<![CDATA[https://www.manilatimes.net]]> (2024)

<![CDATA[https://www.manilatimes.net]]> <![CDATA[ RSS Feed : Opinion ]]> Sat, 18 May 2024 17:52:42 +0800 hourly 1 https://www.manilatimes.net The English professor is just one price we have to pay for turning higher education into a commodity https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/18/opinion/columns/the-english-professor-is-just-one-price-we-have-to-pay-for-turning-higher-education-into-a-commodity/1947222 Antonio Contreras Sat, 18 May 2024 00:08:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/18/opinion/columns/the-english-professor-is-just-one-price-we-have-to-pay-for-turning-higher-education-into-a-commodity/1947222 <![CDATA[

I HAVE already lamented the turning of higher education into a marketplace where learning has become a commodity being marketed as brands. Addicted to, and largely driven by, world rankings, we have seen universities and colleges engage in a fierce race to the top, rendering education akin to a ratings war.

I have talked about its impacts on university governance and to disciplines that have been labeled as "useless" such as the arts, the humanities and the interpretive social sciences.

But the marginalization of some disciplines is just a tip of the iceberg of a larger problem when we place so much premium on faculty publications. And now, even graduate students must publish for them to graduate. The push toward publication is no longer driven by the need of the faculty to be promoted or tenured, and for the graduate students to obtain their master's or doctorate degrees. It has also now become a strategy for universities to earn points which can help them win the race toward obtaining higher rankings.

As someone who is an inhabitant of academia, I have experienced, and struggled with, the so-called publish or perish culture, where the value of a professor is primarily weighed based on how many peer-reviewed articles one publishes and the number of citations generated by these. And the bar became higher and higher, with journals now being also labeled, branded and ranked. More incentives are provided to faculty members who publish in top-tier journals. And it seems that the challenge doesn't stop as you progress toward higher ranks, with the expectation to produce more getting amplified as one moves to the full professor ranks.

Every academic, from the new to the senior, must undergo the rituals of conducting research, converting them into papers that are first presented in academic forums, such as conferences, and then submitting these as manuscripts to journals for publication. Every academic experiences the painful process of being rejected or told that their outputs do not meet the standards. Any academic who boasts of not having encountered a rejection is lying. This is part of the rites of passage that academics must go through before they can claim to be full-fledged members of the privileged circle of the learned and exalted.

Any yet, we must begin asking ourselves what the actual values of these journal articles to humanity are, that they form the basic and core foundation for vetting, branding and rewarding academics. I have seen hundreds of journals in my academic lifetime and read articles that are theoretically esoteric, well written and argued, and yet after reading them there is always that residual feeling of incompleteness, as if something is still missing. I keep on asking myself questions about how these journal articles can be used to advance the interest of humanity.

What aggravates this feeling of inadequacy is the fact that journal articles are measured not in terms of their actual impacts on humanity but on the number of times they are cited. The value is not on how useful the arguments and findings are to meet human interest, but on whether they are used by other scholars as they, likewise, seek their own affirmation as members of the academic community.

While citing one's work is frowned upon, citing friends and peers is not. This has led to a practice where a circle of scholars establishes a circular mafia of academic affirmation by citing each other. The fixation on citations is such that even an adverse citation, which happens when a scholar criticizes another scholar's work, is still counted. This even led academic journals, including those in the top tier, to automatically reject any manuscript that does not cite articles published by the journal, as a strategy to increase their citation indices and maintain, or improve their rankings.

The dash toward being published is also one of the motivating factors that amplified the practice of co-authorship that has become prone to abuse. This is particularly glaring when being a co-author is no longer rationalized by actual participation in the writing of the article but has become an opportunity for more senior academics who practice some authority over their assistants and graduate students, to expect, or even insist, that they should be co-authors. The power differential is such that the more junior researcher, or graduate student, would have no choice but to agree, lest they lose their jobs, or fail to graduate.

While ethical violations should not be the sole basis for rejecting or questioning the "publish or perish" culture in academe, it is a fact that the push for publications, and using this as the main measure for ascertaining the value of, and rewarding, academics has reared its ugly head. In a mad rush to publish, lest they perish, academics end up patronizing predatory journals, or paying fees just to get published. Worse, they end up stealing ideas of their colleagues, and in the case of that English professor in a university in Mindanao, the work of their students.

It's about time the universities rethink the core mission of higher education. It is now time for the academic communities, particularly in countries like the Philippines, to critically assess their participation in this university ranking enterprise that is so fixated on measures that are not authentic in determining the real value of higher education to advancing humanity's interests and welfare.

We should not be pushing faculty members to publish lest they perish, or could end up in professors stealing their student's works. We should rethink counting the number of international students that is probably the reason why there is an increase of Chinese students in some universities.

The focus should be on how universities have served the people, by teaching minds, touching hearts and transforming lives. This would range from actual policies political scientists and economists influenced, to projects for marginalized communities development researchers enabled, to works that poets and artists read to dying cancer patients to make their last breaths more meaningful.

Antonio Contreras Antonio Contreras The Manila Times
Meet China's Ministry of State Security (MSS) — the CIA and FBI rolled into one https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/18/opinion/columns/meet-chinas-ministry-of-state-security-mss-the-cia-and-fbi-rolled-into-one/1947221 Yen Makabenta Sat, 18 May 2024 00:07:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/18/opinion/columns/meet-chinas-ministry-of-state-security-mss-the-cia-and-fbi-rolled-into-one/1947221 <![CDATA[

First word

IN November-December 2022, much of the world community was surprised to learn in the pages of the journal Foreign Affairs that the People's Republic of China, like the United States and the Soviet Union during the heyday of the Cold War, has been conducting extensive intelligence-gathering and spying operations around the world to spread abroad that country's foreign policy and influence in international affairs.

The information was contained in an article on two books that were reviewed favorably in the Foreign Affairs issue, which the magazine billed as "two books on China's campaign for influence abroad."

The books are: "Spies and Lies: How China's Greatest Covert Operations Fooled the World" by Alex Joske (Hardie Grant, 2022); and "America Second: How America's Elites Are Making China Stronger" by Isaac Stone Fish (Knopf, 2022).

The review article by Andrew J. Nathan was published in the November/December 2022 issue of Foreign Affairs.

The two volumes considered the subtle and covert ways Beijing is seeking to spread its influence abroad. They wrote about how China's Ministry of State Security (MSS) engages in traditional spycraft, but unlike most countries' intelligence agencies, it also has a large portfolio of campaigns designed to influence opinion in the West and among Chinese overseas communities. With prodigious digging on the internet, Joske is able to expose many of the ministry's senior operatives and their achievements. A vice minister who worked under the pseudonym Yu Enguang charmed Westerners while serving as a journalist in London and Washington, created the China International Culture Exchange Center (whose mission was to "use culture to make friends" abroad) and infiltrated George Soros' China Fund, which attempted to promote liberal reforms in China a year and a half before the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. Zheng Bijian, known for the emollient concept of "China's peaceful rise" (which he described in an article for Foreign Affairs), was not an MSS employee but chaired an MSS-created think tank called the China Reform Forum, which encouraged Western academics and officials to support engagement with China. The ministry's Tenth Bureau infiltrates overseas student and dissident groups; the Eleventh Bureau runs a foreign policy think tank that engages Western diplomats; the Twelfth Bureau manages front organizations designed to sway unwitting Western targets of influence — many of whom Joske identifies by name.

MSS 'targets'

Stone Fish looks at Chinese influence operations from the side of the targets, naming numerous American consultants, chief executives, Hollywood big shots and academics who have said and done things that China wants said or done, either for the sake of access or out of an idealistic sense of "friendship" cultivated by warm treatment from Chinese officials. He focuses especially on Henry Kissinger, whom Stone Fish accuses of "monetizing" his relationship with China by charging business executives for introductions to Chinese leaders after he left the government service. Other major figures Stone Fish criticizes for falling victim to Chinese blandishments include members of the Bush family, executives of the Disney corporation, sports figures and former US president Jimmy Carter. Hollywood has bowed to tacit Chinese censorship to avoid being excluded from the enormous Chinese market. Many academics have steered clear of sensitive topics or softened their language to avoid visa denials for themselves or trouble for their students. But it is hard to find purely disinterested discussions of China: those who have something valuable to say usually also have interests or need access. Many Westerners named in both these books could plausibly argue that influence goes in both directions and that their contacts with China make their understanding of the country more, not less, well informed.

The Foreign Affairs review of the two books served as an introduction for much of the world to China's clandestine Ministry of State Security (MSS), which until then few had heard of or read about internationally.

The initials MSS were not as readily recognizable or as notorious as the initials, CIA, KGB, MI6, which signify prominent intelligence agencies in the world. Whenever there was talk about intelligence agencies and their activities, this invariably concerned the intelligence services of the major powers and other major countries, such as: 1) the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States; 2) the KGB of the former Soviet Union, which has replaced since 1991 by the FSB (Federal Security Bureau); 3) the MI6 (Military Intelligence, Section 6) of the United Kingdom; and 4) Mossad, Israel's famed intelligence service which has gained plenty of prominence because of some spectacular exploits and Hollywood films.

There has hardly been mention in the news or in popular culture of the intelligence agency of the People's Republic of China.

Interesting genealogy

In fact, however, the MSS has a long history and interesting genealogy. Interestingly, it owes its beginnings to the much respected and revered premier Zhou Enlai.

On Wikipedia, there is a long article on the history of the Ministry of State Security, from its beginnings to contemporary times. The article helps to explain why so many MSS agents have gotten into trouble in various counties and have been charged in some foreign countries. It also sheds some light on why here in the Philippines there are so many China apologists in the media, in so-called think tanks, in academe and in business and industry.

I quote here some passages from the introductory section of the Wikipedia report:

"[The] Ministry of State Security is the principal civilian intelligence, security and secret police agency of the People's Republic of China, responsible for foreign intelligence, counterintelligence and the political security of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). One of the largest and most secretive intelligence organizations in the world, it is headquartered in the Haidian District of Beijing, with powerful semiautonomous branches at the provincial, city, municipality and township levels throughout China.

"The origins of the MSS begin with the CCP's Central Special Branch, better known as the Teke, which was replaced by the Central Social Affairs Department in 1936, which was in turn succeeded by the Central Investigation Department (CID) — the MSS' immediate predecessor — in 1955. In 1983, CID was merged with the counterintelligence elements of the Ministry of Public Security to create the MSS.

"The MSS is active in industrial and cyber espionage, where it has replaced the People's Liberation Army (PLA) as the country's most sophisticated and prolific advanced persistent threat actor. It makes arrests through its own component of the People's Police and maintains the authority to conduct its own extrajudicial court hearings.

"The ministry is also known to be involved in transnational repression, organized crime, surveillance and harassment of dissidents abroad and influence operations targeting overseas Chinese diaspora in collaboration with the United Front Work Department.

"Today, the agency is estimated to have at least 110,000 employees, with 10,000 directly attached to MSS headquarters and 100,000 spread across its dozens of provincial branches. The agency's military intelligence counterpart is the PLA Intelligence Bureau of the Joint Staff Department.

"MSS functions as China's intelligence, security and secret police agency. A document from the US Department of Justice described the agency as being like a combination of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

"The MSS is a civilian agency, although it controls its own separate police force (the 'State Security Police,' one of the four components of the People's Police) and includes some People's Liberation Army officers among its personnel."


Yen Makabenta Yen Makabenta The Manila Times
Questions for straight people https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/18/opinion/columns/questions-for-straight-people/1947220 Danton Remoto Sat, 18 May 2024 00:06:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/18/opinion/columns/questions-for-straight-people/1947220 <![CDATA[

Last of 2 parts

A FEW years ago, I got a copy of a piece called "Do You Need Treatment?" from a British publication called The Internationalist. Since it might help straight people see the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in a better light, I am reprinting some excerpts.

"Gay people get asked some pretty strange questions. Often, this is because their interrogators have a narrow, strictly heterosexual view of what is considered 'normal.' The New Internationalist magazine turned the tables around and asked heterosexual people some strange questions, too."

The interesting questions, given a tweak, are as follows.

  1. What do you think is the cause of your heterosexuality?
  2. When did you first realize that you might be heterosexual?
  3. Have you told your parents? What do they think of it?
  4. Are there others like you in the family?
  5. Would you say that you had an inadequate mother or father figure?
  6. Don't you think that heterosexuality might be a phase that you are just going through?
  7. Are you afraid of members of your own sex?
  8. Isn't it possible that what you need is a good gay lover?
  9. And what do you actually do in bed?
  10. You put what where?
  11. But how can people of the opposite sex really please each other when there are vast emotional and biological differences among them?
  12. Although society gives considerable support to the institution of marriage, the divorce rate is spiraling. Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?
  13. Is it because heterosexuals are promiscuous?
  14. There seem to be very few happy heterosexuals. Have you considered undergoing aversion therapy to cure you of your heterosexuality?
  15. Why do you feel compelled to seduce others into your sexual activities?
  16. Why do you insist on making such a public spectacle of your heterosexuality?
  17. More than 90 percent of child molesters are thought to be heterosexuals. Would you feel comfortable entrusting your child's education to heterosexual teachers?
  18. Why do people like you emphasize the heterosexual qualities of famous people such as film stars? Is it because you need to validate your condition?
  19. Penetrative sex is most common among heterosexual couples. Aren't you worried about the risk of getting HIV that leads to AIDS, which is still incurable?
  20. If everybody were heterosexual like you, what would happen to the world's population? Don't you think it is unreasonable and irresponsible of you to insist on sleeping with people of the opposite sex?

These are silly questions, of course. But these are the questions often asked of members of the LGBT community. These questions should stop, as shown by the sarcastic article in The Internationalist magazine.

* * *

I get email inquiries from people asking where they could buy the gay-oriented books that I had written in the past. Well, most of them are out of print now (I've been writing for 2,000 years). But there are still e-books of "Ladlad: An Anthology of Philippine Gay Writing," "Ladlad 2" and "Ladlad 3" on the website of Anvil Publishing. My other books like "Happy Na, Gay Pa," as well as "Bright, Catholic and Gay" can be found at Lazada and Shopee.

They are being sold by independent sellers. In a quirk of fate that I attribute to my longevity as a writer (or the fact that my new books are being published by Penguin Random House Southeast Asia), all my books with Anvil suddenly sold out. I guess they were snapped up by these individual booksellers who are now hawking my books at prices that are two, three or even four times higher than the original prices.

"Riverrun, A Novel" and "The Heart of Summer: Stories and Tales" are still available at Fully Booked. The first book has gay-oriented themes, while the second one has some gay stories as well. "The Heart of Summer" is a compilation of the short fiction that I have written in the last 30 years. They run the whole range, from novella to flash fiction, from a traditional story to a ghost story, from young adult fiction to a children's story.

Penguin Random House Southeast Asia will also publish my new novel called "Boys' Love," which is slated for publication before December 2024. And I am now finalizing a deal with a Philippine publisher for my other novel called "The Country of Desire."

I guess what I'm trying to say is that writing is a marathon and not a 100-meter dash. Of my contemporaries at Ateneo de Manila University, only Rayboy Pandan continues to write prize-winning novels and poems. The others have turned to more lucrative professions, or raised families, or moved overseas and vanished from the literary spotlight.

This is also what I want to say to a few young writers who bash those of us who have been writing for a long time. Just write your stuff, as you would say in the lingo of the day. Just write it and keep on writing for the next four decades.

Only Time, that great and pitiless arbiter, will decide if your writing will last. So tone down the bashing, swallow that ego and just keep on writing, kiddos.

The Manila Times
Water scarcity comes of age https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/18/opinion/columns/water-scarcity-comes-of-age/1947200 Amado Tolentino Jr. Sat, 18 May 2024 00:05:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/18/opinion/columns/water-scarcity-comes-of-age/1947200 <![CDATA[

WATER is a far more pressing problem than climate change ... Even if climate wouldn't change, we have a water problem and this water problem is much more urgent ... Humankind is running out of water at an alarming pace ... We're going to run out of water long before we run out of oil.

– Peter Brabeck

THE year 2001 has sometimes been touted as the first year of the "Century of Water." That focus, however, was overtaken by dramatic changes in climate throughout the world, leading many to elevate climate to the role of Earth's biggest problem and act as though nothing else mattered. As a result, over the past 23 years, the looming global water shortage has attracted less attention than global warming.

According to the United Nations, one reason water received less attention is that, unlike global warming, there is no global water crisis per se. Rather, water issues present as a series of regional predicaments in a world where the distribution of fresh water is so lopsided that 60 percent of it is found in just nine countries, including Brazil, the US and Canada, according to the UN.

As a chemical compound, nothing could be simpler than water. Hydrogen plus oxygen equals water. And, although there is no shortage of water on planet Earth, which is covered by water, more than 97 percent of Earth's water is salty and thus unusable for human consumption, agriculture and other uses. The shortage of fresh water affects people's ability, inter alia, to grow crops, provide drinking and sanitation water for households and to cool power plants.

In the past, military conflict over water rights has led to grave national security issues between some countries, including, to mention a few, contention between Ethiopia and Egypt over the Nile; between Botswana and Namibia over the Okavango; and among Israel, Palestine and Jordan over the Jordan River. Transboundary water sources such as these have always had the potential to foment conflict; however, the natural interdependence between countries sharing a water resource has also drawn people to work together on the water availability aspect even as their countries were officially at war.

Furthermore, it is possible that "water wars" were averted in these situations due to the changing perception of the concept of "permanent sovereignty" over natural resources in favor of "functional sovereignty" or equitable utilization of transboundary shared resources. Be that as it may, the recent changes in the global political and security environment may give rise to doubt as to whether peaceful negotiation over water issues can continue to be the norm much longer.

