full-fledged colonels.
The reports further claim that since the passports office does not have the sufficient manpower and paper to handle this large volume, the DFA has decided to outsource the issuance of the visas to a private Chinese firm in Hong Kong, at the “special cost” of US$20 per visa for the deserving DFA official.
Local government sources are alarmed that these Chinese nationals are now trying to legalize their stay in our local communities, in large numbers. In Parañaque alone, according to these sources, some 200,000 have already taken out civil registration certificates and work permits to establish their residence there. One real estate agent says, “they are buying condos by the hundreds.” Eyewitnesses say they have no pretension to urban breeding; they are rough, ill-mannered and speak nothing but Fukien.
They wear no leg-irons yet, as they reportedly do in Africa, but nobody knows whether any of them are prisoners, ex-convicts or PLA members. One thing is sure, they are here to make sure DU30 does not have to hire any Filipino worker to work on Chinese-funded infrastructure.
Building the police state
Meantime, President Xi Jinping seems intent on helping DU30 reshape the previously republican and democratic Philippine government. Aside from helping DU30’s communist allies strengthen their hold on government, China seems intent to make sure DU30’s police state experiment does not fail. An essential component of this is an electronic surveillance system on political personalities and private citizens. A Chinese military plane was recently reported to have unloaded some 25 crates in Davao, allegedly containing components of such a surveillance system. Chinese technicians reportedly came with it.
DU30 was earlier reported to have acquired a Russian electronic listening device, but this is said to have remained untouched because no Russian technicians came with it. The Philippine National Police has also reportedly acquired a “WiFi intercept” equipment from Israel, which gives it the capability to intercept all communications on the internet. The equipment is said to cost $40 million, but this has reportedly ballooned into $240 million, not counting an additional $60 million for operational expenses.
Clearly, the invasion imagined by our security experts is no longer just possible or imminent. It is already here, and it demands the clearest-headed and most timely response. Our absurd ties with China must go, just as the killing of drug suspects, of journalists, and finally, of priests, must go. Otherwise, the DU30 government itself must go. We must fight for our country, not only as a matter of patriotism but above all as a matter of faith. God gave us only one country, and we must fight for it.
With Beijing, we need a mutually beneficial and genuinely harmonious relationship, based on sovereign equality, mutual respect and shared human values. What we have now is a poor caricature of that relationship. DU30 struts like a peacock after imposing himself upon all Filipinos as a tyrant, but lies prostrate at the feet of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who (he says) will not allow him to be ousted no matter what.
We cannot tolerate such conduct. And we cannot allow any despot to escape responsibility for making “killing” his preferred way of tyrannizing us, and for the killing first of drug suspects, and now, of priests. Within six months, three diocesan priests were killed without any clue as to why they were killed and by whom they were killed.
Three martyred priests
Fr. Marcelito Paez, 72, was killed in Jaen, Nueva Ecija on December 4, 2017 while driving home after assisting in the release of a political prisoner. Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura, 37, was killed in Gattaran, Cagayan on April 28, 2018 after celebrating mass. And Fr. Richmond Nilo, 43, was killed in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija on June 10, 2018 as he was about to celebrate mass. Fr. Rey Urmenta, a former PNP chaplain, survived an ambush in Calamba, Laguna last week.
Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, condemned the killings as “outrageously evil acts.”
Caloocan Bishop and CBCP vice president Pablo David called the three slain priests “martyrs of the Faith.”
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, immediate past president of the CBCP, joined by Bishop-elect Jose Elmer Mangalinao of Bayombong and the clergy of his archdiocese, condemned the killings and offered reparations for the crimes.
Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon joined the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan and the Diocese of Bayombong in condemning the killings and offering reparations.
“They are killing our flock. They are killing us shepherds. They are killing our faith. They are cursing our Church. They are killing God again as they did in Calvary,” the joint statement from Lingayen-Dagupan and Bayombong said. They have made the nation a killing field, it added.
From Dagupan-Lingayen and Bayombong to Legazpi, the agony cathedral bells were heard again, as they were previously heard when the extrajudicial killing of so-called drug suspects took its youngest innocent victim in Caloocan.
DU30 unmoved, priests arming themselves
Throughout all this, not a word of sorrow or regret was heard from DU30, who has been so quick to thunder with vulgarities and threats to kill anyone who offends him. The martyred priests were all known to be vocal critics of extra-judicial killings.
To protect themselves, more than 200 priests and Protestant pastors have now applied for gun permits. This has deeply saddened bishops, other priests, religious and laymen who believe men of faith should never fear those who could destroy the body but not the soul. The Church is full of such saints.
On his way to Rome to face trial, Bishop Ignatius of Antioch had all the encouragements and opportunities to escape to freedom. But he did not want to miss his martyrdom. In Auschwitz, Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish Franciscan friar, volunteered to die in place of a stranger at the German concentration camp. There are so many other martyrs whose names are written in heaven.
The killing of priests began as DU30 completed his first two years of a murderous drug campaign that killed thousands without due process or documentation, that savaged foreign presidents and other dignitaries as “sons of bitches” for inquiring about the drug killings. During the same period DU30 casually defamed the Church, bishops, priests and religious simply for being what they are. No provocation.
On his recent state visit to South Korea, he called three Filipino women inside the Grand Hilton ballroom in Seoul to join him on stage – two to kiss him on the cheeks, and the third one to be kissed by him on the lips. Then he gave them copies of a dirty book which defames and slanders the Church. He appeared to derive so much pleasure from it. It is now known that he routinely distributes the same smut wherever he goes as though it were part of his job description.
“I will destroy the Church”
As a candidate, DU30 vowed, if elected, to destroy the Church. Nobody took him seriously, but I wrote, “Can Duterte succeed where Satan has failed?” That’s how I got started as a DU30 critic. I got no response, but after he was elected, he started to attack unnamed clerics and the Church itself, whenever he had nothing else to talk about. At one time he attacked the current Pope for causing so much traffic during his visit.
Will God not intervene and free us from this raving tin god? One Church lay worker thinks the nation has more than enough reasons to separate itself from DU30, and Fathers Paez, Ventura and Nilo (under the acronym PAVEN) could become our new GOMBURZA (for Fathers Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos and Jacinto Zamora, the three Filipino priests executed by the Spanish authorities in 1872 for treason, whose martyrdom lit the flames of the Philippine Revolution.)
Priests at EDSA
Today, some 150 priests will be marching from La Salle Greenhills in Ortigas to the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace at EDSA to celebrate the Holy Mass and offer reparations for the murders. I am sure DU30 will be watching from the sidelines. This is an opportunity for the priests to speak as prophets and in one or in as many voices tell DU30 what Moses told the Pharaoh on their final meet, “Let my people free!”
Or, what the martyred 85-year-old Fr. Jacques Hamel of Saint-Etienne du-Rouvray in Normandy, France told his murderers on July 26, 2016 before they forced him to kneel and slit his throat: “Va-t’en Satan!”– (Begone, Satan!) This would finally show all and sundry that Filipino Catholics have no illusions about their real enemy.