Hello world!

doy1

I shall be writing topics as it comes to mind. It could be topics, past or present, but relative to the times. I shall also be reacting to articles published, whether domestic or foreign, and voicing my opinion. My views shall always be objective.

Every now and then I shall also be sharing with you videos, photos, sayings and graphics of people, animals, places, etc., that I find interesting, which I hope you will appreciate.

Also, there are times when I will be posting articles about facts – why it happened that way or what could have been if something else happened.

I welcome you to my blog site and I look forward to inter-acting with you. Your participation, your thoughts and commentaries, either for or against, will be very much appreciated. We may have differences in opinion but that is the essence of being rational, to be able to agree to disagree. It is my aim that as we go along we enlighten not only ourselves but also those that finds the opportunity/chance to visit this site. Let us enrich each other in knowledge and build each other up in friendship. Thank you. Jesus Sievert a.k.a  Quierosaber

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¡Hola mundo!

Escribiré temas como estos vienen a la mente. Esto podría ser temas, pasadas o presentes, pero con relación a los tiempos. También reaccionaré a artículos publicados, doméstico o extranjero, y expresaré mi opinión. Mis vistas siempre serán objetivo.

De vez en cuando también compartiré con ustedes vídeos, fotos, refranes y gráficos de la gente, animales, lugares, etc., que encuentro interesante y espero que lo aprecian.

También, hay tiempos cuando fijaré artículos sobre hechos – por qué pasó así o lo que podría haber sido si algo más pasara.

Bienvenidos a mi sitio de blog y espero colaborar con Vd. en el futuro.

Su participación, sus pensamientos y comentarios, para o contra, serán muy apreciados. Podemos tener diferencias en la opinión pero eso es la esencia de ser racional, ser capaz de consentir en discrepar. Esto es mi objetivo que como continuamos, aclaramos no sólo nosotros mismos sino también aquellos  que encuentran  la oportunidad/posibilidad de visitar este sitio. Déjenos enriquecer el uno al otro en el conocimiento y en la amistad. Gracias. Jesus Sievert alias Quierosaber

Political revival or bust

Vice President Leni Robredo

While President Rodrigo Duterte may be serious and sincere in offering Vice President Leni Robredo the co-chairmanship of the Inter-agency Council on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), together with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino, one can only wonder what is really behind this abrupt political gambit.

Whether it is accepting the stark reality that Duterte could not deliver what he promised the Filipino people about the eradication of the drug menace a few months after assuming the presidency, and not even after six years of his presidency in 2022, or making Robredo, a fierce critic in Duterte’s deadly crackdown against drugs, look foolish herself knowing that the drug problem in the country is insurmountable without killings, we really would not know what Duterte’s motive is in offering Robredo the title of drug czar.

But whatever Duterte’s hidden agenda is about the offer, I see it as a political miscalculation on his part and a catalyst on the dwindling political persuasion of Robredo, thus, debunking the fear of her supporters and allies that the offer could be a political ploy to destroy her. Needless to say that Robredo sees this offer to co-chair the ICAD committee that includes the police and the military tasked with overseeing and coordinating the government’s efforts to combat illegal drugs as a vehicle for her political revival.

There is no doubt that Robredo will try to be different and pursue ardently the idea that the fight against illegal drugs is not about killing but rather the saving of lives.

“We should also look at it not just using the lens of crimes or criminal justice but also using the lens of health and the fact that addiction is a medical and a sociological problem,” Robredo opined.

I don’t think anybody will disagree with her opinion, but she is in a better position now to assess the drug situation in the country, whether or not what is needed is more of medical and sociological attention or much more of the same police operation.

It is a welcome gesture that Robredo expressed her willingness in joining PDEA operatives in anti-drug operations if only to gain firsthand knowledge of what goes on, how critical the situation is and why it so important that one goes inside the lair ready to kill rather than be killed by drug pushers or users who value their prohibited trade more than their lives.