In the light of this question, it is appropriate to consider the following current water-related situations: 1) China's damming of the source of water of the Mekong River has sparked serious concern among countries downstream (Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam); 2) India, China and Pakistan see rising tensions over shared water resources as a consequence of their efforts to boost production to keep up with huge and expanding population; 3) Some discussions indicate a growing sense of alarm in Central Asia over the prospect that two poor but glacier-heavy nations (Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan) in the region may one day restrict the flow of water to their parched but oil-rich neighbors (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan).

A torrent of recent water-related news has focused attention on the dry spell brought about by the drought effect of El Niño, leading some countries to declare a state of emergency due to lack of adequate water supplies and to a concomitant decline in agricultural production.

Among Asean countries, Thailand's responses have been notable. It adopted policies to minimize use of water by not growing offseason rice, switching to drought-resistant crops such as beans, or focusing on raising livestock as well as farming shallow-water fish in baskets. Many rice farmers have also joined government-sponsored offseason employment schemes such as working on irrigation canal-dredging projects.

As countries actively pursue major actions such as shifting to renewable energy sources (solar, wind, biomass, etc.) to stop the devastating impacts of climate change, it is now time to set the goal that will lead to a far-reaching effort to meet the challenges posed by the most precious asset on Earth — fresh water.

Amado Tolentino Jr. Amado Tolentino Jr. The Manila Times
Bongbong: No weak leader https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/18/opinion/columns/bongbong-no-weak-leader/1947199 Mauro Gia Samonte Sat, 18 May 2024 00:04:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/18/opinion/columns/bongbong-no-weak-leader/1947199 <![CDATA[

FROM a position paper by the Asian Century Philippines Strategic Studies Institute (ACPSSI), written by its president Herman Tiu Laurel, we gather a comprehensive narrative that pictures President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. as sincere enough in de-escalating the tension in the South China Sea but that his presidential prerogatives on the matter are being subverted by his subalterns.

Titled "Probe 'US-Gibo.' Praise Adm. Carlos," the paper cited President Marcos himself set the foundation for the "new model" arrangement between the Philippines and Chinese maritime security authorities "to peacefully manage the situation in the Ayungin Shoal pertaining to the rotation and resupply (RORE) missions to the BRP Sierra Madre and related issues. The reference was to the President's call made in December 2023 for a "paradigm shift in the West Philippine Sea dispute."

According to the paper, to further clarify his proposition on the year of sea clashes between Philippine and Chinese maritime security forces, Marcos said, "We do not want to go to the point where there are incidents that might cause an actual violent conflict... We have to bring all of those ideas [of de-escalating tension in the disputed waters] together and to change the direction that these incidents have taken us. We have to stop going that way. We've gone down the wrong road. We have to disengage and find ourselves a more peaceful road to go down..."

The situation in the sea dispute appeared to start going down that road two days after the pronouncement. The Philippines' Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo had a phone conversation with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and the readouts of both parties did not identify which side initiated the call, but suffice it to say that it responded to President Marcos' call for "a more peaceful road to go down."

The DFA readout consisted of three short sentences that quoted Secretary Manalo saying, "We had a frank and candid exchange, and ended our call with a clearer understanding of our respective positions on a number of issues. We both noted the importance of dialogues in addressing these issues."

In its elaboration, the ACPSSI paper described the MoFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) of China readout on the Wang Yi-Manalo talk as having five lengthier sentences that stated:

"Enrique A. Manalo introduced the views of the Philippine side on the issue of Ren'ai Jiao, expressing the hope that differences will be managed in a way acceptable to both sides, so as to cool down tensions and prevent conflicts. The Philippine side is willing to strengthen dialogue with China in good faith, make good use of the role of bilateral communication mechanism on maritime issues and jointly seek a solution to the issue.

"The two sides agreed to hold a meeting of the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea at an early date and actively create favorable conditions for it."

The 8th Bilateral Consultation Mechanism that resulted from the talks took place on Jan. 18, 2024.

As disseminated by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, the 8th Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea convened in Shanghai pursuant to the agreement reached between President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and President Xi Jinping in San Francisco in November 2023 to ease and manage tensions in the South China Sea. This was followed by a phone call between Philippine Secretary for Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in December 2023.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro and Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Nong Rong followed suit, engaging in frank and productive discussions to de-escalate the situation in the disputed region, and both sides agreed to calmly deal with incidents, if any, through diplomacy. They also agreed that continuous dialogue is important to keep peace and stability at sea. Both sides presented their respective positions on the Ayungin Shoal and assured each other of their mutual commitment to avoid escalation of tensions.

Then just two weeks after the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism Meeting in Shanghai, what looked like an interlude of peace settled in the troubled waters. Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Col. Francel Margareth Padilla in a post on X (formerly Twitter) described it thus:

"Today, we executed a flawless rotation and resupply operation for BRP Sierra Madre. Teamwork, precision and dedication at its best..."

As Herman Tiu Laurel put it, "In sum, it was the 'paradigm shift' that President Marcos pronounced in early December 2023 following his November 2023 sideline meeting with President Xi Jinping in San Francisco, the Wang Yi-Manalo phone talk in late December 2023 and the 8th Bilateral Consultation Mechanism talks in Shanghai in mid-January 2024 that mentioned the 'productive discussion to de-escalate,' that brought about this happy fruit of peaceful and constructive engagement. The Philippine media also reported the happy news, notably the Palawan News headlining:

"Earlier today, SeaLight Director at the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation's Ray Powell also said he has observed different scenarios in the West Philippine Sea after Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Vessels BRP Cabra and BRP Sindangan arrived at Sabina Shoal and were met by only one China Coast Guard vessel, 520.5. He said the resupply mission seems to have encountered virtually no resistance from China.

"Powell also said around 17 Chinese militia vessels were also monitored nearby but stayed west of Mischief Reef and did not conduct their usual blocking and intimidation against the PCG vessels as well as the civilian resupply boat Unaiza May 1."

Now, for Powell to be indulging in such a peaceful narrative is a revelation. Readers will recall that time and again, it is this guy that has been fanning in the media animosity between the Philippines and China, always zeroing in on the near-clashes between vessels of the CCG and PCG. His evident intent is to create scenarios that advance American war strategies against China, with the Philippines as proxy. For him to admit that no such scenarios are in the making would be to contradict his sworn task.

But then again, this is America at play. And wherever America plays, double deal is the name of the game. The ACPSSI position paper puts it quite candidly.

"What did the Americans, i.e., Ambassador Mary Kaye Carlson, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Capt. Raymond Powell, do after this successful 'flawless' mission and de-escalation that goes against their avowed strategy of 'assertive transparency' to 'exact a reputational cost on China?' We cannot tell what they did behind the scenes, but move they did, because there was an abrupt change in the front scene as US proxies went into action heightening tensions again.

The successful and peaceful outcome of the Feb. 2, 2024 "flawless" RORE mission to the BRP Sierra Madre was not received well in the usual suspicious quarters. As any professional analyst should be aware today, the US has available hundreds of millions of dollars from the 2022 "America Competes Act" to fund disinformation and "negative news" operations.

The Feb. 2, 2024 "flawless" Ayungin RORE to BRP Sierra Madre was a very "positive news" for the Philippines and China going forward.

Here is what Laurel has to say on the matter:

"On Feb. 13, 2024, PCG spokesman for WPS Commodore Jay Tarriela said at a Stratbase-ADR Institute forum in Makati City, 'Let me again emphasize that our transparency initiative remains to be the same, how aggressive we are, how we started until now it remains to be the same...'"

Put yourselves now in the shoes of President Bongbong. You've done your damn best to try to be at par with big world politics in order to spare the Filipino nation the increasingly threatening ravages of war. Only to realize your damn best is not good enough simply because those you think are your loyal foot soldiers obliged to do your bidding actually take command from the Americans.

The feared military confrontation with China is not without its restraining mechanism. So far, Bongbong has survived the travails with flying colors, so to speak, as shown by the ACPSSI position paper.

All it takes really is to keep faith with the Filipino people. He could be a strong leader, after all.

Mauro Gia Samonte Mauro Gia Samonte The Manila Times
Reader relates his own TRB experience https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/18/opinion/columns/reader-relates-his-own-trb-experience/1947198 Al Vitangcol 3rd Sat, 18 May 2024 00:03:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/18/opinion/columns/reader-relates-his-own-trb-experience/1947198 <![CDATA[

Last of 2 parts

WE published last week the first half of the letter addressed to lawyer Alvin Carullo, executive director of the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), which was sent by a "concerned motorist." Here is the remainder of that letter:

"5. In the course of the passage of time and introduction of information and communications technologies and onset of e-Commerce/eBusiness, a third party is now involved, and these are the intermediaries or third parties now tasked to collect the payment of toll fees instead of the concessionaires/operators who once directly received the toll fees paid that is so authorized and privileged under PD 1112.

"6. The intermediaries I am referring to are Autosweep and Easytrip, which in my view are third parties or service providers to TOC/TOA holders acting as electronic payment gateways. Both Autosweep and Easytrip are separate and distinct corporations registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and as such, SEC has jurisdiction over these firms and TRB has no jurisdiction over these entities being companies not directly involved in construction and maintenance of toll roads/expressways as in fact, Autosweep and Easytrip have no TOC and TOA with TRB.

"7. Use of toll roads and expressways is regulated so it is DoTr, LTO and TRB that promulgate and issue such rules/policies — and not third parties or electronic payment gateways like Autosweep and Easytrip by way of a four-page contract between the motorist and RFID account managers in the guise of application form which is actually a contract in context and contents. Be aware that concessionaires/operators are 'regulatees' that is subject to the powers and authority of the regulator (TRB) who supervises or regulates the operations of the concessionaires/operators or any other business entities doing business in the toll road as toll fee collector which is deemed contrary to PD 1112.

"8. Despite the fact that Autosweep and Easytrip are not within the ambit of PD 1112 or not even mentioned or referred to therein, hence deemed not covered by the administrative and regulatory mandate of TRB, these companies (Autosweep and Easytrip) wield power and strong influence upon the motorists as noncompliance with their corporate policies (some of them I believe to be incompatible with the rules set forth by DoTr, LTO and TRB). Inspired and motivated by LTO MC 2020-2224 and TR's three-strike policy, which I believe is confiscatory, motorists are forced or pressured into having RFID accounts and in so doing, motorists make an advanced deposit or advance payment of toll fees (at the time of the opening of the RFID account) because LTO and TRB rules require the maintenance of a sufficient balance upon entering the expressways, or else motorists run the risk of apprehension and penalties.

"9. The only thing clear to me is that with SMHC/MATES having Autosweep as partner and MPIC/MPCALA having Easytrip as partner, there is a clear display of expansionary strategies called 'concentric diversification' which justifies channeling of toll fees supposedly done by the concessionaire (with the TOC and TOA) to its subsidiary company, but the income stream of both organizations flow through the same pocket, the mother companies or holding company (?) of the concessionaires/operators. Put it another way, I view it as a matter of corporate greed, which is a common practice among business conglomerates but in this case I believe there is some sort of circumventing of some laws, among them PD 1112.

"10. In my research on records of expressway users (RFID ID subscribers), it is estimated that advance payment of toll fees or deposit to these firms upon applying for an RFID account now made as mandatory (or confiscatory?), translates to an advance payment of around P300 million each for Autosweep and Easytrip (i.e., a lot of funds to play with in the money market). If TRB and the third parties referred to can only share the data of RFID subscribers and toll road users as well as full disclosure on the matter, a more accurate estimate of the advance payment of toll fees (aka minimum or sufficient balance required for each RFID account) can be established.

"I have stated the abovementioned facts to raise the issue of the propriety or legality of Autosweep and Easytrip now directly involved in road business as toll fee collector without any legal basis and authorization from TRB under PD 1112 or any other policies or circulars promulgated and issued by DoTr, LTO and TRB.

"Presidential Decree 1112 is clear on who is duly authorized to collect toll fees which is supposed to serve as the income stream for the operators/concessionaires that would allow a reasonable rate of return on investments (please refer to the premises of PD 1112). As such, I cannot see the legality and propriety of Autosweep and Easytrip to act as toll fee collector which is not so authorized under PD 1112 or any of the circulars and policies issued by DoTr, LTO and TRB. The policies issued by DoTr, LTO and TRB refer to the policy of the government (mainly motivated and inspired by the pandemic era and Electronic Commerce Act) to promote an electronic toll collection scheme and/or cashless payment scheme, but these policies did not categorically authorize any other third parties to collect toll fees for and on behalf of the concessionaires/operators whose rights and privileges under their respective TOCs and TOAs which is not transferable or cannot be delegated by the TOC/TOA holder.

"The application form provided by these third parties (e.g., Easytrip) are so strict or stringent, and one I believe unfair for the motorists but simply meant to ensure that toll fees flow to these firms even prior to entering or actual use of the expressways as if the use of expressways is a prepaid business akin to fast-food chain. Making it worse is that the terms and conditions set forth in the application form, which takes the form of a contract, is such that non-use of the vehicle's RFID account or non-use of the expressway by the motorist (RFID account holder) can be considered as dormant account and eventually closed involuntarily, and without knowledge and consent of the vehicle owner and/or RFID account holder — and I am a victim of this scheme as reported to TRB.

"By my own personal experience officially filed to TRB, once the RFID account is closed, the account cannot be accessed, and the balance in the said RFID account is deemed gone or deemed forfeited in favor of Autosweep or Easytrip, and to me, this is akin to 'highway robbery' (the term used by a Manila Times columnist in his write-up about TRB).

"In light of the foregoing, I am urging DoTr, LTO and TRB to examine the role of the two companies which I perceive as confiscatory and abusive if not illegal. Please review and look at the role of these two organizations with utmost due diligence in work and conscience, taking the viewpoint of a motorist and as motorist or road user as well.

"If there is any misconceptions and/or misinterpretations at my end, please educate me on the matter.

"Looking forward to your quick action on this matter under your Citizens Charter and RA 6713."

Email: allinsight.manilatimes@gmail.com

FB page: www.facebook.com/All.Insight.Manila.Times

Viber account: (0915)4201085

Al Vitangcol 3rd Al Vitangcol 3rd The Manila Times
Controversial transcript of purported 'new model' agreement between PH and China https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/18/opinion/columns/controversial-transcript-of-purported-new-model-agreement-between-ph-and-china/1947197 Prof. Anna Malindog-Uy Sat, 18 May 2024 00:02:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/18/opinion/columns/controversial-transcript-of-purported-new-model-agreement-between-ph-and-china/1947197 <![CDATA[

AMID an ongoing verbal sparring match between Beijing and Manila spanning several months, it appears that China has grown irritated by the persistent denials from Philippine government officials regarding the purported "new model" agreement for resupply missions to Philippine troops stationed in the disputed Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. This prompted China to adopt a hardball diplomatic stance, exemplified by the release of a transcript capturing the discussions between a Chinese diplomat and Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, the head of the Philippine military's Western Command, regarding the so-called new model or "one-plus-one" agreement with an overarching aim of mitigating and de-escalating tensions in the area, which, in my view, represents a prudent step for both parties to prevent escalation and promote diplomatic stability.

Ensuring smooth resupply missions, free from confrontations, is crucial for regional peace, stability and security. Why then would the Marcos administration deny this? The intention behind this new model agreement is genuinely beneficial for both sides. Could it be that the Americans are unhappy with it?


The controversy stirred by the release of the transcript underscores a deeper narrative. China appears intent on asserting the existence of an agreed-upon "new model" agreement between the two nations, emphasizing the Philippines' alleged breaches.

The transcript documenting a purported conversation on Jan. 3, 2024, implies that Vice Admiral Carlos acquiesced to the so-called new model for managing resupply missions to the disputed Second Thomas Shoal where the BRP Sierra Madre is situated. In the transcript, Carlos indicated to the Chinese diplomat that the proposed "new model" had received approval from higher authorities, including a name redacted in the document, AFP Chief General Brawner, Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro and National Security Adviser Secretary/General Año.

Consequently, on Feb. 2, 2024, AFP spokesman Col. Francel Margareth A. Padilla announced the flawless execution of a rotation and resupply operation for BRP Sierra Madre on her official Facebook account, highlighting teamwork, precision and dedication. However, the post was deleted following the release of the transcript. The optimism from the successful operation was short-lived as tensions surged again between the Philippines and China. This resurgence precipitated diplomatic and political crises, further straining bilateral relations, particularly concerning the South China Sea dispute.

Philippine authorities have vehemently denied there is such a "new model" agreement, dismissing the transcript as a fabricated deception possibly generated by AI. This controversy has escalated with accusations of violations of Philippine laws, such as the Anti-Wiretapping Law. The tensions have reached a point where high-ranking Philippine officials are advocating for the expulsion of implicated Chinese Embassy officials, citing their alleged involvement in malign influence and interference operations within the country.


Amid the controversy surrounding the Chinese side's release of the purported transcript, the response from the Philippine government officials concerned appears disjointed. Their reactions, marked by swift denials, seem to betray a certain level of anxiety. This inconsistency is particularly perplexing. The accusation against China engaging in wiretapping implies the acknowledgment of the existence of an audio recording and the authenticity of the transcript. Conversely, other Philippine government officials, including the AFP, assert that the transcript is "deeply fake." These conflicting statements only further complicate this issue.

Speaking of wiretapping, Sen. Francis Tolentino has filed a resolution to investigate an alleged wiretapping incident involving the Chinese Embassy in Manila related to the "new model agreement" negotiations between the Philippines and China. Accordingly, the Chinese Embassy will be invited to a Senate hearing on Tuesday (May 21). It is crucial to consider whether it is prudent and lawful under international law to subject Chinese Embassy officials to this hearing. I also think this matter raises complex questions under international law.

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961), diplomats enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of the host country's courts and other authorities. This immunity is intended to allow diplomats to perform their duties without fear of coercion or harassment by the host country. Article 31 of the Convention specifically provides immunity from the host state's criminal, civil and administrative jurisdiction. This means they cannot be prosecuted or sued under the host country's laws. This immunity extends to the diplomats' personal immunity and family members. Note also that the premises of a diplomatic mission, such as an embassy, are inviolable. Host country officials cannot enter the premises without permission, and the mission's property and archives are protected. These principles are outlined in the Convention, which provides the legal framework for diplomatic relations and the treatment of diplomatic missions.

