It’s been years since former Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chair Secretary Virgilio Leyretana stepped down from office. But we had been in regular, though not often, communications with him. Thanks to the facility of modern communications technology.
But it was only in 2022 that we learned that he and his wife are already in the United States. Secretary Vir did not say that their stay in the land of apples would be for good. Proof of his attachment to our country is his unending monitoring of what is happening in the Philippines and his sharing his thoughts on specific issues with us.
We received the latest of his insights some three days ago. And since our feeling is that his thoughts are very relevant to our times, we seek permission from the former MinDA head if we could use these in our column so that other Davaoenos, Cotabatenos, and other Mindanaoans will have the opportunity to discern his ideas and probably use these as a basis in forming their own position on the issues at hand.
Since we were given by Secretary Vir (Ley to others) his approval, here are some of his insights on the issue of the seemingly controversial establishment of additional sites for facilities for the US military as provided for in the EDCA or Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement).
On the USA-GRP EDCA bases – Several of our leaders and citizens are concerned and claim that establishing these bases (3 in Cagayan Valley and 1 in Balabac) is high risk as its consequential effects will inescapably place our country in harm’s way. My take is that God has predestined our country’s geographical circumstances.
We did not choose to be where we are today. As a strategic archipelago and at the crossroad of the only shortest ingress and egress for international maritime navigation, this evokes questions like:
- Can we really be independent or neutral in this rapidly changing, chaotic, and turbulent world?
- If we want to remain independent, can we really be, in light of the interconnectivity and interdependence between and among countries worldwide?
- Can we really be neutral, isolated, and immune from any and all that are now obtained worldwide?
- If we can, given our vulnerabilities, for how long? If this is possible, can it be probable?
- If we insist on maintaining our independence and/or neutrality as several of our political, business, and civic leaders want us to be. Do we have what it takes to sustain what they want us to be?
- Historically, has any country insisted on remaining neutral that was not eventually consumed by the unintended ramifications of war, if not ultimately conquered or annexed by the more powerful victors/s of war?
- If current developments could be a guide, why much more developed nations like Finland and Sweden are now virtually rushing to become members of groups like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the hope of surviving?
- If, by a twist of fate, we can manage to maintain independent diplomatic relations in the community of nations, particularly in the ASEAN, are we assuming that if China succeeds in annexing Taiwan to complete its ONE CHINA POLICY, it will no longer pursue its ”Nine Dash One Line” expansionist plan which, as it is appearing, is similar to Putin’s obsessive ambition for the revival of the USSR?
- Are our leaders of the belief that ”after Taiwan” China will really abandon its claim over Scarborough Shoal and nearby islands – notwithstanding that it has already developed and fortified it heavily as an integrated air force and naval base complete with an arsenal of modern weapons? Is there any historical antecedent about China and Xi (Jin Ping) that either or both can make us believe they will stand by their words?
- With all due respect to all our leaders, past and present – political, business, civic, academe, and military – what better options do they have individually, severally, and collectively?
- We might not be comfortable with EDCA, but do we have a better choice?
Indeed, these questions and ideas should be allowed to sink deeper into the hearts and minds for the well-being of our country and people.
We can only thank so much our friend from way back until now, former MinDA chair Secretary Virgilio “Ley” Leyretana, for giving us one good topic in our column today. We hope to receive more from you, Secretary Vir.
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