Author: Rigoberto Tiglao

AN INSIDER’S ACCOUNT II
‘Del Rosario, Bensurto, Inquirer worsened row with China’

THIS is the second of two parts of Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th’s secret aide memoire which he wrote in 2012 on his activities as President Aquino’s special envoy to China to negotiate for an end to the stand-off between our vessels and that country’s in Scarborough Shoal, which we call Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal.

It is important for us as a nation to know the truth on how we lost Panatag Shoal, as this has been the reason for the diplomatic conflict between us and, whether we like or not, the nation that is emerging as the biggest military and economic superpower in the region. I am convinced that those allied with another superpower that is bent on preventing the rise of China as the superpower in Asia have and will exploit the Panatag Shoal issue to portray it — as even Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has been doing — as exemplifying China’s expansionist policy in Asia.

As Trillanes’ account describes the Panatag Shoal crisis, it is not as simplistic as that.

The following is the second part of Trillanes’ narrative, which he titled “Summary of Backchannel Talks (12 May to 16 August 2012)”:

“On 19 June, just a few days after the media reposted the pull-out of our ships, the Philippine Daily Inquirer published a banner photo of Chinese uniformed personnel holding a Chinese flag on top of the shoal. PNoy called me about this and said that we were betrayed by China.

DFA undersecretary Bensurto awarded by Aquino for his role in the filing of the case vs China. Trillanes alleged that Bensurto had claimed in a Cabinet meeting that the annexation of Scarborough Shoal by China would be used as its springboard to claim all of Western Luzon.

I advised him to refrain from issuing statements while we are validating the info. For the meantime, I told him that the photo couldn’t possibly have been current since, in the background, the skies are clear and the seas are calm. At that time, a typhoon was passing through the area and we, in fact used this pretext to withdraw our ships.

True enough, when I confronted the Beijing negotiators, they denied this and gave me a link to a website showing this to be an old photo back in the early 1980s. I reported this to PNoy and advised him to direct the Navy to conduct an aerial reconnaissance flight to further validate the information. I then asked around in the Inquirer as to who fed the photo. My sources then revealed that the story came from Sec. Del Rosario. Continue reading

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AN INSIDER’S ACCOUNT
Trillanes: Aquino and Del Rosario lost Panatag Shoal to China

I AM publishing in full, for the sake of truth and as material for historians, the secret aide memoire that Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th wrote in August 2012 on his activities as President Aquino’s special envoy to China to negotiate for an end to the stand-off between our vessels and that nation’s in Scarborough Shoal, which we call Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal.

The crisis broke out when Aquino sent the Philippine Navy warship BRP Gregorio del Pilar to assist our Coast Guard in arresting Chinese fishermen who allegedly were illegally fishing in the area. The Chinese responded by sending several vessels of its Chinese Maritime Surveillance (CMS), a civilian agency and a number of private fishing vessels to the area to prevent the PCG vessels from arresting the fishermen. China raised a howl, claiming that the Philippine warship had militarized the competing claims on the shoal.

A stand-off ensued as both China and the Philippines refused to order their vessels out of the area, realizing that whoever left the area in effect abandoned its control — and effective ownership of the shoal. Both countries have not made a move before this episode to claim the shoal, with fishermen from the Philippines and China using the area around it for fishing, and for the lagoon inside the shoal as a refuge from storm.

Because of Aquino’s bungling — or according to this account, del Rosario’s order for our vessels to leave the shoal, without the President’s authorization — we lost Panatag. Forever, as it were as no way would the Chinese leave it now, for its leadership to be accused of giving up a territory it already controls. Continue reading

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UP official: ‘Maoist insurgency not our problem, leave us alone on our ivory tower’

That, in so many words, was the response of University of the Philippines Vice President for Public Affairs Dr. Jose Dalisay to security officials’ claims that the state institution has become a rich recruiting ground for Maoists and the New People’s Army.

Dalisay’s hear-no-evil-see-no-evil viewpoint was expounded in his speech pompously titled “The Freedom of Intelligence” that was posted prominently on UP’s official website. Read it, and you will understand why indeed UP, and universities like it, continues, after 50 years of the Maoist insurgency, to fool our youth to join and die in a discredited revolutionary movement.