Note that the principle of sovereign immunity also protects foreign states and their representatives from being subjected to the legal processes of another state. Inviting Chinese Embassy officials to testify in a Senate hearing could be seen and perceived as a violation of this principle, potentially leading to severe diplomatic and political tensions in the already tension-driven diplomatic and political relations between the Philippines and China. The potential consequences of this action cannot be overstated. In my opinion, the issue could be addressed through diplomatic channels instead of summoning diplomats to a public hearing. This approach respects the principles of diplomatic immunity and protocols, and avoids escalating tensions.

Hence, attempting to accuse the Chinese side of violating anti-wiretapping laws or interfering in the Philippines' internal affairs is futile. Keeping transcripts and recordings is common practice, particularly during high-level diplomatic discussions between governments on sensitive issues. These records serve multiple purposes, such as historical documentation, ensuring accountability and transparency, and facilitating decision-making for both parties.

Moreover, a deeper examination of Vice Admiral Carlos' role is crucial. The transcript reveals that Carlos acted more as an intermediary than a decisive authority. It appears he became the scapegoat for the government officials mentioned in the transcript, who are responsible and should be held accountable for shedding light on this matter by providing an honest, straightforward and accurate explanation. This whole fiasco undermines Vice Admiral Carlos' reputation and integrity as a military officer and highlights broader issues of accountability and transparency within the current government. It appears unjust and unfair that seemingly Carlos has been made the sacrificial lamb to shield others from scrutiny in this controversy. It is indeed crucial for the Filipino people to recognize the implications of such actions and strive for greater transparency, accountability and fairness in addressing these controversial matters.


To effectively address this dispute between the conflicting parties, it would be wise for the relevant Philippine government officials to abstain from making provocative remarks and instead return to the negotiating table to engage in constructive dialogue with their Chinese counterparts. Prioritizing diplomacy remains the most prudent approach for both sides to pursue a resolution to this controversy.

Furthermore, one must not forget that trust, good reputation and honoring agreements, big or small, are the bedrock and foundational principles of international relations. They play a pivotal role in maintaining stability, fostering cooperation and resolving disputes. When trust is nurtured and upheld, it serves as a cornerstone for building stronger and more resilient international partnerships.

Anna Rosario Malindog-Uy is a PhD economics candidate at the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development in China's Peking University. She is analyst, director and vice president for external affairs of the Asian Century Philippines Strategic Studies Institute (ACPSSI), a Manila-based think tank.

Prof. Anna Malindog-Uy Prof. Anna Malindog-Uy The Manila Times
'Prayer' rally https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/18/opinion/columns/prayer-rally/1947196 Chin Wong Sat, 18 May 2024 00:01:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/18/opinion/columns/prayer-rally/1947196 <![CDATA[

THE former government executives — now jobless since their boss, former president Rodrigo Duterte, left office — clambered onto the back of a truck that was turned into a makeshift stage, decked out with lights, a sound system and an LCD wall.

The provincial gathering was billed as a prayer rally for peace.

On stage, a group of young singers and dancers wearing identical t-shirts that said "Defend the Flag" warmed up the crowd to the primitive beat of a Cebuano ditty that seemed designed to suck out any remaining intelligence from the people watching. "Where is the 20-peso rice?" They later sang to the tune of "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain When She Comes," mocking President Marcos for his unfulfilled campaign promise to bring the price of rice down to P20 a kilogram. "Nothing!" the crowd responded gleefully. They were wearing the same "Maisug Peace Rally" t-shirts, waving their arms and dancing in atavistic lockstep. Some carried uniform placards calling the President a drug addict ("BBM bangag") and demanding that he resign. Others in the back waved the Philippine flag.

A balding emcee came onstage to thank the "energetic" dancers, and introduced the "economical prayer" (oh, he meant ecumenical) while mispronouncing the word "Catholic" (sounds like cathartic). The national anthem followed a Muslim, then a Christian prayer — the excuse needed to call this a "prayer rally."

Then, an elderly fellow in glasses explained that his group organized the rally because they support transparency, accountability, peace and security — behind him, a projected logo of a giant fist in front of a Philippine flag.

A succession of speakers associated with the former president — his son, the mayor of Davao City, criticizing the President's wife; a former congressman mocking the President and calling his wife "the national problem;" and two former Cabinet members, one skinny and the other looking like a dark version of the Michelin man, both complaining about how the permit for their "prayer rally" was canceled at the last moment, in violation of their right to free speech. These same people, when they were in power, defended the most heinous violations of human rights in the bloody war on drugs that their boss pursued — but don't you dare trample on their free-speech rights.

The main event was a rambling, profanity-laced speech by the former president, that began with a sermon on how the Constitution was the fundamental law of the land, and how people shouldn't tinker with it, moved on to how Mindanao could separate from the country if not for the Charter; a rant about how the permit for their rally was suddenly withdrawn and how they had to go to another park instead; an abbreviated history of the country's colonial past; Marcos Sr.'s efforts to tinker with the Constitution (fact check: he didn't tinker with it, he had it rewritten), President Cory Aquino's attempts to fix it (she also had it rewritten); how it was unconstitutional to prevent anyone from exercising his right to free speech; then the danger that President Marcos would amend the Constitution to allow him to run again.

"What's the f*****g matter about the Constitution? It's perfect," he said.

The defense of free speech was rich, coming from the ex-president who was responsible for shutting down the country's biggest broadcast network, harassing and threatening journalists — and even cynically accusing them of extortion, accepting bribes or "attacking their victims needlessly" when one of them was murdered.

Anyone straying into the park that night looking for prayer or peace at the rally would have been sorely disappointed. There was little of either.

Oped Template Chin Wong Final Oped Template Chin Wong Final The Manila Times
Height of immorality to use civilians as cannon fodder, sacrificial lambs https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/17/opinion/height-of-immorality-to-use-civilians-as-cannon-fodder-sacrificial-lambs/1947010 Rigoberto D. Tiglao Fri, 17 May 2024 00:08:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/17/opinion/height-of-immorality-to-use-civilians-as-cannon-fodder-sacrificial-lambs/1947010 <![CDATA[

IT is the height of immorality for President Marcos Jr.'s Navy and Coast Guard to use civilians — in this case poor fishermen — as cannon fodder, even sacrificial lambs, in the maritime-area dispute with China in the South China Sea.

For planning and undertaking such a profoundly depraved scheme, those involved in it, and their bosses, especially Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Jay Tarriela, who sources say planned it, should be fired and dishonorably discharged.

I am referring to the operation by a dubious group called "Atin Ito" launched the other day for a number of fishermen and activists, prodded, paid or fooled by former communist leader Edicio de la Torre and Akbayan head Rafael David's outfits, to sail on their fishing boats to "swarm" Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal).

President Benigno Aquino III's officials abandoned that shoal, fooled by an American diplomat during the so-called Scarborough stand-off in 2012, which cemented China's claim of it as part of its sovereign territory called Huangyan Dao (island). (I have detailed this episode in several columns, which no official in the Aquino government has denied).

<![CDATA[https://www.manilatimes.net]]> (1)

The "Atin Ito" operation is undoubtedly a plot thought up and undertaken by the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), particularly by Tarriela, who claimed in his X account that it is merely the fishermen providing "humanitarian aid" to other fishermen in Bajo de Masinloc, and "by the way," asserting the Philippines' right to its exclusive economic zone.


Tarriela thinks we are fools. Since when do small Filipino fishermen — among the poorest in the country — provide aid to and "resupply" other fishermen doing what they do as their livelihood income, which is to fish?

The real intent is a shameless, depraved version of the Philippine Navy and PCG's tactics in the past months in Ayungin Shoal. This was to provoke China into defending what they think is their territory by water-cannoning and shooing away Philippine vessels attempting to supply the BRP Sierra Madre with repair and construction materials. For the Chinese, this violates the agreement made with President Estrada's administration not to supply the Sierra Madre with such materials that would make the vessel a permanent outpost.

While hogging the headlines for several days with its dramatic video clips and portraying China as a Goliath bullying the Philippines as a heroic David in Ayungin Shoal, that drama has fast receded from public consciousness, and with the Chinese Embassy's explanation on the incidents.

The Chinese Embassy released the transcript of a telephone conversation between a Chinese diplomat and the military's Western Command head Gen. Albert Carlos., which confirmed what they have been saying all along: That there was an agreement (an updated one since the Estrada administration) that all they can bring to the Sierra Madre are food living supplies and not repair materials that can be used to turn the grounded vessel into a permanent outpost.


Knowing they would be violating that agreement, the Navy and PCG hoped that China's reactions would result in Filipino casualties, which would have created international outrage against China and possibly invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty, which would be triggered at least, according to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's recent unthinking statements, if a single Filipino is killed in clashes with the Chinese in the disputed waters.

But that didn't happen: the PCG's steel-hulled vessels, of course, wouldn't sink even if hit by the most powerful water cannons, and their sailors, of course, have such well-tuned survival instincts they'd evade the water blasts to survive unscathed and not be thrown overboard.

I bet Tarriela thought he had a brilliant idea: "Instead of Navy and PCG vessels, send to the Chinese-controlled Bajo de Masinloc this time a flotilla of fishermen and bleeding-heart activists fooled by the ex-priest, ex-communst de la Torre, who probably needs extra funds as he had long-lost Communist Party allowances, with his Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement he claims to be president of, years ago a dead, penniless outfit. Marcos' staunch ally, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, of course, could be asked or directed to order her longtime "Pink" (i.e., namby-pamby former Reds) organization Akbayan to provide the warm bodies for that operation."

"Those fishermen's small boats wouldn't stand a chance: they'll sink when the water-cannons blast them, or even when the wake created by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel hits them, and they sink with the fishermen drowning helplessly," Tarriela must have thought. The Philippines and the world will be outraged and condemn China. I can imagine Tarriela's eyes light up, and rush to the PCG head to present his brilliant, diabolical plan.


De la Torre of course, who was a leader of the communist-led National Democratic Front in the 1980s, would be familiar with such tactics. Communist-led demonstrations during the late dictator Marcos' time were intended to provoke such police brutality that demonstrators were killed, increasing the loathing against that dictatorship. This was the template created by demonstrations in the 1970s that Jose Ma. Sison called the First Quarter Storm.

This Atin Ito/Tarriela plot is an abomination. At least earlier operations in Ayungin Shoal were undertaken by the Philippine state's armed components — the Navy and the PCG. In contrast, this Atin Ito/Tarriela plot will involve unarmed, helpless civilians, and the poorest ones at that — small fishermen — who have nothing to do, and even probably disagree, with this government's belligerent stance against China, who just want to be left alone to make a living. It is indeed preposterous to believe Tarriela, de la Torre and David's claim that the fishermen volunteered to swarm Bajo de Masinloc as their patriotic duty to defend the Philippines' EEZ.

This diabolical plot will hurt our fishermen. Duterte had actually convinced China to agree to revert to the status quo before the Scarborough standoff, which is to allow small fishermen, including those from the Philippines and Vietnam, to fish in the waters adjacent to Scarborough and seek refuge in its lagoon to weather a storm. I think China will change its policy in reaction to the Atin Ito/Tarriela plot, and totally ban Filipino fishermen from fishing in the area.


The news agency Agence France-Presse reported at 11 a.m. yesterday that Atin Ito organizers "abandoned plans to sail closer to" Scarborough Shoal." The group's spokesman, Emman Hizon, however told reporters that an "advance team" had already distributed fuel and other assistance to Filipino fishermen last Tuesday. The AFP also reported: "A government aerial reconnaissance flight saw 19 Chinese vessels including a warship and eight coast guard vessels patrolling around the shoal on Wednesday, the Philippine Coast Guard said. The Filipino convoy consisted of four wooden-hulled fishing boats and a coast guard escort, and was 108 kilometers southeast of Scarborough Shoal."

A source claimed that when the fishermen saw the Chinese vessels, they must have realized they were being used as cannon fodder, and on their own turned around to head home, surprising the "Atin Ito" organizers, who panicked and proceeded to give media conflicting explanations.

Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao

X: @bobitiglao

Website: www.rigobertotiglao.com

Did they join the fishermen? Organizers of plot former communist de la Torre and Akbayan president David. SCREENGRAB FROM ABS-CBN ‘ATIN ITO’ PRESSCON ON YOUTUBE Did they join the fishermen? Organizers of plot former communist de la Torre and Akbayan president David. SCREENGRAB FROM ABS-CBN ‘ATIN ITO’ PRESSCON ON YOUTUBE The Manila Times
Investigating Bongbong https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/17/opinion/investigating-bongbong/1947009 Francisco S. Tatad Fri, 17 May 2024 00:07:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/17/opinion/investigating-bongbong/1947009 <![CDATA[

AN ongoing Senate committee inquiry seeks to establish whether or not President Ferdinand (Bongbong) Romualdez Marcos Jr., before he became president in 2022, was ever involved in any kind of dangerous drug use, a criminal offense. The inquiry, supposedly "in aid of legislation," is being conducted by the Committee on Public Order chaired by Sen. Ronald "Bato" de la Rosa, a former national police chief and principal ally of former president Rodrigo Duterte, who has recently broken political ties with Marcos, his former political ally.

Duterte, whose daughter Sara is the sitting vice president and first in the line of presidential succession to Marcos, has been quoted as saying Marcos is believed to have taken cocaine.

De la Rosa used to be part of Duterte's drug war that admittedly killed thousands and has caused the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague to move for the investigation of former president Duterte, Vice President Sara and possibly de la Rosa himself for alleged "crimes against humanity." This, despite the fact that Duterte had withdrawn Philippine membership from the ICC in 2018 (effective 2019), and Marcos himself has decided not to cooperate with the ICC probe. The Senate inquiry could be an attempt to deflect public attention from Duterte to Marcos.

The Senate committee is trying to determine the veracity of an incriminatory report from one Jonathan Morales, a former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency agent. This report claims that in 2012, the agent conducted a surveillance operation on then-senator Marcos Jr. and other social personalities, but that his superiors ordered his operation aborted. Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, one of former president Erap Estrada's two senator-sons, and a couple of other senators, have questioned the credibility of the witness, but the inquiry has provoked wide public interest, notably on social media and among former military and police officials.

It may have contributed to recent calls on Marcos to resign, and to rumors of a possible coup attempt against the President. On May 10, former senator (2007–2019) Antonio Trillanes IV, a retired naval captain who was involved in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the Manila Peninsula siege in 2007, warned Marcos about such a coup, prompting the latter to issue a formal denial. The next day, The Manila Times ran a banner headline saying, "No report PNP plotting a coup."

It was a ridiculous and absurd statement. Normally, a responsible and serious government does not deny the existence of a security threat that does not exist; nor does it confirm a particular threat that exists, except to do what is necessary in order to eliminate it. But Malacañang issued its ludicrous statement, and so it continues to shadow-box with all sorts of rumored threats. Duterte's rhetoric has contributed to those threats: secessionism, revolutionary government, withdrawal of support to the president and commander-in-chief. And the government's response has, so far, been totally incompetent and inept.

In a duly constituted democratic and republican order such as ours, the president and commander-in-chief does not owe his legitimacy and term of office to the officers and men and women of the police or the armed forces. He owes it to the Constitution and the electorate. Likewise, the officers and members of the police and the armed forces owe their loyalty to the Constitution and to duly constituted authorities, beginning with the president and commander-in-chief. How is it then that some generals seem to believe they could withdraw their allegiance and support to the Constitution and to the president and commander-in-chief, and the latter can do nothing about it?

This happened twice in our country in the last 38 years. First, against Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in 1986, and then against Joseph Ejercito Estrada in 2001. In both cases, the president's ouster was instigated by alien forces. Is it not time for the state to read the riot act on the various extra-constitutional forces and make sure the Constitution and the rule of law are strictly followed?

From all indications, de la Rosa is determined to pursue his inquiry to see whether there is enough evidence against Marcos. This is not as simple as it appears. The issue here is not simply the credibility or lack of credibility of the witness. The real issue here is whether the Congress has the right or the duty to investigate a sitting president outside of the impeachment process. Under our Constitution, no sitting president can be investigated by Congress unless and until he has been impeached by the House of Representatives, and is now being tried by the Senate impeachment court. In the case at bar, the alleged offense is supposed to have been committed when Marcos Jr. was a senator, but he is now the president, who is immune from suit for any criminal offense.

We dealt with this problem once before, in 2000, when then-president Estrada was accused of bribery and corruption by Ilocos Sur governor Luis "Chavit" Singson, and Sen. Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr., as chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, rushed to investigate the charges as soon as they were repeated in the Senate by Senate Minority Leader Teofisto Guingona Jr. As Senate majority leader and chairman of the committee on rules at the time, I tried to remind Pimentel that the Constitution did not allow him to investigate.

But I was rudely brushed aside, and among my colleagues, only the late senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a former trial judge and a constitutional expert, supported my position. The rest of this is history: Estrada was impeached, but the prosecutors walked out of the impeachment trial when they could not get what they wanted, and Erap was ousted in a judicially instigated coup by a small mob of pro-Gloria Arroyo supporters.

Marcos Jr. has the choice of rereading to the de la Rosa committee the constitutional provision on the separation of powers, or taking a chance that what happened to Erap would not happen to him.


Francisco Tatad Francisco Tatad The Manila Times
Global Summit of Women in Madrid https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/17/opinion/global-summit-of-women-in-madrid/1947008 Ma. Isabel Ongpin Fri, 17 May 2024 00:06:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/17/opinion/global-summit-of-women-in-madrid/1947008 <![CDATA[

I ATTENDED the Global Summit of Women in Madrid, Spain from May 9 to 11. The conference was in its 26th year, led by the Fil-Am dynamo Irene Natividad and her high-powered group of international women leaders. The Philippine delegation was led by former foreign affairs secretary Delia Albert and Aurora Geotina Garcia of the Philippine Women's Economic Network (she headed the Financial Planning and Investment Strategies for Women Forum at the event).

