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Massive misinformation on Scarborough, SCS issues

WITH our disputes over the South China Sea territorial and maritime disputes again hogging the front pages, I am again astonished at the massive misinformation on the issue, a testament indeed to the tremendous power of the US and its propaganda apparatus.

What gives these lies so much power is first, deep-seated anti-Chinese racism, which early in our history as a people led to massacres of the Spanish-era Chinese settlements, called the parian. Second, it is another instance of that deeply ingrained mentality that psychologists and anthropologists call the “us vs. them” syndrome: that is, evil is the other tribe, the other clan, the other fraternity, the other basketball team, and the other country with territorial disputes with us.

Two books debunking the US propaganda on and revealing the truth of our SCS disputes with China: ‘Debacle’ is available in rigobertotiglao.com/debacle, amazon.com and Fully Booked, and ‘Lighthouse’ in FLIPHTML5, Lazada and Shopee.

It is understandable for the man on the street, senators playing the gallery, and Philippine Coast Guard officials like spokesman Jay Tarriela basking in the media limelight and swallowing hook, line and sinker the American deception. Such brainwashing is easier because the SCS dispute involves complex concepts as abstract as, say, physics’ black holes or quantum entanglement: territorial sea, exclusive economic zone, and even the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

It is disappointing, though that a few columnists, otherwise intelligent and scholarly as well as known for diligent research, have easily fallen for the US propaganda line.

One example is a statement from a veteran columnist in his Philippine Star piece yesterday: “Under the terms of the Unclos, Bajo de Masinloc sits well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. The arbitral tribunal in 2016 rejected the validity of China’s sovereignty claims over Bajo de Masinloc and the contested reefs further south.”


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A slippery slope toward open conflict with China

ANYONE who has spent some time studying geopolitics, superpower behavior, and especially China’s moves to claim the hegemonic throne in Asia would be worried over our government’s immediate response to its setting up of a 300-meter floating barrier in the southeast portion of Scarborough Shoal, discovered Sunday by our Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

The Philippines defied the superpower by having its personnel cut the ropes used for the floating barrier.

The ropes were cut by a man not even wearing a diving suit and scuba gear, which raises my suspicion that the PCG may claim it was merely done by fishermen outraged that they were being blocked from the fish-rich waters.


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AI not as intelligent as you think, although…

HOWEVER, I mean only the intelligence (AI) application called ChatGPT released in November last year publicly and free-of-charge, with the paid subscription version costing $20 monthly (which I can’t afford). ChatGPT has taken the world, even the Philippines, by storm, as it is free, and is most people’s (mine at least) first experience in interacting with an AI, which even serious computer scientists warn could, if safeguards are not imposed, go against this irrational species called humanity, as the “Terminator,” “Matrix” and other popular movies have depicted.

ChatGPT itself explains: “It is a form of artificial intelligence (AI). It is powered by a deep learning model called GPT (generative pre-trained transformer), which is a type of AI model that has been trained on large amounts of text data to understand and generate human-like text.

“ChatGPT is designed for natural language understanding and generation, making it capable of engaging in text-based conversations and performing various language-related tasks, such as answering questions, providing explanations, and generating text. It uses AI techniques, particularly deep learning and natural language processing, to process and generate human-readable text responses based on the input it receives from users.”

I found my first conversations with ChatGPT indeed creepy, as if I were chatting with a ghostly human. Indeed as I will narrate below, it even apologized for its error, unlike many writers I have called out yet refuse to admit their gross misinformation. Here’s relevant bits of my talk with ChatGPT, on a topic I know well enough:


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A nation where nationalism has been sucked out

NO newspaper had a news article, feature or opinion column on the anniversary of an event on Sept.16, 1991 which scholars called in the early 1990s the “unthinkable” and Juan Ponce Enrile, “a defining moment of our race.” The last feature article on it was in September 2016 — 2016 in, of all media outlets, Rappler, funded by US outfits that had links to the CIA.

Indeed, most Filipinos would not know what that event I am referring to is. It was the day the Philippine Senate rejected, by a close vote of 12 to 11, the Corazon Aquino government’s proposal to renew the lease of the huge US military bases here.

Protecting her excellency: under EDCA, our military have become umbrella boys of the US, a Facebook post claimed.

