Use P15B for new Senate building to defend PH sovereignty

IT is so hypocritical for senators like Panfilo Lacson, Risa Hontiveros and Franklin Drilon to be flag-waving hysterically over the Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef incident and condemning the Duterte government for, as the former put it, “resorting to acquiescence bordering on implied derogation of our sovereignty.”

If they just bother to study the territorial disputes in the South China Sea – and I would gladly send them the internet links to my two dozen columns on this – they would realize the following two realities.

First, the occupation of features in the Spratly archipelago by three countries and Taiwan is a fait accompli. These are:

PRIORITIES: Top, illustration of P15 billion new Senate building; middle, our ‘installation’ at Ayungin Shoal; bottom, Chinese installation at Mischief Reef.
PRIORITIES: Top, illustration of P15 billion new Senate building; middle, our ‘installation’ at Ayungin Shoal; bottom, Chinese installation at Mischief Reef.

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Yehey! I got my first jab — of Sinovac, what else?

Long live me!
Long live me!

AND I unabashedly thank President Duterte and China, and his government for the efficient distribution of the vaccines. If Duterte hadn’t reversed the witless Benigno Aquino 3rd’s hostile stance against China – and if  he had capitulated to the Yellow-led irrational anti-Chinese mob pretending to be nationalists — I probably wouldn’t get any vaccine and would be vulnerable to the most communicable and deadly virus in our lifetime. 

The 525,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine obtained through the Covax Facility*, would have been prioritized to medical personnel and other frontliners, as well as for seniors in the metropolis, which is much worst hit by Covid-19, compared to the semi-rural town I live in, where total cases have been low. China has shipped 2.5 million doses of its Sinovac to the Philippines, and commits to provide 22.5 million more this year, expanding the pool of vaccines the government can distribute.

In the meanwhile, the US and Europe, countries that usually raise a storm over human rights abuses here and elsewhere in Asia, have hoarded the vaccines, taking advantage of the fact that their manufacturers are in their territories. “Die!” they might as well have told the rest of world. To be sure, not a single dose leaks to locals, US and European embassies aren’t even providing vaccines to their citizens abroad.

President Biden’s state and defense secretaries as well as his national security agencies have been calling their counterparts here, not to give the smallest assurance that they will help us get US-made vaccines, but to goad them to fight the Chinese.

It is shameless for sinophobes here to denigrate the Chinese benefaction. “The vaccines are in exchange for giving up Julian Felipe reef,” top Sinophobe Antonio Carpio very stupidly says. And what reefs did Indonesia and Brazil, which got 20 million Sinovac vaccines, surrender to China, can he tell us?


Continue Reading Yehey! I got my first jab — of Sinovac, what else?

Generals should shut up on international disputes

ARMED Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana in a phone call disputed the headline of my column last Monday that said he “lied on new illegal structures” at Union Banks, where Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef is.

He said the headline left him seriously distressed: if he were in the Philippine Military Academy and if it was proven he lied even on a minor matter, he would be immediately dismissed.

What he said, he claimed, was that a Philippine Air Force patrol had “documented manmade structures that were built on some of the features” but didn’t say these were new or when they were built. These structures are illegal, Sobejana said.

I won’t waste my time explaining why most media, including myself, were prodded to report his discovery as new illegal structures. Suffice it to say that even the US-based high-tech firm Simularity Corp. — ironically, the firm whose photos first disclosed the presence of 200 fishing vessels at Julian Felipe — spent thousands of dollars securing satellite photos from two different agencies to verify or confirm whether there were indeed new structures.

Simularity of course didn’t find any: the Vietnamese and Chinese structures were built mostly in 2013, the colossal blowback to the Yellow regime’s filing of its arbitration suit against China. Beijing in effect told the Philippines: “You’re accusing us that our reefs should be vacated since they are mere uninhabitable rocks? Fine, we’ll transform them into islands.”


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Locsin so patently ignorant about arbitration suit

In a similar vein, sister Kris claims PH owes its freedom to Ninoy.

SFA: ‘We owe PNoy’

AS reported by the Manila Bulletin, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. tweeted  on Sunday: “What cements the reefs and waters as ours is the arbitral award won by PNoy, Del Rosario et al. They had no allies; no support from other countries least of all Southeast Asia which tried to sabotage the arbitral award when they saw it coming. We owe it to PNoy et al only.”

