Callamard’s unexpected visit and interference

 

UN’s Agnes Callamard

I am saying that U.N. Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard’s visit to the Philippines was unexpected because her presence was only reported when she was spotted at the 30th anniversary celebration of the Commission on Human Rights on May 4.

In fact she refused to grant interviews to the media and the reason could only be that she didn’t want to make a big fuss of her visit because supposedly it was under wraps. But her familiar looks gave her away and she was divulged.

The reason why her unexpected visit got media attention is because the country was expecting that the next time she come it was to debate with President Rodrigo Duterte on extrajudicial killings and human rights violation brought about by the administration’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs which has been vigorously criticized by Callamard and her ilk.

As we all know, she rejected Duterte’s challenge and instead said she preferred a joint press conference with him, which actually does not prove anything.

Why can’t Callamard allow Duterte to throw questions at her and have her answers under oath if she really has the dossiers necessary to nail down the president?

But that is neither here nor there for Callamard was in the country, according to her, in an unofficial capacity, solely to attend a two-day academic conference at the invitation of the University of the Philippines and human rights lawyers.

It did not stop her, however, from chiding Duterte’s deadly campaign against illegal drugs, saying world leaders have recognized that such an approach does not work. It is just like saying that because high-ranking government officials have declared war against illegal drugs that there is now legitimacy in their actions.

Callamard told a forum she attended that badly thought out policies not only fail to address drug abuse and trafficking, they also compound the problems and “can foster a regime of impunity infecting the whole justice sector and reaching into whole societies, invigorating the rule of violence rather than law.”

I have written so many times in defense of Duterte’s war against illegal drugs, bloody/deadly as it may seem to be, but again I ask this question: who is complaining?

With the information and communications technology in almost everybody’s finger tips now, we are no longer a far-flung corner of the world. We are no longer ignorant about events, good and bad, happening all over the world.

There are more atrocities committed by strongmen abroad where even their own state are being destroyed and their citizens fleeing and dying that is exceedingly worthy of the UN’s attention, action and strong condemnation.

Here in the Philippines we are just waking up to a new president that seems to be succeeding where others failed miserably in uplifting the lives of Filipinos while steering the nation to calm waters.

There may be killings along the way but if that is what it takes to reach the aspirations of the many poor Filipinos, then who is the UN to stop us?

We never had it this good and we can only hope it continues without the interference of UN’s Callamard.

 

 

Duterte’s non-censure of China on SCS dispute hit

 

Long before the Philippines was designated as host for the ASEAN Summit 2017, those instrumental in filing and winning the case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague over the country’s maritime territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea (SCS) were hoping that this could be the right opportunity and venue by which the ASEAN bloc, through its chairman, President Rodrigo Duterte, could express condemnation over China’s aggressive build-up of artificial islands and militarization of the same, which are now viewed as a threat to the peace and security of the region.

What gave these people the confidence that this will be realized is the fact that many of the member-nations are, like the Philippines, contesting China’s claim of its own territorial waters.

Unfortunately, the ruling of the PCA came after Duterte got elected president and as we all know he never considered this favorable arbitral tribunal’s ruling a victory of sort for the country as he continued making deals with China.

In fact one would think that Duterte should have kept distance from China after illegally claiming and occupying parts of our sovereignty, but he instead honored the invitation of China’s president to visit him.

But do we really have to blame Duterte if, as chairman of the 30th ASEAN Summit, he failed to censure China over what it has done with impunity in the SCS?

Throughout the summit Duterte said the Philippines and other nations were helpless to stop the island building, so there was no point discussing it at all.

Duterte was just being practical and realistic for, indeed, the issue in the SCS among claimant nations versus China is no longer about resolving China’s permanent military presence in the area, but rather in trying to manage and make the best out of their presence in the region.

What we and the other ASEAN member-nations are facing now is a developing geopolitical situation which has been arrogantly imposed on us.

This is the price of being an underdeveloped country. Against China we are nothing. If the U.S. was not able to stop China’s military build-up in the SCS, who are we to stop them?

But as people, we just have to make sure that our pride and dignity will not go to the dogs.

We will see how Duterte could protect us and where his independent foreign policy will get us to.