One obvious proof that Dalisay lives in a lofty ivory tower is that in his 3, 000-word speech he doesn’t even mention the name “New People’s Army,” which has killed probably at least 100,000 soldiers, policemen and innocent civilians since its founding in 1969. Continue reading

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SC already okayed military involvement in Customs way back in 2000

“A LITTLE knowledge is a dangerous thing,” says that adage attributed to the 18th century poet Alexander Pope. The brouhaha over President Duterte’s plan to mobilize the military to clean up the Bureau of Customs (BoC) is such a perfect demonstration of the truth of that aphorism.

Right after Duterte announced his plan when he got fed up with the drug traffickers’ success in smuggling P7 billion or more worth of shabu right under the noses of Customs officials, there was a flurry of instant constitutional experts — mostly stragglers of the Yellow Cult — hysterically shouting that this is unconstitutional, pointing to Section 5 Article 16 of the Constitution.

“Malinaw na ilegal, malinaw na unconstitutional, isang impeachable offense ang ginagawa ni Pangulo dito kasi talagang culpable violation of the Constitution,” law professor Antonio La Viña pompously declared. For chrissake, La Viña is a former dean of the Ateneo School of Government. Does that explain why that school which has been the base of the Yellow Cult has been churning out so much garbage? One writer in an astonishing flight of imagination even saw Duterte’s move as his scheme to lure military men into corruption, and thus make them subservient to him!

The constitutional provision they claim that Duterte is violating “so clearly” reads: “No member of the armed forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the Government including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries.” Continue reading

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Duterte would be the first President to really go after the Maoist insurgency

PRESIDENT Duterte last week ordered the National Security Council to set up a National Task Force to deal with the country’s nearly half a century old communist-led armed insurgency.

Although the details of this task force have not been publicly released, it could mean that Duterte has decided to wage an all-out campaign to finally rid the country of this scourge that the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has suffered on the country.

If indeed he does so, Duterte would be the first Philippine president ever to take the communist insurgency bull by the horns, and finally take it down. Continue reading

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Undas comes from pagan Aztec practice

I’M quite sure media started to call the Filipino feast of trooping to the cemeteries to honor their departed on November 1 as Undas only in the past several years.

I never heard the term used in our family. Instead, that must-observe ritual was called Todos los Santos or even Araw ng mga Patay. I had been puzzled though why the cemetery-going day was on Todos los Santos, or All Saints Day. Logically, we should be honoring our dead on November 2, All Souls Day, officially called by the Catholic Church as “The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.”

I thought it was merely that I didn’t know much of the Filipino language so that “Undas” was unfamiliar to me. However, even the legal scholar Fr. Joaquin Bernas wrote in his column several years ago that he was also baffled by the term, but that even his colleagues who were either steeped in Tagalog or Spanish couldn’t explain its origins. Filipino dictionaries both printed and online just translate “Undas” as “All Saints’ Day.”

I found no scholarly explanation of the term, but only blogs merely speculating on its etymology. One blogger pointed out that undas sounds close to the Spanish “onda,” which means “wave.” But what does “wave” have to do with honoring the dead? Continue reading

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Duterte’s clean-up of Customs will be epoch-making

But Task Force needed, as in Boracay

I’M not exaggerating with the title of this piece.

The Bureau of Customs ever since Corazon Aquino captured power in 1986 has become the country’s Augean stables of the Hercules legend, so filled with the feces of corruption of decades that it looked impossible to clean up.

Because Cory Aquino appointed a known communist sympathizer as Customs commissioner, the New People’s Army managed to smuggle in AK-47s during that time. During her son Benigno Aquino 3rd’s regime, and with the flood of imports from China, the value of smuggled goods totaled an astronomical P4 trillion, four times that in the previous Gloria Macapagal administration. (Google my column in 2015: “Smuggling utterly out of control under Aquino regime: P4 trillion in last five years.”)

That the two military men that President Duterte trusted to clean up Customs — Nicanor Faeldon and Isidro Lapeña — failed in their marching orders may have its silver lining. Because of it, Duterte blew his top and announced that he would order the military to take over the graft-ridden bureau.