This is so patently, incontrovertibly, inarguably wrong. It is shocking coming from the mouth of Duterte’s foreign affairs secretary.

He says we owe the arbitration award to his idol “PNoy.”   But since Duterte has all but thrown the award to the dustbin – “shelved” it, as he euphemistically puts it – isn’t Locsin in effect saying we should condemn this president for doing so? That is exactly the thrust of the Yellows’ campaign to stop his chosen successor from winning the 2022 elections. Duterte’s foreign affairs secretary is spreading the Yellow lies about our territorial disputes in the Spratlys.

If Locsin doesn’t agree with Duterte’s foreign policy, he should have the integrity to resign as foreign affairs secretary. He forgets that he doesn’t make foreign policy; he only implements that of the President.


Continue Reading Locsin so patently ignorant about arbitration suit

AFP Chief lied on new ‘illegal structures’ at Union Banks

OR perhaps Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana was just fed the wrong information or just ignorant of the Spratly Islands dispute, when he claimed last April 1 that the Chinese had built new illegal structures at Union Banks (Pagkakaisa Banks to us). 

This is the reef complex where the Julian Felipe Reef  (Whitsun Reef) is, that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana claimed on March 21, 2021, the “Chinese militia vessels” had been massing.

Lorenzana’s claim was ignored by other claimant states, even by Vietnam which has four installations built on reefs in the area: it is common knowledge that Chinese fishing fleets normally mass to seek refuge from storms in that area because its boomerang shape provides an ideal shield from tidal and storm surges. 

Sobejana, in a statement on April 1 through the government’s Philippine News Agency, announced: “During a patrol March 30, we were able to document man-made structures that were built on some of the features. These structures are illegal.” Sobejana didn’t disclose whether it was a Navy vessel or an Air Force reconnaissance plane that undertook the patrol.

No new structures. (Photo from Simularity Inc.)

Continue Reading AFP Chief lied on new ‘illegal structures’ at Union Banks

SND, SFA’s blabbing risks our life-and-death Chinese vaccine provision

THE reckless bleating of our defense and foreign affairs secretaries over alleged Chinese maritime militias in a reef we lost control of decades ago risks a scenario in which China may well decide to cancel the donation of its anti-coronavirus vaccines.

Fortunately, we have a  president more intelligent and calmer than these two. Duterte issued a statement the other day that in effect reminded everyone that we are getting vaccines from China. These vaccines have  have become in extremely short supply because the US and the rich nations have hoarded or cornered it. His statement was a message to China that he will make sure his officials don’t do anything further to risk a Chinese move to stop the supply.

I sure hope so. After a year of suffering these lockdowns, and with several friends taken down by the coronavirus, I want my vaccine now as of this hour, especially since I am in that high-risk category. What right do these officials have to risk, even by a long shot, my not being able to get it? Rich sinophobes like Albert del Rosario and Antonio Carpio, I bet, will be able to get or have already gotten their vaccines. I am waiting in a long, long line. 

‘West Philippine Sea’ — under four flags. (Map by author using Google Pro)

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Reef row: US plot in its ‘re-pivot’ to Asia

Photos provided by US entity, not PH Coast Guard

US PRESIDENT Joe Biden couldn’t have picked  more anti-China officials than US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. The two were at the head of former President Obama’s so-called “Pivot to Asia,” a thinly disguised program to contain the rise of China as a superpower.

Blinken last January even told media that China posed the “most significant challenge to the US and any other country in Asia.”  Biden himself has said in several speeches that assembling a united front against China would be a top priority for his administration. It was the new administration’s “re-pivot” to Asia.

Trump, however, had that pivot twisting in the wind; after all he wasn’t really interested in geopolitics. Duterte gained power in 2016, and dropped his predecessor and the Yellows’ servile stance towards the US, and undertook a rapprochement with China that has yielded concrete benefits to the country

Blinken and Sullivan had hardly warmed their seats in late January, and after five years of calm in the South China Sea, a situation has quite suddenly emerged that portrays  China as violating Philippine “territory” by having “200 of its maritime militia vessels” intrude into “our’ Julian Felipe Reef.  It got the Philippines’ defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, and mainstream media – except this newspaper – nearly deliriously livid against the superpower.