Government leaders, business personalities and women from all the continents were present, bringing their own interests and experiences, as well as readiness to learn, collaborate and innovate within the current climate primarily of business and economics but expanding toward women's issues and current geopolitical issues. The summit theme was "Women: Energizing Economics of the Future." More than 1,000 women were in attendance. From Asia, the Vietnamese delegation was the biggest, followed closely by China and Kazakhstan, with Cambodia, Malaysia and Japan in attendance. Africa was present with a substantial group from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, among others. Europe, of course, had the major countries represented, including Iceland and Romania, as well as delegates from South and Central America.

The basic concerns were climate change, artificial intelligence (AI) and the new workplace of remote, hybrid or interpersonal conditions.

On AI and its repercussions, the thinking was that it was here to stay, a useful tool which could improve any life conditions but had to have rules for its use in place. The European Union has already come up with rules, and the United States is formulating its own.

On climate change, the need to preserve, as well as intelligently manage resources needed for living, including agriculture, air quality, water, and open spaces and forests, was discussed. Technology like robotics and AI, for example, can be used to conserve water, use fertilizer properly and measure soil conditions to keep them optimal. It could also prevent deforestation by containing poachers and other depredators by remote control.

Then the new workplace conditions, especially after the pandemic, where office workers were working from remote working areas like the home, were brought up. While for family members who have home responsibilities, remote working would be ideal, it was the consensus that hybrid was better where reporting physically to the office enabled the dynamics of learning and innovating to come through interpersonal activities. Other workplace matters, like keeping them healthy for employees by addressing their personal needs like mental health issues, economic problems and future expectations, were discussed. It was admirable to note how some big corporations like PepsiCo address them with Wellness and Inclusive issues, having executives tending to them. Diversity is also being accommodated in workplaces by many forward-looking business groups.

The topics went much farther than the above. For example, the subject of women living in urban areas who have special needs like transport, freedom from sexual harassment, protection from violence as well as to be given attention by educational institutions and government offices, was of great interest and noteworthy for imitation.

And then the subject of wellness for women in both the workplace and home was tackled. Speakers who have been in this field emphasized self-care and learning, and to ask for support when needed. Trying to be superwomen and doing everything for others will come to an end if women do not think of their own health, their own needs and their own mental well-being.

All in all, this was a substantive summit where issues, including peace negotiations (more women should be in peace-making work), addressing violence against women by support services, and the education of men and boys about gender equality, were topics brought up, along with the business and economic where women are now present and in charge in those environments.

Correction: In fairness to Savonarola, the Dominican friar burned at the stake in Florence during the Renaissance as mentioned in my last column, it was the Inquisition that condemned him for his criticism of the Church and the Florentine elites, and his aggressive institution of the "bonfire of the vanities" — the burning of books, luxuries, etc., as spectacles to publicly shame and condemn those whom he judged to be sinners. It was another time.

Ma. Isabel Ongpin Ma. Isabel Ongpin The Manila Times
Hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/17/opinion/hybrids-plug-in-hybrids-and-electric-vehicles/1947007 Stephen CuUnjieng Fri, 17 May 2024 00:05:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/17/opinion/hybrids-plug-in-hybrids-and-electric-vehicles/1947007 <![CDATA[

Last of two parts

THE oldest style, which is getting obsolete, is the hybrid like my old Prius, which is a roughly 25-year-old technology. This type of car has a modest internal combustion engine and battery. At slower speeds and for short distances, especially if flat or downhill, the car can run on the battery. Usually, it runs on the rather small engine often augmented by power from the battery. The battery is usually guaranteed for five to seven years. Mine had to be replaced after a year, and it was done under warranty, and the replacement was still working fine when I sold the car. Generally, one gets double the mileage of an equivalent sized regular car. The battery is not charged but charges itself through friction (regenerative braking) and the internal combustion engine, if needed. I think this is a very useful technology versus full electric for a place with inadequate EV charging infrastructure like the Philippines. In the US, it is no longer eligible for federal tax rebates, as they want buyers to move to the more advanced and environmentally friendly plug-in hybrids and electric cars.

Let me go to electric cars first so the difference between them, old hybrid and plug-in hybrids, becomes clearer as the latter is, in some way, a compromise but also a better use of both the electric car and internal combustion engine.

Electric cars are all battery. Zero gasoline, so the most environmentally friendly as literally zero tailpipe emissions. They have instant torque, so acceleration is quite good especially compared to hybrids. Generally, the cost of charging the car is half what one would pay for running an equivalent car on gasoline or diesel. Most have a range of at least 100 miles but one should expect over 250 miles or 400 kilometers from newer models like the one I bought. Battery life is 12 to 15 years. The limitations are if one goes on the road a lot or on vacation with an electric car, are the quick charging options available. This is where, yet again, anticipatory infrastructure is needed as they are doing in China, Europe and parts of the US, rather than the chicken and egg approach of waiting for more electric cars to be on the road then filling the need. There, they are anticipating and encouraging the need by making the shift to electric as seamless as possible. Another example of the limitations of the Washington Consensus mindset.

If not charging the electric vehicle overnight, at worst one can slow charge with a normal electrical outlet. I drove a Tesla late last year when my youngest son and I went from New York to Philadelphia, and we had to return at least three-fourths charged, and we did charge it in New Jersey on the way back, and it took about 20 minutes at a fast-charging station to go from about 30 percent to 100 percent. My BYD has a DC charger installed at my home, and they recommend charging when it is below 80 percent but above 20 percent. If the car is near zero, it will take about seven hours, but like many, I don't wait like with a regular car until the gas tank is empty to load. I usually charge at around 50 percent, and it takes about three hours. I try to charge it during the day so my solar panels at home are also lowering the overall cost which is an added benefit. Because it has fewer parts (no internal combustion engine), it costs much less to maintain the car. The main disadvantage is the charging infrastructure available which may limit one to the DC charger (level 2 charger), which one must install at home or hope the apartment complex has it or be limited to the very slow regular electric outlet. That could take up to 12 hours to fully charge from near zero.

A plug-in hybrid is not quite an electric car but much more than the original hybrid. As I replace my cars, I would hope to go all electric or at worst, plug-in hybrid. Like an old hybrid, it has both a battery and an internal combustion engine, and both are larger than that in an older hybrid. The batteries are generally big enough that fully charged the car can run in full electric mode for 20–40 miles which is more than normal daily driving. You charge it the same way an electric car is charged. Beyond that, the car runs on gasoline and the internal combustion engine. Again, much better mileage and lower tailpipe emissions and still cheaper to maintain than an internal combustion car. I think this is very useful for the Philippines, at least as of now, with its nearly nonexistent electric-charging infrastructure.

Overall, to me, if one can use an all-electric car that is the cheapest to run and maintain, and the most environmentally friendly with zero tailpipe emissions, that is the way to go. Full take-up will require an infrastructure like what one sees in California and New Jersey. In many places that seem to be on the way.

The future of a zero-tailpipe emission car is no longer a concept. It is here. Luddites like Cut and Paste seem to be overly aroused by regressing and bemoaning progress, but while not perfect, the post-internal combustion engine era is here and improving. It is just a matter of how long it will take to transition. I suppose if that upsets the Luddites, let them console themselves by watching a film on their Betamax or VHS and complaining to their friends via their landline or Nokia phone. Again, as the apt saying goes, "The dogs may bark, but the caravan rolls on." In this case, a zero-tailpipe emission caravan.

Stephen CuUnjieng Stephen CuUnjieng The Manila Times
The ambiguity of freedom and nationalism https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/17/opinion/the-ambiguity-of-freedom-and-nationalism/1947005 Van Ybiernas Fri, 17 May 2024 00:04:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/17/opinion/the-ambiguity-of-freedom-and-nationalism/1947005 <![CDATA[

ACCORDING to vocabulary Dot com, the word preamble comes from the Latin praeambulus, which means "walking before." In the case of statutes or laws, the preamble acts as an introduction, often explaining the purpose of the measure.

In the case of Republic Act (RA) 1425, or the Rizal Law, signed into law by President Ramon Magsaysay on June 12, 1956 and sponsored in the Senate by nationalist titans Claro M. Recto and Jose P. Laurel, the first preambulatory statement reads: "Whereas, today, more than any other period of our history, there is a need for a rededication to the ideals of freedom and nationalism for which our heroes lived and died."

Why did the preamble of RA1425 emphasize the "need for a rededication to the ideals of freedom and nationalism" using "today, more than any other period in our history"? Could it be a kind of recency bias that gives undue importance to recent events vis-a-vis the historic past?

Reading Reynaldo Ileto's "Knowledge and Pacification" (2017), however, will give the readers a different interpretation of that preambulatory statement authored by Recto and Laurel. In broad strokes, Ileto reminds us of how crucial the 1950s were to the history of Philippine nationalism (to be elaborated in the next columns).

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Rizal's generation is universally recognized as the progenitors of the Filipino nation born in the late 19th century. In fact, as I wrote in "Jose Rizal: The First Filipino" (The Manila Times, May 10, 2024), Rizal biographer Leon Ma. Guerrero labeled him "the first Filipino" for that particular reason.

Zeus Salazar, on the other hand, argues forcefully regarding the nacion-bayan dichotomy. To wit, Rizal may rightly claim to the label "first Filipino" in the context of nationhood wherein nacion in the Spanish language predominantly used by the ilustrados seeks to be the successor-state to the colonial state. Salazar emphasizes that Andres Bonifacio's (haring) bayan followed a different trajectory from Rizal's nacion in the sense that the former is a modern-day iteration of the pre-colonial bayan, which colonialism sought (unsuccessfully) to destroy through the establishment of the colonial state.

Many believe that the archipelago did not have a national political structure prior to the establishment of the colonial state with its capital (eventually) in Manila in the 16th century. I am one of a few historians to insist that a loose federation or confederation of what Salazar calls "ethnic states" horizontally structured and distributed throughout the archipelago existed prior to the advent of Spanish colonialism. Salazar reminds that these loosely confederated ethnic states manifested themselves many times to resist the Spanish colonial incursion beginning in the 16th century, including the so-called Tondo Conspiracy of 1587-1588. In the said conspiracy, leaders of ethnic states from all over the archipelago plotted to oust the fledgling colonial state once and for all.

The ethnic states continued to exist in areas beyond the reach of colonialism, in the Muslim south and in non-Muslim communities — mostly in the hinterlands — that warded off colonial rule. These also persisted, albeit beneath the surface, in the colonized parts of the archipelago where the datu and rajah served as administrators in the renamed-but-essentially-unchanged barangays and pueblos as cabezas and gobernadorcillos, respectively.

As Angelito Nunag shows, the Katipunan's revolutionary government structure reflects the horizontal relations among the confederated ethnic states of the pre-colonial era through the establishment of the various "sanggunian" administrative and political units. The Katipunan revolutionary government, nevertheless, integrated the technical innovation introduced by the colonial state through the establishment of higher level political-administrative units at the provincial level (Sangguniang Bayan) and at the national level (Kataas-taasang Sanggunian).

As the events of the 1896 Revolution unfolded, Bonifacio and the Katipunan's bayan clashed with the nacion of the ilustrados/elite. Aside from fighting the Spaniards, the revolution struggled with infighting between Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo. Salazar suggested that Bonifacio lost power in Cavite as a result of a disguised coup d'etat and that the intention of Aguinaldo's group was to eventually sue for peace with the Spaniards as what happened in Biyak-na-Bato.

The Revolution went into its "second phase" in 1898 after an alliance with the United States was supposedly forged between Aguinaldo and American diplomats in Hong Kong and Singapore. The Americans eventually disavowed this agreement and moved to take over the archipelago from Spain as a result of the Treaty of Paris. When the Filipino-American War broke out in 1899, infighting among Filipinos continued between those committed to the independent republic in Malolos and those who sought collaboration with the United States.

For decades after the Revolution and in the shadow of American colonial rule, the idea of Philippine nationalism wallowed in limbo. Freedom and nationalism were confused (and confusing) terms in light of the elite's beneficial relations with the American colonizers (and the Spanish before them).

In the 1950s, what exactly did freedom and nationalism in the context of Filipino nationhood mean?

Water curtains 101 by Google and Pinoy insights https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/17/opinion/water-curtains-101-by-google-and-pinoy-insights/1947004 John Lesaca Fri, 17 May 2024 00:03:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/17/opinion/water-curtains-101-by-google-and-pinoy-insights/1947004 <![CDATA[

"A WATER curtain system on ships is a defense mechanism designed to create a protective barrier of water around the vessel to ward off external threats, such as water cannon attacks, or boarding by sea pirates or criminals.

High-pressure water curtain systems can be manually or automatically activated, depending on the level of threat detected. Some advanced systems may be equipped with sensors, cameras and control mechanisms to detect and respond to potential attacks effectively, providing an additional layer of protection against various maritime threats."

Deploying water curtains on a ship can be an effective way to ward off water cannon attacks. Here are some methods to effectively deploy water curtains:

  1. Install specialized water curtain systems along the sides of the ship that can be activated remotely.
  2. Use the continuous water curtain directed toward incoming threats.
  3. Utilize adjustable nozzles and sprayers to control the width and intensity of the water curtain.
  4. Integrate sensors and cameras to detect and track incoming threats, triggering the water curtain deployment automatically.
  5. Ensure the water curtain covers vulnerable areas of the ship where water cannon attacks are most likely to occur.
  6. Regularly test and maintain the water curtain system to ensure its effectiveness in deterring attacks.
  7. Train crew members on how to operate and deploy the water curtain system efficiently in case of an emergency.
  8. Coordinate with security personnel to have a rapid response plan in place to activate the water curtain system when needed.
  9. Consider integrating the water curtain system with other ship defense mechanisms for enhanced protection against water cannon attacks.
  10. Evaluate the effectiveness of the water curtain system through simulations and drills to identify any areas for improvement.

"Ultra-high pressure water jet cutters are used to cut a wide variety of materials including granite, concrete, ceramics, fabric and even Kevlar. One such cutter delivers 55,000 psi through a nozzle 0.003 inches in diameter at 1 kilometer per second, which can cut a person at a close range. There are reports of accidental deaths involving the industrial use of high-pressure water."

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Of course, the above research got my attention, mainly because of its defensive capability more than the aggressive possibility. I understand the official policy of not going down to the level of bullies, but we need to protect the ship's crew and equipment from being hurt and damaged, right?

It's high time we think out of the box on this one. Let's use our creative abilities to protect our maritime vessels from harm. This way, the bully just wastes his time and expends more diplomatic capital. Some are funny, comical, humorous, maybe harebrained and entertaining but hey, I'd rather share the following suggestions given to me, than be an armchair "ranter":

– Install long rectangular steel shields on each side of our ships similar to the front end of a bulldozer, only much wider and higher. This blocks the spray and deflects the spurts back toward the water. Or make the curve face backwards. The material can be made of plastic for lightness but effective — the idea is to dissipate the strength of the water spurt and lessen the damage and harm.

– Or, place these shields at the rear of our ships. The captain then steers the ship so the shield always faces the water cannon and pushes the ship safely out of harm's way. This saves on fuel, too.

– Use some sturdy netting material to snag the belligerent ship's propellers and render them inoperable, and let them drift away to Africa without food and water. Then we sell them our supplies.

– Broadcast the belligerent acts live over social media through drones and show the international community what is taking place in real time.

– Dress up some ships with weapons made out of cardboard and deploy them in the guise of resupply activities. While they are being attacked with water cannons, the actual supply ships speed out to complete their objective.

– Use our helicopters to rain feces and waste collected from our clogged sewage systems on belligerent ships. Just make sure the local ships are far away to minimize collateral damage.

– Equip our maritime vessels with bigger and souped-up engines to outrun and outmaneuver these belligerent vessels.

– Use the VFA to include an American in our supply ships. That way, when they get attacked with water cannons, and the American citizen is hurt, the US must act. This will finally convince the anti-VFA proponents that they are wrong.

– DoST should develop strong water-soluble and biodegradable acids that are capable of melting steel hulls.

– Because the midterm elections are coming, allow our politicians to make laws prohibiting China from using water cannons. Anyway, no one follows the law here. However, our Constitution provides for self-defense, but that's why they always want to change it.

Have a great weekend everyone!

The Manila Times
The arduous journey to civil service https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/17/opinion/the-arduous-journey-to-civil-service/1947003 Dr. Carl E. Balita Fri, 17 May 2024 00:02:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/17/opinion/the-arduous-journey-to-civil-service/1947003 <![CDATA[

GOVERNMENT service is probably the most rewarding career. It guarantees stability and provides for career progression assured with social insurance and retirement benefits of a lifetime. But the entry and permanency to this noble job is not easy. In a highly clannish culture, the "whom you know" is as imperative as "what you know."

What if a law is passed to require political candidates to pass certain examinations to ensure their capability to think and reason logically as well as write and speak with correct grammar? What if it is mandatory that they know the Constitution, and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, as well as competencies in peace and human rights, and environmental management and protection? These are the competencies tested by the Civil Service Examination (CSE).

If even the clerks and encoders in government service are required to pass the most difficult examination with the lowest passing rate in the country, the CSE, then why are the key decision-makers and leaders exempt from demonstrating competencies prior to the offering of themselves to the public for election? If all the choices offered to the public are competent based on some normative measures, then the voting public and the society have greater chances of choosing the better and best candidates.

But this is an impossible dream anchored on the excuse that the voice of the people is the voice of God — vox populi, vox dei. Only those wanting to work in government are subjected to qualifications and tough competition.

Hurdles of the most difficult examination

Civil Service Eligibility, through the CSE, is a means for one to apply for permanent jobs in the government. It is given twice yearly and conducted by the Civil Service Commission (CSC). The pen-and-paper test is given through a text booklet, while the computerized examination (Comex) is conducted through the CSC offices.

