Year: 2019

Poe is such a huge argument against democracy

THE EDSA traffic is becoming more horrendous each day, and in this day and age of technology and rationality, one would assume that government could use all its resources and sovereign power to solve a big obstacle to the country’s economic growth and relieve its citizens of their daily hell.

The traffic is a veritable crisis, and it is long past the time for debating that it isn’t. Metropolitan Manila consists of 16 cities and one municipality. Even if EDSA traverses only six cities (Caloocan, Quezon, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Makati and Pasay), any solution to the avenue’s gridlocks would have to involve nearly all of Metro Manila’s 17 local governments, all of which have the authority to pass “ordinances” that tend to hinder efforts to solve this huge problem.

One solution, for example, would involve opening up the posh “villages” — parts of Forbes, San Lorenzo, Wack Wack and Greenhills, among others — but their rich residents would certainly get the courts to stop it.

It is a no-brainer that a solution to the EDSA traffic mess requires the grant of emergency powers to the country’s chief executive, the President. After all, extraordinary problems require extraordinary solutions.

But then because of our Republican set-up, it is Congress that has the power to grant the President such emergency powers, or authority beyond what he normally has to fulfill his duties. Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Arbitral ruling a colossal deception: It damaged our national interests

THAT the country won in the ruling of an arbitral panel in our suit against China over our disputes in the South China Sea region has been a colossal deception foisted on our people.

As a fabrication, it is rivaled only by the huge lie in the first years of the Yellow regime of Aquino 3rd, that since he is the son of the “saint of democracy,” he would create a graft-free and progressive nation.

If President Duterte had pursued the arbitral ruling, it would have been the very worst impact on our nation of the Aquino regime, even triggering an economic crisis.

The ruling by the five-man arbitral panel succeeded in being believed as a victory for us because the might of US media was mobilized to spread that lie, and the propaganda exploited anti-Chinese sentiment in the Filipino psyche.

US media was marshaled because the ruling served US interests in its “Pivot to Asia” policy of containing China. First, it demonized China as an aggressor in the South China Sea, that it ignores international law.

Second, the arbitration tribunal ruled that China’s so-called nine-dash line that marks its claim over much of the South China Sea has no basis under the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (Unclos). This gives US warships undertaking their power-project patrols in the South China Sea arguable legal cover that they are sailing through international waters.

What people like the pro-American former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario and the apparently pro-Vietnam Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio are ignorant about, or pretend to be ignorant about, is that China’s claims are not based on this nine-dash line, nor on exclusive economic zones (EEZs) under Unclos, which took effect only in 1995. Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Strong leader, weak state: The BuCor fiasco and Dunkin’ Donuts case

EVEN President Duterte’s harshest critics would, I think, concede that he has emerged as the country’s strongest president ever, at par with Ferdinand Marcos in the first years of his strongman rule.

By “strong,” I borrow the political scientists’ definition of a strong state.

First, Duterte is a strong leader because he is independent from the economic elite that in most cases in our past influenced Philippine presidents for their own gain or even led them by the nose. This is shown by the fact that Duterte’s guns have been trained on what he himself names as “oligarchs.” He has moved or has started to move against the Rufino-Prieto clan that owns the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Lopezes of the ABS-CBN television network. He took on both Lucio Tan, for Philippine Airlines’s P6-billion unpaid fees to government, and Mighty Corp., the competitor of Tan’s Fortune Tobacco, for its P30-billion tax liabilities.

Second, he has shown a determination to do the things he thinks will set the country right, no matter the opposition or obstacles. He hasn’t let up on his war on illegal drugs, despite the virulent opposition by most of the Western media, international human rights groups, and by the lackeys of the Yellow crowd that saw it, falsely, as a cause célèbre to oust him.

But presidents do not operate in a vacuum. To do what he thinks he must do, Duterte can only operate through what we call the state, the ensemble of institutions, especially the bureaucracy, that manages a nation. Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Aquino-Del Rosario betrayed our national interest in arbitration suit vs China

FORMER President Aquino, his foreign secretary Albert del Rosario, and his Solicitor General Florin Hilbay patently betrayed our national interest in the arbitration suit they filed against China:

They asked the tribunal to degrade our islands in the Kalayaan Island Group, especially our Pag-Asa Island — the second biggest in the disputed area — to mere “rocks,” telling the arbitral tribunal that, as such, these therefore do not generate a 430,000-square kilometer (sq km) circular exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The tribunal, of course, upheld their allegation. Why wouldn’t they when it is the representatives themselves who claim their islands are not islands but just rocks? Their allegation in effect lost us at least 430,000 sq km of potential EEZ, an area bigger than the Philippines’ 300,000 sq km land area.

