In an exchange of tweets with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr., Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) director Greg Poling said that the only reason China is not removing the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin and building on Bajo de Masinloc is the United States-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).
The exchange between Locsin and Poling started on the issue of Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) being cancelled.
“Won’t a loss of US ISR assistance hamper counter-terror ops in Mindanao. And without the VFA the US couldn’t provide the kind of HADR assistance it did after Yolanda, assist with capacity building, or help respond to a threat in the WPS,” Poling said.
“I admit the pettiness of canceling the visa is disproportionate to the US loss in power projection in the South China Sea. American hegemony will be the first in history to go down from shooting itself in the feet after shooting itself in the mouth,” Locsin said in response.
Poling then said, “You’re right. Australia, the only other country with a VFA, provides similar assistance at a much lower level. And Japan tries but is hampered by lack of VFA. But the only thing keeping China from tearing the Sierra Madre off Ayungin or building on Bajo de Masinloc is the US MDT.”
“I praised Australia to high heavens on Australia Day for the generous terms under which Philippine military train and live in Australia with many privileges denied them in the US on the same mission,” Locsin said. “Japan just delivered 11 coast guard ships of great speed and puissance. France has done the same; we’re thinking of a submarine. We’re getting choppers from Russia. Australia is lavish. We took back Marawi in 6 months when it took the West 6 years to take back Raqqa.”
“When PH ran the Chinese blockade of Sierra Madre in 2014 it was an American P8 overhead that let China know the world was watching so they backed off. When China sent a barge of sand to Bajo de Masinloc in 2016 it was a US flyby and Obama intervention w/ Xi that turned them back,” Poling said.
In response, Locsing said, “And when the Philippine warship challenged the Chinese coast guard and Obama said stand down and withdraw the PH ship did. The Chinese did not. Obama said, “Oh well such is life.” And it’s never left. Thanks America. Everybody acknowledges the US cost us that reef.”