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Yinglong illegal mining: A microcosm of our national quagmire

Third of a series

ILLEGAL nickel-ore miner Yinglong Steel’s lies in its full-page ads in this newspaper and The Philippine Star last week are as stunning as its brazen disregard for the Constitution itself, as well as for our country’s laws on mining and those governing business contracts.

My interest in this controversy that I’ve written three previous pieces on, was ironically piqued by a Yinglong PR operator who tried to sell me a story that the company was the victimized party, that its experience if not corrected will portray the country as a bad site for foreign investments. However, because of my SOP of always getting “the other side,” the more accurate picture that emerged was the opposite. I also hate it when people think they can easily fool me.

This episode is a case study of the characteristic situation in our country, that instead of the rule of law, it is the rule of the corrupt, from the local levels of government and possibly even to the highest, coddling unscrupulous businessmen bold enough to bribe officials to get what they want. It’s been years since documented details of a controversy that reveals the corruption involved has been made available — ironically thanks to the legal documents filed by the protagonists themselves.

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Marcos’ ‘VIP Club’ boo-boo;
Palace corrects its Yinglong bungling

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. in his arrival remarks from Davos boasted that participants there – without naming even one – saw the Philippines as a member of the “VIP Club which is Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.” “Yun daw ang pinakamagandang ekonomiya sa Asya,” the president said. (They say those have the best economies in Asia.)

That’s so embarrassingly false. He should fire the adviser who whispered that line to him – I don’t think any Davos attendee is as stupid as to have told him that. If there were, that joker was pulling his leg, and laughing as he left Marcos.

Marcos in his jet-lagged mind probably thought that the “VI” in that term stands for “very important.” Not in any sense. VIP is simply an acronym that some analysts in the last decade used to shorten their text when referring to the three countries that are in the second-to-the lowest tier in economic rankings in Southeast Asia: Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. The lowest-tier level are basket cases not fit to be considered as investment sites, except for the bold, such as Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. Using VIP was also a bit of sarcasm since these three countries were the last to be recommended for investments, direct or portfolio, in those years.

Not in any sense did that term for the three countries imply an admiration for them, nor to mean “very important’ countries for investors to watch. The term is more like the “ABC” acronym used in the early 1980s, to mean Argentina, Brazil and Chile – which were the first to collapse economically because of their huge debt burden.

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Palace corrects its Yinglong bungling
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Marcos terribly misinformed about PH dispute with China

IN his only solo session at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, a 21-minute interview by the WEF president Børge Brende, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. showed how much he is so terribly misinformed about the country’s dispute with China in the South China Sea.
While he may have been simply confused about the details of the dispute, still, his misinformation is as bad as that of President Benigno Aquino 3rd that led to his unnecessarily belligerent stance towards China, which eventually led to a dangerous stand-off at Panatag Shoal and our loss of that territory in 2012.

Going to the topic of the South China Sea dispute, the interviewer asked Marcos: “What defines what is Filipino territory and what is Chinese territory” He replied: “ We have no conflicting claims with China. What we have is China making claims on our territory – that is how we approach the problem we find.”

That is exactly the “what-is-ours-is-ours approach’ of President Aquino 3rd, which in effect portrays China as an aggressor, who therefore has to give in to the Philippines’ demand and that there can be no compromise on this.
Diplomatic sources claimed that statement alone has sent a bad message to China, which would likely be more cautious in dealing with the Philippines. They added: With that kind of hardline stance China may just decide to cease all attempts at settling its South China Sea problem with the Philippines.

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BoC seizes nickel ore shipment of Chinese firm that Palace official backed

Vessel just about to ship out Yinglong’s nickel ore that was ordered seized. PHOTO FROM BUREAU OF CUSTOMS

Second of 4 parts

THE Bureau of Customs ordered Monday the seizure of a vessel and its cargo of 50,000 metric tons of nickel ore that the Chinese company Yinglong was shipping out of the country from Zambales.

Deputy executive secretary for legal affairs (Desla) Anna Liza Logan had on December 23 lifted a cease-and-desist order issued in March and April last year by the environment and natural resources department’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to Yinglong to stop its nickel-ore mining operations.

However, another line agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Environment Management Bureau (EMB), issued to Yinglong an export permit for the nickel ore on December 29.

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Palace official issues anomalous order backing Chinese firm illegally mining nickel

First of 3 parts

MALACAÑANG’s deputy executive secretary for legal affairs (Desla), Anna Liza Logan, known to be close to first lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, on December 23 blocked a directive by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau that ordered a Chinese-controlled firm, Yinglong Steel Corp., to stop its illegal nickel-mining operations in Zambales because it didn’t have the required environmental clearance certificate (ECC).

The December 23 order appears to be part of a coordinated plan. Just a week after, on December 29, Yinglong was given by the DENR Regional Office 3 a permit to transport 250,000 metric tons of nickel ore, and an export permit for 50,000 MT of laterite nickel ore. At laterite nickel’s current price of $100 per metric ton, Yinglong would have shipped $4.5 million, or P250 million worth of the metal.