From this reality Robredo would be able to outline the steps/procedure to be followed depending on the situation and if she finds each doable and successful without any loss of life, then the nation owes her gratitude big time!

Robredo’s success must be a big blow to Duterte’s macho ego not only because she is a woman, but more so because she did not exhibit braggadocio in pursuing her anti-drug campaign.

Definitely Robredo’s positive achievement will boost her political revival and would even strongly pave the way for her presidential ambition which I am sure she covets.

On the other hand if she fails, Duterte can claim back his popularity and can only say to Robredo, ‘I told you so’, and be assured of a Duterte ally winning the presidency in 2022.

 

 

Lives matter

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo is seen to having always the penchant to be funny or to be very casual or carefree during media briefings.

There is nothing wrong with it really as it makes the event more spontaneous, livelier, and in many ways informative.

But certainly not all press briefings are lighthearted and jovial. It can also be serious and consequential that should be treated by any Malacañang mouthpiece with utmost concern and trepidation because of its circumstances..

I am referring particularly to the recent regrettable incident where a Chinese vessel that introduced itself as a “naval warship” harassed a Filipino-crewed crude oil tanker in Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) on September 30.

As a backgrounder the Scarborough Shoal was the site of a 2012 standoff between the Philippines and China. The standoff erupted when Manila sent its biggest warship to chase off Chinese poachers.

The US brokered a deal for the Philippines and China to withdraw their respective ships from the resource-rich fishing ground, “but China refused to follow” even though the Philippines pulled out its Navy flagship, BRP Gregorio del Pilar. In the process China aggressively and haughtily placed Scarborough Shoal, located only 124 nautical miles off Zambales and is within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, under its control to this day.

So this is the situation when ship captain Manolo Ebora and his crew of 21 fellow Filipinos   onboard the Liberia-flagged, Greek-owned crude oil tanker Green Aura were passing 6 nautical miles from Scarborough, or Panatag, Shoal off Zambales at around 7:30 pm on September 30 when their radar detected the presence of several Chinese vessels in the vicinity, many of them registered as belonging to China Coast Guard (CCG).

That the Green Aura was accosted/harassed by the CCG arrogantly feigning as a “naval warship” is to me par for the course considering that the presence Chinese military vessels in the area is palpable and irrefutable.

Although Ebora showed bravado at first by imposing his competence and knowledge of the area and of the law of the sea, pointing out that they had the right to innocent passage, thus, resisting to change course when ordered by the CCG which claimed that the area “is under the jurisdiction of Chinese government, at the end he relented and veered away when he noticed that one of the nearby vessels, China Coast Guard 3302, started moving towards the Green Aura’s path in what he perceived as an attempt to block their path.

While why and how the CCG reacted towards the Filipino-crewed crude oil tanker is a foregone conclusion, what is dismaying and disturbing, however, is Panelo’s point of view that the regrettable incident at the Panatag or Scarborough Shoal is not a concern of the Philippine government since the Filipino-crewed ship was a foreign-flagged one.

What a porous bone of contention if I have ever heard of one! I mean whatever and whoever passes in our territorial waters, disputed or not, is government’s concern. It is not just about the vessel, but more than that it is the people manning the vessel. Lives matter and because they are Filipinos the more it should matter to government.

What failure?

 

Vice President Leni Robredo

This is partly a reaction to Fr. Ramon Echica’s article, Failure, published on October 28, 2019, and my own take on Vice President Leni Robredo’s remark that the administration’s ongoing war on drugs is a failure.

Not only did Echica agreed to Robredo’s statement, but in no uncertain terms also subscribed to her suggestion that President Rodrigo Duterte should allow the United Nations (UN) to investigate his war on drugs as it is affecting the country’s international image.

For both Echica and Robredo, Duterte’s violent rhetoric was aiding a culture of police impunity for which international help should be sought if the government refused to change tack – a euphemism for less killing and respecting human rights instead.

Is it abetting really and what would be the UN’s solution to our country’s drug problem?

