OBLIQUE OBSERVATIONS

By Atty. Gilberto Lauengco, J.D.

ATTY. GILBERTO LAUENGCO, J.D. is a lawyer, educator, political strategist, government consultant, Lego enthusiast, and the director of CAER Think Tank. He is a Former Vice Chairman of MECO, Special Assistant of NFA and City Administrator among others. His broad experience has molded his unique approach to issues analysis which he calls the oblique observation.

“It is not so much that we are afraid of change but it is that place in between that we fear… It is Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There is nothing to hold onto.” – Marilyn Ferguson

In the widely popular Peanuts comic strips written and drawn by Charles Schulz which featured Snoopy and Charlie Brown, there is a popular side character known as Linus Van Pelt. Linus is known for his intelligent quotes and astute observations. He is, however, more popularly known for his ever-present blue security blanket which was first introduced in June 1954. That iconic security blanket is celebrating its 70th anniversary. The term security blanket had been in existence before the popular comic strip came into existence. During World War 2, the term security blanket was primarily used to refer to measures taken for security purposes. In time, the two concepts merged, and security blankets became something children needed as protection and as a means of confronting stress. Eventually, it became a term used to describe an object or concept used for the said purposes. In recent times, it is now also used to refer to anything that provides a feeling of safety and comfort.    

For a time, many parents and even psychologists feared that security blankets, in any form, inhibited children’s growth and independence. There are also the negative consequences that occur when the security blanket is lost such as withdrawal symptoms and loss of focus.  

Recently, the Philippine government was criticized for seeking closer military alliances with the US and its allies to help establish our defensive measures in the West Philippine Sea. Many analysts likened our growing dependence on these allies to having a security blanket with all its negative connotations and consequences. Many of the critics point out that having a defense security blanket might hinder the growth of our own defensive capabilities and expose us to negative consequences if the said security blanket is withdrawn. 

Having a security blanket, however, is not necessarily a bad thing. There are experts who also state that security blankets can be good tools to help the emotional transition from dependence to independence. Transitional objects are not a sign of weakness or insecurity. Security blankets can be used to help children transition to adulthood more smoothly. 

In terms of our country’s issues in the West Philippine Sea, having the alliances as our security blanket can give us the time and means to modernize and strengthen our own defensive capabilities. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) will allow our country access to more modern tools and facilities. 

The EDCA, unlike the previous US bases agreement, is part of what is now termed the policy of “flexible enmeshment”. The agreement will allow the Philippines to wind down the enmeshment when national interests dictate the same. In terms of sudden withdrawal of support, the present strategic enmeshment and strategic importance of the EDCA sites will make sudden withdrawal highly improbable. 

While maintaining the said enmeshment and the security blanket, all sectors must now contribute to the government’s military modernization. Though we may not be able to achieve a fully independent capability to defend ourselves alone, a continuous effort to improve our capability in a synergized manner with our allies can give us a measure of legroom in our foreign relations objectives. Eventually, if we are given enough time and support, we may be able let go and chart our own path without fear.

This is my oblique observation.