Cayetano eying to succeed Duterte in 2022

 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano sporting a new haircut.

Perhaps one may find this absurd that I am talking already about a presidential run in 2022 this early on.

But if one has been monitoring closely political personalities and events surrounding their association with President Rodrigo Duterte, before and after his election in 2016, the one that would stand out most is Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.

Cayetano’s ambition and political astuteness was proven when he positioned himself as vice presidential candidate in 2016 election.

It is still vivid in the minds of the people that he went to Davao City and declared his candidacy there hoping and praying that he could have Duterte as his presidential tandem.

“When I announced my candidacy in Davao, I took a step of faith. I told myself that a good partner is really worth waiting for,” Cayetano said then.

At the time many were already clamoring for Duterte to run for president but he remained unsure, if not coy, about the offer.

But Cayetano never lost hope as he continued convincing the people that Duterte’s kind of leadership is what the country needed in creating genuine change in the lives of Filipino families.

What gave Cayetano the impetus to continue campaigning for the Duterte-Cayetano ticket is the fact that while Duterte repeatedly said that he would not run as president he also intimated that if he does change his mind and decides to run for President, that he would pick Cayetano to be his running mate.

At the time Duterte was already impressed with Cayetano’s “good grasp of practical solutions” for the country’s problems on poverty, poor infrastructure, and lack of inclusive economic growth.

Thus, who can forget the time when, even us Duterte was still uncommitted, Cayetano had already prepared posters of their tandem which he himself was seen nailing on roadway posts for people to see.

But that was the past and here we are faced with more recent events, and the reason why am saying that Cayetano is eying to succeed Duterte in 2022.

It was reported that during the January 18th launching of the Overseas Filipino Bank, Duterte addressed Cayetano as “Mr. President”.

“Of course our Foreign Secretary is here. ‘Mr. President, can you stand up? Show them your new haircut.’” Duterte said in his introduction of Cayetano.

Duterte praised Cayetano not only for his performance, but also for being the most qualified, I suppose for the presidency in 2022.

If this is not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.

Still better than endorsing Sen. Manny Pacquiao, who Duterte said was also going to be the next president during the former’s birthday some time ago, God forbids.

 

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Useless diplomatic protest against China

 

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

I am talking of course about Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s statement that the defense department will file a diplomatic protest against China if it can be established that there is indeed militarization over the Fiery Cross Reef (Kagitingan Reef) in the South China Sea (SCS).

Lorenzana should not have acted so naïve even if the Chinese government had promised other claimant nations not to militarize their man-made islands.

Note that the Kagitingan Reef is also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Lorenzana, by virtue of his position, should be the first one to know that when China took over the reef and made it into a huge island, that it was not for the purpose of making it a tourist destination.

Like any other Chinese-fortified reclaimed islands in the SCS, the Kagitingan Reef has been transformed into a Chinese military base, which features a 3,125-meter runway for H-6K strategic bombers and equip with a hospital and military facilities, including early warning radars and close-proximity weapons systems. According to reports, over 200 Chinese soldiers are stationed on the artificial island.

Instead of showing total obeisance to China it would have been apt if Lorenzana just been forthright in saying that the protest was a matter of formality it being a threat to peace and security.

What makes the threat real is because the Kagitingan Reef is one of the islands subject to the arbitral tribunal decision that it is within the Philippine economic zone.

But what makes the diplomatic protest useless just the same is China’s disrespect and disregard for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and more so for the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), that area of coastal water and seabed within a certain distance of a country’s coastline, to which the country claims exclusive rights for fishing, drilling, and other economic activities.

The fact that China ‘walk the talk’, after claiming that practically the whole of SCS is theirs and built fortified bases out of the protruding reefs, and not even the greatest nation on Earth, the USA, could do anything about it, makes the diplomatic protest not only useless but absurd as well.

 

President Duterte sustains high ratings

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

People averse to President Rodrigo Duterte as a person and as the country’s leader may be wondering why they can’t put him down.

By people I mean political foes and the elite who to this day can’t believe that a poor and unassuming mayor far from the imperial city of Manila is lording over them.

The more these politicians and privileged class of people silently wish a controversial issue against the president will arise the more they get depressed because his approval and trust ratings continue to be high – issues like Duterte’s bloody war against drugs, extra-judicial killings, human rights violation, revolutionary government, federalism and lately the no election floating balloon.

These people must have been aghast, nay infuriated, reading that Duterte’s approval and trust ratings could go as high as 80 and 82 percent, respectively, as shown in the latest Pulse Asia survey for December 2017.