The CSE is tougher than any other examinations. The average passing rate in the Civil Service Examination (CSE) in nine years or in 13 examinations from 2015 to the recent is only 14.12 percent. The highest passing rate was in August 2022 at 18.97 percent, and the lowest passing rate was in March 2018 with only 10.57 percent. For nine years (2015 to 2024) and in 13 Civil Service Examinations, 2,528,836 Filipinos failed from a total of 2,945,798 takers.

With an application fee of P500 for the pen-and-paper test, the Civil Service Commission collected a total amount of almost P1.5 billion, with more than P1.2 billion paid by the failed takers. Comex costs P680.

Coverage of CSE

The passing rate to the CSE is 80 percent.

Professional CSE has 170 items of tests given in three hours and 10 minutes. It covers, in both English and Filipino, subject areas like vocabulary, grammar and correct usage, paragraph organization, reading comprehension, analogy, logic and numerical reasoning. Subprofessional CSE has 154 items which is given in two hours and 40 minutes, and covers in English and Filipino, questions on vocabulary, grammar and correct usage, paragraph organization, reading comprehension, spelling, clerical operations and numerical reasoning. Both professional and sub-professional CSE have general information items on the Philippine Constitution, Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, Peace and Human Rights Issues and Concepts, and Environmental Management and Protection.

Who are qualified to take CSE

Applicants to the CSE must be a Filipino citizen; at least 18 years old; no criminal record; no record of dismissal from military or government service; has not taken the same-level exam within the last three months before the exam date.

High school graduates, or those who finished a course that's less than four years, may take the subprofessional CSE required for jobs such as clerical, trades, crafts and custodial work in public offices. Those who have completed a four-year college course are qualified to take the Professional CSE which qualifies one to apply for first-level and second-level government positions like professional, scientific, managerial, technical and higher posts of clerical jobs in public offices.

Who are exempted from CSE

Exempted from the CSE are Bar and Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) Board licensure examination passers (under Republic Act [RA] 1080); the cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude honor graduates (under Presidential Decree [PD] 907); and the graduates of a legitimate university abroad (CSC Resolution 1302714).

Also exempted are all elective barangay officials (punong barangay, regular Sangguniang Barangay members and Sangguniang Kabataan chairmen) and appointive barangay officials (barangay secretary and treasurer) under RA 7160. Also exempted and given second-grade civil service eligibility are barangay-based volunteer barangay nutrition scholars (under RA 1569) and barangay health workers with at least two years of college education and served for five years (under RA 7883).

Exemption is also given to elected Sanggunian members which includes vice mayor, vice governor and regular Sanggunian members of the Sangguniang Bayan, Sangguniang Panlungsod and Sangguniang Panlalawigan (RA 10156).

The CSE exemption is given to qualified Filipinos whose skills are not measured by the written test (CSC MC No. 11, s. 1996) like plant electricians, automotive mechanics, heavy equipment operators, laboratory technicians, shrine curators, carpenters, drafting technicians and plumbers.

Scientific and technological specialists like scientists, researchers and inventors are exempted from taking the CSE (PD 997, Revised 2009). Electronic data processing specialists, scientific and technological specialists (under PD 997), natural sciences, engineering sciences, mathematics, information and communication technology are also exempted.

CSE exemption is also granted to those who passed the proficiency test or training course of the National Computer Center (NCI-NCC) in the following computer courses: Systems Analysis and Design, Computer Programming, Java, MS Access and Visual Basic (CSC Resolution No. 90-083).

Veterans and their spouses are also exempted (EO 132/790). Also included are veterans' children who did not pass or lacked 10 points in the Career Service Professional Examination, Career Service Sub Professional Examination, Fire Officer Examination or Penology Officer Examination.

Department of Education Order 2 (1987) further enlarged granting civil service eligibility to all graduates with honor or distinction equivalent to cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude of master's or doctorate degrees.

Recent exemptions

CSC Resolution No. 2301123 dated Dec. 7, 2023, released the grant of career service eligibility-preference rating to specific workers in government agencies based on length of service and work performance. Applicants to CSE-PR eligibility must have rendered or is rendering services in the government as a JOCOSC6 (job order, contract of service, casual, contractual, coterminous, occupying categories III or IV position, career service employee with first-level eligibility), for at least 10 aggregate years.

Applicants must have applied and taken the scheduled CSE, beginning with the March 3, 2024 CSE and obtained a failed rating of not lower than 70. Additional requirement includes at least a very satisfactory performance rating, or its equivalent, in the latest/available two rating periods preceding the date of filing for the grant of CSE-PR.

Civil servants serving well

Civil Servants seem to be serving well. This is what can be concluded from the 2022 Whole-of-Government Citizen Satisfaction Survey conducted by the Development Academy of the Philippines through its Productivity and Development Center. The frontline government offices and agencies received an overall government-to-citizen (G2C) satisfaction score of 96.96 percent from transacting citizens. The overall rating is composed of 55.34 percent very satisfied and 41.62 percent satisfied with their transactions.

The biennial survey involved a face-to-face interview of 3,708 citizens who completed transactions with frontline services of selected national government agencies (NGAs) and local government units (LGUs) in four highly urbanized areas.

The survey also noted a high G2C Satisfaction Score across the four main areas of the country, with Mindanao obtaining the highest rating at 98.77 percent, followed by Visayas at 96.75, balance of Luzon outside NCR at 96.41 percent and the National Capital Region at 96.02 percent.

G2C Satisfaction for clusters of NGAs was also high, with one-stop shops at 98.55 percent, social and welfare services agencies at 96.82, civil registration services at 96.65 percent, and licensing or regulation agencies at 96.42 percent.

Further, the G2C Satisfaction Score is 96.59 percent in national government agencies, compared to 96.97 percent in LGUs (95.47 percent in city offices and 98.14 percent in barangay offices) by transaction point.

The government has a total of 2,462,534 workers and 642,077, with 26 percent composed of job order and contract of service personnel (Inventory of Government Resources, June 30, 2022). Nine hundred seventy-three thousand two hundred and twenty (973,220) are women (Statista). These are heroic men, women and all genders regarded as heroes of public service. May they be true to their commitment to serve the public, which is the very reason why they are privileged to be in government. Salute to them!

Dr. Carl E. Balita Dr. Carl E. Balita The Manila Times
China's melodrama in WPS: Conduct unbecoming of a superpower https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/16/opinion/columns/chinas-melodrama-in-wps-conduct-unbecoming-of-a-superpower/1946760 Antonio Contreras Thu, 16 May 2024 00:09:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/16/opinion/columns/chinas-melodrama-in-wps-conduct-unbecoming-of-a-superpower/1946760 <![CDATA[

IT is shocking, to say the least.

I am referring to this most recent antic of the Chinese, where they threatened to reveal a secretly recorded conversation allegedly between an unnamed Chinese military official and Western Command (Wescom) Commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos. China is saying that the two-minute recording of what appeared to be a 10-minute conversation contained certain concessions allegedly made by Carlos on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines. The Manila Times has since obtained a transcript of the conversation, although it cannot confirm if it was indeed Carlos.

Apparently, someone has already leaked the content of the conversation.

Based on the transcript, it appears that the person whom China is claiming to be Carlos reportedly agreed to a "1+1" proposal where only one Philippine Coast Guard ship and one civilian vessel would be involved in the resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal. In addition, the Philippines would have to notify China at least two days ahead of any resupply mission. It is also alleged in the transcript that this agreement has the blessings and approval of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Romeo Brawner Jr., Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., National Security Adviser Eduardo Año and another person that was redacted in the transcript.

There are just too many things that do not add up here. We will always give Carlos the benefit of the doubt, and the burden of proof remains with China, which is making the allegation. However, assuming without believing that it was indeed Carlos who was at the other end of the line, we cannot simply take China's allegations, even if backed by the transcript, without asking for the full 10-minute conversation. As correctly pointed out by UP law professor Jay Batongbacal, there is a need to look at the two-minute excerpt within the context of the larger conversation, which is the process when taped conversations are submitted as evidence in any court proceedings.

What further amplifies the need for caution and doubt is the fact that in the age of artificial intelligence and deepfake, it is easy to mimic the voice of another person to make it appear as if he or she is in the conversation. Someone tried to do this to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and even in the US, AI was used to make it appear that it was President Joe Biden who was making a robocall.

It is not difficult to accuse China of producing fabricated evidence and lies. After all, it has been caught lying before. Batongbacal recalled in his social media post how the Chinese Embassy in Manila lied about not using lasers against the Philippine Coast Guard and not engaging in a forced retrieval of rocket debris from our forces and that it had prior approval.

The mere fact that China did not name the official with whom Carlos allegedly had an agreement also raises a red flag. More importantly, any person knowledgeable in diplomacy and international negotiations knows that binding agreements are products of conversations between authorized parties. The issues attending the West Philippine Sea are sensitive and volatile, that at the very least these alleged agreements should bear the imprimatur of top officials. The Department of Foreign Affairs has stated the obvious. Only President Marcos can approve or authorize any agreements with regard to the West Philippine Sea.

In resorting to what can be construed as top-level blackmail, if not a masked attempt to sow intrigue, China has committed acts that seem to throw shade at its claim to being a superpower. It is simple naiveté for anyone to presume that an admiral, even if highly placed, can have the final authority on matters that, if true, amount to a surrender of our rights as a sovereign country over our exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Ayungin Shoal is within 200 nautical miles from our baseline and thus is within our EEZ. China has no business imposing on us how we should conduct our resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre, more so ask its permission before we can engage in such mission.

Further diminishing China's stature is the clear evidence of bad faith shown in its violation of diplomatic protocol and even of our laws. Professor Batongbacal accused China of committing a textbook case of subversion if, indeed, it contacted our operational units in the WPS on matters as delicate as territorial and maritime jurisdictions, which would require proper coordination and authorization from higher authorities. Worse, China even violated our laws against wiretapping when it recorded the alleged conversation and is admitting to such openly when it acknowledged the existence of a recording and threatened to release it to the public.

For a country with claims to the stature of a superpower, China's moves reveal that it is now scrambling and is forced to engage in acts that further betray its lack of good faith. Not only does it engage in dramatics, it resorts to gaslighting us in its effort to paint itself as the victim and the Philippines as the aggressor. It has gone beyond violating the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and has now openly violated the norms and conventions of civilized diplomacy, resorting to acts akin to blackmail by using as leverage an alleged agreement forged with a field-level operations officer. Tactics that are sophom*oric at best.

Perhaps China has become used to dealing informally with Philippine government officials, even on sensitive matters such as the West Philippine Sea. Maybe this was the tenor of how it conducted diplomacy with the previous Duterte administration. And apparently, China may have believed the optics that was painted against President Marcos who has been imaged as weak by his predecessor, and a mere Duterte 2.0 by his critics. China thought they could win against Marcos on the strength of secret and informal agreements, and now blackmail.

China could never be more wrong.

Antonio Contreras Antonio Contreras The Manila Times
Questions for straight boys and girls https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/16/opinion/columns/questions-for-straight-boys-and-girls/1946759 Danton Remoto Thu, 16 May 2024 00:08:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/16/opinion/columns/questions-for-straight-boys-and-girls/1946759 <![CDATA[

First of 2 parts

YEARS ago, I attended a seminar on gender issues organized by an international NGO. Some young journalists comprised the core of the participants. Well and good, I told myself, because the cliché holds true that, perhaps, hope lies in them.

I still remember legendary debates with the macho editors of a newspaper I worked for in the mid-1990s when I was a young editor.

They used to splash photos of near-naked "prostitutes" (I said they should be called "sex workers") and of raped housemaids on the front page of the newspaper.

During one of the editorial meetings, the fiercest among them, who looked like a bulldog, barked at me: "What are you complaining about? Their faces are shown on the evening news. Why can't we show their faces on our front pages?"

Since Bulldog must have forgotten his class on media ethics, I reminded him that a newspaper is a public record. Surely, nobody tapes the evening news and runs it again for his or her delight, right?

But the newspaper is there for posterity, bound in volumes and collected in archives in the form of microfilms. Now, they are scanned or converted into PDFs. Or the online version remains there forever. But in the 1990s, we did not have these information platforms. The split-second image on the evening news on TV fades easily. But the one in print stays there and can be passed on from one person to another.

That's the problem, I told myself silently, leaning back on my face-leather office chair, when you have editors — the gatekeepers of the news — who only put news stories of women above the fold when they were raped, their workplaces raided, or they wrestle in the mud, for work. The object of the male gaze has not changed. The woman is seen only as a victim. She has no agency and no will of her own; her life has no horizon of hope.

During the same meeting, the award-winning independent director Nick Deocampo showed his film, "The Sex Warriors." It is a brave and beautiful work about a transgender who works in Japan. Now that I am reminded of it, one of our best singers went to me during the break for the PETA play "Caregivers" and asked me, "What is the difference between transgenders and transsexuals?"

I said that a transsexual is someone who wears the customary attire of the opposite sex (female), but that's just that. He does not identify with the opposite sex. His sexual orientation and gender identity are still male. On the other hand, a transgender feels that he is born in the wrong gender; thus, this mistake has to be corrected. He feels female in mind, heart and body.

But back to the brave and beautiful film of Nick. It deals with transgender Filipinos doing sex work in Japan to provide for their families back in the Philippines. The things we do for our families, Nick seems to imply, who can accept us — gays and bisexuals and transgenders — only if we are their piggy banks, their central banks, or their ATMs that don't go blink any time of day or night.

Nick's film also deals with the slippages of language. "There are many names for us here," Nick later said during his talk. Then he ticked them off, one by one: "agi, bayot, bakla, badat, bading, baklesha, baklita, sirene, verde ang dugo..." and we've only just began.

He added that his list contained at least 100 names for gays, with each word and every nuance carrying the complexity of Philippine gay life. Nick Deocampo has won several awards for his filmography and his research on Filipino film. He has also published books that should be part of individual and library collections dedicated to Philippine culture and the arts. He continues to teach Film at the University of the Philippines.

Before I left the meeting, I photocopied a piece called "Do You Need Treatment?" One of my female friends at the meeting got a copy from the magazine New Internationalist, published in the United Kingdom. Since it might help our straight friends see us in a new light, I am publishing some excerpts.

"Gay people get asked some pretty strange questions. Often, this is because their interrogators have a narrow, strictly hom*osexual view of what is considered 'normal.' This intrepid magazine will turn the tables around and ask heterosexual people some rather strange questions, too."

To be continued

The Manila Times
For Marcos' prayer, we may need new leadership https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/16/opinion/columns/for-marcos-prayer-we-may-need-new-leadership/1946668 Ricardo Saludo Thu, 16 May 2024 00:07:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/16/opinion/columns/for-marcos-prayer-we-may-need-new-leadership/1946668 <![CDATA[

Last of three parts

WHAT will it take to fulfill President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s recent consecration of the Philippines to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, asking her: "Take it (the country) from our fragile hands into thine own, defend it and guard it as thy own property. Make our Lord Jesus reign, conquer, and rule in it as King, for outside of Him there is no salvation."

In prayer, the President feared "a terrible storm raging around us, threatening to disperse and destroy the faithful flock of those who bless thee because thou art the Mother of our Lord Jesus."

That raging storm may reference intensifying superpower confrontation, which could make us a "front line" in a possible war in Asia as in World War II, which Marcos had warned. In 1941, Japan invaded the Philippines as the United States military bastion in Asia — which we are again becoming with US and other allied forces building up here.

We face not just war, but evil

Besides war, we face ideological and social forces undermining Christian values and promoting atheism, materialism, individualism and hedonistic lifestyles. Marcos sought Mary's succor as "evil winds blow, bringing cries of death against thy Son and against the civilization founded on His teachings, deceiving minds, perverting hearts and lighting the fires of hatred and revolution in the world."

The President also decried "unclean waves of an open immorality, which has even lost the notion of sin, exult the rehabilitation of the flesh in the face of the very Cross of thy divine Son, threatening to choke in this world the lily of virtue nourished by the Eucharistic Blood of Jesus Christ."

In this battle between God and evil, the consecration warns that "even the good run the risk of being lost" and pleads to the Blessed Virgin: "Unite all the Filipino people around thy divine Son in the love of the Church and also in the civilization of virtue and respect for order and fraternal charity."

More than peace in our land, President Marcos prayed on behalf of our people for godliness in our hearts and our society.

Will we obtain both? As this article recounted on May 9 and 12, Portugal's consecration by its bishops in 1931 and 1938 protected it from war and communism. So did then President Ramon Magsaysay's 1954 consecration spare the Philippines even as war and communism bloodied Vietnam from 1954 to 1975.

And papal consecrations shortened world war in 1942 and prevented it in 1953, 1984 and, at least for now, 2024 ("Our Lord may have stopped world war — for now," https://tinyurl.com/4a4mhyhe).

Also, on the very day of Pope St. Paul VI's consecration on Nov. 21, 1964, the Feast of the Presentation of Mary, China cemented the split between world communist giants with a scathing article against the Soviet Union. And after the Soviet collapse in 1991, Russia revived Christianity, with its leader since 1999, Vladimir Putin, endowing the Russian Orthodox Church, among the most Marian congregations, with vast lands and countless state-funded churches during his quarter-century rule.

Changes at the top

So, what would it take for consecration to bring peace and advance the faith, as President Marcos prayed and past consecrations showed?

Consecrations in 1942 and 1984 stopped the war with military setbacks. Nazi Germany's first major defeat in El Alamein, Egypt, heralded more Allied victories against it and its allies Japan and Italy. And massive explosions in the Soviet Union's main naval base in Severomorsk stopped its plan to attack US missiles in Europe, preventing war on the continent.

But most war-stopping events after consecration involved leadership changes. The El Alamein victory came after Gen. Bernard Montgomery took command of British forces reeling from the German assault under top Nazi tank general Erwin Rommel.

