PH South China Sea Naval Patrols: A Wise Move?

Caricature: PH South China Sea Naval Patrols: A Wise Move?

Caveat:

I am aware that this is a very unpopular position to take on the South China Sea / West Philippine Sea Dispute but I believe that we can notwin wars with rash actions. Things must be well thought-of and all eventualities accounted-for before actions are initiated.

Yes. I’ve said the “W” word and I am dead serious about it. We are already at war. We are at war for what is right. We are at war with the paradigm that “might is right.” We are at war with China and what it represents.

Thus, we must think and behave like we are at war. We can not afford to make blunders that will in the long run cost us our freedom and sovereignty — our country.

“The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

I am by no means recommending inaction or defeat. Far from it. On the contrary, I am urging the reader to think in terms of guaranteed victory.

The dispute with China is one we can not afford to lose.

Backgrounder:

PH South China Sea Naval Patrols Pushed by PH Congressmen

GMA News Online reports that, in light of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s decision to tackle the Philippines’ case versus China on the South China Sea Dispute, and the recent sortie within  12 nautical miles of one of China’s claimed maritime features in the South China Sea, lawmakers from the Philippine Congress urge the government to conduct “freedom of navigation” patrols in the region.

Related:

Magdalo party-list Rep. Ashley Acedillo says that, “The Philippines own patrol would show that it would not accept China’s claim over the disputed portions of the South China Sea” and that “We might as well do the same thing the US is doing.”Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 7.38.33 AM

“The Philippines own patrol would show that it would not accept China’s claim over the disputed portions of the South China Sea… We might as well do the same thing the US is doing.”

In a similar note, ACT-CIS party-list Rep. SamuelPagdilao, says that, “conducting naval patrols strengthens the Philippines’ claim over the disputed waters.”Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 9.53.47 AM

“Conducting naval patrols strengthens the Philippines’ claim over the disputed waters.”

A group of former police and military officials also has made public their sentiments that “The Philippines should start conducting its own naval patrol in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) to assert its rights over the disputed waters claimed by China in its entirety.”

“The Philippines should start conducting its own naval patrol in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) to assert its rights over the disputed waters claimed by China in its entirety.”

***

Why the Proposed PH South China Sea Naval Patrols Is Ill Conceived

In  Sun Tzu’s Art of War, war is studied very carefully. It contains universal principles on the conduct and conditions of war. Essentially, it provides the conditions on how wars are won or lost. Despite being more than 2,500 years old, this book is required reading in military schools around the world.

Thus, the Art of War is the best resource to scrutinize the recommendations of the two Philippine Congressmen and former military officials.

Sun Tzu versus Philippine Congressmen on the PH South China Sea Naval Patrols

Sun Tzu: “The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.”

Amang Laya: This  should be the mission statement when conducting wars whether initiated or inherited.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete.”

Amang Laya: Let’s analyze the Enemy.

Criteria China Philippines
Global Fire Index Rank 3  40
Total Population: 1,355,692,576 107,668,231
Available Manpower: 749,610,775  50,649,196
Fit for Service: 618,588,627  41,570,732
Reaching Military Age Annually: 19,538,534  2,081,388
Active Frontline Personnel: 2,333,000 220,000
Active Reserve Personnel: 2,300,000  430,000
 Tanks: 9,150  45
 Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFVs):  4,788  778
  Self-Propelled Guns (SPGs): 1,710  0
 Towed-Artillery:  6,246  270
 Multiple-Launch Rocket Systems (MLRSs): 1,770  0
Total Aircraft: 2,860  126
Fighters/Interceptors: 1,066 0
Fixed-Wing Attack Aircraft: 1,311  8
Transport Aircraft: 876  95
Trainer Aircraft: 352  23
Helicopters: 908  82
Attack Helicopters: 196  0
 Total Naval Strength: 673  120
Aircraft Carriers: 1  0
Frigates: 47  3
Destroyers: 25  0
Corvettes: 25 11
Submarines: 67  0
Coastal Defense Craft: 11  38
Mine Warfare: 0  0
Labor Force: 797,600,000  41,330,000
Merchant Marine Strength: 2,030  446
Major Ports and Terminals: 15  6
Roadway Coverage: 3,860,800  213,151
Railway Coverage: 86,000  995
Serviceable Airports: 507  247
Defense Budget: $145,000,000,000  $3,000,000,000
External Debt: $863,200,000,000 $72,810,000,000
Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold: $3,821,000,000,000 $85,040,000,000
Purchasing Power Parity: $13,390,000,000,000 $454,300,000,000

 “If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.”

Question: Should the Philippines agitate China militarily?

“Move not unless you see an advantage;  use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.”

Amang Laya: Given the overwhelming firepower difference between China and the Philippines, what is the advantage in using our troops to patrol the South China Sea — just like the US? Do we have the firepower of the US? Can we stand on our own in a gun battle?

“Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory:

1 He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
2 He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.
3 He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.
4 He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.
5 He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.”

Amang Laya: 1. Is it wise to egg China to fight right now? 2. Are we the superior force or the inferior one? 3. Is the Philippine Government in unity? How about the military? 4. Are we prepared? Is China prepared? 5. Do we have the military capacity to go head on with China?

At the end of the day,  we must “Ponder and deliberate before [we] make a move.” We must always remember that “There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must not be attacked, towns which must not be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.”

“There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must not be attacked, towns which must not be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.”

While we are weak, we rely on our allies who have the capacity to play cat and mouse with China. In the mean time, we address where we are deficient and bolster further where we are strong. We must learn to chose our battles.

We must remember that this is not a video game where we can just press reset and everything turns back to normal. This is life and death.

Before I end this article, I leave this final question:

“PH South China Sea Naval Patrols: Is It Wise?”

 

Sources:

  1. Global Fire Power
  2. Solons urge gov’t to conduct naval patrols in West PHL Sea
  3. Caballo Island Offshore

About the Author

Amang Laya
Amang Laya
Amang Laya is the South China Sea News Today's contributor-at-large. He is a graduate of the University of the Philippines. He spends his days monitoring the latest news and views on the South China Sea Dispute.

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