Potential EEZ of Pag-Asa (roughly that of Taiwan’s Taiping island) the suit gave up. Source: Author’s graphics using GoogleEarth.

Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Sabio reveals: Trillanes the brains of ‘Bikoy’ caper

LAWYER Jude Sabio last week revealed that it was former senator Antonio Trillanes 4th who was the brains behind the so-called “Totoong Narcolist” videos, spread through social media in April that claimed President Duterte and his children were involved with illegal drug syndicates.

Last May, Peter Joemel Advincula, the narrator in the videos who called himself “Bikoy,” surrendered to authorities and disclosed that the allegations in the video were all lies and that it was a fabrication of Trillanes intended to sway voters to vote for the opposition Senate candidates in the elections early that month. Trillanes denied the accusation in a privilege speech at the Senate.

Last week, Advincula’s disclosure was supported by Sabio, who has been viewed as one of Trillanes’ closest conspirators in the latter’s anti-Duterte campaign. He was the lawyer for Edgar Matobato who had claimed to have been with the Davao “death squads” when Duterte was the city mayor. He also filed a case last April against Duterte and several of his officials at the International Court of Justice, accusing them of mass murder in their war against illegal drugs.

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

‘PH can’t have its Kalayaan Island Group’ – arbitral tribunal

Second part of a series
IN the second case* where we shot ourselves in the foot in the arbitration case against China brought by President Benigno Aquino 3rd and his Foreign secretary Albert del Rosario, the tribunal in effect ruled that we can’t have our Kalayaan Island Group (KIG), since this would violate provisions of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

The episode would be really hilarious if not for its very serious impact on our Republic’s territory. The bungling duo thought they could force China out of our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) by filing the arbitration case, invoking the Unclos. Instead, one consequence is that if we comply with the arbitral ruling, we’d have to give up our KIG. And we are the only ones who have to comply with it, as China refused to recognize the tribunal, and its ruling doesn’t apply to any other nation.

The KIG is the only addition to our territory since the 1898 Treaty of Paris (by which Spain sold us to the US) established the archipelago’s boundaries. It was Marcos, through his Presidential Decree (PD) 1596 in 1978, who annexed a hexagonal territory covering most of the Spratly islands — which China and Vietnam had claimed several decades earlier. Other than Bajo de Masinloc, the KIG is the only thing really that has involved us in the South China Sea territorial dispute.

In his decree, Marcos claimed these areas “do not legally belong to any state or nation but, by reason of history, indispensable need, and effective occupation and control, established in accordance with international law, such areas must now be deemed to belong and subject to the sovereignty of the Philippines.”

He ordered the KIG to become a municipality of Palawan Island. Republic Act 2009, or the so-called “Baselines Law,” declared that the Philippines “exercises sovereignty and jurisdiction” over the KIG, and described it as a “regime of islands,” consistent with Article 121 of the Unclos.

The US and many other nations, however, have not officially recognized the KIG as part of Philippine territory, since China, Vietnam, and Taiwan and Malaysia in part, also claim it. China and Vietnam had passed laws categorically claiming it as part of their territories, small archipelagos, Nánshā Qúndǎo for the former and Quần đảo Trường Sa for the latter. Malaysia occupied an island and several reefs on the ground that these were within its EEZ.

One provision in the arbitral tribunal’s ruling drastically weakens our — and those of China and Vietnam’s — claim to the KIG as part of our territory. Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Arbitral award vs China: We shot ourselves in the foot

First of a series on the Aquino-Del Rosario foreign policy fiasco
MORE precisely, not really “us” but former President Benigno Aquino 3rd and his incompetent foreign secretary Albert del Rosario who shot our Republic in the foot by filing in 2013 the arbitration case against China, invoking the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

They didn’t even consult Congress or any other body for this very important foreign-policy move.

If not for President Duterte’s bold move to put the brakes on it, it would have resulted, and I am not exaggerating, in an economic disaster for us — to the advantage of our neighbors like Vietnam, which also have territorial disputes with China, but weren’t as stupid as filing such a case against Beijing and adopting an anti-China foreign-policy stance.