Moscow's 1952 plot to invade Europe while America fought in Korea ended after Soviet despot Josef Stalin died in 1953 from a brain hemorrhage. And after St. John Paul II's 1981, 1982 and 1984 consecrations, not only was another Soviet war plan stanched, but reformer Mikhail Gorbachev also rose to power, eventually imploding Soviet communism.

In our struggle against what Marcos' prayer called "a terrible storm raging" and "unclean waves of an open immorality," will there also be leadership change?

Russia and China aren't seen as ripe for change at the top, and there are, in fact, valid fears that ousting Putin and Xi Jinping could ignite power struggles and elevate more aggressive rulers.

America's election in November, however, could bring new leadership, especially with former president Donald Trump, incumbent Joseph Biden's likely challenger, slightly ahead in voter polls.

Trump is seen as averse to US military action abroad and keen to make deals to avoid war, as he did with North Korea in 2018 and through the Abrahamic Accords between Israel and Arab nations in 2020.

What if Biden is reelected? Washington would then continue weaponizing our country as it did to Ukraine under its global priority spelled out in Biden's National Security Strategy: "Out-Competing China, Restraining Russia."

America blocked the March 2022 peace pact so that Russian invaders could withdraw if Ukraine stayed neutral. The West then armed Ukrainian forces to keep fighting — leading to vast devastation, with 600,000 soldiers killed and many millions of Ukrainians fleeing. The Biden administration also favors pro-abortion and gender policies contrary to Christian family values.

The other leadership question has to be whether the Marcos administration would continue to allow US military buildup sure to bring death and destruction if a US-China war erupts. If so, fulfilling the consecration prayer may well require new leadership here as well.

But surely, the greater question in heaven's mind is whether our nation would hold fast to our faith. Arms buildup and war would push Filipinos to seek security in powerful armies, not God. And American dominance cannot but bring Western values here, like the United Nations' call in November 2022 for us to legalize abortion as a human right.

May our consecration to Mary bring leaders safeguarding us from war and faithlessness. Amen.

The Manila Times
'Share a Book, Bless a Life' https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/16/opinion/columns/share-a-book-bless-a-life/1946666 Paul Chua Thu, 16 May 2024 00:06:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/16/opinion/columns/share-a-book-bless-a-life/1946666 <![CDATA[

WALT Disney once said, "There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island," for books carry information of substantial value that, once read by the user, can instill new knowledge. Books also play a vital role in the teaching-learning process; these are used as references when teachers create learning materials for their students. On the other hand, books are also used by students to better understand concepts and to acquire new knowledge.

Despite its importance, unfortunately, the Philippine public school system has been facing a perennial problem of shortages of textbook materials, and given this situation, it appears that owning a book is a privilege due to the scarcity of resources. Meanwhile, in private high schools, students normally purchase prescribed textbooks every academic year. After completing a grade level, these books are either passed on to their younger siblings or relatives or are simply stored somewhere inside the house, eventually ending up being forgotten.

A book cannot fulfill its purpose of enlightening minds when it is merely stored and made to collect dust when it could have been used as an opportunity for another person to learn, just like children's toys wouldn't be able to fulfill their destiny if they are not played by kids. Our family, the Chua family, realized the importance and value of sharing books with people who do not have the adequate resources to own them so that they, too, would be enlightened by these books that once taught us.

Our family owned an entire set of Encyclopedia Britannica that had been with our family for three generations, and living up to our family's advocacy, we decided to donate these books to the University of Caloocan City (UCC) library. In the year 2013, with the approval of the nine Chua siblings who owned the books, the custodian, Leonardo Chua, made the ceremonial turnover to the UCC, which started the "Share a Book, Bless a Life" program that aims to encourage collaborative action and enlightenment through the sharing of books.

In 2014, a small group of learning advocates at the UCC undertook a university-wide book-sharing program inspired by the "Share a Book, Bless a Life" of the Chua family. The UCC effort started as my MPA class project on Nov. 23, 2014, to a DPA university-wide project, and by March 8, 2015, the UCC "Share a Book, Be a Hero" project turned over 4,468 books to then OIC and now UCC president Marilyn de Jesus. This program at UCC promoted a culture of participation and sharing among students. As a matter of fact, through the gratuitous donations of students and members of the academic community, more than 16,000 books were successfully collected in a year. The donations, consisting of an array of academic textbooks, fiction, and non-fiction books, are now stored at the university's library and have since been enjoyed by the UCC students.

In "Share a Book, Bless a Life," when a person shares a book, he or she also shares a blessing — a blessing of having the opportunity to be enlightened with new knowledge and wisdom. Nothing prevents this advocacy from being confined to the level of a campus such as the UCC; if this culture of sharing blessings through books is done on a national scale, it will benefit many more, such as local governments, communities, local colleges, and universities, and more importantly, less privileged students who cannot afford to buy and own books.

It is with great hope that institutions be inspired and encouraged by our example at UCC to also engage with the "Share a Book, Bless a Life" program, for it promotes collaboration among students and sends a unifying message that we should be part of each other's success, one book at a time. At present, the Share a Book project is being supported by the Bless a Life Charities of the Chua family.

Paul Chua, PhD, is deputy administrator for engineering and operations at the Light Rail Transit Authority. He was a scholar at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, and finished several international programs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Facebook: Paul Chua

The Manila Times
Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/16/opinion/columns/render-unto-caesar-what-is-caesars/1946663 Jeremiah Belgica Thu, 16 May 2024 00:05:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/16/opinion/columns/render-unto-caesar-what-is-caesars/1946663 <![CDATA[

Last of two parts

IN the first part of this article, I discussed how in Mark 12: 13-17, the Pharisees and Herodians asked Jesus the trick question, "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?"

Jesus asked to be brought a denarius or "tribute penny," which is what each citizen of Rome and of the conquered nations ought to pay as recognition of the sovereignty of the current ruler, Caesar, over them. Jesus then brought attention to how the denarius showed Caesar's likeness and the inscription "Pontifex Maximus," which means Chief Pontiff or High Priest. This implied that the Roman government was implying that Caesar was the son of God and their Roman High Priest, titles which are both claimed and attributed to Jesus Christ.

Jesus then proceeded to say, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's."

But what does this mean, and how can we apply it? From this statement, we can glean three key ideas.

First, the government of the world requires the surrender of our money, but God's kingdom or government desires the surrender of ourselves and our world. In the story, Jesus brings attention to Caesar's image on the face of the denarius by asking the question of whose image is seen on it. He implied that the image bearer on the coin owns the item. The Pharisees and Herodians who heard his question instinctively knew from their childhood that the Hebrew people believe that man is God's image bearer. It is written in the Torah in Genesis 1: 27-28 that "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'"

This means that money and monetary systems may be claimed by powerful men and men in power, but man itself and everything under him ultimately belongs to God. Let us remind ourselves that while man can make currency and monetary systems, only God can create man. While man can try to lay claim over things and brand them as their property, only God can truly lay claim over man and all His creation.

Meaning that while we are to submit unto earthly powers and authorities (rulers and governments), we are to render all of ourselves and all of creation, including our rulers, unto God.

The second key idea is that we must submit or pay tribute to earthly authorities, knowing that all are subject to God's ultimate authority in the end. In Matthew 17: 24-27, we see that even Jesus Christ paid taxes.

Romans 13: 1-5 states that we need to submit to earthly authorities, for they are appointed by God and serve as His ministers. The verses read, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers who are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience."

From these verses and the next few, we could glean the last key idea, which is that civil servants are ministers of God for the promotion of good and punishment of evil, and by paying our taxes, we sustain the ministry of civil government. Man may think that their power emanates from other men and man-made structures, but in reality, they are accountable to the real source of all authority — God who is the Creator, Owner and King overall.

Previously, I discussed how biblical scholars across history saw how God created and authored the institutions of self, family, church and civil governments. Man, being the special creation of God who bears His image and likeness, was given special power and authority over all creation. Man is the manager and steward of God on earth. These institutions are to be directed by man as God's enforcer. God created the institutions and divided the tasks and responsibilities of governance between them so man would be able to enforce the Law-Will of God over the entire creation. Each institution has exact dimensions of its tasks and jurisdictions within which man is expected to fulfill his call of applying the Law-Will of God within that specific sphere of creation.

On the other hand, the responsibility of the civil government is likewise limited within the sphere of jurisdiction that the Bible has prescribed. Civil government is not called to run the lives of the people. Civil government was instituted by God to serve as a control and an external threat against the manifestation of the sinful nature of man in society. It brings to justice any untoward actions that hurt the community and maintain peace and order. It also safeguards the rights of its citizens to exercise their right to life, liberty, and property and pursue God's individual and corporate calling for themselves and their community.

Romans 13: 6-7 explains that tributes or our modern-day taxes are considered as our recognition of the divine role of the ministry of civil government in our lives. The Bible says, "For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom is honor is owed."

This tells us that paying taxes is essential to sustain the ministry of civil government, which is one of the key ministries that man needs to manage to be an effective steward of all creation and enforcer of God.

Finally, we are reminded that what Jesus seeks to impress on everyone is that we cannot give unto God treasures and gifts on earth until we have actually surrendered our lives to God. Thus, let us challenge ourselves to render ourselves unto God by acknowledging the real "King" and "Lord" of our lives and of all things, Jesus Christ, the risen Lord and King. As Romans 1: 12 says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship."

Atty. Jeremiah Belgica Atty. Jeremiah Belgica The Manila Times
PCCI too pessimistic about decarbonization bill https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/16/opinion/columns/pcci-too-pessimistic-about-decarbonization-bill/1946662 Ben Kritz Thu, 16 May 2024 00:04:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/16/opinion/columns/pcci-too-pessimistic-about-decarbonization-bill/1946662 <![CDATA[

First of two parts

LAST week, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) aired its concerns about a proposed bill colloquially referred to as the decarbonization bill. House Bill (HB) 7705, or the "Low Carbon Economy Act," was refiled in March of last year and has been floating in legislative limbo ever since, but seems likely to receive some productive attention from Congress this year. The bill would establish greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets and limits on certain economic sectors, calls for the development of an emissions monitoring and reporting system, and lays the groundwork for the establishment of an emissions trading system in the country.

The PCCI, while taking care to remain politically correct and not reject the bill entirely, nevertheless made their discomfort with it clear in a statement released to media. "This legislation represents a bold step toward sustainability and responsibility. But it should not come at a cost to businesses and to the economy as a whole," PCCI Chairman and Director for Energy and Power George Barcelon said in the statement.

Unlike most legislation, HB 7705 is surprisingly detailed and complex, clocking in at just under 14 pages rather than the usual three, so all credit to its author, Bohol 1st District Rep. Edgar M. Chatto, for doing his work like a professional. The bill is by no means perfect, far from it, and needs a great deal of improvement in some respects. However, none of those really have anything to do with the more generalized criticisms of HB 7705 offered by the PCCI.

The PCCI had three complaints. First, the high cost of compliance with the proposed measures of HB 7705 "will eventually affect the food production sector and threaten further the country's already fragile food security situation" because the agriculture and food industries would be required to have decarbonization targets.

Second, the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (Cemap) expressed alarm that the industry would be badly compromised by the bill since energy accounts for about 40 percent of the industry's costs. "Compliance options will come at a heavy price. Even now, the cement industry is already suffering from cement imports from Vietnam, where production and cost of power are subsidized by their government," Cemap said in the statement.

Finally, the PCCI questioned whether HB 7705 was actually relevant to the Philippines or was an instance of First World standards being applied to a Third World country. The chamber highlighted that the Philippines consumes comparatively little energy and that the country's GHG emissions were only a third of the global per capita average.

I'll address the last point first. Choosing emissions per capita as a metric is disingenuous. National emissions targets — or lack thereof — are determined on a gross basis, not per capita, simply because it is impossible to break down regulation to a per capita level. China and India have low per-capita emissions, too, but they are the biggest and third-biggest sources of GHG emissions, respectively, because of their large populations.

In addition, even though the Philippines is only responsible for a bit less than 1 percent of global GHG emissions, it ranks as the world's 37th-largest emitter, contributing more emissions than 163 other nations, according to the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research. This puts the country in the top 25 percent of global emitters, which, even though the PCCI may disagree, is a dubious level of prestige that suggests the Philippines should seek to be a leader in emissions-reduction efforts rather than an apologist. Furthermore, if the total emissions of all the countries contributing 1 percent or less are combined, they add up to 27 percent of the global total — more than the GHG emissions of the US (number two behind China) and India combined. The argument that the Philippines' emissions are too inconsequential for the measures proposed by HB 7705 is, with all due respect to the PCCI, rather irresponsible.

It is true that many, if not all, of the proposed provisions in HB 7705 will impose significant costs to subject businesses; that is by no means a fallacious observation on the PCCI's part, and there are some shortcomings in HB 7705 in terms of managing that. However, pulling back entirely from the basic concept of the decarbonization bill is not an option. The cost of not decarbonizing is simply too great; according to a recent Swiss Re Institute report, weather-related calamities reduce the Philippines' GDP by almost 3 percent annually, the highest rate of loss in the world. The World Bank's "Country Climate and Development Report" estimates that by 2040, the nation could witness a staggering 13.6-percent decrease in GDP from the impacts of climate change.

Obviously, enacting HB 7705 or something like it is not going to correct that on its own and will probably contribute very little to the solution directly. Indirectly, however, it means everything; if the country that suffers the highest loss from climate-related weather cannot be bothered to do its small bit in its own self-interest, it could be argued fairly that it has no right to demand that the rest of the world change instead.


Ben Kritz Ben Kritz The Manila Times
Honoring Filipino innovators https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/16/opinion/columns/honoring-filipino-innovators/1946653 Samira Gutoc Thu, 16 May 2024 00:03:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/16/opinion/columns/honoring-filipino-innovators/1946653 <![CDATA[

THE viral Asoka visual challenge was easily countered by the Pilipinas challenge showcasing dazzling makeup and costume transitions.

I did not have the energy to join, although I was itching to. Through writing, I extend my salute to all Filipino feats.

I was at the Mindanao State University Iligan Institute of Technology, where its vice chancellor, Dr. Prime, passionately outlined to me the need for a science park for the industrial capital, Iligan, where the Mindanao public can see organic and other products worth investing in in the future.

<![CDATA[https://www.manilatimes.net]]> (5)

In this season of historic heat, we hope these research outputs by students and scientists can obtain space in some galleries for the use of industry.

This week, we honor The Outstanding Young Men/Women 2023. I missed the Manila Hotel ceremonies, but the co-TOYM alumni and Jaycees were on hand to give them tribute.

The TOYM Awards 2023 on Tuesday recognized 10 leaders from different backgrounds for embracing innovation.

Pole vaulter EJ Obiena, economist and author JC Punongbayan, and civic leader Kenneth Abante were among the recipients of the TOYM Awards 2023.

"These outstanding individuals have demonstrated unparalleled commitment, innovation and leadership in their respective fields, embodying the spirit of positive change and progress," TOYM Awards said.

"They have not only excelled in their fields but have also embraced innovation with passion, driving positive change in their communities and beyond," it added.

Ruel Amparo and Mark Gersava were recognized for their innovations in agri-entrepreneurship, while Stephen Michael Go was acknowledged for the food technology industry.

The other honorees include Khrista Francis Desesto, OFW empowerment advocate; John Mark Napao, sustainable energy; Ma. Regaele Olarte, education leadership; and Tor Sagud, heritage promotion.

Established in 1959, the TOYM Awards recognize the achievements of Filipino men and women between the ages of 18 and 40. Women have been included in the recognition since 1984.

Previous honorees of the award — for a time dubbed The Outstanding Young Filipinos — include the late senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa, singer Lea Salonga and Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz.

From our batch, which included Gary Valenciano and Inquirer president Sandy Prieto Romualdez, I was asked to share our message at the Malacañang ceremonies. As a nominee for youth leadership in socio-cultural development, breaking barriers against discrimination holds a deep meaning for me.

I am so honored to have been on the screening committee thrice and even sit among judges to defend our choices. This very prestigious award has so far honored only 549 awardees to date.

May I share some key messages from last year's Impact Summit keynote speaker Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga?

1. Never stop loving our country.

2. Never stop caring for our people.

3. Demand greatness in yourself as a Filipino.

4. Inspire greatness in other Filipinos

"Napakahirap mahalin ng Pilipinas, pero kapag natutunan mo siyang mahalin, 'yan ang napakasarap damhin bilang isang Pilipino," was the message from Dr. Gerardo Legazpi, medical director of the Philippine General Hospital in his keynote address.

The Manila Times
Jinggoy all out for Marcos' defense in PDEA case https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/15/opinion/columns/jinggoy-all-out-for-marcos-defense-in-pdea-case/1946432 Rigoberto D. Tiglao Wed, 15 May 2024 00:09:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/15/opinion/columns/jinggoy-all-out-for-marcos-defense-in-pdea-case/1946432 <![CDATA[

SEN. Jinggoy Estrada — in the third hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Order investigating allegations that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in 2012 was a cocaine user — demonstrated such disdain and contempt for the accuser, former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agent Jonathan Morales, that his shameless behavior can be explained by one and only one thing.

He has become so servile to Marcos that he has internalized the President's seething rage against Morales, so obvious in a recent "ambush" interview" in which Marcos called Morales a "professional liar." That's the first time that a president of the Republic has stooped so low as to cuss in such a manner at a lowly citizen. Estrada has taken the President's cue, and called Morales a "congenital liar."

One can't blame Estrada: he was convicted of bribery last January and sentenced to 12 years. His only real chance of evading a long jail term is for President Marcos to use all his influence for his conviction to be reversed by some court.

Estrada took up probably an hour of the hearing's duration to claim that Morales' allegations weren't credible since he has been accused of both criminal and administrative charges. It seemed strange, though, that for his alleged crime of "planting evidence" against a Chinese-Filipino couple, it was only the Civil Service Commission that acted on the complaint by simply ordering him fired — for "dishonesty."

Morales had a simple retort to Estrada's strained efforts to portray him as a criminal, whose allegations, therefore, should posthaste be thrown to the wastebasket: "If I had such a bad record, why was I admitted as an agent of the PDEA, and complied with its requirements?"