The US — the world — was shocked by the decision, particularly as Cory — a global heroine of democracy in those days — expended nearly all of her political capital to get the treaty ratified by the Senate, with poll after poll showing that most Filipinos wanted the Americans to stay. “An insult to our race,” Enrile, one of four still living of the “Magnificent 12″*, as media dubbed them. The other three are then senators Joseph Estrada, Rene Saguisag and Orlando Mercado, the latter, however, perhaps as another testament to our changed times, didn’t care to write about it in his column in this newspaper.

It was a demonstration that our leaders called the Senate — derived from the Roman “senatus,” for old man, that is, the “wise” — knew their role in the Republic, which is to stand by their considered views, even if these go against the mob, often disguised as “the people.”


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BBM has to change his decision-making process

FINANCE Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s admission that neither he nor other economic managers were consulted by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on the rice price cap decision bolsters accounts that I have been receiving over the President’s decision-making process. Unfortunately, they claim his decisions have been made haphazardly, and without consultation with his officials or other private advisers knowledgeable about the issue.

Unlike most effective presidents of corporations, and even a few presidents of the Republic, Marcos reportedly hardly consults with advisers on a decision to be made, nor does he have a group that he asks to debate the pros and cons of a controversy. In the case of the rice price cap, I was told that the Agriculture department’s senior undersecretary Domingo Panganiban called him up to recommend it, and he immediately agreed to the proposal.

I couldn’t find anybody to tell me who or what group Marcos consults with. I had thought chief presidential legal counsel Juan Ponce Enrile and Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, a former Supreme Court chief justice, would be the heavyweights he would ask for advice. “Have you ever seen a photo of him talking to them?” a Malacañang insider said with a wide grin. Marcos Cabinet meetings are a formality in which reports are presented to a bored audience with no discussion of important issues facing the country. The Cabinet meetings, two members told me, are practically a ritual, dominated by boring PowerPoint events.


Continue ReadingBBM has to change his decision-making process
Read more about the article Just what we need: A dysfunctional agri department
The three who run the problem-riddled Agriculture department: Panganiban, Sebastian and Savellano. PHOTOS FROM DA WEBSITE
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Just what we need: A dysfunctional agri department

JUST when prices of rice and other agricultural commodities have become volatile, not just because of climate change and logistical disruptions resulting from the Ukraine war but from such unexpected dements as an Indian ban on some of its rice exports, we have the most dysfunctional department in the country — the Agriculture department.

The blame is solely on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., although he can easily move to restore the department’s effectiveness by doing what he should have done on Day 1 of his presidency, which is to appoint a qualified technocrat, preferably with political skills, as a full-time Agriculture secretary.

Instead, he appointed himself as concurrent Agriculture secretary, which, as expected, in effect meant that the department was leaderless. In the 14 months that he has been Agriculture secretary, he has visited the department only four times and has reportedly met with its undersecretaries and other officials three times. What has he been thinking?

It is a mystery why Marcos has been adamant about keeping the agriculture portfolio, even though it is so obvious he is unable to run it, especially at this crucial period when prices of rice and even vegetables are so volatile that a tight running of the department is necessary. While he was governor and vice governor of a dominantly agricultural province for 12 years, he has never shown any expertise or interest in agricultural issues. Marcos’ insistence borders on political suicide as the department not only faces daunting challenges because of decades of neglect and mismanagement; it is also viewed as an Augean stable of corruption.

The three who run the problem-riddled Agriculture department: Panganiban, Sebastian and Savellano. PHOTOS FROM DA WEBSITE

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Forget our Mutual Defense Treaty with US

THE real reason our civilian and military officialdom are hostile toward China regarding our disputes with it in the South China Sea is their dubious faith that under the 1952 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the US, the powerful American military will come to our aid in case the Chinese attack us.

Indeed, the head of the ADR Stratbase propaganda outfit in a recent piece praised the MDT to the high heavens. Referring to the US and its MDT, he wrote: “With friends like these, the Philippines can confidently navigate these challenges that threaten to break the peaceful coexistence needed to bolster progress and prosperity.” What he’s saying: No need to worry over our disputes with China; the US has our back.

The oft-quoted provision of the treaty reads: “An armed attack on either of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of either of the Parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific Ocean, its armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific.”


Continue ReadingForget our Mutual Defense Treaty with US