I still have to hear a foolproof anti-drug campaign model courtesy of the UN that is applicable to every country plagued by drug problem and proclaimed as successful. Practically every country in the world has this scourge and each has its unique way of combating it and until Duterte assumed the presidency he did not know that the overall drug business was that ghastly and woeful considering that it has inflicted deeply and widely the growing population of the country.

It is for this reason that Duterte’s war on drugs has become the centerpiece program of his administration, ensuring that we will not become a nation of drug addicts. Thus, it must be remembered that while on one hand the administration has been relentless in stopping drugs, on the other hand, government has also been preparing rehabilitation programs and facilities for those needing it.

It is therefore lamentable that Echica not only contradicted the observation by the Dangerous Drug Board (DDB) that Robredo was “misled” about Duterte’s bloody war against drugs, but in the process also took swipes at Duterte for his ineptness in resolving the drug problem he promised to fix very much earlier in his presidency and those whom he called the ‘Diehard Duterte Supporters (DDS)’.

I am sure it is not a sin to have the DDS on Echica’s crosshairs, but it sure leaves a bad taste in the mouth when one criticizes the president and his supporters without proffering an iota of suggestion, nay, idea on what is heavenly best to defeat the drug menace in our society or at least minimize its proliferation in the country.

The way Duterte is conducting his war on drugs may be far from being the best, but it could have been worst if the country was led by someone who lacked the dogged determination and the political will to go relentless no matter the consequences.

Duterte is not admitting failure but rather expressing his despondency and regret that the administration he succeeded of which Robredo was very much a part of did not give a hoot about the ominous trend the drug problem was shaping up in the country.

What failure then is Robredo, Echica and their ilk is talking about when only recently the DDB cited the Philippines’ successes in the global community, after it was selected as chair of the Treatment and Rehabilitation Cluster of the ASEAN Senior Officials on Drug Matters? What is even more pleasing is that the DDB Executive Director got elected as Chair of the Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies for Asia and the Pacific (HONLEA) during its 43rd Session in Bangkok, Thailand. HONLEA is a subsidiary body of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime which aims to enhance cooperation in drug law enforcement activities at the Asia and the Pacific Region.

Is this not a recognition of success rather than a failure?

WPS needs Carpio

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio may be retiring on October 25, but it does not mean to say that he is giving up his advocacy on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue.

Carpio himself issued the following statement, saying, “I would soon be retiring from government service, but I will continue defending the WPS”. He said this recently in a speech at the joint membership meeting of the Makati Business Club (MBC), Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Judicial Reform Initiative (JRI) and Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX).

Thus, it is with deep appreciation and gratitude that Carpio made this remark because it is not only pleasing and reassuring to many Filipinos who are expressing apprehensions about what is happening in the WPS over China’s incursion, militarization of man-made islands and control of the area, but because he is being listened to abroad by many equally concerned of China’s almost sweeping claim of the whole of South China Sea (SCS) of which the WPS is part of.

Carpio will always be remembered not only as a principled person in his 18 years in the Supreme Court, but as one of the most vocal defenders of the country’s position on the WPS – as member of the high tribunal and part of the legal team that won for the country an international arbitral ruling invalidating China’s incredible claim over almost the entire South China Sea.

Former foreign affairs chief Albert del Rosario described him as the “staunchest defender of our maritime rights and entitlements over the WPS. Nobody could refute this.

But, one wonders, however, why President Duterte would not take Carpio’s side, but rather maintain civility with China’s leaders?

Well, while Duterte acknowledges and recognizes the achievement of the legal team that contested China’s nine-dash line before the Permanent Court of Arbitration ( PCA) in The Hague, the fact, however, remains that China has dug in and militarized the WPS even as the PCA  was litigating the China-Philippine maritime dispute. It could even be fairly and justifiably said that China’s hegemony in this part of the world started long before Duterte assumed the presidency.

