Now we know its a two way street

METRO PHILIPPINES
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'What Goldbeck was in effect saying was that PH-US relations have hitherto been a one-way street – our way. Well, I have news for him...'

PRESIDENT Noynoy Aquino has been named by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential world leaders for "stabilizing and invigorating" the Philippine economy and his "courage" in pushing for the Reproductive Health law.

Noynoy was also cited by TIME for his "courage" in asserting Philippine sovereignty over areas in the West Philippine Sea which we legitimately own and which are wrongfully claimed by China. I do not agree.

To begin with, did he have any choice other than to defend what is rightfully ours? What kind of a leader would he be if he hadn't? Also, I do not think it was "courageous" not to have sent back our ships to Panatag Shoal after vowing to do so on several occasions and after our Navy and Coast Guard had said they were ready to make the supreme sacrifice. He had in effect given up Panatag by default to China which now occupies it.

The reason Noynoy didn't send our ships back to Panatag has been the subject of speculations, one of which is that he was discouraged by the US from doing so. To have done so could have possibly resulted in an armed confrontation between China and the US if our ships were attacked by the Chinese. The US did not want to be faced with a situation where she would be constrained to take sides, our side, by virtue of our Mutual Defense Treaty with her. The US had declared herself "neutral" on the territorial dispute, remember?

Moreover, and our leaders would be well-advised to bear this in mind, on the weighing scale, US-China relations these days far outweigh PH-US relations for economic, political and military reasons. I wish our leaders could get that into their thick heads and learn from the way our neighbors deal with the big powers.

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After Foreign Secretary Albert "Amboy" del Rosario foolishly said we would welcome more US troops into the country and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said military bases could be hosted by us again should North Korea attack the US (both were later rebuffed by Malacañang), the American deputy chief of mission Brian Goldbeck gushed and said, "Now we know it's a two-way street... we know you would come to our aid as well."

What Goldbeck was in effect saying was that PH-US relations have hitherto been a one-way street – our way. Well, I have news for him...

Below are excerpts of what I said about PH-US relations during a lecture at the Philippine Futuristics Center some months back:

"There is nothing complex about our relations with the United States. They are plainly and simply lopsided in their favor from day one – the parity rights; the huge military bases in Subic and Clark for which they were paying nothing until 1976 when they started giving, if memory serves, the piddling sum of $120 million a year; the rather 'ambiguous' provisions of the Mutual Defense Treaty, at least compared to the North Atlantic Treaty; the onerous provisions, to us, of the Visiting Forces Agreement which is, to begin with, an agreement that is against Section 25, Article XVIII of the Constitution.

"The so-called 'special' relations we have with them are also, well, special for them, maybe because we were once their colony until they gave us back our political independence on 4 July 1946. Americans enjoyed special privileges in this country by virtue of the parity rights inflicted upon us.

"These lopsided and 'special' relations with the US are best illustrated by our present territorial dispute with China over certain areas in the West Philippine Sea over which we have legally tight claims under international law, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in particular, of which China and the Philippines are signatories.

"One day, we woke up to find the Chinese violating our territorial integrity and sovereignty over the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. Several Chinese vessels were caught fishing in the Shoal's lagoon and one of them was boarded by our Coast Guard.

"China responded with a show of force by sending several naval and maritime ships and blocking ours to prevent them from apprehending the Chinese fishing vessels.

"As a result of Chinese aggressive behavior and considering that we are no match to them in more ways than one, our national leadership turned to the US for military and diplomatic support.

"Washington responded by saying that the U.S. is 'neutral' on our territorial dispute with China and instead urged all parties concerned to settle peacefully through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) which the U.S. has not even ratified.

"We also asked for US assurance that they will retaliate instantly against possible Chinese military attack and all we got was that she will stand by the provisions of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). Unlike the North Atlantic Treaty, there is no instant retaliation clause in the MDT.

"We asked the US to help us attain a "minimum credible defense posture" and got nothing! Instead, they boasted about selling – not gifting or granting – us two antiquated coast guard cutters stripped of their armaments. President Benigno Aquino III asked for a squadron of F-16 jet fighter-bombers. Nada.

"On the other hand, we have dutifully agreed to an 'expanded' – I guess you can still call that 'special' – relations with us which include frequent regular visits by their warships and aircraft to our ports and airfields and more U.S. troops on our soil for 'rotational' stationing here. Yet, the US and our own government insist there will be no permanent US bases here for these troops and war materiel. The Subic naval base and the Clark Field air base may be no more, but the 'expanded' arrangement is the same as basing their troops and war materiel in our territory. That is against our Constitution!

