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Post 9/11: Did bin Laden win?

THERE was muted commemoration in the US and in its allies of the worst attack ever on American soil that totally destroyed the World Trade Center Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, killing 2,996 people. There were very few articles and opinion columns in US newspapers about it, several significantly even ruing that Americans seem to be forgetting the horrific event and its implications.

It was only Ben Kritz, an American colleague in this paper, who wrote about it the other day, in a bitter tone. He reported that his and a CNN broadcaster’s comment as they watched live the towers burning was: “Our world has forever changed.” Several paragraphs later, however, he writes: “The only thing that has really changed is that everyone’s execrable attitudes and behaviors have gotten a lot worse. The same theocratic authoritarian regime in Iran that carefully cultivates one brand of extremists to maintain its hold on power is still there.” He misses what really happened in the 23 years after 9/11.The subdued commemoration of 9/11 in America and elsewhere arises from a creeping feeling that two decades after that horrifying attack, Osama bin Laden, the Saudi Arabian architect of that diabolical deed has achieved what he actually intended to do.Born to a billionaire family and educated in that oil-rich nation’s best universities, bin Laden was certainly not stupid to think that the attack would frighten America to withdraw its interventions in the Islamic Middle East, and give up its massive financial support that has made an Israel exist.

What bin Laden wanted was to anger Americans so much they would intensify their wars against Muslims so as to even invade nations they deemed to nurture terrorist groups.The result of such American vengeful wars would enrage Muslims all over the world so they would intensify their jihad against the World Satan, Osama bin Laden calculated.


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Pilferage of seized shabu or the drug cartel’s revenge?

I DON’T think the Philippine National Police’s image has been so tarnished, its ranks so demoralized as never before, because of events in the past several months.

In October, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr., who supervises the PNP as chairman of the National Police Commission, boasted that the police had seized 990 kilograms of the mind-destroying, addictive shabu with an estimated street value of P6.7 billion. He said this was the biggest drug haul in the country.

Out of the blue, on April 10, Abalos claimed that there was a “massive attempt to cover up” the involvement of Police Sgt. Rodolfo Mayo, in whose lending-business office in Manila the huge shabu haul was discovered and seized. Worse, Abalos claimed that about 42 kg out of the haul had been pilfered, which would have a street value of P250 million.

Soon after that, CCTV videos circulated among congressmen, and eventually to media, showing suitcases — presumably containing the pilfered shabu — being brought out from Mayo’s office. It also showed ranking police officials first taking Mayo to a vehicle in handcuffs, and then bringing him out of it without.


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Why it’s crucial to understand what the nine-dash line means

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IF the nine-dash line does not represent China’s territorial boundaries in the South China Sea, as I have explained Wednesday, then what is it?

The line first appeared in the “Map Showing the Location of the Various Islands in the South Sea” in the February 1948 Atlas of Administrative Areas of the then Kuomintang-controlled Republic of China. Subsequent maps of China, issued in certain years starting 1958 to 2001 contained the line. It originally consisted of 11 dashes, but were reduced to nine in 1952, upon orders of Mao Zedong so as not to include North Vietnam’s Gulf of Tonkin, as a gesture of solidarity with another communist-ruled state.

https://www.researchgate.net/ Copy of “The Location Map of South China Sea Islands in 1947 (1:4,000,000)”

That it was not really a territorial boundary is evident in the fact that China has never given its geographical coordinates, and the dashes’ positions in its 2009 map submitted to the UN are even slightly different from its previous maps.

One probable explanation for the line’s continued use is that if the Communist Party of China deleted the line in its official maps, it would seriously dent its nationalist credentials, and its archenemy the Kuomintang Party — under whose rule the line was first drawn — would condemn it for relinquishing Chinese territory and therefore that it is betraying China.


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Govt helpless, leaderless in Mindoro oil spill

THE term “oil spill” conceals the enormity of the disaster from the MT Princess Empress when it sank off the coast of Pola town in Oriental Mindoro. Oil wasn’t just discharged from the vessel — it is still being discharged. There’s still a lot of oil spilling to our seas, to our seashores.

Other than the actual damage to the environment as well as to the health and livelihood of the residents of the coastal villages already affected by it, there could be another cost, as the oil slick could reach internationally known tourist beach resorts as Boracay and Coron in Palawan, as the tourism department tactlessly announced.

The damage to our economy could even be just because of perceptions. The respected British newspaper The Guardian published a long article replete with vivid photos of oil darkening a white-sand beach, while the Washington Post headline was: “A tanker sank and spilled oil. Then came reports of nausea, headaches.” The Philippine-hater Agence France-Presse sent throughout the world its dispatch entitled, “Sunken Philippine tanker leaks industrial fuel oil into sea, concern for environment, tourism.” The headline of Splash247.com, a popular website for the maritime industry, was cruel for us: “Tanker oil spill spreads far and wide in central Philippines.”


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Will EDCA stop Chinese ‘intrusions’ into PH waters?

ABSOLUTELY not, even if we give the Americans 10, even a hundred more of our military installations that they can use as their bases under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) for a war they’ll fight in Asia.

Already, China has responded to our giving the US four more of our military bases by escalating their presence in the disputed areas.