Suffice to say that Duterte is left with no other option but to act statesmanlike for the good of the country and its people instead of harboring ill-feelings that will only adversely affect ones relationship with a military and economic giant of a country whose boots are already well entrenched in our backyard.

Like us, the rest of the world, including the U.S., has to admit that there is no outside force nor there is an international entity that could peacefully drive away Asia’s military and economic powerhouse from its strategic position where it claim it’s theirs historically.

Be that as it may, the WPS needs Carpio and his plan of continuing not only his advocacy but also of gathering like-minded friends and organize a “think tank” that will promote the country’s position on the WPS. It is profoundly inspiring and uplifting if only to keep reminding China anent the international tribunal’s ruling that the nine-dash demarcation could not be used to make historic claims to the SCS, parts of which are claimed by six governments.

 

‘Abominable’ insult

‘Abominable’ is a recent animated film for children jointly produced by Shanghai-based Pearl Studio and Comcast-owned Dream Works Animation.  It is about a Chinese girl who discovers a yeti, an imaginary creature, living on top of her house.

The creature is comparable to the Abominable Snowman, a folkloric ape-like creature taller and bigger than an average human, that is said to inhabit the Himalayan mountains. Thus, in the movie, the story revolves around the perilous journey embarked by the Chinese girl and her two friends to return the young Yeti home to the top of Mt. Everest so it could be reunited with his family. While climbing the mountain was in itself a hazardous feat, what made it even more precarious and frightening is the evil intention of a wealthy character that is vent on capturing the magical creature.

‘Abominable’ is a heartwarming, entertaining and educational animated adventure that underlines the importance of teamwork, honor, defending and protecting your friends, and recognizing the value of life, and the film offers also a positive representation of Chinese characters and culture.

Unfortunately, the movie has also its downside that is causing controversy among nations impacted by China’s “nine-dash line” claim of the South China Sea (SCS). It is a claim that encircles as much as 90 per cent of the ­contested waters. The line runs as far as 2,000km from the Chinese mainland to within a few hundred kilometers of the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam. Beijing asserts it owns any land or features contained within the line, which confers vaguely defined “historical maritime rights”.

It is bad enough that China has ignored and disregarded the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration declaring invalid most of Beijing’s SCS claims that is seen as trampling on other nations’ rights and have caused considerable damage to the environment, but what is even worse is that China has arrogantly used its nine-dash line claim when it depicted a SCS map in the movie. What an insult to an already unpleasant situation the country is being subjected to!

Having said that it does not respect the ruling of the tribunal nor any other ruling by any legal entity that is adverse to the interest of China, the deliberate inclusion of the SCS map in the movie was its way of arrogantly legitimizing its claims over vast expanses of the resource-rich SCS, now considered to be one of the most volatile maritime areas in the world.

It is in this context that Vietnam revoked the license and pulled ‘Abominable’ from their cinemas because even as China has shown its superiority and bluster in the SCS, Vietnam continues to resolutely claim sovereignty over the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands. In fact in 2014, the deployment of a Chinese drilling rig in waters near the Paracel Islands led to several confrontations between Vietnamese and Chinese ships and provoked protests in Vietnam.

Thus, following Vietnam’s example, it is only right and just that the Philippines should also do the same or at least cut the U-shaped line appearing on a map of the SCS in a scene in the film.

Not showing the map in the film is sending a strong message to China of our indignation over what I call an ‘Abominable’ insult and for the Asian hegemon to start respecting the sensibilities of countries impacted by its incursion in the SCS.

Presidential plane

I don’t know why some quarters in our society are making a big fuss about government’s plan to buy a presidential plane.

If one has to look at it objectively, the acquisition of one is long overdue. Perhaps government could have started planning seriously its purchase right after the death of the well-loved president, dubbed as the “champion of the masses”, Ramon Magsaysay, who died riding a Douglas C-47, a plane initially used to haul cargo, transport troops, drop paratroops, tow gliders, and as a flying ambulance, that continued in service long after the end of WWII. It crashed at Mt. Manunggal in Cebu on March 17, 1957.

