Don’t die for fake news; don’t get in the crossfire

NATIONALISM isn’t just about fighting and dying for the country. It’s time to work smart and hard as never before for its future!

The Philippines is coming close to a war but not one of its own making and not one in its interests. It is a war between the United States (US) and China, continually escalating at the initiatives of the US — from trade, technology and scientific research to interference in the internal security affairs of countries. Given heated upcoming US elections, war might be needed to garner patriotic votes. The Philippines should avoid being incited again into a conflict again, which it can sidestep and benefit from by doing so.
False flags, in political terminology, are lies that lead a public to fight and support a war. Practiced by some nations in history, this has become a standard procedure of the US, detailed in disclosures of former government operatives, including some from the highest levels. Cases today include the Iraqi War involving Colin Powell. The former US secretary of state once stated to the United Nations, “There is no doubt in my mind” that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Yet actual transcripts of declassified intelligence now show there was no such empirical information, and events proved there were none, but over a million Iraqis have died.  The Spanish-American War, where the Philippines was bloodily taken over by the US, was incited by Hearst and Pulitzer papers, falsely reporting an attack by Spain. This media practice of lying to the public is called “Yellow Journalism.” Robert McNamara, former secretary of state in the time of Kennedy and Johnson, admitted over 30 years after events that the Vietnam War was falsely triggered by an alleged second attack in Tonkin on US ships that never happened. Fifty-six thousand US soldiers died, some 3 million Vietnamese were killed and more than 3 million found themselves with missing limbs because of massive chemical warfare by the US. Similar stories can be found in the Middle East, Libya, Syria and Venezuela, among others.

The Philippines is being incited by increasing false flags in media that are not always outright lies but include managed information that is magnified, applied with bias or timed to coincide with a national event, ignoring contrary information or normal perspectives in order to whip up emotions. A continuing barrage of events is dug up in the media whenever the Philippines and China have an upcoming relationship-building occasion.

For example, on Aug. 20, 2020, Rappler reported without question on the Department of Foreign Affairs lodging a protest against China for the latter’s Coast Guard allegedly confiscating the payao (fishing devices) of Filipino fishermen in Panatag, which is an event that actually took place in May. To put things into context, May 1 until mid-August is the annual fishing reserve period in Scarborough, implemented by China to help replenish the area’s fish stock, which even Filipino fishermen have admitted has helped improve their catch while coastal fishing in the Philippines has been depleted.  This is not to assert the control of the Chinese but to present a far more nuanced context behind the case.

In June 2018, a few days before Independence Day, GMA News reporter Jun Veneracion went out to the South China Sea to find news and having found none, used an old cellphone of alleged Chinese stealing two fishes from Filipino fishermen, who later explained that a barter of consumer items for the fish had taken place.

The Inquirer published a story of the Philippines donating emergency medical supplies to China in mid-March at the height of the pandemic in Manila when the token donation was actually sent in February during the height of the pandemic in China.

The same media outlets that criticize hardly report the massive and immediate assistance that came from Chinese philanthropists, corporations and government not just during the Covid-19 crisis, but also during the Taal Volcano eruption and other crises. Smaller donations by other countries and groups are given more front-page coverage.

The report of the Chinese Navy pointing a radar gun on the Philippine Navy was reported on April 23, but it happened in February. Media reports made it appear that China was taking advantage of the Philippines’ virus emergency. To put things into context again, in February, the Covid-19 crisis was far worse in China and was not as blown up yet in the Philippines. The report also failed to provide context that these are radar devices that are used in line with standard procedures in the middle of the sea when foreign warships cross each other; whereas the US pointed real guns on the Philippine coast guard in Tubbataha, which very few media outlets reported and about which few agencies took issue.

In relation to the Philippines allegedly being a province of China, the tarpaulins posted on footbridges around Metro Manila had been photographed and put up in the presence of an opposition blogger. The China flags sold in Luneta were admitted by the vendors to have been supplied by Filipinos who paid them to sell the flags. It is not unusual to sell flags, shirts and merchandise of other countries on occasions, normally though the host country’s flag is also sold. The point is not that it is right, but that it happens and has, on occasion, been shown to have been likely planted.

The wording on the label of the Binondo-based beauty product that brands the Philippine capital as a province of China, while a “repulsive offense against our nation” could be descriptive of it, could have been planted and is being investigated. Either way: 1) the issue is the Philippines’ prerogative to close down the enterprise and protest through proper channels; 2) it is unworthy of extended attention of national-level politicians or headlines; and 3) it is not a position of China, yet some media outlets continue to confound the public by referring to small, isolated incidents as somehow linked to official foreign policy or bilateral relations. China does not want the Philippines as a province; neither does the US. The cost of managing it will be far higher than just doing business with it, traveling to it and paying for its goods and services. The Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) at $360 billion in 2019 is less than the 2.7 percent of China’s GDP. It is less than half a year’s 6-percent growth. And it is less than 2 percent of the United States’ GDP. The Philippines’ value is strategic in its physical position and should be used to maximum advantage.

Speaking of labels, why are aren’t “nationalist experts” Carpio, Hilbay, Batongbacal and Rappler making a bigger issue about the US recently implying in writing that Sabah belongs to Malaysia? Isn’t Sabah a much bigger issue than other labels? Yet think tanks and politicians raising issues in unison with the US do not bring these up. Is not the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement an imposition of foreign sovereignty over Philippine territory, where Filipino presidents need to ask permission to visit? What about the island Vietnam finessed from Philippine occupation? Or US free accesses through the Philippines internal waters without permission… if one country is allowed by international law, as claimed by the US, are the same principles espoused allowed evenly with others?

The Philippines should prioritize high-value yielding activities and focus on managing its domestic issues of health, corruption, logistics, planned infrastructure, environment and enterprise creation.  In this, it can work with the US, China, Japan and other countries. This is being practiced by fast-rising countries such as Vietnam, India, Japan and South Korea, continuing positive, productive, conflict-minimizing and economy-enhancing relations with the very same nations with which they have issues. It is time for Filipinos to stop thinking nationalism is only shown by fighting and dying.

New Worlds by IDSI (Integrated Development Studies Institute) aims to present frameworks based on a balance of economic theory, historical realities, ground success in real business and communities and attempt for common good, culture and spirituality. We welcome logical feedback and possibly working together with compatible frameworks (

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