Estrada wasn't thinking right when he adopted a strategy of highlighting the criminal and administrative charges against Morales to discredit his testimony. The senator was convicted by the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court last January of a crime that makes the accusations against the PDEA agent seem petty. It was a classic case of that biblical saying of an accuser with a wooden beam in his eye.

That Sandiganbayan decision concluded that at least half of the P262 million of the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF, the official term for congressional pork barrel) allocated to Estrada from 2004 to 2008 rather than being used to provide livelihood projects for the poor was instead mainly turned over to Pauline Mary Labayen, Estrada's deputy chief of staff. Prosecutors claimed that Labayen was merely acting as an agent for Estrada in collecting the stolen funds.

However, Labayen vanished in 2014 when the charges were filed, and it is strange — and suspicious, I think — that the authorities haven't been looking for her.

Morales was irreverent enough to remind Estrada that while he had cases filed against him, the senator was already convicted of a crime. He said in Filipino: "Your honor, I don't like what Sen. Jinggoy Estrada is saying about me. He seems to be judging me. I only have cases that are yet to be proven before the court. Unlike our good senator, who is already convicted."


Estrada's behavior certainly had a backlash. Becoming viral on social media was a video clip with him saying, "I am a man of conviction," with an unidentified man beside him suppressing his laughter, and then an image of the newspaper article on his conviction for bribery. Jinggoy was called in so many internet posts using the rhyming Filipino term for monkey.

While Morales certainly isn't a saint, and may have even planned to benefit in some way from his accusations against the President, my conclusion is that the "Pre-Operation Report" and "Authority to Report" he signed that would have had the PDEA investigate the report on Marcos taking cocaine with friends but was aborted is authentic. I base this conclusion on the following:

1. An under-reported revelation was committee chairman Sen. Ronald de la Rosa's disclosure that his own informant had reported to him it was one "Ian," who was Morales' informant who also provided cell phone videos of Marcos, actor Maricel Soriano, and other females and males in the cocaine-taking party. That corroborates Morales' claims. "Ian," de la Rosa claimed, was a sort of an adopted son ("anak-anakan" in Filipino) of Soriano, who probably stayed with her but hated the cocaine parties there.

2. Soriano has admitted that she owned the condominium unit that Morales, in his "pre-operation" and "authority to operate" documents, had identified as the site where the cocaine-taking parties were being undertaken. Of all places, how could Morales have identified that place?


3. Why would Morales invent an allegation against the most powerful man in the country at this time? If he intended to blackmail him, it was clearly too late, as the allegation had already been revealed by the anonymous vlogger "Maharlika." He would have faced slander charges if he had admitted that he had faked the documents.

4. Senator de la Rosa, a veteran police investigator, pointed to the detail of a paper fastener's punch marks in the two documents, indicating that these were part of a file that Morales claimed contained the informant's affidavit and cellphone images taken by the informant of the personalities taking cocaine. For de la Rosa to claim that he would bet his life, and in the third hearing his penis, that Morales' documents were authentic, he must know something he hasn't revealed or cannot reveal.

5. President Rodrigo Duterte, in November 2021, during the election campaign, claimed that one of the presidential candidates was a cocaine user and was on the PDEA's drug-user watch list, whom many in the know concluded was Marcos. His allegation was unexpected and strange since he and his political forces supported Marcos. The former president, I think, has this uncontrollable urge to reveal to people things he knew were important. His revelation about Marcos in 2021 bolsters the authenticity of Morales' allegations.

6. A person who passed away in 2016 was mentioned by Morales as having been with Marcos often in those cocaine-taking sessions. I knew that person, whom Morales could not have known in 2012 as close to Marcos. In my circle of Ateneo high school classmates, indeed, that person was known to have been both a cocaine user and a close friend of the President since the martial law days.


It was witless for Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, who appeared at the hearing only to make a brief statement, to indirectly conclude, as Estrada directly claimed, that Morales' claims were mere "hearsay." But Morales didn't claim he heard from somebody that PDEA agents were planning to surveil Marcos for cocaine use, which, however, was ordered stopped by a Malacañang official. Morales is claiming that he signed the orders to investigate Marcos.

After three hearings, most people concluded that Morales' allegations had not been debunked.

There is no way, however, to establish definitively whether there were such planned operations, except if the informant's actual affidavit and the cellphone images he took surface.

A body blow, though, has been inflicted on Marcos' image. Filipinos would always wonder if he did take cocaine, and worse if he still does or will do so again in times of stress to the point that his brain becomes so clouded as to make reckless, unwise decisions that would terribly hurt the country.

The hearing yesterday ranked No. 1 as the most viewed and viral on YouTube that day. While reported by most TV channels and viral on social media, all but one broadsheet reported on the hearing, which echoed the Malacañang line of Morales being a liar. Sigh.

Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao

X: @bobitiglao

My website: www.rigobertotiglao.com

Rigoberto Tiglao Rigoberto Tiglao The Manila Times
The arbitral judgment https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/15/opinion/columns/the-arbitral-judgment/1946428 Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino Wed, 15 May 2024 00:08:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/15/opinion/columns/the-arbitral-judgment/1946428 <![CDATA[

Last of 4 parts

SCARBOROUGH Shoal is what we call "Bajo de Masinloc." Cuarteron Reef is known to us as "Calderon Reef," while Fiery Cross Reef is "Kagitingan Reef." Johnson Reef is, for us, "Mabini Reef," while Mischief Reef is "Panganiban Reef." It is this plurality of names — international, Chinese and Philippine nomenclature — that can make reading the decision confounding.

Following the Convention on the Law of the Sea, the tribunal distinguishes between a low-tide elevation — an area of land that emerges at low tide but is submerged at high tide — and an island. A low-tide elevation has no territorial sea of its own. This differentiates it from an island, which is a naturally formed area of land surrounded by water and above water at high tide. Because of the position of the tribunal that a feature is to be characterized according to its natural state and not according to enhancements introduced, even if a low-tide elevation should resultantly become visible at high tide or even habitable, it remains a low-tide elevation in law. Interestingly, the tribunal holds, as a matter of law, that such low-tide elevations are not part of the land territory of a State but to its territorial sea or continental shelf, the latter being a submerged prolongation of the land mass of a coastal State. But because the State exercises sovereignty (not merely sovereign rights) over its territorial sea, it also exercises sovereignty over low-tide elevations within its territorial sea.

On the basis of scientific data made available to the tribunal as well as those that it obtained on its own initiative, the tribunal finds that the Scarborough Shoal is a high-tide feature. Calderon Reef is likewise a high-tide feature, as is Kagitingan (Fiery Cross Reef). By contrast, Mischief Reef is a low-tide elevation. The Ayungin Shoal (The Second Thomas Shoal) is a low-tide feature within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This being the case, only the Philippines can legally construct an artificial island — and contrary to the posturing of some pro-China apologists, the deliberate grounding of BRP Sierra Madre that is manned by Philippine Marines is perfectly within the rights of the Philippines. It is the periodic provisioning of the uniformed personnel on board this grounded vessel that has been the occasion for abusive and provocative Chinese maneuvers.

In respect to Mischief Reef and Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal), the tribunal was clear: They are located within the 200 nautical mile expanse of the Philippine exclusive economic zone and thus form part both of its EEZ and its continental shelf. Article 56 of the Convention grants the Philippines the exclusive right to establish and use artificial islands, installations and structures, including gas and oil platforms.

Turning to the provision of the Convention that "rocks that cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf," the tribunal engages in an analysis of each term in the provision. One of the important points made in this portion of the award is that what is called for is not an inquiry into whether the feature actually sustains human habitation or human life (as human intervention can make it so capable) but whether, objectively, the feature is "apt, able to, or lends itself to human habitation or economic life." Likewise required is that the feature must provide food, drink and other necessities of human life over a period of time. Habitation must be non-transient, and a feature that is treated merely as an extraction site will not be deemed, by that token, to be capable of sustaining human life or economic activity. It is not economic value that the provisions of the Convention demand but sustaining economic life which the tribunal takes to refer to the life and livelihoods of the human population. If a feature is, therefore, completely barren of vegetation and lacks drinkable water and sources of food necessary even for basic survival, it lacks the capacity to sustain human habitation.

What the tribunal ruled in regard to the Spratly Islands is linked to its discussion on the requirements of a feature that generates an EEZ and a continental shelf. The tribunal finds that while some islands of the Spratly group have military personnel stationed on them, this is not the human habitation required by law — for aside from being transient (depending on the personnel's tour of duty), they rely on supplies from beyond the islands that must be periodically replenished. The tribunal concluded that Ito Aba, Thitu — which is Pag-asa Island to us in the Philippines — West York, Spratly Island, South-West Cay and North-East Cay are not capable of human habitation within the contemplation of law. The result, of course, is that none of them are entitled to an exclusive economic zone or a continental shelf — without prejudice to the territorial sea to which islands are entitled.

Under Section 2 of Republic Act 9522, which set forth the reference points for the archipelagic baselines of the Philippines — conformably with the Convention — express provision was made for the "Regime of Islands" to apply to the Kalayaan Island Group and the Scarborough Shoal. PD 1596 constituted the Kalayaan Island Group as a separate municipality of the province of Palawan. Since the tribunal held that the Spratly Islands — of which the Kalayaan Islands are part — do not constitute an "archipelago" for failing to meet the requisite proportion of water to land as laid down in the Convention, each island generates its own territorial sea — without the EEZ and the continental shelf. The "Regime of Islands" is likewise provided for by the Convention on the Law of the Sea insofar as it provides that islands are entitled to a territorial sea, a contiguous zone, an EEZ and a continental shelf, except when they cannot sustain human habitation or economic life. Neither can they be enclosed within the archipelagic baselines of the Philippine archipelago, as the lines would deviate beyond the permissible limits under the Convention.

It is my hope that through this series of columns on the arbitral award, our countrymen become better informed with respect to what has been declared by a tribunal of competent jurisdiction to be ours under the aegis of international law — rights that we must, if we are not to fail ourselves and future generations, jealously hold, defend and cherish!




Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino The Manila Times
Thick fog over the West Philippine Sea https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/15/opinion/columns/thick-fog-over-the-west-philippine-sea/1946425 Francisco S. Tatad Wed, 15 May 2024 00:07:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/15/opinion/columns/thick-fog-over-the-west-philippine-sea/1946425 <![CDATA[

A SPECIFIC problem with China and with some of the nation's defense officials on the issue of de-escalating the tension between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea has forced Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos, the multi-awarded commander of the AFP Western Command (Wescom), to go on indefinite leave, leaving certain questions unanswered about the Philippine Coast Guard's rotation and resupply mission (ROREM) to the BRP Sierra Madre, the grounded warship that stands as a symbol of Philippine sovereignty in the Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

Carlos has not been heard from since he went on leave on May 5, following his low-level talks with Chinese officials on how to de-escalate the tension in the area. No one is on board to authoritatively answer questions about his talks. From what we could responsibly gather, the proposal to de-escalate the tension in Ayungin came from the Chinese in December 2023, which proposed that each side deploy only one private boat and one coast guard vessel in the next resupply mission.

According to our sources, Colonel Lee, the military attache of the Chinese Embassy, had insisted on talking to Carlos about the proposed arrangement, and Carlos had to clear everything with his bosses — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., National Security Adviser Ed Año and AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr.— before sitting down with him. It was specifically Secretary Año, according to our sources, who spoke to Teodoro and President Marcos Jr. about the Chinese proposal and gave Carlos the go-ahead to talk to Lee. After Carlos was cleared to talk to Lee, the latter reportedly suggested that Carlos also talk to the Chinese deputy chief of mission, who insisted on it, our sources revealed.

Carlos reportedly tried to point out that the proposal to de-escalate was coming from the Chinese rather than the Philippine side and that he had no authority to discuss anything beyond the proposed arrangements for the next resupply mission. Nevertheless, Lee insisted, so Carlos had to get a new set of clearances. Año reportedly spoke to the President, who reportedly said he also wanted to "de-escalate."

Carlos talked to the Chinese as instructed, the sources said, but despite the agreement to limit the mission to one supply boat and one escort on each side, the Chinese sent two coast guard vessels and one militia to the February 2024 mission. This prompted Carlos to recommend going back to the old arrangement of two supply boats and two escorts during the next mission, the sources said. The March 5 resupply mission resulted in four minor injuries on the Philippine side.

All throughout, Carlos complied with his standing orders to the letter, and gave up nothing of value to the Chinese side. It appears, however, that in one conversation between a top Philippine defense official and a top US diplomat, the former was asked, "Why are you talking to the Chinese?" The defense official reportedly denied any knowledge of it and promptly turned the heat on Carlos. A very strong message was sent to Carlos, who still has over a year in active service, suggesting that he should retire. So, for following the orders of his superiors to the letter, he now has to be sacrificed. Why?

Is it because this officer has dared to dream of peace replacing the climate of war being forced upon our country and our region? Because the real problem for our leaders is how to accelerate the pressure for war against China, rather than the opposite? Apparently, our external allies can see nothing to be gained from trying to put an end to the water-cannoning incidents in the shoal. The same playbook being used in Gaza and in Ukraine is being used here; there is a careful avoidance of a ceasefire that could lead to peaceful negotiations. A de-escalation of the tension in the South China Sea is clearly not an option for the hawks and has to be thumbed down.

Still, Carlos does not deserve a rotten deal. He is the most senior officer in the Navy lineal roster and is top-caliber executive material. Aside from having graduated from the Annapolis Academy in Maryland, he also studied at the Naval Command College in Nanjing, China, which gives him a balanced exposure to the competing superpowers.

A bemedaled ship captain and naval aviator, he has served in various posts in the AFP, the Navy and the Department of National Defense, doing logistics, procurement, resource management, modernization and operations. He is also a published author. He has served as head executive assistant to two defense secretaries (Teodoro during his earlier stint and Norberto Gonzales, both under then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) and was twice honored with the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award by the Civil Service Commission — in 2017 for Region 4A and in 2020 for the National Capital Region.

As Wescom commander, covering the province of Palawan, the Kalayaan Island Group and the West Philippine Sea, Carlos is one of the top Philippine military officers, if not indeed the top military officer, most exposed to the day-to-day problems of the South China Sea. Together with Brawner, he barely escaped being water-cannoned by the Chinese coast guard in one of the resupply missions to Sierra Madre. But this has not made him less keen on exploring the resources of diplomacy to try to find a solution to the South China Sea conflict.

While some of his superiors tried to chide Carlos for wanting to de-escalate the tension in the area, the PMA Makatao Class of 1989, headed by its class president, retired Army lieutenant general Ernesto Torres, issued an unsolicited statement expressing full support for him as "a distinguished military officer of unswerving integrity, patriotism and honorable service throughout his professional career."

In advocating for Carlos, the statement said, "We emphasize his exemplary character as a graduate of the US Naval Academy and a TOPS (The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers) awardee, whose dedication to duty, honor and country "exemplifies the highest standards of military service and leadership, reflecting the core principles of the AFP."

While remaining on armed duty, Carlos has tried to advance the opportunities for peaceful engagement with China. This has won the respect of many of his countrymen; it would be quite a shame if his superiors did not recognize its merits at all.


Francisco Tatad Francisco Tatad The Manila Times
Volcker's vaulting interest rate onto high gear https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/15/opinion/columns/volckers-vaulting-interest-rate-onto-high-gear/1946382 Ei Sun Oh Wed, 15 May 2024 00:04:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/15/opinion/columns/volckers-vaulting-interest-rate-onto-high-gear/1946382 <![CDATA[

KUALA LUMPUR – In the United States, the Federal Reserve (the American central bank) has been reluctant to lower its short-term lending rates to major financial institutions. The Fed procrastinated for months and months. The main reason is likely that the domestic inflation rate in the US has not yet descended to the Federal Reserve's preferred level of around 2 percent, and the Fed thus feels itself obligated to maintain a high interest rate of around 5 percent to combat inflation. In other words, the Fed's determination to fight what it perceives as unacceptable inflation remains resolute.

In elite financial sectors around the world, veterans often reminisce about Alan Greenspan, who became the Fed chairman in the mid-1980s and held the position for nearly two decades. During his tenure, Greenspan carefully adjusted interest rates to largely support the rapid growth of the US economy. However, Greenspan also witnessed several rounds of economic crises that originated in the US and spread globally. He may be said to have effectively held the world's hand through one economic roller coaster after another.

However, many Americans and relatively affluent foreigners may have more profound memories of Greenspan's predecessor, Paul Volcker, whose tenure spanned the struggling US economy of the 1970s and (at least) the early 1980s. At that time, the US relied heavily on oil supplies from the Middle East as its primary energy source. It is well-known that modern economic development, now as then, requires the use of large amounts of affordable energy. When energy prices (or — more precisely — oil prices, as nuclear and other renewable energies, were still in their infancy then) rise, the operating costs for businesses and industries increase correspondingly.

Back then, the geopolitical situation in the Middle East was even more tense than it is today. Israel was not only in conflict with Palestine but was also confronting almost the entire Arab world. Many oil-producing Arab countries, unable to defeat Israel in warfare, have long recognized that the US was a steadfast supporter of Israel. Consequently, they decided to leverage the direct relationship between oil supply and its ultimate consumers by initiating an oil embargo against the US in particular and the Western world in general, aiming to force the US to reduce its support for Israel.

The oil embargo imposed by Arab countries on the US (also known as the Middle East oil crisis) was a dramatic event that turned the dynamics of international political and economic operations upside down. Since the rise of the US as the world's largest economy, embargoes meant to achieve political and diplomatic goals were mostly imposed by the US on other countries' leadership, systems of governance, or diplomatic stances, of which the US disapproved. It was rare for any country or group of countries to successfully impose an embargo on the US and cause significant economic pain, and the oil crisis may thus be characterized as unprecedented.

