Critics chide Duterte for Chinese militarization in the South China Sea

 

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate

For the life of me I don’t know why political foes of President Rodrigo Duterte keep on blaming him for the militarization of the reclaimed islands in the South China Sea (SCS).

Perhaps this is the umpteenth time that I have also defended Duterte from this seemingly unreasonable disparagement from the opposing party.

Lately,  Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate condemned, yet again,  the alleged “inaction and deafening silence” of the Duterte’s administration, as new photographs bared continuous militarization in seven reefs claimed by the Philippines in the Spratly archipelago. He described it as a “see-no-evil; speak-no-evil; hear-no-evil” attitude and as a “this blatant violation of our sovereignty.”

In the same vein, an opposition party politician, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, said Duterte should not “stand idly by” as Beijing claims disputed islands and completes the militarization of territory.

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan

Pangilinan even sounded melodramatic when he made the following statements: “What makes a country? Aside from the recognition of its neighbors, a country is defined by its territory and the people in that territory, and its ability to defend its territory and people. Thus, it is the government’s sacred core duty to protect its territory on behalf of its people.”

“That’s why we are deeply troubled that instead of expressing outrage, Malacañang displayed a nonchalant attitude in playing down China’s militarization of the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.”

Again, I am asking both Zarate and Pangilinan, and the others who have the politician’s trend of thought, this: what can a third world country like ours do when a giant, militarily powerful and economically super-strong country like China, disregards the existence of 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, then claims practically the whole of the SCS on the pretext of historical basis and starts reclaiming coral reefs/atolls and other rock protrusion they see and then converting them into garrisons and airfields?

Like I said, the Chinese territory is now in our backyard already and while The Hague ruled in the Philippines’ favor in 2016, when we challenged China’s reclamation of the Spratly Islands in 2013, still China continued with impunity its controversial buildup in the area.

In all of these, was the U.S., the greatest nation on earth, able to deter China from militarizing the SCS? Where is the U.S. in all of these then, especially knowing the decision of the international tribunal at The Hague?

Nowhere, really, because the U.S. main concern is that the freedom of navigation in the area remains unhampered.

So if China was able to show its will, determination and muscle to develop the SCS despite the knowledge of the greatest military power on earth, who are we to stand up against China?

All I am saying here, therefore, is that, like Zarate and Pangilinan, and whoever else that wants to criticize Duterte for his “deafening silence” on the Chinese militarization of the SCS, they should vent their disappointment, nay their ire, at the U.S.

Making enemies of the Chinese who are occupying a mammoth airbase at our backyard with big guns pointing at us is simply a big folly.

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Robredo’s bleak picture of the country

Vice President Leni Robredo

I had high hopes when Leni Robredo won the vice presidency in 2016 against her closest rival, the dictator’s namesake, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Had even higher expectations when Robredo, despite her being an opposition, was given a Cabinet portfolio in the early part of the Duterte administration.

Was thinking that she would be an exemplary model of a non-traditional politician, following her late husband’s political approach, who could work with an unconventional politician like President Rodrigo Duterte.

Alas, Robredo valued to lead an opposition party, the Liberal Party (LP), and be among a group of traditional politicians – trapos – who had nothing to show and crow about during the preceding Aquino administration except to take care of their own personal and political interests.

What is becoming worse with Robredo is that she is falsely lamenting and maliciously depicting a bleak picture of the country when, during the 72nd anniversary of the LP, she exhorted her dwindling party mates “to remain true to what is right and not lose heart in the face of the “darkness” shrouding the nation.” She was being melodramatic in her black dress.

“Many ask us if there is still hope, where we are headed. Darkness envelops us. But we should not lose hope. Our party history is about fighting,” Robredo said.

I mean what darkness is she talking about and fighting for what?

At least Duterte is keeping true to his promise during the campaign that he will be fighting for the country and its people by going relentless against drugs, corruption and criminality, which were found later to be prevalent during Aquino’s LP administration but nothing forceful was done to curve the plagues.

Thus, I could not agree more with Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque’s statement that Robredo’s remarks were “completely out of touch with the existing realities on the ground.”

“The darkness that Vice President Robredo may be referring to perhaps pertains to the future of those discredited politicians who wish to return to power,” Roque added. It cannot be more nearer to the truth than this.