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‘Lifestyle check’ order worsens PNP demoralization

PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. File Photo

PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr.’s announcement that the so-called lifestyle checks will also be undertaken on the organization’s over 600 generals and colonels has worsened the demoralization of the country’s police force.

The disaffection with the PNP’s leadership and its official supervisor Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos was triggered last week by the latter’s order for the top PNP officers to submit “courtesy resignations” to make the task of “cleansing the police” of its scalawags easier.

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‘Courtesy resignations’: Baseless, pointless and destabilizing

Aquino invented it; Marcos is using it. PUBLIC DOMAIN PHOTO

Last of 2 parts

THE Interior and Local Government secretary Benhur Abalos’ campaign to get the Philippine National Police’s 479 generals and colonels to submit this only-in-the-Philippines thing called “courtesy resignations” — wholeheartedly backed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. — will be among this administration’s colossal governance blunders.

Talk of historical irony. It was Marcos’ nemesis who invented this fiction of courtesy resignation.

“Courtesy resignation” is the pulled-out-of-thin-air invention that President Corazon Aquino used in her Proclamation 1, issued Feb. 25, 1986, or the day she claimed to have assumed the presidency. In that proclamation, she said: “As a first step to restore public confidence, I expect all appointed public officials to submit their courtesy resignations beginning with members of the Supreme Court.”

“Courtesy resignation” was obviously a public relations spin for Aquino’s dictatorial order: “All you Marcos minions, including the Supreme Court, step down now!” The Supreme Court justices of course ignored Aquino’s order and so did Marcos Cabinet ministers and deputies who simply didn’t go to office, didn’t even bother to submit “courtesy resignations” and faded away from the government — refusing to pay “courtesy” to the new one-woman ruler. Even the highest ranking official after Marcos, Prime Minister Cesar Virata refused to vacate his post, pointing out that it wasn’t Marcos who appointed him but members of the Batasan Pambansa.

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Tsunami of demoralization hits police, military

Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. answers questions during a press conference at Camp Crame national police headquarters in Quezon City on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023 after he accused some 300 police colonels and generals to resign over their alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade. He accused them of ‘infecting’ the government’s war on drugs. PHOTO BY JOHN ORVEN VERDOTE

First of 2 parts

IN a span of just a week, a tsunami of demoralization has hit the police and the military.

This was the result, first, of an ill-advised move by Local Government and Interior Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. to publicly “persuade” police generals and colonels to submit “courtesy resignations” so he could fire those officials suspected of corruption or involvement in illegal drugs.

Their fate though would be decided by a five-man board, including retired generals — practically a star chamber that has no basis in the Constitution or any law. While police officials expressed support for it of course — lest their refusal be taken as evidence of their guilt — they view it as an attack on the integrity of the entire officers’ corps of the Philippine National Police, as it declares that they are guilty until proven innocent.

The second trigger has been Marcos’ appointment as Armed Forces chief of staff (AFPCOS) on January 6 of Gen. Andres Centino — whom he had removed from his post two months after he assumed office in July 1 — replacing him with Lt. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro. Apparently in protest at the appointment, Jose Faustino, the defense department officer in charge and several other DND officials, submitted their resignations. Marcos has neither accepted nor rejected these so far.

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Airport foul-up should remind us: We need a brand-new international airport, ASAP!

THE gargantuan mess that shut down our international airports on, of all days, New Year’s Day, should be a slap on our nation’s face. It was a harsh reminder that in contrast to most of our neighbors, we have neglected to build what is indubitably a crucial element of economic growth: an efficient, no-fail international airport.

The Manila International Airport in fact is a symbol of our economic decay over the years. Manila had the first modern international airport when it started operations in 1961 — when we were the most developed country in Asia — thanks to the runway the US built in the latter years of World War 2 to accommodate even its biggest bombers, positioned to destroy Japan.

An artist’s rendition of the international airport in Bulacan that the SMC is proposing. SMC PHOTO

Six decades later our international airport still uses basically the same runway, with the main addition being the construction of two new terminals, Terminal 2 in 1999 and 3 in 2008, after useless legal battles against it.

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Marcos officials blame Duterte administration for colossal airport boo-boo

A sarcastic post at Reddit.

THAT’s the tack that President Marcos Jr.’s airport officials, particularly his Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista, are using to explain the unprecedented shutdown of the Philippines’ airspace on New Year’s Day, which resulted in the cancellation of flights to and from Manila, stranding 60,000 passengers.

They claimed that the country’s Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Systems for Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) system conked out because its two power supplies failed, that it was an old system.

What really happened was an unbelievable howler: airport technicians plugged the 220-volt system to a 380-volt power line, damaging it.

Yet Bautista’s explanation was preposterous; he claimed the CNS/ATM system that the previous Duterte administration bought and installed was outdated.

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