"Washington and Manila say this new arrangement is anchored on the Visiting Forces Agreement. That Agreement violates our Constitution.

"What did we get in return for these expanded relations with the US? Nothing anywhere near the US$3 billion I have been suggesting we should get. It is not much of a price to pay considering what Washington has been giving to Pakistan, Egypt and Israel, for instance, all these years!

"Let us not forget that the US 'pivot' to the Asia-Pacific region is to protect and promote her own national interests in view of China 's emergence as an economic power and her increased military expansion, covert computer technology development and continuous search for energy and special metals for her industrialization push.

"So, what did we get? The US publicly announced the Philippines will receive US$30 million additional military aid this year which Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile scoffed at as insulting. It will not even buy us one jet fighter! They also agreed to help us improve our coastal watch system and increase the number of Peace Corps volunteer workers here. We are not even getting what we want from the Save Industries Act, i.e., ten-year tariff free entry into the US of our garments made of American fabric. The U.S. Congress would agree to five years only!"

So there... I hope Goldbeck is now enlightened.

***

Noynoy reportedly expressed sympathy to President Barack Hussain Obama for the Boston bombing that killed three people and wounded some 180.

I was just wondering if he did the same to the heads of state of Iraq where some 70 people were killed and about 300 wounded due to a series of suicide bombings that coincided with the one in Boston; of Iran where scores of people perished and hundreds injured due to an earthquake; and most recently, of China where some 180 people died in Sichuan also due to an earthquake. Not only do we have diplomatic relations with these countries... they also host thousands of our countrymen.

Has "Amboy" del Rosario been sleeping on the job again? Just asking.

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The Chinese ship that ran aground in Tubbatha Reef two weeks ago was finally extricated from the World Heritage site.

Aside from reports that the crew of 12 are now in detention and have been charged with illegal entry, poaching and bribery, there has been no mention at all of the extent of the damage that the vessel had caused to the Reef and whether or not the Chinese will be made liable to pay for the damage and fines prescribed by law.

How come?

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Beleaguered Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes, Jr. was reported to be considering resigning and asking Noynoy for an ambassadorial post in "Eastern Europe, like Romania, Slovakia or Hungary". (For his information, we no longer have an embassy in Romania and never had one in Slovakia. We also have an envoy in Hungary now.)

When asked why Eastern Europe, he said he wanted to "rest" as "there are few Filipinos" there.

I can imagine how the career officers in the DFA must feel about Brillantes' remarks. It was bad enough that his brother was once a political ambassador (now a DFA undersecretary). Now him too? And merely to rest?

***

Reminders (for Noynoy's action):

1) Filing of charges against officials of the National Food Authority (NFA) during Arroyo's illegitimate regime. Noynoy himself said on several occasions that there is documentary evidence to prove the venalities in the past in that agency.

2) Investigation of reported anomalies in the GSIS during the watch of Winston Garcia and ordering his successor, Robert Vergara, to file the proper charges, if warranted, against the former.

Noynoy should also order Vergara to report to him on COA's findings that at least P4.13 billion in contributions and loan payments made by 12 government offices to the GSIS had not been credited to the offices as of Dec. 31, 2011. COA also said the amount of unrecorded remittances could go much higher because only 36 agencies have so far responded out of the 186 that were sent confirmation requests by government auditors. Of the 36, 27 confirmed "discrepancies" in their premium and loan payments ledgers when compared with those of the GSIS.

There are three questions being raised when remittances, or parts thereof, of government agencies are not recorded by the GSIS on time: a) Where are these huge sums "parked" in the meantime?; b) Do they earn interest?; and c) To where (whom?) does the interest, if any, go?

3) Facilitating the investigation of rampant corruption in the military and police establishments.

4) Expeditious action by the AFP on the case of Jonas Burgos.

***

Today is the 361st day of the sixth year of Jonas Burgos' disappearance.

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From an internet friend:

A senior golfer came home early. His wife asked, "How come you are early?"

He said, "I don't wanna play golf anymore! I can't see where my ball goes."

His wife said, "Why don't you bring my brother along?", to which he replied, "What are you talking about? He's older than me."

"Yes, but his eyesight is still quite good," she said. He said, "Okay".

So, one day, the senior golfer brought his brother-in-law along. He hit his first drive. It was a good hit. He turns to his brother-in-law and asks, "Did you see where it went?"

"Yep."

"Where?"

"Ah... er... I forgot..."

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Email: roacrosshairs@yahoo.com