And it is precisely for this reason that Filipinos, in every poll survey now and then, have always given Duterte high marks in satisfaction, approval and trust ratings because they no longer want the deplorable ways of the traditional politicians that Robredo sadly has embraced, to make a comeback only to forsake the respect and meaningful changes we are gaining now as people and as a country.

 

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.

Government to continue fight against communist insurgents – Part II

 

President Rodrigo Duterte and Netherland-based CPP founder Joma Sison.

When I wrote the first part of this article I was anticipating a sequel to it if only to confirm my foreboding statement of a long, merciless war after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation 360 discontinuing peace talks with the self-exiled Maoist-led rebels in the Netherlands led by Communist Party founder Joma Sison.

True enough what followed next was Duterte calling Sison and his ilk criminals or terrorists.

“You are terrorists or criminals,” Duterte said. I will treat you and I will not charge you for rebellion because I am saying to you now, I will brand you as terrorists, plain criminal.”

On Sison, specifically, this is what he said: “If Joma Sison comes here, I will arrest him, or if I were him, ‘wag na siyang bumalik dito (he should not return anymore).”

“Better still, I will not allow him to enter his native land, and that is a very painful experience especially if you’re dying and you think that you should be buried in your own cemetery, in your own town,” he added.

Indeed a very strong warning signaling no turning back until Duterte’s term in office expires. And to think that Duterte was the best chance for a lasting peace with the communist insurgents.

But, an astute lawyer, a no-nonsense politician and a competent leader, Duterte was able to aptly read between the lines what the Netherland-based communist leaders wanted and how they were manipulating the peace talks to go.

“As it was shaping up during our talks, I already noticed the trend of the thoughts of the other side and when I summed it all, reading from all previous working papers, it would sound like a coalition government,” Duterte said.

“That is why I said in the previous days, I cannot give you what I don’t own and certainly a coalition with the Republic of the Philippines is pure nonsense,” he added.

This is how manipulative, devious and self-serving these people supposedly orchestrating the communist insurgency in the country from a foreign soil are, and thank goodness we have a president who puts the welfare of the country and the interests of the Filipino populace first and foremost over political and personal gratification.

Talking about wanting to have the best of both worlds for themselves alone!

Screw you!

 

Mocha Uson’s popularity exploited by political party

 

Mocha Uson

After House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez announced the inclusion of Margaux ‘Mocha’ Uson, former sexy dancer turned political blogger turned member of the Duterte administration, in Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban)’s 2019 senatorial line-up, my immediate reaction was – give me a break!

I mean this is a big leap upward in Uson’s career and popularity is not the best indicator that one has what it takes to be a senator.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not belittling Uson, but the past should be an important lesson for us Filipinos to learn as to how we should go forward in electing senators of the realm.

Do we really deserve the likes of movie stars, an aspiring comedian, former mutineers and a world champion pugilist to represent the Filipinos in the Senate just because they have become public figures and are being idolized by millions for their chosen gigs?

The saving grace for Uson, and this I appreciate very much, is that she admitted that while Alvarez invited her to be one of PDP-Laban’s 2019 senatorial bet, she declined because she said she’s not a politician.

“I am thankful and flattered for being considered as a possible candidate, pero sa ngayon ay wala pa akong (but as of now I do not have) plans on running,” Uson said.

I hope Uson will not allow herself to be exploited by Alvarez because she will only be making a fool of herself if she does run, at least at this point in time, and even if pushed by President Duterte.

Thus, I am not saying that she shall not run forever, but all she has to do now is adequately prepare herself and hone her competency relative to the programs, policies and directions to where Duterte wants to take this country by advocating and talking about them.

I admire Uson’s outspokenness in her support for Duterte’s war on drugs, corruption and criminality and even for the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law and she should continue encouraging the people to do the same and trusting Duterte to make this country move forward.

Perhaps by the time she decides to run for senator, people will come to know her already as one that is not only popular because of her star status, but acknowledged as one that also has a good head on her shoulder to represent the people and help bring back dignity and honor to the august body that is the senate.

Año-Dela Rosa tandem against police scalawags

 

AFP Gen. (Ret.) Eduardo Año and PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa.

In the same manner that Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa welcomes the appointment of newly retired Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año as Special Assistant to the President to help him “supervise the police” pending the one-year ban on Año’s appointment to a civilian office, I am sure this gesture by President Rodrigo Duterte also sits well for many Filipinos.

While dela Rosa maybe good in his job, it takes the caliber of Año to effectively purge the scalawags from the police organization that has been giving it its bad reputation.