The Philippine Coast Guard has reported that several Chinese vessels — a Navy and Coast Guard ships with 40 “Chinese militia vessels” — have anchored in the past several days 8 to 15 kilometers off our Pag-asa Island, which it said “was well within that island’s territorial waters.”

Interpreting the expanded EDCA as an acceleration of its “encirclement” by the US, China will most likely retaliate: A classic case of blowback.

What’s very sad is that the US can’t help us in our territorial and maritime-area disputes with China now, nor when they have their troops stationed in nine of our military camps. This is because it is not party to these disputes. In short, we’re just being used by the US in its geopolitical strategy against China, to prevent its rise as a superpower. If it does interfere, that would trigger a war with the superpower, with China having the high moral ground because of its claims of sovereignty over the disputed islands. In contrast, the US has no territorial claims in the South China Sea; it has no business really being in the region, except for its self-appointed role as the world’s policeman during the heyday of its hegemony in the world.


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Why did the jeepney not evolve into Kias and Hyundais, to become a national headache?

SILLY question? Read on and the answer will be like lightning over a dark landscape.

We were not the only country in Asia where the US army left — or were sold by its entrepreneurial soldiers on the black market — thousands of its all-terrain, hardy vehicle, the Willys Quad (for its four-wheel drive), which got to be called Jeep, for GP, or “General Purpose” vehicle. Filipino entrepreneurs refurbished these vehicles for public transport, its body altered to accommodate up to even 14 passengers much than the four-pax military version.

Jeepneys in 1950s: Korean version, left; Filipino, right.

Five years after World War 2 ended, the US was in another major war where it used Jeepneys — the Korean War of 1950-1953. After the war, as in the Philippines, the US left a huge number of of the same kind of Jeeps.

A Korean auto mechanic, Choi Mu-seong, and his three brothers managed to buy hundreds of these Jeeps, and modified them to also become public transport vehicles, in this case as taxicabs. The vehicle was called “Sibal,” Korean for “beginning.” And indeed it was the beginning of Korea’s automobile industry which is now the fifth largest in the world.


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An inept DFA just when SCS is a burning issue

DURING the strongman rule of Ferdinand E. Marcos, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was the premier, most respected agency of government. His foreign secretary, Carlos P. Romulo, was legendary in diplomatic circles, and the popular quip about him was that his towering intellect was in inverse proportion to his height.

By contrast, the son’s foreign affairs department has been so inept, his foreign secretary appearing to have stage fright so serious he has been virtually invisible.

The DFA, my sources claimed, wasn’t even consulted on the Marcos government giving the US access to four more of our military camps that Americans can use for a war effort.


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EDCA will make us the chicken to scare the monkey

TO save its officials’ time, the Foreign Affairs department might as well print a form for its notes verbale against China over the South China Sea disputes, with blanks to be filed up for the date of issuance, date of incident and location of the incident.

source: https://www.facebook.com/Wujifa

Chinese fishing vessels, whether you call them “militia,” and China Coast Guard ships will always roam the Spratlys, the big part of which is what we call the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and about three fourths encompassed by our ‘theoretical” exclusive economic zone (EEZ). (“Theoretical” as we haven’t passed a law defining it with precision, especially as it overlaps with the EEZs of Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.)

No matter how loud and often President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. cries to the world and the US that China and Vietnam are violating our sovereign rights when their vessels, civilian or government, sail through these waters without our permission, it won’t matter at all, our notes verbale will be the Chinese embassy’s toilet paper.


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The tragedy of EDSA

THE tragedy of the “EDSA People Power Revolution” involves three inarguable facts. It merely reinstated elite rule, and the political system that maintains their power. It allowed the growth of insurgencies that have scared away investments. It demonized the kind of state-directed economic policy responsible for the growth of the “Dragon and Tiger” economies of Asia.

The tragedy of EDSA is that it didn’t help us much in achieving economic growth on a scale our neighbors did.

First, while toppling a dictatorship, EDSA swiftly restored the Philippines’ anarchy of elite families that was the situation since the nation’s birth. This reality has always been and still is, though concealed through the scheme of popular voting that also prevents inter-elite conflicts from turning violent that would be disastrous for everyone.


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RCEP: Finally, the ultimate solution to the South China Sea disputes?

YET this “solution” hit the headlines the other day, with most people not realizing its vast geopolitical ramifications, that it could finally end the possibility of war over the South China Sea disputes. It’s often referred to by its acronym RCEP, which makes it appear more inscrutable.

source Wikipedia

RCEP stands for Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, with the Philippines the 15th East Asian country to ratify it, just the other day — after China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore and eight Asean members in the past two years. It calls for the elimination of 90 percent of the member countries’ tariffs in a phased manner within 20 years of their ratification.

While its proponents boast that it will be the world’s biggest free-trade bloc, representing 30 percent of world GDP, hardly pointed out that China accounts for a huge chunk of this — 18.5 percent of the global economy. The shares of the other members of RCEP are far smaller: Japan 9.3 percent, Korea 1.7 percent, and Australia 0.9 percent. Except for its undiplomatic tone, it could be more accurately called the Regional China Comprehensive Economic Partnership.


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