Astonishing ignorance over our South China Sea disputes

I CONTINUE to be amazed at how even former ambassadors and professors of international law demonstrate inexcusable ignorance over our disputes with China (and Vietnam) over the Spratlys.

I was particularly annoyed that in one issue (December 4) of this newspaper, two opinion writers demonstrated a level of incomprehension that only matched their pomposity. Worse, they are writing in the very newspaper in which I have written over 110 columns on the issue since 2016.

Opinion writers often differ with the opinion of others. But if they miss crucial information, deliberately or not, it is not opinion but misinformation.

If supposedly knowledgeable people show such lack of information on the South China Sea disputes, the nation will never be able reach a compromise with other claimants, prodding China, in particular, to ignore our claims and instead flex their military and economic muscles, on grounds that we refuse anyway to negotiate for a settlement.

of author’s forthcoming book out this month.

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How Powell determined Philippine history

I DON’T think an ordinary Filipino, or even a college student, would know who Colin Powell was: he was eulogized as an American hero when he died last October 18, probably the most well-known American casualty of Covid-19.

Yet he had a huge role in determining the course of our history — well, as the US probably always did in key points of our nation’s past.

Powell, a military man until he became Secretary of State in 2001, directed US forces in the Persian Gulf War in 1991. He became notorious for his speech at the United Nations in 2003 — building the case for the US invasion of Iraq — in which he told the world the US’ big lie that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” and must be invaded, the strongman hunted and sent to the gallows, like a common criminal. That Iraq had WMDs was pure fiction, yet neither Powell nor the US ever apologized for that lie.

US general who saved Cory’s neck and broke Saddam’s.

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Rappler continues to spit on our Constitution

Gets new foreign funds

IF this isn’t a case of American Filipino Maria Ressa having a shameful sense of impunity, I don’t know what is.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in January 2018 ruled that Rappler since it took in investments from a US entity Omidyar Network violated the Constitution as well as laws (even during the Commonwealth period) banning any foreign money in Philippine mass media.

(Rappler also took money from another US firm, North Base Media, with the investments of the two totaling roughly P100 million.)

They like foreigners.

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Marcos got us territory in SCS, Aquino 3rd lost territory

WITH debate on the Ferdinand Marcos years surging because of the son’s presidential candidacy, at the same time that tension in the South China Sea has heated up, I thought it would be informative to publish the following excerpts (minus the many footnotes reporting the sources of information) of the chapter entitled “The Scramble for Oil and Gas” from my new book. Scheduled to come out mid-December. The book is titled The Aquino Regime’s Scarborough Fiasco and the SCS Arbitration Deception:

In 1968, a United Nations scientific research body issued technical bulletins that concluded that the South China Sea (SCS) seabed could have vast quantities of hydrocarbon deposits.

The Marcos government was encouraged by these findings and authorized oil exploration in the 1970s by both Filipino and foreign firms in the Spratlys, specifically in the Reed Bank area.

When the oil crisis broke out in 1970, which highlighted the Philippines’ total dependence on imported oil, President Marcos undertook several steps to incentivize oil exploration by private enterprises off Palawan and in the Reed Bank.

Out next month

Continue ReadingMarcos got us territory in SCS, Aquino 3rd lost territory

Will you vote for candidates with this kind of priorities?

THE new Senate building will eventually cost P15 billion, more than the P8.9 billion proponents claim, since that lower cost doesn’t include yet most the finishing costs as well as new furniture.

Because it is a constitutionally independent body, the Senate proposed it and approved it on its own, allocating the P8.9 billion.

Construction started in 2019 and has been going on at full blast since then, just when the country was going through the pandemic crisis and its terrible economic consequences. Some senators that I consulted said it was a bad idea, but they have remained quiet because of the clubbish nature of the chamber.

Furthermore, the two proponents of this luxurious project are the chamber’s most senior members: Senate President Vicente Sotto 3rd and Sen. Panfilo Lacson. The latter is running for president, with Sotto as his running mate. When I asked one senator why on earth would Lacson and Sotto be championing this noble cause of constructing the most expensive government structure ever, the senator said, while grinning impishly: “Ask Hilmarc.”

Campaign ad of the champions for the P15 billion new Senate office.

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The harsh reality: We have lost Ayungin Shoal

FORGET our military establishment’s triumphalist tone that China has buckled under the foreign affairs department’s diplomatic protests against Chinese Coast Guard vessels blocking vessels resupplying the eight Marines stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre.

That dilapidated rust-filled vessel was grounded in 1999 at Ayungin Shoal to function as our outpost to claim our sovereign rights in the area. (The shoal is 40 kilometers from Mischief Reef, which the Chinese occupied in 1994 and where it built huge facilities in 2013 and 2014.)

My statement in my column on Monday that “we will be losing Ayungin Shoal soon” is wrong. We lost Ayungin Shoal (international name: Second Thomas Shoal) way back in 2013.

The recent events have revealed this stark reality: the Chinese now are merely waiting for that 1944 vessel to be totally uninhabitable, as rust totally eats up the vessel, and the ocean waters flood its chambers.

Upper photo: Philippine ‘outpost’ at Second Thomas Shoal; lower: Vietnamese outpost on Rifleman Bank. PHOTO FROM VNEXPRESS

Continue ReadingThe harsh reality: We have lost Ayungin Shoal

Aquino 3rd arbitration suit induced Chinese moves on Ayungin Shoal

IT is the unexpected ruling in 2016 on the Aquino 3rd regime’s arbitration suit against China that continues to encourage the Chinese to block Philippine boats from sending supplies to military personnel in Ayungin Shoal, as they did last week, when they even reportedly used water hoses to drive the Philippine vessels away.

Aquino’s US lawyers filed the suit in January 2013 — very foolishly, in hindsight — asking the arbitral tribunal to rule as illegal similar Chinese Coast Guard actions way back on March 9, 2014 to prevent Filipino boats from resupplying the marine detachment at Ayungin Shoal.

The tribunal in its July 2016 “award,” however, threw out that complaint and ruled that the incident was “a quintessentially military situation, involving the military forces of one side and a combination of military and paramilitary forces on the other, arrayed in opposition to one another…”It ruled that such military situations were beyond its jurisdiction as well as of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos). In short, the tribunal told Aquino 3rd: you’re on your own there. We don’t have authority in such matters.

The incident last week was obviously China again taking advantage of the award’s ruling. How can the US intervene in such Chinese maneuvers when it had not been declared as violating international law by a tribunal that many analysts believed the Americans had a huge influence over?

Our outpost at Ayungin Shoal: A rusting 1944 LST grounded there in 1999.

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Deception and debacle, through two decades

MY new book, out next month, is entitled Debacle: The Aquino Regime’s Scarborough Fiasco and the South China Sea Arbitration Deception. To be frank, it will be such an eye-opener that I am hoping, in the spirit of Christmas, that those who will be exposed for their despicable actions in this sad episode of our history will not commit harakiri.

All my statements in this book will be backed by documents and testimonies, each footnoted as to their sources, as academic works require. If any of these are proven wrong, I will retire from column writing.

The following is a summary of the book by its editors, which will appear in the back cover:

For the first time since its independence, the Philippines lost a piece of its territory, Scarborough Shoal, tragically because of the colossal blunders of President Aquino 3rd himself and his administration. At the start of his term, Aquino 3rd marked out the People’s Republic of China as his enemy and continuously pilloried his country’s largest trading partner, a course that would have led to economic catastrophe if President Duterte had not reversed it.

The book cover.

Continue ReadingDeception and debacle, through two decades