In facing a China bearing gifts, what should prevail in the Pinoy heart, Utang na Loob o Pakikibaka?
By Roilo Golez
Former National Security AdviserFounder, Di Ka Pasisiil Movement
Duterte to raise sea ruling with China
Golez: This is a very much welcome pre-departure statement of policy of the President. The Philippines is a claimant in the South China Sea and won most of its points: Mischief Reef, Ayungin Shoal, Recto Bank etc are within our Exclusive Economic Zone, that there is no basis for China's nine-dash line that overlaps with almost 90% of our West Philippine Sea. And that Filipino fishermen have the right to fish in their traditional fishing grounds in the Scarborough Shoal area. The fight for our West Philippine Sea should remain firm in the face of the expected gifts from China and their assertive, forceful stand that they have sovereignty in the sea demarcated by their nine-dash line which overlaps with almost 90% of our West Philippine Sea.
I express the following concerns:
1. The Philippines should not ask permission from China for Filipino fishermen to fish in the Scarborough Shoal area, as previously announced. Asking permission, in that case and in every day human experience, is tantamount to recognizing and accepting that China owns Scarborough Shoal. The ownership of Scarborough Shoal was not resolved by the Arbitral Tribunal. Any Philippine statement here will affect our claims in future international legal fora.
2. I ask the question: Would accepting huge grants and other concessions affect or compromise our determination to pursue our rights as resolved by the Arbitral Tribunal? How can we vigorously fight a country in a territorial dispute if we accept big, material gifts from that country? I heard at least $ 3 billion is going to be granted in grants and ODA. "Utang na loob" is ingrained in the psyche of Filipinos, according to Filipino anthropologists like F. Landa Jocano. I quote from the article SOCIAL RELATIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES: UTANG NA LOOB, BAYANIHAN AND PAKIKISAMA http://factsanddetails.com/…/Philip…/sub5_6c/entry-3868.html: Utang na Loob (Debt Cycle)
"Obligation and responsibility are often viewed in terms of reciprocity (utang na loob), comprised of debts (utang), and inner-self-free will (na-loob). The process begins with an unsolicited gift and continues going often into to the next generation. According to Wikipedia: "Utang-na-loob (pronounced “u-tang na lo-ob”) is also sometimes translated as a "debt of gratitude." In the study of Filipino psychology, utang na loob is considered an important "accommodative surface value," along with hiya (shame) and pakikisama (togetherness). That is to say, it is one of the values by which the Filipino accommodates the demands of the world around him, as opposed to confrontative values like "lakas ng loob" and "pakikibaka".
So from the above, there is the conflict between the Pinoy values of "utang na loob" and "pakikibaka."
I pray that "pakikibaka" dominates the heart of the President in relentlessly and steadfastly fighting for our West Philippine Sea and our Exclusive Economic Zone in the face of China's two pronged strategy of aggression and excessive claims under their nine-dash line and China's offer of generous gifts to the Philippines. It is comforting to note that Pakikibaka has been one of the hallmarks of the President Duterte's life story.
Di Ka Pasisiil, Mr. President!