Go solar!

THIS is probably the first summer, when my aircons are in full blast most of the day, that I don’t dread the coming of my Meralco bill. You see, I “went solar” a few months ago. I had installed solar panels on my rooftop, and I’m finding it such a delight to see my bill fall steeply.

It is partly my petty way of denying Meralco’s Indonesian owner some profits and partly because my Ateneo classmate, a super salesman, kept bugging me.

Seriously though, the decision was out of sheer rationality. We live in a country that has one of the longest days of sunlight hours per day in the world, about four to five, and we’re near the equator, which brings a huge solar harvest compared to other countries. We would be really stupid not to use that valuable resource when technology has given us the affordable tools to do so.

And to think that in Athens, Greece, where I was ambassador, because it is just two-thirds less sunnier than us, most homes had solar panels for water heating, their cost subsidized by the government. That was 13 years ago.

My investment
My investment
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Israel: America’s Frankenstein, yet valuable, monster

IF you’re not just aghast at Israel’s massacre of Palestinians, including 60 children, in Gaza City through hi-tech weapons but also puzzled at how the civilized world seems impotent to stop this horror, this is the short answer:

Israel has become the Frankenstein monster of the world’s most powerful nation, the United States. It built up the tiny nation economically and militarily starting in the 1960s, viewing it as its proxy and de facto military base in an unfriendly but oil-rich Middle East, which until the 1980s or so were as close to the Soviet Union as the US was.

It is quite shameful for the US, purportedly the beacon of human rights in the world and the champion of the international rule of law, to have blocked in the past days UN Security Council resolutions, calling for a ceasefire in the current Israel-Palestinian war. It is, in fact, the only country in the 15-nation Security Council that did so with even its usual puppets, the United Kingdom and France, refusing to join it in blocking the resolutions. That is unsurprising though: the US, so far, has vetoed 42 Security Council resolutions that Israel didn’t like.

The late Republican senator Jesse Helms had a vivid imagery for Israel, calling it “America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East.” This “aircraft carrier” has been the biggest recipient of US aid since World War 2, receiving $3 billion annually or totaling $146 billion, from 1967 to 2004. In contrast, the US’ “aircraft carrier” in Southeast Asia — the Philippines until 2016 — has been estimated to have received just $4 billion from the US in the same period.

The respected Washington-based left-of-center Institute for Policy Studies pointed out that Israel has been the US’ surrogate in its wars against radical nationalist movements in Lebanon, Jordan as well as Syria; provided battlefield testing for American arms in its frequent wars; served as conduit for US arms to regimes and movements too unpopular in the US to be granted direct military assistance, such as apartheid in South Africa, the military junta in Guatemala and the Nicaraguan Contras.

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Why the US fooled the ‘Bajo 3’ into losing PH territory

BY “Bajo Three” I mean the three very high-ranked Philippine officials who lost Bajo de Masinloc (also known as Scarborough or Panatag Shoal) because they naively believed in early June 2012 a US official’s lie, he got the Chinese to agree to a simultaneous withdrawal of Chinese and Filipino vessels from the shoal, to end a 10-week stand-off in the area. The three believed him and had our vessels vacate the shoal, leaving the Chinese in control of the shoal — forever as it were.

These three were:
– Our ambassador to the US, Jose Cuisia, who had been told by US assistant state secretary for Asia Kurt Campbell an agreement with the Chinese had been reached

– Then foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario, to whom Cuisia relayed the claim, after which del Rosario ordered, by one account, the Philippine vessels to vacate the area

– Then President Benigno Aquino 3rd to whom del Rosario relayed Cuisia’s claim and who, according to the foreign secretary, had the sole authority to order the vessels out

The US diplomat who fooled Cuisia, del Rosario and Aquino is now Biden’s ‘Asia czar.’ FROM ASIA.NIKKEI REPORT
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Cuisia: ‘US diplomat told me Chinese would leave Panatag’

WE have an ambassador like this?

Jose Cuisia, our ambassador to the US during the Aquino 3rd regime, said in a television interview the other day that the Chinese had agreed to leave Scarborough Shoal in June 2012 together with Philippine vessels.

How did he know that? Kurt Campbell, the US assistant secretary of state for Asia, had told him so.

Did he ask any Chinese official to confirm what the American official said? No.

This was our ambassador to the US, chairman or CEO of this and that American-affiliated companies even when he held that post? I hope he wasn’t sold the Lincoln Memorial while he was at D. C.

US diplomat Kurt Campbell, ‘Mr. Pivot,’ told Jose Cuisia (right) the Chinese would leave the shoal. He believed him and blamed China.
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Salim (aka MVP), Razon, Ongpin’s project behind Aquino’s discord with China

Part 1: Has Carpio been their lawyer?
CONCEALED by the flag-waving histrionics of Antonio Carpio and Albert del Rosario is a classic case of oligarchic rule.

What triggered the Aquino 3rd regime’s conflict with the Chinese that led to the unprecedented Philippine arbitration suit against China and which sustains the Sinophobic campaign in the country was the ambitious, rushed project of three tycoons and their companies to become energy giants in a few years.

