Do Not Read This: Diego Cagahastian from Opinyon
Do Not Read This

Mamba against live-fire Balikatan 2022

Jan 17, 2022, 12:52 AM
Diego S. Cagahastian

Diego S. Cagahastian

Columnist

IT IS seldom that a provincial governor goes against the official policy of the national dispensation, especially on military and national security issues.

It is thus worthy of a column discussion that Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba has come out in public opposing the plan of the Philippines and United States defense establishments to holdlive-fire military exercises in his province.

Governor Mamba, who said he is not afraid of critics who tag him as a pro-China governor, pointed out that the live-fire Balikatan 2022 would put potential Chinese economic investments in the region at risk.

Mamba is worried that it may cause a diplomatic row. “We don’t want to anger China here in Cagayan. We see that we could get help from them.”

The live-fire drills are scheduled to be held in Claveria, Cagayan which is located directly south of Taiwan.

Balikatan is the biggest and most important bilateral military exercises between the two nations, and is held every year together with socio-civic action of American soldiers in several places in the Philippines.

To be fair, Balikatan participants from the US are helping construct classrooms and school facilities, toilets and water projects, and assisting in disaster rescue and rehabilitation, in areas visited by typhoons and earthquakes.

American soldiers also fuel the entertainment and prostitution trade in areas where they stay long, such as Olongapo City and Zamboanga City.

President Duterte has been blowing hot and cold in his treatment of the Balikatan exercises, sometimes banning it, and other times allowing it.

Thanks to Mamba, the Filipino people have been warned that Balikatan this year will have this component of live-fire practice, and in an area directly south of Taiwan.

If this is not a political statement the US is relaying to China, then the sun rises in the west.

Let me digress a little.The Holy Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, and I quote: "The Hour will not be established until the sun rises from the west, and when it rises (from the west) and the people will see it, then all of them will believe (in Allah)."

Well, back to Mamba and Balikatan. The Claveria segment is intended to demonstrate combat readiness and firepower by the participants (US and Philippines) in that very area.

Balikatan is an annual military exercise between the two allies to ensure interoperability of their forces and to prepare their responses to various security threats.

Are these military establishments preparing for the possible "invasion" of China against its own province?And when that happens, is the Philippines participating in the defense of Taiwan?

“That’s live fire. They’re going to test all armaments. What will happen to our relationship with our neighbors, especially China,” Mamba said.

The Cagayan governor, who is seeking reelection this May polls, is concerned about planned investments by Chinese businessmen in his province, among them modernization of agriculture, aquaculture and livestock, food processing, etc.

He said Chinese investors are also offering to bankroll an international airport and a P10-billion project to rehabilitate the Aparri port.

The Riverfront Construction Inc. has proposed to develop a $200-million international port terminal in Aparri, modernizing it to spur economic recovery in Northern Luzon.


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