Trump’s brutal immigration policy

President Donald Trump’s administration seems to have boasted that in a six-week period beginning April 19 it had separated almost 2000 children from their parents or caretakers accused of crossing unlawfully into the United States.

The separations are part of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy for illegal border crossing.

Now, if this is not a brutal immigration policy, I do not know what is.

I am not saying here that the issue of illegal immigrants to the U.S. has started only during Trump’s administration. It has been there all these times, but the solution that has become Trump’s unilateral decision is so heartless that every time images/videos of children being separated, or cries/audios being heard of children calling their father or mother, it becomes automatically a symbol of the American president’s vile and cold blooded treatment of immigrants.

For how else would you describe a person and a leader of the greatest nation on earth if he allows kids to be dehumanized and considered criminals?

America has always been known to be the bulwark of freedom, of democracy, of equality and justice especially to those seeking asylum due to political instability and violence in their country of origin.

But not anymore. Not in Trump’s America.

Does one has still to wonder why Trump covets the prominence of Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping?

Mind you, Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy has come under fire from politicians, immigration advocates and human rights groups.

Even wives of former U.S. presidents, like Laura Bush, described the policy as cruel and immoral and that it beaks her heart, explaining that protecting boundaries is one thing but forcefully separating children from their parents is another thing.

To top it all Trump’s wife, Melania, expressed also her concern, saying, she “hates to see children separated from their families”.

Hopefully this inhumane policy of her husband will spur her to put some sensibility into his head.

She should if she has not forgotten where she comes from.

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Ivanka’s non-Chinese proverb

Ivanka Trump

Just ahead of her father’s historic meeting with North Korean despot Kim Jong Un in Singapore, Ivanka Trump tweeted a saying that she labeled a “Chinese proverb”: “Those who say it can not be done, should not interrupt those doing it.”

Ivanka was of course referring to the skeptics, but more, perhaps, to the anti-Trump folks who did not want the pugnacious American president to succeed.

There was nothing wrong with the “Chinese proverb”, but only if it existed as, indeed, a Chinese proverb.

There could not have been an opportune time such as this historic event unfolding before the eyes of the whole world, after decades of distrust and animosities between the two countries, to put in their proper places the doubting Thomases of this world by chiding them, but, alas, it boomeranged on Ivanka.

How could it not when even China’s internet was abuzz and discombobulated wondering about the mysterious proverb or what and which proverb could even come close to it.

Thus, instead of being flattered by its reference, Chinese social media users pilloried Ivanka with unsavory comment like:

“She saw it in a fortune cookie at Panda Express.”

Some said it could have been, “Don’t give advice while watching others playing a chess game.”

Another suggestion was, “Don’t force others to do things you don’t want to do yourself.”

Still one commented, saying, “One proverb from Ivanka has exhausted the brain cells of all Chinese internet users.”

It is just very ironic that while the Trumps are known to belie as fake, news adversely attributed to them, this time they are caught faking even a proverb.

Sad!

Going to war against China is insane

I find it ridiculous, if not insane, the idea that the Philippines is prepared to go to war if military personnel are harmed by Chinese forces in the South China Sea (SCS).

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said the Philippines would always try to pursue talks to defuse tension, but war could not be ruled out as a last resort if its military was provoked or aggrieved.

Esperon was referring to President Duterte’s statement, saying, that if his troops are harmed that it has crossed his red line.

I agree with Esperon’s statement that ‘the Philippines would always try to pursue talks to diffuse tension’, but it should be made clear that a violation of a red line does not necessarily mean an act of war and should be reciprocated in the same manner.

Any which way, the best and rational approach is always to seek for a diplomatic solution.

I am saying this because President Duterte himself has, time and again, said that it is foolish or insane to go to war against China. The reason is very obvious.

The truth is, at this stage of China’s incursion and weaponization of the SCS, to include part of the West Philippine Sea (WPS), China has got us by the balls, or by the throat, if you may, that any adverse movement/action against them will only create a calamitous reaction from them. Suffice to say that we are now at their mercy.

I don’t think, however, that China will do anything displeasing or disagreeable to destabilize this forced ‘marriage of convenience’ between the two countries because doing so will only invite the concern and, perhaps, meddling of the US.