It looks like nothing can go wrong for as long as the Filipino people continue to manifest their unwavering support for Duterte’s programs and plans for the future.

What does this really mean? Why the continuing steadfast support from the people?

What most politicians, especially the trapos (traditional politicians), and the ritzy should know is that Duterte’s presidency is no longer a presidency of political patronage, but a presidency that exercises political will that is good for the country and for the people in general.

It is a presidency that says what it means and mean what it says for the benefit of the greater number of Filipinos.

It is a presidency that strongly endeavors to fulfill promises pledged during the campaign period and we have seen it and continue seeing it in Duterte’s promise to fight drugs, corruption and criminality.

Suffice to say that Duterte’s sustained high ratings stem from the fact that he has walk the talk and continue to follow through his campaign promises, to change the lives of many Filipinos, especially the poor.

The Filipino people recognize and acknowledge what Duterte is doing, even in charting the future of this country, and for that they are humbly grateful.

Thus, no one should wonder why Duterte is able to sustain his high ratings.

East China Sea territorial dispute

 

Senkaku/Diaoyu islands

What do East China Sea and South China Sea have in common?

Obviously, other than the fact that they are both seas, they also bear distinctly the name China, a giant nation now becoming a superpower next only to the USA.

I have written about East China Sea (ECS) before which you can read at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/east-china-sea/, and the reason why I am writing about it again is because I want these questions to be answered:

  • Will there be a repeat of South China Sea (SCS) in ECS?
  • Unlike the Philippines and its neighboring nations, will Japan allow China to occupy and/or construct islands in the ECS?

The whole world now knows what China has done in the SCS. It not only claimed practically the whole of the SCS, but it is now made up of militarized man-made islands – a conglomerate of garrisons if you want to call it that.

What is even worse is that some of this fortified islands are located at the Philippine’s ‘backyard’.

The reason why China acted with impunity in our part of the world is because China does not respect the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also known as the Law of the Sea Treaty, the international agreement that defined the limits of the territorial seas of nations and the areas in which they could exploit marine resources.

But what made China pursue its evil scheme is that America, despite knowing what  was going on in the SCS, did not give a hoot and was just interested in making sure that the rules for the use of the high seas for international navigation are to be respected.

So if the greatest military in the world was not able to restrain China from militarizing the SCS, at the expense of the poor nations in the region, what power has the Philippines to stop China from developing islands in our own territorial waters?

Thus, the questions are being asked above. What I am just trying to point out here is that China’s aggressive presence in the SCS will never result to an ugly conflict because any which way one looks at it the Philippines can never win against China.

But the same cannot be said of China and Japan in the ECS because the latter has the military power to fight China and therefore cannot just be bullied like it has done to the Philippines.

It will be remembered that both China and Japan lay claim to a set of islands in the East China Sea that cover around 81,000 square miles. Called Senkaku in Tokyo and Diaoyu in Beijing, the area is near major shipping routes and rich in energy reserves.

In 2012, Tokyo’s decision to purchase three of the five disputed islands from their private owner triggered violent anti-Japanese protests in China, forcing Japanese firms to shut down businesses on the mainland. The following year, Tokyo lodged a protest following Beijing’s declaration of a formal Air Defense Identification Zone over parts of the East China Sea.

According to Ryan Hass, a David M. Rubenstein Fellow at Brooking’s foreign policy program,  “the frequency of close encounters between Chinese and Japanese ships and aircraft in the East China Sea is intensifying” and will likely continue as both countries look to improve their respective air and maritime capabilities in the zone.

The SCS territorial dispute may have caught the attention of the whole world, but the ECS, described to be a lesser-known hotbed of tensions, might be more likely to trigger an international conflict.

 

Canada garbage lingers on Philippine ports

 

This is one absurd story that every sensible Filipino should feel insulted and angry about.

If this insulting event happened once, or even twice, and acted upon immediately by the government agency and its people concerned, perhaps we should not be making a big fuss out of it.

But, for crying out loud, a problem like containers of garbage/trash coming from Canada being shipped to the country many times over, from 2013 to 2015, and continues to linger in the ports because nothing has been done by authorities about it truly is at its highest level of incompetence and deserves to be investigated and castigated.

It sure is very alleviating that Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III has asked for a Senate inquiry into Canada’s garbage that was said to be illegally dumped in the Philippines. A total of 50 container vans arrive in 6 batches at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) from June to August 2013.