We can’t do nothing but cross our fingers.

The universe and us

There is really nothing much of interest that I haven’t written happening in this country and if there are some that I missed or left out it is simply because it is not worth writing – lacking in significance as it is or hackneyed as they call it and corny and stale. Besides who would want to write about love affairs of politicians? So people will get titillated? C’mon!

But what I am sharing with you here is definitely interesting, as it is educational, and mind boggling as well.

The title and the video you are about to see is enough to make you ponder the significance (or insignificance) of our existence.

The scale of the universe is almost beyond our imagination.

The universe keeps expanding (at 42.5 miles per second per megapersec), and we constantly form new hypotheses about how it was created and what will happen next. Our farthest space probe from Earth, the Voyager 1, is traveling a million miles a day, and after nearly 40 years, has barely left our solar system.

It was only late last month that scientists peered 50 million light-years away to find an extremely rare globular cluster, with far more mass than the Sun, that could birth stars and help explain how galaxies form. There are so many secrets waiting to be unlocked out there in the vastness of space.

Here are some shocking comparisons about the size and scope of the universe that help put it in perspective. Beware: this video will shock you! (Source: http://www.revealthings.com)

Benham Rise issue – Part III

 

I have no choice but to designate this article as Part III since I have already written about Benham Rise twice some years back which you can read at this links:

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/philippines-pin-hopes-on-benham-rise/

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/thank-god-for-benham-rise-part-ii/

Never had I anticipated writing about it again until I heard the recent alarming and disturbing news that a Chinese survey ship was spotted at the Benham Rise location.

“We are concerned about the presence of a Chinese ship in Benham Rise, which has been recognized by the United Nations as part of the Philippines,” said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella in a statement on Friday, March 10.

“The Department of National Defense has already notified the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding this matter as we continue to assert our sovereignty over our territory,” he added.

Of course we should, forcefully and explicitly!

The Benham Rise area definitely does not have any stupid Chinese historical claim of any sort like they had been asserting they have at the West Philippine Sea just because it is part of the larger body of water bearing the name South China Sea (SCS).

On the pretext that China was “looking for a place to put submarine”, as Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said was the info he got, the most likely reason would be that they have chosen the area for their oceanographic research because they just want to confirm if indeed the unimaginable wealth and extent in mineral resources and gas deposits found underneath Benham Rise truly exist.

I cannot blame President Rodrigo Duterte for pussyfooting with the Chinese in the West Philippine Sea issue, where even the country’s territorial integrity has been breached with China’s nine- dash line claim.

If the most powerful country and the acclaimed top ‘policeman’ in the world- the US, and the UN, through its agency the UNCLOS, were not able to stop China from expanding and militarizing the SCS, who are we to prevent China’s hegemony of the contested areas?

But what I am just saying here is that we had been hearing Duterte declaring time and again that he will die defending the country and the Filipino people from the enemies that will try to destroy them.

Well this is it!

There has not been and there will never be a greater challenge such as this one in Duterte’s presidency that needs more of his grit, determination and resolve to stand up for his country and people.

Duterte could not afford anymore to be complacent the way he has been pleased and gratified at the financial and technical help China has promised to give for many infrastructure projects for the country.

China may have bamboozled us in the SCS and there was nothing that we can do. In that part of the globe what is China’s is China’s and what is ours is still China’s.

Duterte and those that will follow him should be reminded that at Benham Rise what legally belongs to the Philippines is for the Filipinos and for the generations of Filipinos to come and not to China or any other exploitative country that intends to not only hold us by the balls, but stick it to us as well.

 

Trump’s America

trump1I will not be writing about Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States of America, as there are more writers, authors and pundits who can describe him better as a person and as the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth today.

All I can say is that on November 2016, Trump made the cover of the famous German Der Spiegel magazine, when he won the election, depicting him as a fiery Earth-bound asteroid that could very well “end the world (as we know it)”.

donald1

Always providing the world with absurd pronouncements/statements, nothing, however, has been more ridiculous, outrageous and discordant than Trump’s recent executive order implementing the travel ban to the USA of people coming from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

It is for this reason that, again, Der Spiegel had Trump on the cover of their magazine depicting him as a machete-wielding figure, mouth agape, holding the Statue of Liberty’s severed head aloft menacingly with the caption America first.

trump

No doubt the new cover speaks volume about what is happening in Trump’s America today with respect to immigrants and most especially to refugees. The latter’s resettlement has been halted for 120 days except those coming from Syria whose resettlement to the US has been stopped indefinitely, leaving tens of thousands of people in refugee camps.

