97-year old former defense chief of the late Pres. Marcos tells Duterte he’s doing right, advises him to ignore critics
(Eagle News) — Former Senate President and Philippine defense chief Juan Ponce Enrile backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s stand to continue friendly relations with China, citing the country’s historic ties with the Asian giant and how it is more beneficial for the country and the economy to continue talking to China.
Enrile, 97, who was invited by President Duterte to Malacanang, said on Monday night, May 17, that Duterte was on the right track in his stand on the West Philippine Sea and on how to deal with China. He advised the 76-year old Philippine leader to ignore his critics on the issue, and that if he was in the President’s shoes, he would have done the same thing.
He assured Duterte that history will judge him well.
“Only history will judge you. And I think that history will judge you very well. If I were in your place, I would have — I would have done the same thing. What else can a President of this country do under our present national circumstance?” Enrile said.
-Friendly approach better-
“Kaya dapat kailangan na friendly ang approach natin diyan, hindi hard, assertive and aggressive approach. Sapagkat kung hindi tayo magkakaunawaan sa Tsina ay madadamay ang interest ng ating mga kababayan, ang ating ekonomiya, pati na rin ang ating seguridad dito sa usapin na ito,” he said.
Enrile, who was the late President Ferdinand Marcos’ defense chief for more than 14 years, even before martial law and until Marcos was deposed in the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolutiion, said that dealing with China during the early Marcos years was easier because it was not that powerful back then.
“Sa totoo lang, Mr. President, hinawakan din namin ‘yang problema na ‘yan noong panahon ni Presidente Marcos pero noon ay mas madali ang trabaho namin sapagkat hindi kagaya ngayon ang Tsina ay hindi pa masyadong malakas noon ang kanyang puwersa. Wala silang navy, wala pa sila diyan sa West Philippine Sea kaya madali ang aming trabaho noon,” he explained.
“Ngayon, sa inyong panahon medyo mahirap ang katayuan ninyo at binabati ko kayo sa inyong approach dito sa ating usapin sa West Philippine Sea,” he noted.
-Importance of South China Sea-
Enrile explained South China Sea’s importance to China as these waters is where 80 percent of its energy and food pass through. This explains why China is very aggressive in securing the region.
‘Pag may mga ibang bansa na makahawak niyang lugar na ‘yan, eh palagay ko mahihirapan ang Tsina sapagkat 80 porsyento ng kanilang enerhiya at pati na ang kanilang mga pagkain sa Tsina ay dumadaan diyan, at ‘yan ay importante sa kanilang seguridad,” he said.
Enrile also told Duterte that it is still important for the country under the remaining year of his leadership to develop its defenses, so it would not rely on other countries such as the United States which he described as unreliable when it comes to a real defense crisis situation.
“Dapat ang bansa nating Pilipinas sa inyong liderato ay gawin na malakas ang ating kakayahan na manindigan ng sarili sapagkat dito sa mundo na ito ngayon hindi tayong maaaring umasa sa ating mga kaalyado kahit na sila na ang pinakamalakas na puwersa sa ating planeta sapagkat marami din silang mga problema sa kanilang buhay sa kanilang bansa, marami pa silang problema sa panglabas,” he said.
“Kaya dapat palakasin din natin ang ating ekonomiya, ang ating puwersa militar. At naintindihan siguro ‘yan ng Tsina sapagkat ‘yan din ang ginagawa nila para sa ganoon ay sila ay manatili na isang bansa na malaya,” he said.
He also cited an instance during the Marcos years when he and the late President asked for 2,500 armalites promised to the country so the Philippine soldiers can better defend those creating trouble in Luzon and Mindanao. But at that time, the US did not deliver on its promise, saying that they needed the arms then in the Vietnam war.
“Pumunta kami ni Presidente Marcos doon sa Clark Field, isang araw, tanghali ‘yon, dahil dumating ‘yong si Admiral Gaylord ng Seventh Fleet na naka-base sa Hawaii at hinihingi namin ang delivery ng 2,500 na Armalite para sa militar natin. Eh sabi niya sa akin, ‘Low priority kayo sapagkat kailangan namin ng baril sa Vietnam.’ Sabi namin, ‘Eh mayroon kaming problema dito eh, kailangan namin ang ipinangako ninyo.’ Sa madaling salita po, hindi kami nakakuha,” the former Marcos defense chief recalled
Enrile also offered his services to Duterte.
“Mr. President, ako po bilang isang Pilipino at isang nanungkulan din, ako po’y anumang oras kung kailangan niyo ang aking tulong sa mga ano man na bagay sa ating bansa, gratis et amore, tawagin lang ninyo ako po,” he said.
(Eagle News Service)