Needless to say that it has been more than 4 years since the first batch of Canadian shipping containers full to the brim with garbage arrived in the Philippines, yet the problem remains unsolved.

The vans, declared to contain recyclable plastic scrap materials, were shipped by Chronic Plastics Incorporated (CPI), an export company based in Ontario, Canada.

For better appreciation of this incredible and outrageous issue you can go to this link: https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/iq/188654-timeline-canada-garbage-philippines.

Overall, a total of 103 container vans of garbage/trash got into the country until 2015.

Pimentel cited the Philippine Constitution and Republic Act 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990 in filing Senate Resolution 553.

“Thus, considering the monumental consequences, it behooves us in the Senate to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, to determine whether there are sufficient laws restricting the indiscriminate entry and dumping of solid wastes and other harmful trash into our country,” he said.

Definitely, it’s better late than never acting at all. One can’t stop wondering how toxic the cargoes have become all these years.

Just wondering also if former President Benigno Aquino had a hand in allowing this issue to be swept under the rug as this apathetic events happened during his watch.

Gordon’s senate swagger

 

Senator Richard Gordon

I am talking of course about Sen. Richard Gordon, the chair of the blue ribbon committee investigating the controversial Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine, and the gripe aired by his peers relative to his performance when he tried to monopolize the hearing proceedings.

But what else is new about Gordon’s swagger especially as head of a committee?

Gordon loves to talk and in so doing he dominates the proceedings, insensibly oblivious that other senators in attendance would like to participate in asking questions or having their opinion heard.

I use the word swagger because whether strutting or sitting what Gordon does is he wants the attention centered at him and almost always he does it typically in a manner considered excessive or inappropriate.

Gordon has even the tendency to bully resource speakers, cutting them off unceremoniously while explaining, as if he alone knows what is going on and assumes to know better than most, and letting them proceed afterwards.

A limelight hog like Gordon does not bode well for the senate, especially if little respect is shown to some resource speakers who are good, honest and decent people in their own right. Being a senator does not make one any better or superior except that one is in an exalted position. A little discretion is always commendable.

If Gordon’s peers felt the thoughtlessness and indifference of not being given the floor, the more that the viewing public noticed and felt Gordon’s insensitivity and disregard of the senate as a collaborating body.

 

The Mindanao martial law brouhaha – Part II

 

Senators Drilon, Pangilinan, Hontiveros and Aquino.

I need to have a sequel of the subject as it continues to boggle my mind why the idea of extending martial law for another year in Mindanao bothers some senators, the likes of Franklin Drilon, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, and Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV.

Though I did not mention their names as critics when I wrote Part I, for the simple reason that nothing much was said yet, I find it necessary to name them in Part II as I find their argument against the extension shallow, if not melodramatic.

Practically all of them were justifying their objection based on the legalistic side of the issue, like there must be and actual rebellion and not just a mere threat to overthrow the government, before effecting a longer extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Above all there was this collective fear that because the CPP-NPA has been declared by President Duterte as terrorist group, that martial law could expand beyond Mindanao and swamp over the whole country since the rebels are all over.

“If we were to believe that the government is intent on ending the war against the NPA, which operates not only in Mindanao but all over the country, then it is entirely possible that their operations would have to be extended beyond Mindanao to meet that objective,” Drilon said.

What I find equally exaggerated is the statement coming from a group of human rights lawyers, saying, that “extending martial law in Mindanao for another year seems to be part of a grand design or intent to eventually place the entire country under virtual military rule and completely transform the nation into a police state.”

In the same manner that, in the first part, I called baloney the CHR and the political critics of President Duterte who said that the one year extension asked is a prelude to a “strongman rule”, I am also calling the same the opinion of the human rights lawyers.

What I am just saying here is that after what we saw happened to Marawi City, do we still have to doubt the motives behind the Islamic extremists causing havoc in the country and trying to occupy a territory to be called their own, especially if foreign funds are being funneled for them?

Can we not just be realistic and pragmatic, like the approach taken by the Duterte administration, that what happened in Marawi could happen again because killing leaders does not necessarily mean that the hard-core organization they are espousing will cease operating.

Why should they be allowed to grow roots and influence others to join them and become larger and formidable before going against them?

The spirit of martial law is to fight lawlessness before wide conflagration of terror could exist and because President Duterte, a no-nonsense leader, knows what he wants for the country, I don’t think the rule of martial law will be abused either by the military or the police, the way it was abused during the regime of the dictator Marcos.