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End foreign-controlled Meralco’s 15-year monopoly

“RAILROADING” has become an ugly term referring to the irregular legislative process in which bills are rushed into approval.

In an open and free society, it has become unacceptable for a major reason — it deprives the people, or at least those who will be impacted, of the chance to have their voices heard.

In some cases, it means legislation stamped as priority or urgent by the ruling administration which means passage of bills is a matter of national urgency or, in some cases, of national security.

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Continue ReadingEnd foreign-controlled Meralco’s 15-year monopoly
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New Senate building: Cost zoomed from P4.8B to P23.3B

THE Senate should be ashamed of the cost of its new luxurious offices in posh Bonifacio Global City. It would be scandalous if it did not investigate this disgrace to the nation.

When the project was first announced in 2018, then-senator Panfilo Lacson, who was in charge of it, said the planned Senate building would cost taxpayers only P4.8 billion. I immediately wrote a column — the first of six such pieces from 2018 to 2022 on what I called a monument to the Senate’s profligacy — reporting that my sources in the construction business laughed at his estimate and that it would at least cost P10 billion. Lacson issued a press statement that said: ”I based [my] figure P4.8 billion project cost as submitted by AECOM [the US firm that won the bidding for the project] on facts; Mr. Tiglao based his on opinion. “

Post in Facebook page ‘Emerging Philippines’: Cost shocked Escudero.

Well, the more recent facts given to Senate President Francis Escudero are even larger than my estimate. He revealed the other day that it had cost P23.3 billion, five times what Lacson said it would cost in 2018.

While obviously careful not to insinuate any anomalies in the project, which would implicate his former colleagues, Escudero said: ‘Nung nakita ko ito, medyo nagulantang ako at hindi ko inasahan na ganun kalaki aabutin ang gagastusin para sa ating magiging bagong tahanan (When I saw this, I was somewhat startled; I didn’t expect that it would be that expensive to build our new home).”

Lacson’s explanation through text messages sent to media didn’t clarify anything. He said not a single peso of the P10.3 billion was released to the Public Works Department since Sen. Nancy Binay, who succeeded him as accounts chairman, had “objected to the DPWH’s requests for variation orders (VOs).” But whether those funds were released or not to the Public Works Department is irrelevant, explaining why the project “bill” has reached the staggering amount of P23.3 billion.

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The other threat in the South China Sea: Vietnam

WHILE President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his military brass have been on overdrive to condemn China’s alleged aggressiveness in Philippine West Sea, another claimant, Vietnam, has been on an island-building spree, doubling its hectarage of reclaimed land in the disputed areas in the first five months of this year. Prodigious anti-China basher, former justice Antonio Carpio, who is married to a Vietnamese, has never ever criticized Vietnam for ignoring our claims in the Spratlys. Vietnam is the only claimant that got to grab in 1975 an island, Pugad Island (Southwest Cay), from us, although by subterfuge.

Vietnam has occupied the most features in the Spratlys — four islands and 29 reefs. The Philippines occupies eight islands and two reefs. China occupies seven reefs, which it transformed into artificial islands from 2012 to 2013, and three shoals, including Bajo de Masinloc, which the Philippines abandoned in the 2012 Scarborough stand-off.

As sure as the sun rises in the East, if China vacates its occupied artificial islands in the South China Sea, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam will be landing its troops on each and every island, and it has been preparing to do so for a decade.

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Continue ReadingThe other threat in the South China Sea: Vietnam

Diokno spews the same lie Rappler first made in 2017

IT’s unethical for “human rights” lawyer Jose Diokno to lie to a Congress committee hearing, claiming that the Office of the President (OP) itself under President Rodrigo Duterte listed 20,322 drug war-related deaths among its accomplishments in a 2017 report.

This lawyer merely repeated that falsehood first made by the news website Rappler back in 2017, which that vehemently anti-Duterte outfit continuously updated such that the gullible International Court of Justice was easily persuaded that so many Filipinos were killed in that president’s war on drugs that he has to be prosecuted for “crimes against humanity.”

Where does it say there were 20,322 drug-war deaths?

Diokno hates Duterte so much that he has stupidly or maliciously followed the same trick in manipulating figures to claim there were 20,322 drug war-related deaths from July 2016 to November 2017, even telling a congressional committee that the figure was mentioned in the 2017 year-end accomplishment report of the Office of the President.

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Continue ReadingDiokno spews the same lie Rappler first made in 2017
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Two US puppets meet

IN the midst of a war analysts say Ukraine is losing, why would its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy travel 8,700 kilometers from Kyiv to Singapore to appeal for attendance to a dubious “peace conference” to which Russia and China aren’t invited? Why would he travel another 2,391 kilometers for an hour’s meeting with President Marcos in the Philippines, which can’t afford to give him a dollar to help him fight the mighty Russia? Zelenskyy, in fact, wouldn’t have time to rush back home if the Russians made a sudden push for Kyiv.

To justify his trip Zelenskyy asked Marcos to provide Ukraine with mental health workers. “You mentioned humanitarian possibilities, especially for medicine and, like I said to you, especially psychological mental health,” the Ukrainian leader told Marcos. Does this guy think we have so many mad men here that we would have so many health workers?

