July 18, 2018, 10:26 pm
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Dunkirk, Balangiga, Hiroshima

WITH the Philippines chairing this year’s Asean, hosting the 50th Ministers Meeting this week and the next, and “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,” the following are offered for reflection and refreshment.

Christopher Nolan’s film-noir take on Operation Dynamo is another reminder of the impact of the War of Annihilation on human civilization. The movie should inform the East Asians in particular of a battlefield in France that has become a British battlecry. According to Dr. Edward Smalley of the School of History of the University of Kent: “Dunkirk was a traumatic defeat for the British army, but the unexpected rescue of so many was a tremendous wartime morale booster and the Dunkirk spirit is still emulated today in times of adversity.” [https://www.kent.ac.uk/news/culture/14535/comment-spirit-of-epic-dunkirk-evacuation-still-inspires]

For the Filipinos, the nearest equivalent of the Dunkirk spirit is “Araw ng Kagitingan” (Day of Valor), April 9, a national holiday commemorating the Battle of Bataan in 1942. The message, written by Captain Salvador P. Lopez and delivered by Third Lieutenant Normando Ildefonso “Norman” Reyes on the “Voice of Freedom” radio broadcast of April 9, 1942 from Malinta Tunnel, Corregidor encapsulates Filipino sentiment during the Philippine Defense Campaign, which is Stage One of World War II in the Pearl of the Orient. To wit:

“The world will long remember the epic struggle that Filipino and American soldiers put up in the jungle fastness and along the rugged coast of Bataan. They have stood up uncomplaining under the constant and grueling fire of the enemy for more that three months. Besieged on land and blockaded by sea, cut off from all sources of help in the Philippines and in America, the intrepid fighters have done all that human endurance could bear.”

“We, too, were betrayed by Judases. We were taken in the night by force of arms, and though we had done wrong to no man, our people were bound and delivered into the hands of our enemies.”

“We, too, shall rise...When the trumpets sound the hour we shall roll aside the stone before the tomb and the tyrant guards shall scatter in confusion. No wall of stone shall then be strong enough to contain us, no human force shall suffice to hold us in subjection, we shall rise in the name of freedom and the East shall be alight with the glory of our liberation.” [http://malacanang.gov.ph/1226-bataan-has-fallen/]

Diplomats from Canada, European Union, New Zealand and the United States are expected to attend the 50th Ministers Meeting. They should have been briefed about the recent State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte of the Philippines where he intoned: “At this point, allow me to take a step back in time. In 1901, there was known as Balangiga, and that is Eastern Samar. It was the time for Philippine-American War.”

“A combined group of Filipino villagers and guerrillas, in an effort to defend Samar Island from the alien invaders, attacked and overwhelmed a United States infantry garrison. Forty-eight American officers and men were slain in the attack. On the Filipino side, the casualty count was 28 killed and 22 wounded.

“In retaliation, U.S. gunboats and patrols were sent to Balangiga, Samar with the order to make a desert of Balangiga and to reduce Samar Island into an island of ‘howling wilderness,’ where every male citizen from the age of ten and above, and capable of bearing arms, would be put to death. The Church bells of Balangiga were seized by the Americans as spoils of war.

“That is why I say today; give us back those Balangiga bells. They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage.”

Hillary Clinton’s countrymen should not find it difficult to respond. Nearly two decades ago, Joseph Hart, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne, had already expressed: “The mission of promoting peace will be better served by returning the Bells of Balangiga. I have supported returning not just one but both of the so-called ‘Bells of Balangiga’ to the Philippines for a very simple reason: Religious objects should not be displayed as ‘trophies of war’.” [Wyoming Tribune, 22 March 1998, p. A13]
Perhaps, in resolving this issue, the Trump Administration will succeed, keeping in mind the previous negligible efforts of the Nobel Peace Prize Winner, B. Hussein Obama.

Barack Obama at Pearl Harbor, with Japanese Prime Minister Abe attending, remarked: “As nations, and as people, we cannot choose the history that we inherit. But we can choose what lessons to draw from it, and use those lessons to chart our own futures.” At Hiroshima, he said: “We may not be able to eliminate man’s capacity to do evil, so nations and the alliances that we form must possess the means to defend ourselves. But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.”

“We may not realize this goal in my lifetime, but persistent effort can roll back the possibility of catastrophe. We can chart a course that leads to the destruction of these stockpiles. We can stop the spread to new nations and secure deadly materials from fanatics.” [https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/28/world/asia/text-of-president-obamas-speech-in-hiroshima-japan.html]

And this brings us back to Asean, which adopted a Zone Of Peace, Freedom And Neutrality Declaration on 27 November 1971: “BELIEVING in the continuing validity of the ‘Declaration on the Promotion of World Peace and Cooperation’ of the Bandung Conference of 1955 which, among others, enunciates the principles by which states may coexist peacefully;”

“COGNIZANT of the significant trend towards establishing nuclear-free zones, as in the ‘Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America’ and the Lusaka Declaration proclaiming Africa as a nuclear-free zone, for the purpose of promoting world peace and security by reducing the areas of international conflicts and tension;”

“DO HEREBY STATE: 1. That Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are determined to exert initially necessary efforts to secure the recognition of, and respect for, South East Asia as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality, free from any form or manner of interference by outside Powers”

Since Southeast Asia is supposedly a nuclear-free ZOPFAN, why are the imperialists and the Han hegemonists playing a bad game of chicken in the West Philippine Sea, North Natuna Sea, among others?
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