Senator: Russian assault may embolden China

 Senator: Russian assault may embolden China
Photo of a destroyed Russian T-90 tank. — REDDIT/

By Alyssa Nicole O. Tan, Reporter

THE NEXT Philippine president should be an expert war strategist to ward off a potential invasion from other nations such as China, according to a former police chief who is running for president this year.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could particularly embolden China to do the same, Senator Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson, Sr. said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Perhaps subliminally, I’ve been thinking, what if we get invaded by China and we are the ones seeking help from the world?” he said in mixed English and Filipino.

“We might be ashamed to seek help because we did not have the courage to join a community of nations in condemning a clear aggression, unprovoked aggression, made against a weaker country like Ukraine,” Mr. Lacson said. “That is my position.”

The Chinese Embassy in Manila did not immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

The presidential bet insists the Philippines can’t stay neutral when a weaker country is being suppressed, noting that there may come a time when the Philippines faces the same predicament.

Russia has launched a devastating attack by air, land and sea on Ukraine, a European democracy of 44 million people, and its forces were on the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv. President Vladimir Putin denied for months he would invade his neighbor, but then tore up a peace deal and sent forces across borders in Ukraine’s north, east and south.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday night said the Philippines had voted yes to a United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It sought an end to the fighting and appealed for the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

“It is difficult when you’re living in a world at war,” Mr. Lacson said. “All countries will be embroiled. Even we would get involved in it because alliances will be formed. That is what we need to avoid.”

Fortunately, he said, China abstained from the UN Security Council voting on the Ukraine crisis. This shows China is neither condemning nor condoning the Russian invasion, he said.

“A bad indication is if China voted in favor of Russia,” Mr. Lacson said. “I would think that they might also invade us in the West Philippine Sea or our territory. That could provoke another crisis.”

The senator backed President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s move to discuss with his Cabinet members the effects of the Russian invasion on the Philippine economy. “They should do scenario-building.”

Meanwhile, Senator Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao, Sr. said “war should always be the last option… because there are many possible ways to solve the problem.“

“It would probably be good if we were peacemakers although of course, we are members of the UN, so we should support our allies if we ever reach the last option,” the boxing champion told reporters in a Viber message. “There’s nothing else we can do.”

Pacman, as he is called by many Filipinos, said Russia and Ukraine should talk and try to reach a compromise. “The problem can only be solved by talking and discussing it,” he said. “At the end of the day, when there is a war, there is a massacre, both sides lose.”

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that as of Tuesday, at least 136 Ukrainian civilians including 13 children had been killed during Russia’s assault.

Ukrainian and Russian representatives held talks on Monday for a possible cease-fire and the withdrawal of Russian forces. Both sides agreed to talk again in the coming days.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday said Russia’s continued attacks were meant to extract concessions from his country, but it would not work.

Last month, he pleaded that his country be admitted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) so that the 30-member intergovernmental alliance, which consists of 28 European  and two North American countries, could provide military assistance.

NATO on Monday said it would provide Ukraine with air defense missiles and anti-tank weapons after NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg held another call with Mr. Zelensky. The alliance and the United States  earlier said they would not send forces to fight alongside Ukraine.