The only rational explanation for the Zelenskyy to travel so far is that their puppeteer the US is a demanding taskmaster, and its propagandists thought it would be great optics for the leaders of two countries being “bullied” by the two superpowers to meet to express their solidarity with each other, the world’s two Davids fighting the evil Goliaths of our era. That’s it.

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Is he mad, and a warmonger?

AT a security forum in Singapore on Friday, a delegate asked President Ferdinand Marcos Jr: If a Chinese water cannon killed a Filipino soldier, would he consider that a red line and invoke the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty?

Marcos replied as if he were a president of a superpower: “If by a willful act a Filipino — not only serviceman but even a Filipino citizen — is killed … that is what I think is very, very close to what we define as an act of war, and therefore we will respond accordingly.”

He noted that Filipinos had been injured in recent clashes, but none had been killed yet. “Once we get to that point, we would have crossed the Rubicon. Is that a red line? Almost certainly, it’s going to be a red line. (That idiom, meaning making an irreversible decision, is derived from Roman general Julius Caesar and his army’s crossing of the Rubicon in 40 BC to rule as strongman of the Roman Republic.)

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SCS hoax No. 3: ‘Court’ ruled vs China’s claims

Third of four parts

THE third-biggest lie over our South China Sea (SCS) disputes with China has been disseminated in the Hitlerian tactic that a fallacy repeated again and again would be believed as truth.

Indeed, nearly all media reports on our SCS quarrel contain versions of the following statement: “The Philippines sued China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2013 over the country’s claims in the West Philippine Sea. In July 2016, the court ruled in favor of the Philippines and rejected China’s nine-dash claim, covering almost the entire South China Sea.”

That’s from a May 24, 2024 report in the Daily Tribune, ironically a paper financed and put up by the officials and supporters of former president Rodrigo Duterte, who called that “court’s” ruling a worthless piece of paper.

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Hoax No. 2: China’s claims are based on the nine-dash line

Third of four parts

I DEBUNKED in my column last Monday the colossal lie that China has trampled on our sovereignty because it has been intruding into our exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and I do hope those who disagree with me express their views, which I will publish in my column so we could have a lively debate and ferret out the truth.

The gist of my argument: Areas that our leaders claim are within our EEZ are areas China has long claimed as its sovereign territory, such as the Spratlys, which in all its maps since even before the World Wars are depicted as part of its territory it calls the Nansha Islands. It’s moot and academic to argue which narrative is correct; all we can do is to recognize that a territorial (not maritime) dispute exists and to undertake cordial, not belligerent, bilateral negotiations without threatening China that the US will help us enforce our claims.

The second biggest hoax over our territorial disputes with China is the assertion, which is almost always stated even in straight news articles, that our neighbor’s declaration of sovereignty over the Spratlys is based on the so-called nine-dash line, a series of dashes drawn around the South China Sea. It’s as if one day, a Chinese leader woke up on the wrong side of the bed, drew that line, and declared everything encompassed by it as China’s sovereign territory.

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Continue ReadingHoax No. 2: China’s claims are based on the nine-dash line
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Colossal hoax: It’s not about EEZs, stupid*

First of four parts

THE allegation that China has absolutely no right by international law to islands and shoals in the South China Sea, which has reached a level of Sinophobic hysteria against the superpower, is based on colossal misinformation. This lie has been masterfully disseminated by the US to demonize China as part of its “Pivot to Asia” policy started in 2009.

This colossal lie is that China has been intruding into our exclusive economic zone (EEZ), a maritime zone, and therefore, it’s trampling over our sovereignty.

But the EEZ was invented through an international treaty that took effect only in 1994. It emanates 200 nautical miles from the coastal state’s territorial sea, which is 12 nautical miles from the land territory. This means that, unlike the territorial sea over which a state has absolute sovereignty, an EEZ confers only limited rights to the coastal state, mainly over its natural resources, which is why its name does not include any term that may be from the coastal state’s territorial sea, which is 12 nautical miles from the land territory. This means that, unlike the territorial sea over which a state has absolute sovereignty, an EEZ confers only limited rights to the coastal state, mainly over its natural resources, which is why its name does not include any term that may be misconstrued as sovereign authority.

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Senate coup: Bad for Marcos, bad for country

WHETHER President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. instigated it or merely supported it when it was under way, the coup against Sen. Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri as Senate president by Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero is bad news for the country and for the President.

Escudero’s arrogance that it wasn’t hard to remove Zubiri, the swiftness in which the coup plot unfolded (five days, the new Senate president revealed), the plotters’ complete silence on the reasons why Zubiri was yanked from the top post, all of these will result in a divided Senate, with bitterness on the part of the six senators who remained loyal to the former Senate president. They will, in effect, expand the opposition from two (Senators Koko Pimentel and Risa Hontiveros) to eight.

Senators Bong Go and Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, who owe their seats 100 percent to former president Rodrigo Duterte, would most probably realize that they made a bad decision supporting Escudero (I can imagine Digong scolding them for their naiveté), and I expect they will later join the growing opposition bloc. Depending on the political winds and the deteriorating economy, this could be a powerful force to block Marcos’ legislative agenda, and the resulting chaos will be bad for the country.

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