US Bases in the West Philippine Sea

METRO PHILIPPINES
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We should tell the US to base instead her troops, facilities and military hardware in selected isles and reefs within our 200-mile EEZ in the West Philippine Sea.) The Department of National Defense says that China’s planned reclamation in two more reefs that belong to us, Calderon and Gaven in the Spratlys, is worsening the situation.

The question is worsening for whom? For us, obviously. We are losing territory little by little. The Department of Foreign Affairs says it will take action on the matter this week once more information on the reclamation are in. And then what? File another protest with the Chinese Government. It had just rejected our protest on their activities in Mabini Reef which is also ours. What good would another protest do? Sinabihan na nga tayo ng “It’s none of your business”, eh. Ano ba ‘yan?!

Incidentally, there are also confirmed sightings of reclamation going on in Malvar Reef which is located northeast of Mabini. The best protest would be to have our presence felt in those areas. For once, let us show the Chinese, and the world, we are capable of standing up for our right no matter the odds and die for it, if need be. Our men in uniform have said so themselves. If we don’t, they’ll never respect us. Nobody will! What is stopping Noynoy from sending our coast guard vessels to these areas? Could it be that the US is stopping him from doing so? Again, for once, can we not start thinking and doing things for ourselves? Let us at least try, shall we? If the Chinese start shooting at us, we will at least know if the US commitment to us is truly ironclad… that she won’t let us stand alone. If she leaves us in the lurch, what better choice would we have than to start talking with China in earnest? Some countries, along with the US, keep urging China to adhere to international law in tackling the South China Sea territorial disputes. Did they urge the US to do likewise when she decided to invade Iraq in 2003 in violation of international law and without UN Security Council sanction? What is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. That is what China must be thinking. After all, she is now the dominant power in this region, the world’s second biggest economy… facts that would be good for us to keep in mind.

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There is a report in the South China Morning Post in Hongkong that China is planning to put up a military base in the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG). That is where Pag-asa, a fifth class municipality of Palawan, is located. China, it appears, is getting too close for comfort in her aggressive designs in the West Philippine Sea. What if China goes ahead with her plan? What are we going to do? Protest again? Perhaps it is time for our leaders to start thinking in more creative ways.

I have an idea… how about telling the US that instead of prepositioning her troops and military hardware in our bases as provided for in the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), that is, if the Supreme Court does not shoot it down, they reclaim some reefs in the West Philippine Sea and put up military bases there, just as China is starting to do? Certainly, the US is both financially and logistically capable of doing that. Let them build the facilities they need over there, instead of within our military bases. There is also the added advantage of not ruffling the feathers of the Filipino people the wrong way due to the inequities imbedded in the EDCA.

Those reefs, isles and shoals belong to us, situated as they are within our 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. The US troops can always have their R & R in nearby resorts in the country. They can also do a lot of scuba diving where they’d be. They wouldn’t have to go to Tubbataha Reef anymore. The US has not even paid for the damage one of her warships inflicted on that national heritage site last year.

I am sure the majority of our people will more than welcome the presence of the US in those parts. That should also stop China dead in her tracks unless she is ready to challenge the US and risk military confrontation with her. How about it, President Aquino, Sir? Please do not consult your American friends or your fellow Amboys. They’ll tell you “no way”! Just tell them. Your bosses will support you all the way! Everybody will be happy except, of course, the Chinese and for a different reason, the Americans.

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Future ex-Budget Secretary Florencio Abad who was urged by Bishop Teodoro Bacani and many others to resign out of delicadeza asked: “What delicadeza are we talking about?” It wasn’t surprising at all that he asked that question. He doesn’t know what delicadeza is. He doesn’t have it! Still on Abad… presidential mouthpiece Edwin Lacierda, Pork Barrel Queen Janet Lim-Napoles’ Boy Pickup, insists there is nothing wrong with 11 Abads in government. Huh?! Pero hindi ba nakakahiya? Wala ba silang hiya? May tawag sa atin sa mga taong walang hiya… Walanghiya, o Makapal ang Mukha! (But isn’t it shameful?

