THE worst fake news, because it clothes itself in half-truths, is that which maliciously does not report information or newer data essential to establishing the facts. This is exactly the case in the British Economist magazine’s April 15 “Daily Chart” section, the least trusted of this magazine’s sections since it often simplifies things to fit into its charts.
The Economist article claimed: “Phase-three trials yielded an efficacy rate (for the Chinese vaccine Sinovac) of just 50.7 percent.” The article’s title made it a tabloid piece: “In clinical and real world trials, China’s Sinovac underperforms.” The clear message: Sinovac doesn’t work, avoid it.
Unfortunately, it is Sinovac that has been, and will likely be, the most widely available vaccine in this country, as the US and other Western nations have hoarded and cornered the supply of the vaccines produced in their soils. As such this Economist fake news is so despicable.
THE gall of former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario to even open his mouth on the Whitsun Reef brouhaha and to admonish the Duterte administration to do this or that in dealing with China.
In an article prominently posted yesterday in the Philippine Star, owned by the Indonesian-controlled First Pacific where del Rosario got most of his income for two decades, he wrote: “On Panatag/Scarborough, an agreement in settling an impasse in 2012 was brokered by the US. It involved the withdrawal of all ships on both sides by a certain time. We withdrew while China deceitfully breached our agreement.”
That is a gargantuan lie. Not even the US claims that. Only del Rosario, nobody else – not even his fellow Sinophobe Antonio Carpio or even President Aquino 3rd – dares repeat that lie that has been incontrovertibly proven as such. Del Rosario in fact will go down in Philippine history as the person to have dropped the ball so that this Republic lost its first ever territory. For that alone, del Rosario should have the decency to shut up on our territorial disputes with China.
A MONTH after the hysterics, sadly participated in by our own defense and foreign affairs secretaries, the so-called “intrusion” by 200 Chinese “maritime militia in our territory” is turning out to be a hoax.
It is a hoax, since no iota of evidence has been presented that the vessels were China’s maritime militia. They were Chinese fishing fleets, huge ones, yes, because these are deep-sea fishing vessels. They massed at the Julian Felipe Reef not because they were in a military formation but because that is what fishing fleets do to brace against storms, in this case against a fierce northeast monsoon last month. It gives the vessels more stability when they are tied up together, ensuring that a lone vessel does not float away helpless in a storm.
Even the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), an anti-China think tank set up by US propagandists and intelligence in 2013, couldn’t really provide evidence that the vessels were Chinese maritime militia ships.
Yet its article on Whitsun Reef is a classic of disinformation. It titled the article “Caught on camera: Two dozen militia boats at Whitsun Reef identified.” What that headline really means is that out of the 200 vessels at Whitsun Reef which the Philippine defense secretary claimed were Chinese maritime militia, it has identified the registered names for 23 of the vessels.
IT is so hypocritical for senators like Panfilo Lacson, Risa Hontiveros and Franklin Drilon to be flag-waving hysterically over the Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef incident and condemning the Duterte government for, as the former put it, “resorting to acquiescence bordering on implied derogation of our sovereignty.”
If they just bother to study the territorial disputes in the South China Sea – and I would gladly send them the internet links to my two dozen columns on this – they would realize the following two realities.
First, the occupation of features in the Spratly archipelago by three countries and Taiwan is a fait accompli. These are:
AND I unabashedly thank President Duterte and China, and his government for the efficient distribution of the vaccines. If Duterte hadn’t reversed the witless Benigno Aquino 3rd’s hostile stance against China – and if he had capitulated to the Yellow-led irrational anti-Chinese mob pretending to be nationalists — I probably wouldn’t get any vaccine and would be vulnerable to the most communicable and deadly virus in our lifetime.
The 525,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine obtained through the Covax Facility*, would have been prioritized to medical personnel and other frontliners, as well as for seniors in the metropolis, which is much worst hit by Covid-19, compared to the semi-rural town I live in, where total cases have been low. China has shipped 2.5 million doses of its Sinovac to the Philippines, and commits to provide 22.5 million more this year, expanding the pool of vaccines the government can distribute.
In the meanwhile, the US and Europe, countries that usually raise a storm over human rights abuses here and elsewhere in Asia, have hoarded the vaccines, taking advantage of the fact that their manufacturers are in their territories. “Die!” they might as well have told the rest of world. To be sure, not a single dose leaks to locals, US and European embassies aren’t even providing vaccines to their citizens abroad.
President Biden’s state and defense secretaries as well as his national security agencies have been calling their counterparts here, not to give the smallest assurance that they will help us get US-made vaccines, but to goad them to fight the Chinese.
It is shameless for sinophobes here to denigrate the Chinese benefaction. “The vaccines are in exchange for giving up Julian Felipe reef,” top Sinophobe Antonio Carpio very stupidly says. And what reefs did Indonesia and Brazil, which got 20 million Sinovac vaccines, surrender to China, can he tell us?
ARMED Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana in a phone call disputed the headline of my column last Monday that said he “lied on new illegal structures” at Union Banks, where Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef is.
He said the headline left him seriously distressed: if he were in the Philippine Military Academy and if it was proven he lied even on a minor matter, he would be immediately dismissed.
What he said, he claimed, was that a Philippine Air Force patrol had “documented manmade structures that were built on some of the features” but didn’t say these were new or when they were built. These structures are illegal, Sobejana said.
I won’t waste my time explaining why most media, including myself, were prodded to report his discovery as new illegal structures. Suffice it to say that even the US-based high-tech firm Simularity Corp. — ironically, the firm whose photos first disclosed the presence of 200 fishing vessels at Julian Felipe — spent thousands of dollars securing satellite photos from two different agencies to verify or confirm whether there were indeed new structures.
Simularity of course didn’t find any: the Vietnamese and Chinese structures were built mostly in 2013, the colossal blowback to the Yellow regime’s filing of its arbitration suit against China. Beijing in effect told the Philippines: “You’re accusing us that our reefs should be vacated since they are mere uninhabitable rocks? Fine, we’ll transform them into islands.”
AS reported by the Manila Bulletin, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. tweeted on Sunday: “What cements the reefs and waters as ours is the arbitral award won by PNoy, Del Rosario et al. They had no allies; no support from other countries least of all Southeast Asia which tried to sabotage the arbitral award when they saw it coming. We owe it to PNoy et al only.”
This is so patently, incontrovertibly, inarguably wrong. It is shocking coming from the mouth of Duterte’s foreign affairs secretary.
He says we owe the arbitration award to his idol “PNoy.” But since Duterte has all but thrown the award to the dustbin – “shelved” it, as he euphemistically puts it – isn’t Locsin in effect saying we should condemn this president for doing so? That is exactly the thrust of the Yellows’ campaign to stop his chosen successor from winning the 2022 elections. Duterte’s foreign affairs secretary is spreading the Yellow lies about our territorial disputes in the Spratlys.
If Locsin doesn’t agree with Duterte’s foreign policy, he should have the integrity to resign as foreign affairs secretary. He forgets that he doesn’t make foreign policy; he only implements that of the President.
OR perhaps Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana was just fed the wrong information or just ignorant of the Spratly Islands dispute, when he claimed last April 1 that the Chinese had built new illegal structures at Union Banks (Pagkakaisa Banks to us).
This is the reef complex where the Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef) is, that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana claimed on March 21, 2021, the “Chinese militia vessels” had been massing.
Lorenzana’s claim was ignored by other claimant states, even by Vietnam which has four installations built on reefs in the area: it is common knowledge that Chinese fishing fleets normally mass to seek refuge from storms in that area because its boomerang shape provides an ideal shield from tidal and storm surges.
Sobejana, in a statement on April 1 through the government’s Philippine News Agency, announced: “During a patrol March 30, we were able to document man-made structures that were built on some of the features. These structures are illegal.” Sobejana didn’t disclose whether it was a Navy vessel or an Air Force reconnaissance plane that undertook the patrol.
THE reckless bleating of our defense and foreign affairs secretaries over alleged Chinese maritime militias in a reef we lost control of decades ago risks a scenario in which China may well decide to cancel the donation of its anti-coronavirus vaccines.
Fortunately, we have a president more intelligent and calmer than these two. Duterte issued a statement the other day that in effect reminded everyone that we are getting vaccines from China. These vaccines have have become in extremely short supply because the US and the rich nations have hoarded or cornered it. His statement was a message to China that he will make sure his officials don’t do anything further to risk a Chinese move to stop the supply.
I sure hope so. After a year of suffering these lockdowns, and with several friends taken down by the coronavirus, I want my vaccine now as of this hour, especially since I am in that high-risk category. What right do these officials have to risk, even by a long shot, my not being able to get it? Rich sinophobes like Albert del Rosario and Antonio Carpio, I bet, will be able to get or have already gotten their vaccines. I am waiting in a long, long line.
US PRESIDENT Joe Biden couldn’t have picked more anti-China officials than US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. The two were at the head of former President Obama’s so-called “Pivot to Asia,” a thinly disguised program to contain the rise of China as a superpower.
Blinken last January even told media that China posed the “most significant challenge to the US and any other country in Asia.” Biden himself has said in several speeches that assembling a united front against China would be a top priority for his administration. It was the new administration’s “re-pivot” to Asia.
Trump, however, had that pivot twisting in the wind; after all he wasn’t really interested in geopolitics. Duterte gained power in 2016, and dropped his predecessor and the Yellows’ servile stance towards the US, and undertook a rapprochement with China that has yielded concrete benefits to the country
Blinken and Sullivan had hardly warmed their seats in late January, and after five years of calm in the South China Sea, a situation has quite suddenly emerged that portrays China as violating Philippine “territory” by having “200 of its maritime militia vessels” intrude into “our’ Julian Felipe Reef. It got the Philippines’ defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, and mainstream media – except this newspaper – nearly deliriously livid against the superpower.