Thanks to Duterte’s war on drugs, it became apparent and glaring that, indeed, many policemen could not be trusted to protect the people as they themselves were involved in drugs, one way or another.

The Año-dela Rosa tandem is what I call a partnership of brains and brawn that should be effective in not only identifying the rouge policemen, but most importantly in making them reliable and trustworthy in the eyes of the Filipino people, in particular, and the visitors to the country, in general.

Duterte saw the potential of Año in reforming the massive police organization, in the same manner that he was able to whip up the morale of the soldiers of the Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP), and with the able assistance/collaboration of dela Rosa, the Philippine National Police (PNP) will soon find its luster again not only because it has gotten rid of the scalawags, but it is now more determined in helping government make the country a safer place for everybody.

Our future calls for a revolutionary government

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

By the word itself, revolutionary tends to connote a fearful meaning and consequence. It does because it refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.

But haven’t we Filipinos been participants of revolutions against oppression and despotism in the past that made us who we are today and led us to where we are now?

The People Power uprising in 1986 or what is better known as the EDSA Revolution ended the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and catapulted Corazon Aquino to the leadership of the country.

As soon as Aquino assumed the presidency she figured out the only way she could quell pockets of resistance/defiance from Marcos supporters and be able to govern peacefully and effectively  was to establish a revolutionary government.

To effect radical change she used her revolutionary powers to sacked all elected officials, abolished Congress and tore up the 1973 constitution in favor of a provisional charter.

She handpicked a commission to write a new constitution, which was ratified by plebiscite in 1987 and paved the way for elections.

Thus Aquino was revered and highly acclaimed by many Filipinos as a heroine of democracy.

While democracy continues to be vibrant in this country, our progress as a nation, however, has been stymied by poor and ineffective leadership that followed Aquino, from Ramos to Estrada to Arroyo and another Aquino.

Seeing the same traditional politicians at the helm doing the same traditional governance, the Filipino people finally made a revolutionary decision to elect in 2016 an unconventional, an out-of-the-box- politician who made a name as a stern, no-nonsense politician and mayor of Davao City by making an unsafe, corrupt and problematic place into an admirable and highly livable one.

The result was an overwhelming victory prized him by the Filipino people to do what he is capable of doing just so the country could move forward and the lives of the people uplifted.  His election was a revolution in itself. Who would have thought that in our present political and electoral system a candidate without an organization and money could triumphed over those having funds and a well oiled political machinery?

Sociologist Randy David, a professor at the University of the Philippines, could never have been more right when, reflecting on the results of the 2016 elections, he said: “When candidate Duterte declared in the presidential debates that he represented the nation’s last card (huling baraha), he instantly resonated with them. They did not have to ask what the game was for which he was their last card. It was enough that he offered them something to which they could cling for hope.”

Thus, despite the negative review Duterte has been getting from the political opposition, the Catholic Church and human rights advocates on his war on drugs and the alleged extrajudicial killings resulting from it, the satisfaction and trust ratings of the president remains high. It only shows the encouragement and the confidence the people has on the president upon showing the political will not seen in other presidents before him in effecting the changes he promised the people during the campaign.

Senator Antonio Trillanes

It is not helping Duterte run the country that, while understanding the enormity of the problem the country is facing relative to drugs, corruption, criminality and narco-politics on one hand , and resolving the much dreaded Marawi crisis from spilling over in other parts of Mindanao on the other hand, still there are people the likes of Sen. Antonio Trillanes and his ilk who wants nothing but attention by spewing diatribes at Duterte and his family simply because their own political agenda cannot prosper under Duterte’s presidency.

From the very beginning Duterte has not been coy in his intention and willingness to establish a revolutionary government if he sees that there are groups of people, especially those led by politicians, opposed to his rule and who do not want him to succeed. This was a warning he wanted all and sundry to take seriously especially if their motivation was to destabilize his government.

Yet Trillanes has the stupidity and shortsightedness in saying: : “I firmly believe that Duterte’s latest threat … is not only meant to intimidate those opposing his administration, but also to divert the attention from the various controversies in which his family is involved. It is also his only way to escape accountability for his crimes by perpetuating himself in power.”

A revolutionary government is not about Duterte perpetuating himself in power. Clearly it is an assurance that with Duterte remaining in power, the country and the Filipino people will have the changes promised them for a better future ahead as he is seen to be the only one capable of making it happen.