Militias?: They’re there, one day they’re not there, away fishing. Photo from:

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Colossal lies, delusions on the Felipe Reef brouhaha

“First of Two Parts”

VIETNAMESE generals must be rolling on the floor with laughter, at the same time wildly cheering our defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana. The defense chief has been bashing the Chinese and trying to do what the Vietnamese have been wishing for fervently since 1988, which is to drive them out of that area in the Spratlys nearest to Ho Chi Minh City.

Raising the decibel of his rants the past few days, Lorenzana,  referring to  their vessels at “Julian Felipe Reef”,  commanded the Chinese “to leave our sovereign territories.”

It’s embarrassing to us as a nation to have as the head of the department tasked to defend our territory one who is so ignorant of the extent of our territorial boundaries.  No wonder the spokesman of the Chinese embassy here, which has been relatively quiet on this brouhaha in contrast to the torrent of harangues by high Philippine officials, said that Lorenzana’s statements were “perplexing.” 

Indeed, how could Lorenzana ask the Chinese to leave an area which not only they claim as their sovereign territory, but have been occupying since 1988, or more than three decades ago?

Felipe’s neighborhood: Two giants.
Felipe’s neighborhood: Two giants. Lorenzana commanded them to all leave as it is Philippine territory. Dates refer to when they were occupied. (Inset are satellite photos of installations of the two countries. Map by author using Google Earth Pro. Insets from

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Jesus: A failed rebel, a myth or a Roman invention?

AT this time of year, when our culture, dominated for nearly four centuries by the Hispanic model of late-medieval Catholicism, imposes on us several days of contemplating the Christian Messiah, I dare discuss whether Christ did exist in the first place. Indeed, a mountain of scholarly work in the past few decades has been published trying to answer this question, mostly in the negative, at least in the way Christianity claims he is.

To start getting out of one’s mindset built since childhood, you have to recognize that in this modern age science has been the singularly powerful tool for us to understand reality, to separate what’s false and mythical, and what’s true and factual (or historical). Science just in a brief span of 100 years of modern human’s 200,000 years of existence, has unlocked the mysteries of the atom and of the human genome, so we understand now that the world is not composed of “earth, air, water and fire” nor are we just a more sophisticated form of dust.

But science has been employed not only to understand matter, but also human society itself  through such disciplines as archaeology, philology, psychology, literary and textual criticism, and sociology. So, it is not surprising at all that the social sciences have been used to study that aspect of human society that is so significant to humans: religion.

The social sciences have been employed to study the central figure of Christianity, Jesus Christ, whose death we are supposed to be commemorating today. A few similar studies have also been used to study Muhammad of Islam, although mostly by anonymous scholars, obviously afraid a fatwah would be issued against them.

Three modern narratives of Jesus.

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Nation’s fate this decade rests with virus and IATF

THE virus (officially called the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) could mutate to a deadlier, more communicable form, or it could dissipate as did the “Spanish flu” in 1918. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) that President Duterte had designated to handle the government’s  efforts to contain the pandemic will be more efficient in its work, or it will prove powerless in the face of the tsunami of infections.  

These hypotheticals will determine how our country will look like for the rest of this decade. If the pandemic is not contained either due to the virus’ mutation so that it overwhelms our health services and science, or as a result of the IATF’s mismanagement (as happened in the US, Europe and Brazil), President Duterte would be a lame-duck president.  

His political support and mass popularity will collapse. When death and pestilence surrounds a people, their rationality vanishes, and they would be blaming the “father of the nation,” no matter the amount of good that he has done, and seek a new savior. Again and again demonstrated in politics, to drastically paraphrase Shakespeare, it is a president’s failures, whether avoidable or otherwise, that people remember; the good is forgotten.

If this were to happen, and it is now only 13 months to the national elections in May 2022, Duterte’s endorsement of a candidate would be a kiss of death, and the Yellows or some other opposition would assume power in July 2022, reversing all of Duterte’s policies, even his kind of strong governance. 

But if the pandemic is contained in the next three months, Filipinos’ satisfaction with Duterte will hit the roof, not just because of irrational exuberance that it was all due to presidential leadership. There likely will be an economic boom – our version of  the “Roaring 20’s” in the US after the 1917-1918 Spanish flu  epidemic – as business capacity, idled in the lockdowns, will be exploding while consumers will be buying and traveling so much, thankful that they’re alive. 


Continue Reading Nation’s fate this decade rests with virus and IATF