While it is true that the Philippine Airlines has been tasked to provide a presidential aircraft to ferry the President for his state visits, it’s all together a different story when it comes to the personal travels of the president at home.

Even if one is president, it is simply inappropriate for him to commander a country’s airline at his whim and for whatever reason. Delicadeza or the sense of propriety will always refrain you from doing it and more so for a president like former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who does not want to flaunt his power, much less abuse it.

Since 1980, the official presidential aircraft has been a Fokker F-28 with the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing of the Philippine Air Force given the responsibility to provide safe, secure and effective air transportation to the President of the Republic of the Philippines, his / her family, visiting Heads of state, and other the local and foreign VIPs.

The Fokker plane has been seldom used by the executive branch such that during the first few months of Duterte’s term in 2016, he ordered the presidential plane converted into an air ambulance.

Thus, it is about time that one has to come to terms, that having a presidential plane is a necessity not only for the president and his entourage’s safety and security, but more so for easier and faster mobility especially during emergencies.

If wealthy owners of corporations have their own aircraft to fly them around the country for them to attend expeditiously to their business exigencies, the more reason that the country has to have a presidential plane at the president’s immediate disposal for a productive visit and effective governance especially considering that the country is an archipelago.

The government’s purchase of a P2-billion Gulfstream G280 jet is just what the president needs. It is definitely a smaller plane that does not need a long runway. It is a 10-seater plane that when carrying the defense secretary and senior military leaders, it could be used for command and control functions.

The G280 is the kind of plane that is built for emergencies, thus, the plane is constantly ready to get moving – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is what the president needs instead of chartering or borrowing planes, or worse taking commercial flight that would not only inconvenience himself but the rest of the passengers because of security reasons.

That government will be spending millions of dollars for the comfort of officials, while ordinary Filipinos endure the daily horrors of the transport crisis is simply a flawed statement that lacks the respect and appreciation of the office of the president.

MRF inside a subdivision

Republic Act (RA) 9003, also known as Solid Waste Management Act, has made recycling as among the programs being pushed and encouraged by this law to reduce the volume of waste for disposal while providing people livelihood.

Under RA 9003, solid waste management is defined as “the discipline associated with the control of generation, storage, collection, transfer and transport, processing, and disposal of solid wastes in a manner that is in accord with the best principles of public health, economics, engineering, conservation, aesthetics, and other environmental considerations, and that is also responsive to public attitudes.”

For this purpose, the law requires that Material Recovery Facility (MRF) or solid waste recovery facility “shall be established in a barangay-owned or -leased land or any suitable open space to be determined by the barangay through its Sanggunian.”

The main function of the MRF, therefore, is to maximize the quantity of recyclables processed, while producing materials that will generate the highest possible revenues in the market under a continued healthful environment.

What is important to remember, however, is that one could not just put up an MRF on any land. It has to follow some location criteria such as being close to existing road, not near schools, hospitals, park and residential areas, and not on sloping and flood prone areas.

Such being the case, why then is Greenhills Subdivision in Casuntingan, Mandaue City allowed to operate its own MRF when it is in blatant violation of all the location criteria mentioned and more?

It is bad enough that the subdivision’s MRF is located a stone-throw away from the nearest homeowner’s house or that it is on a flood prone area located near the edge of a slope going down the Butuanon River, but what is even worse is that the MRF itself has deprived the homeowners of a playground, an amenity that the developers provided for kids to have a safe place for playing growing up.

And we are not even talking yet about the obnoxious smell that the MRF generates and blown wherever the wind is blowing!

What is also adding to the homeowners woes about the existence of the MRF inside the subdivision is the fear that the leachate generated may contaminate the groundwater which we all know is the source of water for aquifers, springs, and wells.

Greenhills subdivision is endowed with a steady supply of good water from its deepwell which the homeowners have been dependent upon for well over 35 years now.

I know this because I live in Greenhills and all I want is for the proper authorities to look into the matter.