Dispatch from Crame No. 213: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s statement on the unravelling Duterte-China partnership

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Last week Malacañang announced that it will limit the participation of a third player in the telco industry to Chinese companies. This means that the government intends to exclude all other foreign companies from participating in the telco industry, no matter how more competent and more advanced their services and technology might be.

This economically irrational decision can only be explained with the shift in our foreign policy that now heavily leans towards China. After all, both governments do not mince words in describing the present as a golden age of PH-China relations.

This situation serves the Duterte administration well especially now that it has made the Philippines a pariah state in the international community because of its human rights record. Only China has both the international and regional clout to give legitimacy to this government in the global arena by continuously ignoring its human rights situation, after the Western democracies have already all but treated the Philippine government as a rogue state because of its disregard for human rights.

This might be good for the present administration, but not necessarily for the future of the nation. The experience of countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Cambodia, and a host of other Asian and even African nations should serve as a lesson of how China ultimately demands for its pound of flesh once it decides to cash in. This is not to mention the security threat a Chinese telco poses to the country’s information and communication infrastructure.

What will assure us that in the future, our national security and whole intelligence and defense systems won’t be compromised, if not under the complete control of a foreign government with national interests diametrically opposed to our own? This is one of the very reasons why the NBN-ZTE deal was scuttled under the Arroyo government, aside from the corruption issues that plagued it. Do we really want a country who has most interest in undermining our national security to have a major role in our public utilities, especially communications?

Of course, this is no cause for worry for an administration bent on making the Philippines a Chinese satellite. Already the intention is to make China our center, shunning Western democracies, but without the economic independence and self-sufficiency of the other progressive ASEAN nations to enable us to stand our ground against the Chinese juggernaut.

The government intends to bury Filipinos in Chinese loans. But when the Chinese Shylock comes knocking in the near future, today’s leaders won’t be the ones to pay. It is the common citizens who will. Couple this with a communications industry heavily compromised by a Chinese presence, it is not entirely alarmist to envision our nation as a Chinese province, and Filipinos as second-class citizens of China, in the near future.

We must stop this undesirable dystopia from becoming reality for our children and our grandchildren while we still can.

Office of Senator Leila de Lima
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