Definitely, this will be an unwelcome event for we don’t want to be caught in the middle of the confrontation between this two militarily powerful countries.

This is even a more insane proposition.

China’s bomber plane has landed

 

China’s H-6K bomber plane

But of course, and where else but in the South China Sea (SCS), where China is establishing military control over the disputed sea.

Surprised? Anxious?

Well, this should not surprise us for it was bound to happen sooner or later and there was nothing we can do really.

If the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia policy did not stop China’s militarization in disputed islands in the SCS, would you think that a third world country like us will have the audacity or the bluster, if you may, to stand up against this world power and derail the Chinese hegemony in the area of which the West Philippine Sea is part of?

Because the SCS may be the most strategically important waterway of the 21st century, many nations, including the Philippines, have urged Beijing to abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which sets maritime zones of control based on coastlines, but to no avail.

Nobody seems to have resisted China’s insistence in its “nine-dash line” claim that encircles as much as 90 percent of the contested waters. Beijing maintains it owns any land or features contained within the line based on what it calls China’s “historical territory since ancient times.”

Thus, China disaffirms UNCLOS and its function viewing it instead as an instrument of Western hegemony designed to undercut China’s expanding influence as a world power.

One wonders now if the Trump administration’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy”, where all nations are “free from coercion” and can pursue paths forward in a sovereign manner. will ably replace the Obama era of “rebalancing” toward Asia and make a difference. Open sea lines of communication and open airways are said to be a vital part of this thinking. Or has it come too late already, too?

So, should we be anxious or fearful of China’s brazen occupation in the SCS?

Of course we should!

The fact that China’s H-6K bomber has landed on Woody Island, Beijing’s largest military outpost in in the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, after already having deployed in the Spratlys J-11 fighters, HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles, YJ-62 anti-ship cruise missiles, and other military apparatus there, is indeed a reason for grieve apprehension.

Admiral Philip Davidson, incoming chief of the US Pacific Command, warned that China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in “all scenarios short of war with the United States.”

With American bases in the country, what this means is that we find ourselves now in a precarious situation caught between the devil and the deep blue sea and can be likened to iron files that is easily drawn to the magnet of war between these two military giants, if ever, God forbids.

 

 

US hands-off policy on South China Sea dispute

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim recently issued a statement, saying that America will defend the Philippines should a foreign force attack any of the country’s territories.

“Our commitment set in the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) is absolute that we will defend the Philippines,” said Kim during the Ambassador Series forum organized by Asia Society Philippines.

The US ambassador is referring to the treaty between the Philippines and US that was signed in 1951, which provides for the US to come to the assistance of the Philippines if its metropolitan territory or island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific area would be attacked.

Kim made the statement, however, with a caveat, which is that their hands-off policy on the Philippine-China territorial dispute is irrefutable.

What this means is that while the US is monitoring closely developments in the South China Sea amid the continuing militarization efforts by China on its man-made islands in the area, what concerns most the US is that the freedom of navigation in this part of the world goes must remain unhampered and undisturbed.

Not only that.

The US military has a long-standing position that its operations are carried out throughout the world, including in areas claimed by allies. This is what is described as free nautical movement.

“…What we do is freedom of navigation and overflight to the freedoms of assembly and expression online. These are the things that we will enforce and so we fly, sail, and operate wherever international law permits.”

This statement was issued by Brian Hook, a senior adviser to the US Secretary of State on Asia Policy.

Hook described China’s militarization of the South China Sea as “provocative” and reiterated US commitment to uphold international law.

“We very strongly believe that China’s rise cannot come at the expense of the values and rules-based order… When China’s behavior is out of step with these values and these rules, we will stand up and defend the rule of law,” he said.

It will be noted that the Philippines has raised its claims on the South China Sea to the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration and was favored by the international court in 2016. China, however, has refused to recognize the ruling.

Be that as it may, the US policy on free nautical movement is consolation enough that somehow claimant nations in the territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea that are allies of the US are protected.