For better understanding and appreciation of who Trump is and how the world views him, let me invite you to click the following links:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/trump-inauguration-signals-new-world-order-a-1130916.html.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/317787-german-magazine-rips-trump-in-new-cover-art.

 

PH-China relations more important than sea row ruling by international tribunal

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

If anybody is still wondering why President Rodrigo Duterte was included among the 74 most powerful people in the world, one has only to read this piece and see how his decision to “set aside” an international ruling which concluded that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to the bulk of the South China Sea is impacting the world community.

It ruffled the feathers of some world leaders that the Duterte cozied up with China despite the favorable ruling the country got, but declaring now that he would not press Beijing to honor the ruling even if factual new satellite images released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington reveal weapons emplacements for the first time on their man-made islands, is tantamount to defying the powers that be.

What this simply means is that Duterte is, indeed, putting a premium on the PH-China relationship rather than upholding the tribunal decision that  China doesn’t have the right to resources within its “nine-dash line,” which extends hundreds of miles to the south and east of its island province of Hainan and covers some 90% of the disputed waters.

Besides, how could one really justify the implementation of the international tribunal’s ruling when, in the first place, China has not only boycotted the proceeding but also does not acknowledge the decision, and, second, that being the case, what else could the international community do when China has already reclaimed and have created harbors, runways and reinforced hangars big enough for military aircraft on the islands?

America should not blame Duterte if the latter’s statements and pronouncements run counter to their interest in the country and in the region.

Why did America allow China to build up islands in the South China Sea and turn it into military installations when they know what is going on in the world with all their imaging satellites in place?

What else could Duterte do really, if you think about it, but have a pact with the devil for as long as the country benefits from it?

Apparently, the one appearing to be the devil in Duterte’s eyes are the Americans, the way he is now imposing his independent foreign policy.

It looks like the leaders of the ASEAN are all recognizing and acknowledging Duterte’s out of the box leadership and this is what matters most to him because now he is considered as one of them who don’t feel comfortable being America’s lap dog.

Head transplant getting closer to reality

 

Valery Spiridonov

Valery Spiridonov

On April 10 2015 I blogged about Head Transplant Surgery which you could read at this link: (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/head-transplant-surgery/).

It looks like the time table the intrepid surgeon, Sergio Canavero, envisioned is going to materialize on time, which is in 2017.

If this is not going to the mother of all transplants, I do not know what is.

Valery Spiridonov, the Russian man with a genetic muscle-wasting disease will still be Canavero’s first patient.

One could immediately notice the difference between Spiridonov’s physique in his latest photo compared to the one I posted in 2015.  One could tell indeed that time is of the essence for this equally courageous volunteer who expects to see himself in another man’s body.

But before the unprecedented operation is to be done, Spiridonov will go through a virtual reality system, which Canavero described as “prepar(ing) the patient in the best possible way for a new world that he will be facing with his new body – a world in which he will be able to walk again”. This is in partnership with US firm Inventum Bioengineering Technologies which created the virtual reality world that it says will help train patients such as Spiridonov.

The knife to be used in the transplant.

The knife to be used in the transplant.

Canavero also displayed the knife that will be used for the head transplant – a custom-made blade that can control cuts to a micrometer (one millionth of a meter) to allow the precision required to cut the spinal cord.

He said that the knife, developed by an American professor, will allow a “clear cut of the spinal cord with a minimal impact on the nerves”.

Dr. Sergio Canavero

Dr. Sergio Canavero

Canavero is aware that many are still skeptical of his impending bizarre operation, calling it Frankenstein surgery, but he has only this to say: : “To all the critics I say go and see what happens when you’re affected by a wasting disorder…trade places with (Mr Spiridonov) and then you tell me.”

Am sure the whole world will be anxiously watching this milestone and we can only wish both Canavero and Spiridonov good luck and Godspeed!