We have a name for people without shame… Shameless, or Thick-Faced!) I guess the same epithet would be true for perennially CA-bypassed DENR chief Ramon Paje who reportedly has 9 declared relatives in government, the “promising” and CA-bypassed Energy secretary Jericho Petilla with seven, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa with five each. And, of course, there are those who, like Abad, have been linked to the pork barrel scam – Joel Villanueva of TESDA and Proceso Alcala of Agriculture who has already been effectively replaced by former senator Francis Pangilinan in his job. These two, like Abad, are still hanging on to their jobs like leeches. By virtue of the principle of command responsibility, where would you place the person who appointed and inflicted these officials on his bosses? Is he totally blameless? ******

When was the last time Meralco said it would lower the rates charged against its customers? I never saw it reflected in my bill. Again, it is saying that consumers will be charged lower rates starting July because the Energy Regulatory Commission has approved its new average price. Let’s see. Also, how many times has Meralco said it will refund previous excess charges made against its consumers? Never saw them reflected in my bill either.

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Have you noticed the proliferation of new vehicles on the road without car plates and (year) stickers? Isn’t that the responsibility of Transportation and Communications secretary Emilio Abaya? What is he doing about it? What about the overcharging done by telecommunications companies on the text messages of their poor customers? They are supposed to have been overcharging P0.20 per text message.

When are they going to refund the extra charge to the customers. Many cellphone users have also been victims of “disappearing” load. They pay for a load of P15-P20 and after sending one text message, the load is gone! Whaaaa…?! Is Mr. Abaya too busy or too inept that he is overwhelmed by the problems facing his agency… that he is unable to attend to the needs of his boss’ bosses? And some say he might be moved to the defense department?! Heaven help us!

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Last week, I wrote: “It has become evident that the pork barrel scam continued on to the Aquino administration. Why is the Commission on Audit (COA) taking so long to render a report on the scam since Noynoy became president four years ago? I hope the protracted delay has nothing to do with the fact that COA Chair Grace Pulido Tan is a candidate for a seat in the Supreme Court.

“This space also said last week that Tan appears to have stopped dead in her tracks in pursuing and exposing wrongdoers in government. Worse, her track record of following up on anomalies unearthed by COA has been pathetic.” [An example is the rather irregular handling of money remitted by members of the GSIS headed by Robert “Pretty Boy” Vergara, subject of item 2 in the Reminders (for Noynoy) portion below.] It turns out that Tan has also been remiss in her promise to the Supreme Court to recover more than P6 billion in pork barrel funds granted to non-government organizations from 2007 to 2009 under questionable circumstances. A petition has been filed by four persons seeking a mandamus from the high court to require Tan to issue notices of disallowances to those responsible parties. Ningas-cogon yata itong si Tan. Remember her melodramatic “kahindik-hindik” remarks just before she made public her report on the pork barrel scam?

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Reminders (for Noynoy): 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 order his successor, Robert “Pretty Boy” 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: (a) He received the obscenely excessive compensation of P16.36 million in 2012 making him the highest paid government servant then, as well as how much he received in 2013; and (b) That, about a year ago, 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 at the time that 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? Pray tell, Mr. Vergara, what is the present status of these funds, including those that may have been remitted since and not yet recorded by the GSIS? I believe it is time for COA to follow up on what Vergara has done on the above findings so that affected GSIS members would know the status of their contributions!

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Today is the 45th day of the eighth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance. Six weeks ago, Jonas’ mother, Edita, reminded Noynoy in a letter of his promise to conduct a “dedicated and exhaustive investigation” on her son’s enforced disappearance. “Our hope was anchored on your promise to do what you could ‘on the basis of evidence’ when I personally pleaded for your help. This was almost four years ago, May 2010,” she wrote. Mr. President, Sir? ******

From an internet friend: SIMPLE TRUTHS: • Money cannot buy happiness but it’s more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than on a bicycle. • Many people are alive only because it’s illegal to kill them. • Alcohol does not solve any problems, but then neither does milk. • If you help someone when he’s in trouble, he will remember you when he’s in trouble again. • Forgive your enemy, but remember the a…hole’s name. ******