That may be the equivalent of Hercules in that legend building trenches so that water from a nearby river flowed into the shit-filled stables to clean them out in one day.

In their usual knee-jerk reaction to Duterte’s reform initiatives (as when Bam Aquino and Rissa Hontiveros shrieked that Boracay cannot just be closed down), the Yellows are now shouting that it is unconstitutional to order the military to run Customs.

Haven’t they heard of the concept called “secondment,” when men in uniform are assigned to civilian tasks on a temporary basis without giving up their military posts? It has been routine for military and police officers to be seconded to the Office of the President (and even to other departments) as aides to the president.

Such secondment made headline news recently when Duterte appointed Police Senior Inspector Sofia Loren Deliu, a former beauty pageant contestant, as aide-de-camp to take over the routine jobs of his Special Assistant Christopher Go, who have resigned to run for senator. That is unconstitutional? Continue reading

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Duterte’s popularity surges, despite rise in prices

PRESIDENT Duterte’s popular support rose significantly last month, going by the metric of the Social Weather Stations’ “trust” ratings.

Undertaken from September 15-23, the SWS poll had 74 percent of Filipinos (based on its statistical sample) having much trust in Duterte, a four-percentage point rise from its June 27-30 poll finding of 70 percent. There was a four-percent of Filipinos who moved out of the “undecided” category to trust the President.

What is news here, what is significant, is that, to the Yellows’ chagrin, Duterte’s mass support even rose when prices—especially of rice—were rising. The inflation rate, or the statistical measure of how much ordinary commodities were getting more expensive, rose from 3.4 percent at the start of the year, to nearly double, to 6.4 and 6.7 percent in August and September, respectively

This gut issue of more expensive rice should have pulled down people’s trust in Duterte as their President. But it didn’t. Although there was a dip in trust ratings among those who finished college (76 percent to 74 percent), this rose among the lower classes (based on their educational attainment) that were the hardest hit by rising prices. Continue reading

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Sara tells it like it is: 6 party-list groups are communist fronts

DAVAO City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is proving to be her father’s daughter. Furious at the protest rally staged by the Red front Kilusang Mayo Uno that created a major traffic jam in her city, and earlier for the black propaganda they conducted against her, Sara declared:

“Do not support the party-list groups under the Makabayan bloc — Bayan Muna, Alliance of Con-cerned Teachers or ACT, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan, and Migrante.

“These militant groups, who masquerade as pro-people, only want to sow hostility and chaos, espe-cially to those who reject them and the terrorist groups they support — the New People’s Army (NPA), the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and the Communist Party of the Phil-ippines (CPP),” she said in a press statement.

Exactly. Continue reading

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Controversy over shabu shipment splits Duterte machinery vs illegal drugs

IN August. it was touted as a momentous victory in President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs— the interception by a combined team of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) of 355 kilograms of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) hidden inside the hollow chambers of two magnetic scrap lifters at the Manila International Container Port.

With an estimated street value of P3.4 billion, it was supposed to be one of the largest drug confiscations in our history, and a very significant one as shabu accounts for over 95 percent of illegal drugs used in the country.

However, just a few days later, the PDEA raided a warehouse in Cavite where they found four exactly similar magnetic lifters.  Using its especially trained sniffer dogs, the PDEA concluded that it had contained shabu, which had already been removed.

Extrapolating from the amount of shabu found in the two lifters earlier intercepted, the PDEA estimated that the four cylinders contained 1,600 kg of   the illegal drug, worth a huge P6.8 billion in the streets.

PDEA chief Aaron Aquino claimed the shabu had already found its way to the market, which explains why its street prices had suddenly dropped from P6,000-P8,000 per gram to only P1,600-P2,000.

In his testimony at the Senate investigation headed by Sen. Richard Gordon, Aquino claimed: “The shipment intercepted was a decoy, part of the modus operandi of narco-syndicates, to make us focus attention on the supposed big catch, but actually distracting us from the bigger shipment. Both shipments, one with two lifters and the other with four lifters, were by one and the same narco-syndicate.”

However, the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Customs both claimed that the PDEA was wrong. They reported that they took cotton swabs on the magnetic lifters at the Cavite warehouse. The results showed no traces of shabu. Continue reading

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