It is another testament to the tremendous power of US media in molding our people’s minds that the arbitration has been projected as a “victory,” exploiting the embers of anti-China xenophobia here. It is part of a huge propaganda machine to portray China as the evil empire in our region (which I will discuss fully in this series), which is a major component of the American “Pivot to Asia” policy that President Obama started in 2011.

It obviously also takes advantage of the “my-country-right-or-wrong” thinking of small, or lazy minds. Indeed, there is much truth in that adage, “Patriotism is the refuge of the scoundrel.”

But we cannot undertake a correct and realistic foreign policy based on massive misinformation on such a crucial issue as our territorial dispute with China.

I promise to publish unedited in this space the arguments that I hope del Rosario, or any of his ghost writers and highly paid academic mercenaries, will present to disprove the points in this piece. Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Rapist-murderer’s near-release, a huge argument for capital punishment

THE silver lining in the dark cloud that was the near-release of the rapist-murderer, former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez, is that the episode is a huge argument for the restoration of the death penalty.

How much more heinous can a crime be than that of Sanchez — a powerful and rich jueteng lord — who for a night’s entertainment raped the 19-year-old Eileen Sarmenta, then had his bodyguards also violate her, and ordered them to shoot her dead — in her face, as it turned out. His bodyguards followed Sanchez’s sadistic ethos, and tortured Sarmenta’s companion, Allan Gomez, before shooting him in the head.

A civilized society must have such a gruesome crime be punished with the severest form of penalty, depriving the perpetrator of his life. Sanchez’s release was under a law passed during former president Benigno Aquino 3rd’s administration, and apparently — to be frank, I’m not sure — would have occurred if not for the public outrage over it. Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Duterte must outlaw Communist Party, now!

A MOUNTAIN of evidence has been piling up that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), through its front organizations like Anakbayan, has continued to dupe our gullible youth, barely out of adolescence, to join their long- discredited project to topple our democratic system.

Simply put, they want to install — to be quite frank about it — the mass murderer Jose Ma. Sison as the Filipino “Dear Leader,” or some NPA commander who has spent his adulthood in jungles, the kind of milieu that created the genocidal Khmer Rouge of Cambodia.

Isn’t it such a no-brainer that it is high time this violent organization is outlawed?

With his coalition’s control of Congress and his immense popularity, President Duterte — because of his long stint as Davao City mayor, the only president to have a deep insight into the insurgency and its record of brutality and treachery — would default on his sworn duty to defend the Republic if he cannot get the legislature to reimpose the Anti-Subversion Law, which the opportunist President Fidel Ramos got Congress to repeal in September 1992, three months after he assumed power. “Opportunist” as Ramos’ overarching interest was for his regime to be politically stable, even at the cost of the Republic’s future.

Nearly three decades after that “experiment” of letting a violent organization be shielded by our own laws, allowing it to continue its killings, why are we so stupid as a nation not to do anything about it? Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Ressa’s perfidy toward PH exposed

THE exposé by US broadcast network CNBC August 19 that Rappler head Maria Ressa had hired a “lobbying juggernaut to take on Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte” has revealed the depths of this woman’s betrayal of her mother country.

I have never heard of major US public relations, lobbying or law firms having been contracted by a Philippine entity, except in the months before and after EDSA 1, when the Yellows and then the Cory-government itself hired Sawyer Miller and seven other lobby and PR firms to undertake a massive campaign to demonize Marcos and his regime. Even the Noynoy Aquino government, because of the cost, couldn’t afford to hire a lobby firm to get the US government’s support during the Scarborough stand-off with China in 2012 and for its arbitration case filed the next year.

Except for Ressa’s case, I have never heard before of a US law, PR or lobby firm being contracted by a Filipino to defend him or her in media, in the courts, or the US Congress in criminal cases committed in the Philippines, to be tried in a Philippine court, and under Philippine laws.

We should be outraged over Ressa’s perfidy. She is spitting on our Constitution and nation by contracting a US firm to do so, one of whose tasks would be to paint our country as a dictatorship suppressing the press, and that there is no rule of law here.

What lobbying in the US Congress will this entail? To convince the US government and Congress to undertake actions to influence our courts, and if that doesn’t succeed, to overthrow the Duterte government?

Façade and lobby of topnotch and expensive law firm she hired. PHOTO FROM THE FIRM’S WEBSITE.

Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns