Bold move, ‘insanity’ or stock market play?

THE Energy department’s go-signal for the resumption of exploration for oil and gas in the disputed part of the South China Sea off Palawan is either a bold move, an “insane” one or a cheap stock market play. You decide; here are the facts.

First, it could be a bold, urgent move since the Malampaya Gas Field, also near Palawan, which has been providing one-fifth of our energy needs since 2002, will be drying up starting 2024. We need to replace that.

The most promising area where commercial-scale gas deposits — in fact about twice that of Malampaya’s — is in the Reed Bank. The Arroyo and Aquino governments in 2009 and 2010 awarded a “service contract” (No. 72) for the exploration and development of hydrocarbons to PXP Energy Corp., a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., mainly owned by the Indonesian magnate Anthoni Salim. 

Where and what. By author using Google Pro
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US has become a failed state, irrelevant now to the Philippines

THIS year is historic for us not just because of the unprecedented devastation to the world economy and humankind brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. This year is historic to us in a more specific, or unique, way: Since our liberation in 1946, the United States of America — big brother to our elites — has become irrelevant to us.

This year is the start of our total liberation from the American eagle. This is partly due to President Rodrigo Duterte’s audacious pivot towards an independent foreign policy that drew us closer to America’s rivals, China and Russia.

This is also partly due to the demise of the Yellow Cult, whose founders Benigno Aquino Jr. and his late widow Corazon Aquino after all owed much to US sponsorship, providing the former with his Harvard refuge and the latter with the might of US diplomacy and propaganda apparatus to grab power in 1986. 

But it is also partly due to the fact that the US has unraveled, nearly imploding this year, with its institutions which our intellectuals and politicians had looked up to for decades proving to be so flawed.

Whether the pandemic overwhelms the US and triggers its fragmentation, whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden wins, and even, I dare say, its economy collapses or not, would not be as relevant now as it was just 10 years ago. Japan, China, Asean, the Middle East and now even Russia will fill the vacuum and become our main economic partners. Only forever-US-fans like Albert del Rosario and Antonio Carpio insist that we need the US Navy to prevent the Chinese from invading us.

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Time for Cayetano and his 24 deputies to pack up

TWO numbers encapsulate how Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has debased the House of Representatives in order to keep his post and why about 184 congressmen refused to accept his resignation when he offered to do so in September in a sickening charade. These are 24 and P1.6 billion.

The Speaker in his signature pose: are those his deputies? PHOTO ABS-CBN

Without an ounce of shame, Cayetano had increased the number of deputy speakers to 24. Yes, 24 deputy speakers. A deputy speaker title is not just an honorific. And they’re not just taking on additional work for love of country. A deputy speakership generates, by one estimate, an additional P5 million monthly in the form of allowances, honoraria, and “research” and “representation” expenses.

We just don’t know how much really and the integrity of this pillar of democracy is such that how it uses its P14-billion budget (for 2020) is secret, and even the Commission on Audit does not disclose its audit of Congress. Not a single congressman I contacted bothered to reply to me when I texted them to find out how much in funds the deputy speakers get from occupying that post. So much for transparency and integrity.

Cayetano appointed deputy speakers and 50 more vice chairmen of for each committee — the Appropriations committee, for instance, now has 37 vice chairmen from 21 during Pantaleon Alvarez’s speakership. Giving congressmen millions of pesos in additional funds has been Cayetano’s signature way of ensuring the loyalty of the House to him.

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Defining the Yellow mind

NOT a few times, there have been comments on my columns castigating me for referring to the “the Yellows” or “Dilawans,” saying that this is an unfair labeling of those who don’t agree with my views.

To be honest, I think the term is fitting to this political group, “Yellow” being a synonym for cowardice (“yellow-bellied”), duplicity (“yellow unions”), or the worst kind of media (“Yellow tabloids”). Even its translation “Dilawan” rolls in the tongue as a term for the hateful as much as “kawatan.”

However, I use the term with some precision, as shorthand for a set of beliefs now held by, well, going by the recent Pulse Asia survey, 3 percent of Filipinos. (That is, the percent that mistrusts President Duterte, the nemesis of the Yellows, with 5 percent disapproving of his performance.)

Cory enthralled by Sison, who isn’t really Red. PHOTO FROM INTERNET COMMONS
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Duterte makes history

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has made history. PulseAsia reported on Monday that based on its September poll, Duterte had a performance rating of 91 percent, up 4 points from its December 2019 poll. That level of popular support is unprecedented. Nobody expected that.

That is the highest approval, performance, or satisfaction rating ever given to a Philippine president — or to a leader of any country in the world — since such polls were started. The highest rating that President Corazon Aquino got was in October 1986, when 82 percent of Filipinos supported her. Her support rapidly fell, however, so that by April 1992, only 58 percent did.

By contrast, Duterte’s support has been steadily rising — from 78 percent in March 2017 to 88 percent in June 2018, to 87 percent in December 2019 and 91 percent last month.

Any statistician will tell you that with the survey’s 3 percentage points plus-or-minus margin of error, that 91 percent approval virtually points to an outstanding phenomenon — that practically the entire nation supports this president. Nobody is listening to the likes of Philippine Daily Inquirer columnists, that online news site, US and Western media, the Yellows and the Reds. Duterte has in fact united the country under his leadership.

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Revealed: The crux of our SCS dispute — natural gas

THE flag-waving by the Yellows, the likes of United States toady Albert del Rosario and Vietnamese-linked Antonio Carpio, claiming that they are noble patriots upholding Philippine sovereignty against a sionist China in the South China Sea (SCS), is total hogwash.

Wittingly or unwittingly, they have been actually serving the US agenda since US President Barack Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” policy started in 2009: Isolate its rival, the emerging superpower China from its Southeast Asian neighbors.

Complying with the US national interest though has been and will be at a huge cost to our national interest. Because of the past Yellow regime’s hostile stance against China, and the grand deception over the arbitration suit’s award, we are being impeded from extracting a huge source of hydrocarbon — natural gas mainly — in the SCS, more precisely at the Reed Bank* in the Spratlys, the Kalayaan Island Group to us.

It has become an urgent necessity for the country to tap that source of gas: the Malampaya-Camago Gas Field which since 2002 has provided 20 percent of our power requirements, will be running dry by 2024. The energy department has no “Plan B” for this eventuality, except to build ports to facilitate the entry of imported gas. President Rodrigo Duterte seems to be aware of the huge loss Malampaya will be and has floated the idea of commissioning the Bataan Nuclear Plant.

The Malampaya gas field, which we need to replace urgently. PHOTO: SHELL PHILIPPINES
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Martires is defending Leonen over his failure to file SALNs

WHAT’s happening to our judicial system and to those whose sacred duty it is to implement it?

The top enforcer of our anti-corruption laws, the ombudsman, Samuel Martires, is defending Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen, who has been shown, based on government documents, to have violated one of the key pillars of our anti-graft laws, the one requiring all government officials and employees to submit yearly their statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

I had disclosed in my column of Sept. 7, 2020 that Leonen has for 15 years failed to file his SALN, from the time he joined the University of the Philippines (UP) faculty from 1989 to 2003 and for the years 2008 to 2009. 

He is a worse offender of the SALN law than dismissed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was ousted from her post in May 2018 for failing to file such reports for six years. The court ruled that this showed her lack of integrity and nonadherence to the Constitution, and therefore she had “no authority” to occupy the post.

SC justice and the ombudsman
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Trump feared, or respected, our BIR more than IRS

AMONG the revelations of the recent New York Times (NYT) exposé on the tax records of United States President Donald Trump is that in 2017 (and 2016 as well) he paid the US federal government a measly $750 in income taxes.

That’s loose change compared to the $156,824 he paid the Philippines in taxes that year for his income from licensing fees for the Trump Tower at Century City. What does that tell us?

For me, it’s quite obvious that Trump feared, or respected, our Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) more than he did the US’ supposedly super-strict, beyond-corruption Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Contrary to what the Yellows have been saying, we have a tighter rule of law than the US.

Yet US and Western media cannot help twisting this revelation in order to put down President Rodrigo Duterte, revealing their deep bias against him and our country.

The NYT article described Trump’s licensing income as coming from “deals in countries with authoritarian-leaders or thorny geopolitics – for example $3 million from the Philippines, $2.3 million from India and $1 million form Turkey.”

This is patently false: the $3-million brand-licensing deal with the Trump Tower Manila was inked in 2012 during Benigno Aquino 3rd’s administration although the actual payment and taxes was made in 2017 during Duterte’s watch.

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Duterte terribly wrong — or just diabolically clever — in his arbitration statements at UN

PERHAPS it was a classic instance of following an aphorism in Sun Tzu’s Art of War: “The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent.”

But on the face of it, President Rodrigo Duterte’s statements before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 22 regarding the South China Sea arbitration award was so terribly wrong.

“The award is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon,” Duterte pontificated. 

But this is very wrong. An arbitration is an arbitration of two parties’ agreement to let a third party settle its dispute. An ad hoc panel of five judges — all European except a Ghanaian, who is, however, a permanent resident of Europe — handled the arbitration that wasn’t an arbitration, as China refused to join it.

The panel itself called its rulings an “award” and not a decision. How can an “award,” which the panel itself emphasized can be binding only on the two parties, become “part of international law”?

Do we want President Rodrigo Duterte to enforce arbitration award, which ruled that our islands are mere rocks with no 200-mile exclusive economic zone, just a small 12-mile territorial zone?
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Ressa pushed with blatant lies EP resolution to punish PH

IT was Rappler CEO Maria Ressa who fed patent lies to European Parliament member Hannah Neumann and fooled her into getting the body to issue the September EP resolution asking the Philippine government to withdraw all the charges against her or else it would impose trade sanctions against the country.

I haven’t seen such grotesque selfishness as that of Ressa’s: she is willing to have Filipinos — 200,000 workers by one labor federation’s estimate — suffer if trade sanctions are imposed, just to escape her conviction for libel by a Philippine court of law, presided over by a judge of the highest integrity and competence.

Ressa sought out the EP member Neumann right after the Manila Regional Trial Court found her guilty of cyberlibel last June 15, one of her desperate attempts to campaign for international pressure to drop the charges against her — rather than convincing the court to find her innocent.

Parliamentarian Neuman explains the resolution to punish the Philippines at the European Parliament (SCREENGRAB FROM EU PARLIAMENT MEDIA VIDEO, WHICH PROVIDED THE SUBTITLES).
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