The project was the extraction of natural gas from the Sampaguita Gas Field in the Reed (Recto) Bank in the Spratly (Kalayaan Islands). That Sampaguita field was estimated in 2005 to have as much as the gas deposits of the Malampaya well off Palawan, which has provided a fifth of the country’s energy requirements since 2002.

The tycoons who challenged China: (Clockwise) Salim and his CEO Pangilinan, Razon and Ongpin. PHOTOS FROM ANNUAL REPORTS

However, the Malampaya well — 90 percent owned by Shell Petroleum and Chevron with the Philippines having a 10 percent stake — is estimated to run out of gas starting 2024. The three magnates figured through Reed Bank, they would be among the region’s largest energy firms. Since it started in 2002, revenues of Shell and Chevron from Malampaya have been estimated to total $90 billion.

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Arbitration ‘award’: A P1-billion useless piece of paper

PRESIDENT Duterte was absolutely correct when he remarked the other night that the “award” (i.e., ruling) of the arbitration suit that the Aquino 3rd administration brought against China in 2013 was a useless “piece of paper.”

It is useless, since the “award,” after extensively discussing the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) provisions and the Philippine claims for 500 pages, does not order China to do anything. It even emphasized that its “award” was “without prejudice to any questions of sovereignty or maritime boundary delimitation.”

(I place the term “award” in quotation marks as it is used in the document of the arbitration panel, not in the ordinary sense of something substantial being given. The panel uses that term only since it can’t use “decision” or “ruling” as it is not a court of law. The “award” awards nothing. Read it and it turns out to be merely in the nature of an academic discussion.)

The “award” most definitely doesn’t declare, as our Twitter-mad foreign affairs secretary ignorantly claims, that the “West Philippine Sea” — which nomenclature the arbitration totally ignored — is ours.

It doesn’t order China to vacate the seven features in the South China Sea (SCS) that it has occupied since 1988. It doesn’t order it not to undertake patrols by its Coast Guard, “maritime militia, “and even by the People’s Liberation Army Navy in our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and in that part of the Spratlys that we claim, the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG).

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Twitter-mad Locsin a disgrace to the country

FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., whose claim to fame in his senior years is that he has tweeted more than Donald Trump, is a disgrace to our country, to our diplomatic corps and to President Duterte. The President must not allow such a scoundrel to remain in office a second longer.

His tweet against China is such a gaffe that if he has an ounce of integrity left, he should resign.

Can you imagine any official of any country in charge of its relations with the world insulting in such a vulgar manner another country: “How politely can I put it? Let me see… O…GET THE F**K OUT. You’re like an ugly oaf forcing your attention on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend; not to father a Chinese province …” And to use such expletives against China, the nation that in our pandemic crisis immediately provided us with 2.5 million vaccine doses, compared with that from the Covax vaccine alliance totaling only 500,000 doses?

Doesn’t he care at all that with our top diplomat being so vulgar that the rest of the world will think that Filipinos haven’t heard of “tact,” “civilized manners” and “diplomacy”? US President Theodore Roosevelt popularized that adage in diplomacy: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Locsin speaks too vulgarly yet carries not even a toothpick.

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Carpio and Sison are PH’s biggest liars

FORMER Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio will go down in our history as one of the biggest liars ever, over a public discourse affecting our national interest.

Only Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison overshadows Carpio as the country’s biggest fabricator in his lie Philippine democracy is entirely an exploiter’s tool and in his Manichean mindset US imperialism is the devil incarnate.

For Carpio, the devil is China.

Sison’s lies had traction because he exploited the emotions boiling out of people’s misery. Carpio is exploiting humankind’s ancient tribalism in its modern form of xenophobia. Both also stoke the infantile sense of victimhood; in Sison’s worldview, by the US as the opressor; in Carpio’s, by the slant-eyed “bully” in the region.

Yes, our exclusive economic zone (EEZ, green line), illustrated here without the delimitations with other EEZs and territorial seas of other nations, encompasses part of the Spratly. But China and Vietnam claim all of it as part of their sovereign territory.
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Should NCR Plus workers, rather than seniors, be vaccinated first?

Right now, it looks like we won’t be getting the vaccines we need to inoculate even 10 percent of our population or 10 million this year. We have to rationally determine, and decide very soon, how to allocate the vaccines that will be available.

The biggest chunk of vaccines will come from China, with which we have a firm order of 25 million, with 1 million given as donation to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The US and the West have hoarded as much of the vaccines as they can and will decide only later if they would be kind enough to allow poorer nations to get these life-saving dosages.

According to Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19, other vaccines to be delivered by June are 2 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V, 1.3 million of AstraZeneca (from the Covax Alliance) and 194,000 of Moderna. Rollout of Sputnik and Moderna will not be as fast as Sinovac as they require special below-zero degrees storage, which is not easy to install or may even be available.

We have to face the harsh reality of deciding how best to allocate the vaccines that would be available. At present, the vaccination priority are frontline health workers (A1), senior citizens (A2), persons with co-morbidities (A3), frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel (A4) and “indigent” population (A4), which, however, is vaguely defined.

Priority B are teachers and social workers, “other government” workers, “other essential workers,” those with a “significantly higher risk other than senior citizens and poor population, overseas Filipino workers, and finally “other remaining workforce.”

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