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What’s the quid pro quo for EDCA?

I FOUND the following May 8 piece posted at the online publication Asia Times insightful and balanced, unlike pieces by many commentators uncritically echoing US propaganda. Several of its assertions, albeit unexplained, are intriguing.

The online magazine describes the article’s author Lucio Blanco Pitlo 3rd as a visiting scholar at the Department of Diplomacy and Center for Foreign Policy Studies of the National Chengchi University in Taipei.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and US President Joe Biden in Whitehouse. Screengrab from the Asia Times Article.

His Facebook profile indicates that he has been studying the South China Sea disputes for quite some time now in Philippine institutions’ research projects.

Asia Times is based in Hong Kong and owned by a Thai publisher and purportedly aims to provide its readers with an in-depth “Asian view.” A New York Times article described it as “one of the most prominent of the regional publications.” A few of its editors were from the Far Eastern Economic Review, where I worked as a bureau chief from 1989 to 2000. I was invited to write articles for it years ago.

Pitlo’s article is titled “As US-China rivalry boils, Manila should play its cards well.”

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To PCG: Don’t make media cannon fodder in PH-China disputes

Where collision occurred. Image by author using Google Earth Pro

THE Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) failed attempt last week to enter Ayungin Shoal — also claimed by China which effectively controls it — indeed hogged, as intended, local and global media’s headlines for days. (The shoal is Rén’ài Jiāo to the Chinese and Bãi Cỏ Mây to Vietnamese which also claims it.)

This incident is far, far more serious than most people would think. It could have led — by design on the part of the PCG or accident on the part of both countries — to the deaths of about two dozen foreign and local journalists as well as the PCG crew that was misinformed why they were at the area.

After three days at sea coming from Manila, a PCG vessel BRP Malapascua and another ship BRP Malabrigo, carrying local and foreign journalists, on April 23 steamed toward Ayungin. Two China Coast Guard vessels shadowed the two PCG ships for two days.

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‘What’s happening to our country, General?’

THE then assemblyman and Minister of State Emmanuel Pelaez in July 1982 asked this question of Quezon City Gen. Tomas Karingal as he was being wheeled into the hospital emergency room, after surviving an ambush near his home in which his driver was killed.

It was really a rhetorical question that has become a classic over the years to express protest over a perceived serious deterioration of peace and order or of even other unpleasant developments in the country.

If Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo had survived the attack on his home the other day, he would have likely also asked the same question.

I haven’t heard of a more horrific audacious attack against a governor, a member of the most powerful class of politicians in this country that includes senators and congressmen. It was a massacre in broad daylight (9:45 a.m.) the other day, with at least five killers in army-type uniforms firing their assault weapons to shoot five of the governor’s innocent constituents dead at the residence’s makeshift assembly hall.

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Three issues Marcos should keep in mind during his China visit

THERE are three crucial points President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. must keep in mind, or work for, in his meetings in China, especially with its President Xi Jinping. I didn’t pull these points out of thin air but are based on the intensive research I did in 2014-2016 that was the basis of my book, Debacle: The Aquino Regime’s Scarborough Fiasco and the South China Sea Arbitration Deception.*

First, forget — and bury 6 feet under — the silliness that is the 2016 arbitration ruling by a three-man panel, which the Aquino 3rd regime itself appointed. Six years after it was handed down, the world has forgotten about it. Except, of course, the US (with its usual minions), which after all maneuvered the witless President Aquino 3rd into filing the case, as a smokescreen for his colossal fiasco of losing Scarborough Shoal in the standoff with China in 2012 and in his naiveté that it would recover that lost territory.

This should be Marcos’ top priority. The Sampaguita gas deposits in GSEC 101 is just 200 kilometers from the Malampaya facility, with its pipeline to Batangas. CHART FROM DEBACLE
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Where to? Marcos should learn from his father

THE good news is that the Philippine economy has bounced back from its two-year contraction because of myriad problems created by the worst pandemic in the post-war period. The bad news is that I don’t think the government has mapped out plans on what kind of economy it wants to build. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. should get some tips from his father.

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Read more about the article <strong>BuCor graft loot: P100 million a year?</strong>
Screengrab from Inside the Gangster’s Code
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BuCor graft loot: P100 million a year?

The slaying of broadcast journalist Percival Mabasa should lead government to undertake a drastic crackdown on corruption at the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) , the agency  that runs the world’ds largest penitentiary with 30,000 inmates called the  New Bilibid Prison.

Scenes inside Bilibid: Maximum-security pedesrriansm , a sari-sari store (the figure in black is the American documentarist asking for directions where he could find a gang leader, a restaurant. Source: Screen grab from  “Inside the Gangster’s Code”.

While most Filipinos think the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal revenue have been the most graft-ridden agencies, reputations they deserve, BuCor which is under the Justice Department has largely been out of the public radar as one of the most lucrative sources of graft money. 

This is because from the outside, the question is how could officials running the national penitentiaruy make money out of people deprived of their freedom and their money?

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EDCA could be Marcos’ biggest test

WHETHER he likes it or not, global events are developing to make the EDCA issue the first major test of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s leadership and wisdom. His very pro-American officials — ambassador to the US, second cousin Jose “Babe” Romualdez and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, and most of the Filipino elite — will likely urge him to uphold the EDCA, which of course could lead us into the two wars that the US could possibly be involved in, with China and Russia.

That position would be a very slippery slope putting us, in case even of a limited conflict, in the cross-hairs not just of China but Russia. Even without a war, Marcos’ acquiescence to US plans to activate EDCA would reverse his predecessor’s huge gains in drawing the country closer to its biggest trading partner, and perhaps even the biggest source of cheap official credit.

China can also play dirty when it thinks the US is making the country its puppet. In the 2012 Scarborough Shoal stand-off our banana exports to China suddenly had to be inspected for infestation — resulting in the rotting of thousands of dollars’ worth of shipments at Chinese ports.

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