Cambridge Analytica a non-factor in electing Duterte president

Long before Cambridge Analytica, a British political data firm, got embroiled in controversy of scandalous proportion when it was alleged to have secretly and inappropriately made a Facebook data breach and harvested personal contents from some 87 million users, including, it said, over a million in the Philippines, to influence the country’s 2016 presidential election result, the way it is said to have catapulted America’s Donald Trump to the presidency, the majority of the Filipino people by then had already decided that, for a change, they will no longer be voting for a traditional politician.

It was no surprise therefore that when then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte finally declared his candidacy for president, the Filipinos went crazy rooting for him. Their prayers were answered. They now had an out-of-the-box candidate, a no-nonsense one at that, whose track record in governance is something most politicians should be envious about, but whose heart really beats for the Filipino people and whose dream is to make the whole country a livable place, in the same manner Duterte made Davao City a comfortable place for the Davaoeños.

Senator Antonio Trillanes and President Rodrigo Duterte

The reason why I am saying that Cambridge Analytica has nothing to do at all with Duterte being elected president stems from the fact that opposition senator and known Duterte basher, Antonio Trillanes, has been reported to be filing a resolution calling for a Senate probe into the role of Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 presidential elections, the same way the British firm is being accused now of capturing Facebook users’ data to corrupt the minds of the Americans into making the controversy-laden Donald Trump their president during the 2016 US presidential election.

The reality is that it was the intense hunger of Filipinos for a fearless and selfless down-to-earth Filipino leader with political will that made Duterte an overwhelming choice for the presidency.

The majority of poor voters who gave Duterte a margin of 6 million votes over his closest rival are proof enough that Cambridge Analytica was a non-factor, for they were not relishing in having a Facebook account.

Thus, I find Trillanes’ move for a Senate probe a mere grandstanding and purely nothing but a witch-hunt.

For not finding anymore culpability to spew barbs at Duterte, the way the latter continues to get support, trust and high approval ratings in his performance as president, Trillanes somehow thought he has found a bomb to be used against Duterte in the Cambridge Analytica controversy.

Soon Trillanes will come to realize that the bomb is a dud after all!

Debris from ceiling fell after denying existence of hell

 

His Holiness Pope Francis

With the world concerned with fake news these days I do not know what to believe anymore.

Take for instance the recent news about Pope Francis being quoted proclaiming that “there is no hell”.

This negation of the existence of hell by no less than the pope himself reportedly came from an interview by known atheist Eugenio Scalfari, 93, an Italian journalist who is the founder of Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper, which carried the news item.

According to Scalfari’s article published three days before Easter, he asked the Pope where “bad souls” go and where they are punished and the following was allegedly the pope’s sensational reply:

“Souls are not punished,” the Pope was quoted as saying in the Repubblica piece. “Those who repent obtain God’s forgiveness and go among the ranks of those who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot be forgiven disappear. There is no hell – there is the disappearance of sinful souls.”

The Vatican, however, issued a statement after the comments spread like wildfire on social media, saying, the pope never granted the interview and the story was “the result of (the reporter’s) reconstruction,” not a “faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”

Scalfari is known for not using tape recorders or taking notes during interviews.

But what makes this news intriguing is another sensational occurrence relative to it that has been reported, saying, that the Vatican has had to seal off part of St. Peter’s Basilica after chunks of plaster fell from the ceiling just hours after Pope Francis alleged to have proclaimed that ‘Hell’ does not exist.

The report said that bits of the ceiling rained down over worshippers near Michelangelo’s famed Pieta statue to the right of the main entrance, although no one was injured.

This is even harder to believe – I mean the matter of coincidence.

Although the Catholic Church doctrine affirms the existence of hell, one can’t really help sometimes asking ourselves if, indeed, there is truth about the existence of hell.

This is especially true in my case because when I was in my early teens I happened to know an old, religious lady, who, upon knowing that I speak Spanish, made it a point to converse with me in the Castilian language, a language she has been longing to speak, I presumed.

Anyway, among the many subjects we talked about in the many months that I knew her, we touched on the topic of heaven and hell.

I will never forget and will always treasure her wise interpretation of heaven and hell. She told me that if one lives a happy, fulfilling life on earth, that one is in heaven already, but if one lives a problematic, miserable life on earth, then you are in hell.

Life is how you make it.

Being endowed with free will, man has only to contend with this simple understanding.