Half a century ago, unlike today, the US, though a large oil producer, could not exploit enough of its own oil reserves (such as shale oil, which only became economically viable with technological advancements in this century) to offset the fuel shortages caused by the embargo. As a result, gasoline prices skyrocketed across the country, and in many places, there was no gasoline available at all, leading to long lines of cars at gas stations. The shortages and price hikes of fuels that were essential for businesses and industries were even more severe. Miles-long lines of gas-guzzling American automobiles waiting for their turn at the gasoline pumps were a common sight then.

To make matters worse, businesses passed the increased energy costs on to consumers, leading to a high, double-digit inflation rate in the US. However, this inflation had a somewhat "interesting" cause. Typically, inflation pops up when there is an excessive flow of "hot money" in the market, resulting in demand exceeding supply and causing speculative price hikes, as seen currently in many economies. But the 1970s inflation during the oil crisis was, at least initially, primarily driven by lower energy supply, although demand did not peak, and money was scarce in the market.

How, then, did Volcker, the Fed chairman at the time, tackle this formidable challenge? Well — surprise, surprise — by drastically raising American interest rate over time, such that by the early to mid-1980s, it reached an all-time high of nearly 20 percent and remained in double digits for a number of years. It was a daring attempt at suppressing run-away, double-digit inflation with almost matching double-digit interest rates and was a textbook exhibit of economic intervention, countering inflation by interest rate adjustments. The world was left breathless as the Fed assumed the mantle of inflation slayer, reminiscent of what it is again doing now, but with much more high-handedness then.

And American inflation did come down eventually. Nevertheless, it remains a subject of heated economic debate as to the actual cause of the lowered American inflation. By the late 1970s, Israel had made peace with its then-Arab arch-rival Egypt, with the Camp David Accord coming into effect. The Middle East oil crisis thus wound down correspondingly. And Middle Eastern oil once again flooded American gas pumps. Energy costs fell significantly, and with them, arguably, inflation. But Volcker's aggressive interest rate hike also likely played a not insignificant role in bringing down the inflation. It was perhaps this double whammy that finally tamed the inflation beast.

But what was the effect of Volcker's rate hike on the rest of the world? We shall explore this further.

The Manila Times
Two presidents: Impact on midterm elections https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/15/opinion/columns/two-presidents-impact-on-midterm-elections/1946381 Lito Monico C. Lorenzana Wed, 15 May 2024 00:03:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/15/opinion/columns/two-presidents-impact-on-midterm-elections/1946381 <![CDATA[

Second of a series

THE specter of the Deegong hovers over the Philippine political scene, a major factor in the confluence of events leading to the midterm elections, considering his still high popularity rating and his family's hold on their bailiwick in the south and among the Bisaya-speaking voters.

This state of affairs is perhaps a nostalgic offshoot of the Duterte years that painted him as a strong leader verging on the authoritarian, an iconoclastic politician, an outsider, an unsophisticated, dirty-mouthed, uncultured "probinsyano" never before seen among the heavily Luzon-centric rarified womb of presidents.

The Deegong, inured to the pomp and adoration of the masses, can't help being a political cynosure after his presidential stint but is now facing the consequences of his brutal presidential acts, haunted by the possibility of incarceration through the sanctions of the International Criminal Court (ICC). In a similar fashion, Duterte's predecessor, ex-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, spent time under hospital arrest until exonerated by the Supreme Court. To defend herself and her tattered legacy, she ran and was reelected to Congress.

Duterte, too, threatens to run for Senate. In the latest Publicus Asia survey, he maintains a high ranking — a veritable shoo-in. But the way he has been seen in public lately, with his cane, a shuffled walk, a tottering old man with a stooped body, he can barely climb the steps. His coterie has to bodily carry him up to the "entablado," where he revives and commands an audience of partisans. But the vitriol spewing out of his mouth remains undiminished.

It is doubtful he can survive the rigors of an election campaign. In the latest prayer meeting in Bacolod — a euphemism for a political rally, cloaked as a religious gathering — he again called for President Marcos to resign, a recurring theme. And the Deegong has been doing the rounds in the country, starting in Davao two months ago when the rift between two political dynasties opened up. He is on the warpath!

The chasm between the Marcoses and Dutertes has widened, and the stakes are high — the eventual dominance of the political dynasty emerging after the midterm elections in May of 2025. What triggered this conflict was as innocuous as VP Sara being deprived of her status as the prima inter pares in this administration.


It is a fact that the Dutertes helped immensely in the Marcoses repairing their image after their years in the political wilderness. Mayor Baste Duterte reminded the Marcoses that it was his father who allowed the burial of the late dictator's cadaver at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, the initial steps toward the Marcoses' rehabilitation. It is a general belief, too, that Sara could have taken the presidency but gave way to BBM — a decision the Deegong had gone ballistic over.

The conflicts surfaced at the onset of BBM's administration. Sara was refused the coveted defense portfolio that she wanted. She got the Department of Education instead, where subsequently, her intelligence fund — a source for political manna — was gutted. On top of this, the ICC investigation of Duterte's alleged crimes during the war on drugs has prospered. And Duterte's powerful religious fanatic ally, a deluded "Appointed Son of God" and his propaganda machinery — a necessary tool in the Dutertes' preeminence — the Sonshine Media Network (SMNI) was to be disenfranchised and castrated in Congress by BBM's allies.

The Marcoses

All of these should not have come to a head were it not for the Duterte camp's arrogance that they can get away with these assaults, confronting the colorless BBM whose tolerance is being perceived as a sign of his weakness. Aside from their call for the "co*kehead to resign" the presidency, their ally, former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, has been emboldened to call for the armed forces to disregard the chain of command. A seditious challenge!

Lifting from a contemporary writer's posts, Jose Alejandrino: "Bongbong is a kid who never grew up... Bongbong inherited the sweet character of his mother Imelda and, being the only son, was naturally spoiled. But he is in the wrong job. His father, the late President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, wrote that his son needed to 'develop character.' Being the favorite, like most spoiled children, Bongbong doted on his mother... It is also his lack of character that drove him as a young man to like co*ke, as it was the in-thing with the boys of his age to show he was part of the 'in-crowd.'"

And even older sister, Sen. Imee, the Marcos whose intellectual grasp and demeanor are nearest the father — and should have been the heir(ess) to Makoy's political legacy as president — confirmed in some oblique way in the movie she produced "Maid in Malacañang." She assigned her younger brother one dramatic scene with the Apo, which Ambeth Ocampo, a critic, described as "...a whimpering child of a man desperate for his father's attention and approval...." Even with literary license — the role was most degrading — the future president should not have been depicted this way.

A family rift

This could explain the disharmony between the in-laws, precipitating the fierce defense by Liza, the wife, who recently, in the Taberna interview, bared her soul and her teeth when the Deegong called her husband "bangag," while VP Sara reportedly looked on with amusem*nt from the sidelines. In the face of BBM's inability to defend himself, as in Imee's words, "My brother is 'masyadong mabait,'" this was the last straw that broke the camel's back. Liza, the mother hen, understandably came to her brood's defense. This could be an appropriately acceptable natural behavior by an aggrieved, stronger-willed mother and a wife to a fragile president.

But she went beyond the limits of her discretion. A consort to the powerful must not go beyond the official functions of the royal court. Yet she asserted she caused the termination of no less than the executive secretary — the "little president," the second most powerful position in the executive department. And further admitted recommending the appointments of a cordon sanitaire, replacing the ones originally around the President. And when warned that there could be consequences and repercussions, her riposte, pronounced only by a sharp, savvy and New York-trained lawyer: "Bring it on!"

Now, Philippine politics has been muddled, reviving the image of Imelda 2.0, eliciting from the publisher of a revered newspaper a defense of Liza.

But the last say could be from those of the older generation who knew the Imelda Marcos of the 3,000 shoes. She was elegant, tall, gorgeous, articulate in her own peculiar way. But what was really going for her was that the original Makoy appointed her to the bureaucracy — cloaking her with the wherewithal of an official of the legitimate Cabinet — Minister of the Human Settlements and governor of Metro Manila, who presided over the uplifting of the culture of the great "bakya" masses. She later ran and was elected to the Batasang Pambasa (parliament).

I have not met Liza. She doesn't know me from Adam. But she is not Imelda 2.0 — but a professional, a lawyer, an educator, a mother and a wife, but unfortunately, an unelected adjunct to a weak presidency. But I must sympathize with her!

To be continued next week


The Manila Times
Declare agri in a state of crisis, then write new policies https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/15/opinion/columns/declare-agri-in-a-state-of-crisis-then-write-new-policies/1946380 Marlen Ronquillo Wed, 15 May 2024 00:02:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/15/opinion/columns/declare-agri-in-a-state-of-crisis-then-write-new-policies/1946380 <![CDATA[

THEY are grand policies with innocuous names. In Europe, the prime examples are the European Green Deal, Horizon 2020, and the Strategic Forum for Important Projects of Common European Interests. The US versions are the CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the Infrastructure and Industrial Jobs Act. China has Made in China 2025 and several other similar programs.

Scrap the veneer of seeming innocuousness and probe deep into the programs that emerged from these policies, and you will find out what they really are. They are the industrial policies that many of the economically powerful countries have designed in the wake of the geoeconomic fragmentation to protect and promote their own niche industries. Employing tools that remind the world of the dreaded word "protectionism." Tools such as production subsidies, tariffs, tax incentives, loans, and domestic content rules were last deployed in a bygone era. In many ways, these industrial policies are a rebuke of the grand tenets of globalization, which, ironically, these major economic powers themselves foisted on the world, starting with the General Agreements on Tariff and Trade ( GATT).

<![CDATA[https://www.manilatimes.net]]> (6)

After the accession to the World Trade Organization of countries big and small in the last decade of the past century — our own Senate ratified our accession to the WTO in the dying days of 1994 — much of the world fully embraced globalization and free trade. So firmly footed was unfettered free trade that most prominent trade economists thought the words subsidies, loans, tax incentives, and domestic content rules that fall under the ambit of industrial policies and are anathema to free trade have been written off for good.

Today, as the broader world comes to terms with the reality that the era of efficiency — the idea that everything countries and households need can be sourced quickly and cheaply because the manufacturing centers are awash with them and the supply chain is as efficient — is over; the siren call of resilience has gained traction. Major economic powers and regional blocs such as the EU have been crafting their own industrial policies, the grand, animating principles of free trade be damned, because of the uncertainty of the supply chain, wars and other geopolitical tensions. The primary disruptors were the Covid pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. Right now, we have the Red Sea attacks on commercial vessels and the longer travel time for ships moving anything from cars to oil to food supplies.

What are the lessons that the lesser economic powers, the Philippines included, can learn from these initiatives of the major economies that defy the grand principles of free trade and smack of protectionism? First is this. No global trade rules are sacrosanct and inviolable, whether we are talking of industrial policy or agricultural policy. In the Philippine context, and this is the second lesson, we should ask ourselves these questions. Should we remain committed to our agricultural trade commitments both to the WTO and the regional trade agreements? Or, is now the perfect time to write our own agricultural policies because our almost slavish adherence to global and regional agricultural trading rules has brought us nothing but misery?

During the 1994 debates in the Senate on the question of WTO accession, the anti-accession coalition led by then-senator Wigberto "Bobby" Tañada said the underwhelming fundamentals of the agriculture sector, or the general unreadiness of our agriculture sector to compete globally, was enough to pause the then giddy sentiment in the Senate to join the WTO.

The anti-accession coalition stated in no uncertain terms that the backward state of Philippine agriculture guaranteed only one thing: under the WTO rules, the Philippines would be the dumping ground of every imaginable agricultural product from the various seaports of the world in the immediate future.

Seven years after the accession, a review done by trade and agricultural economists on the impact of the accession made the following findings:

– The promise of accession was the surge in agricultural jobs. Seven years later, hundreds of thousands of agricultural jobs were lost, exacerbating the migration of the rural poor into the cities.

– The accession promised a surge in agricultural exports. It was food imports that surged to historic levels seven years after the accession.

– The accession promised an increase of several folds in agriculture's gross value-added. Seven years later, a major drop in agriculture's GVA was the result.

Not one of the quack economists who provided the senators with the rosy Panglossian impact of the accession on agriculture was held accountable despite the big letdown. The Philippines, starting in the last five years of the past century, indeed became the dumping ground for every food import imaginable: from rice — the staple food — to yellow corn, sugar, and even fish and soy sauce. Accurately stated, from atis to patis.

The 21st century institutionalized one tragic development — our national food security became dependent on food imports. The Rice Tariffication Law was passed in 2019, the climax of the long, deliberate effort to defenestrate the agriculture sector. From 2019 to the present, we were either the No. 1 or No. 2 global rice importer. Not content with the RTL, the Duterte administration did more tariff-cutting on rice, pork and corn, which the Marcos Jr. administration has adopted.

Recently, Administrative Order 20, which eliminated all non-tariff barriers to food imports, was implemented, which probably sealed the total collapse of the agri sector.

The National Economic Development Authority, according to farm groups, is now the National Importation Development Authority. The Department of Agriculture is now the Department of Importation.

Time to declare a state of crisis in the agriculture sector and a total rewrite of its bungled policies.

The Manila Times
The Tulfo syndrome https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/the-tulfo-syndrome/1946131 Antonio Contreras Tue, 14 May 2024 00:09:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/the-tulfo-syndrome/1946131 <![CDATA[

LET us call it, for the lack of a better word, the "Tulfo" syndrome, named after Sen. Raffy Tulfo who has popularized the transformation of justice into a performative public spectacle that involves shaming people.

We are now witnessing the public unfolding of an online lynch mob, pouncing on that English professor from a university in Mindanao who posted a public apology, admitting to stealing the work of her student and making it appear she wrote the piece. The admission was posted on the Facebook page of her department.

It is indeed a mortal sin for academics to claim authorship of something not theirs. The penalty is harsh even if the material is a mere sentence. In the case of this English professor, the stolen material is an entire piece of work. What aggravated her sin was the fact that it was her student's work, where asymmetrical power relations existed.

I have been falsely accused of plagiarism before, and the experience was traumatizing. And that incident continued to haunt me. This is why I am now ever more extra careful in ensuring that I correctly cite my sources.

The practice of faculty advisers, and even panel members of thesis and dissertation committees, becoming co-authors of their student's publication is not new. The practice found more impetus when the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) began requiring a publication as a prerequisite for master's and PhD students to graduate. This need for students to publish in order to graduate has conveniently coincided with the need for faculty members to publish in order to be promoted and/or tenured. It was a convenient and mutually beneficial arrangement until you realized that the students would be coming in with the handicap of not having the option of refusing to accept their panel members as co-authors. It would be an unimaginable affront, which no graduate student would be willing to take.

The same asymmetrical power relations exist when the persons involved are the faculty members who lead a research project and their research assistants. In this situation, the dilemma goes beyond research assistants, who would find it hard not to include their project leaders as co-authors even on papers that the former would have primarily and independently worked on. The exploitation even includes the assistants practically ghostwriting for the project leaders on papers the latter would claim as theirs as if they wrote these. The pressure felt by the assistants that would make them accede would not be the threat of not graduating but the threat of losing their jobs.

This is precisely why I have never asked my students to include me as a co-author in their publications. The single instance was when it was my student who invited me to be a co-author. I have been mainly writing most of my academic publications as sole author, but would always require myself to include as co-authors in manuscripts that are submitted for publication by all members of the research team, whenever it is applicable.

It cannot be said differently. What that English professor did was a violation of academic ethical standards, and she should face the consequences of her action when she knowingly stole the work of her student.

However, it should also be said that the manner in which she has been subjected to online public lynching is equally unethical. There are procedures for handling sensitive cases like these, and there are applicable codes that would accord her due process and impose the applicable penalty on her. Public shaming would not be part of that.

The department concerned, realizing the backlash of their publication of the apology letter of the offending professor, which frankly, any rational person should have anticipated and therefore is not at all surprising, has come out with an explanation. The department claimed that such publication was the outcome of the agreement between the student whose work was stolen and the offending professor, where the issuance of a public apology and its posting on the social media account of the department were conditions set by the student. Presumably, the professor consented to her public humiliation.

This is exactly what I find disturbing: this utter sense of performative justice that is now comfortably residing in people's minds. The bloodlust is now replaced by the urge to publicly crucify, where justice is now a toxic blending of retribution and public vilification. This is a nasty element of our collective psyche that has somewhat lain dormant, hidden by our celebration of shared selves, and used to only occasionally reveal itself when people express their schadenfreude over the misery of those they don't like. We see this in the tendency of people to enjoy the spectacle of catfights and arguments, which then manifests in our fondness for drama, where there is plenty of slapping and shouting. This is the root cause of why news rates only when it covers conflict and controversies.

Social media has amplified this lust for shaming people, with trolls feeding and celebrating cancel culture, deriving pleasure from the misery of others who they think fully deserve such treatment. This is why Sen. Raffy Tulfo's show resonates with the masses. It caters to the need to witness people who did bad things being turned into a public spectacle as objects of shaming.

The Romans used to watch with glee as gladiators engaged in mortal combat, as they cheered the winners but also jeered at those they felt did not deserve to live and expressed this with their thumbs pointed downwards. Often, the coliseum also became the place where the crowd watched as the bodies of Christians were torn to pieces.

This is what we have become. We have equated justice with lynching and shaming. And in the face of a system that is flawed, biased and inaccessible, we have turned to Tulfo's brand of justice.

What is saddening, and disturbing, is that in the case of this English professor who stole the work of her student, the academia has enabled, with some academics actively participating in, the lynching.

Antonio Contreras Antonio Contreras The Manila Times
Appeasem*nt of China as strategy for statecraft in WPS dispute https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/appeasem*nt-of-china-as-strategy-for-statecraft-in-wps-dispute/1946130 Yen Makabenta Tue, 14 May 2024 00:08:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/appeasem*nt-of-china-as-strategy-for-statecraft-in-wps-dispute/1946130 <![CDATA[

First word

OF the six recognized strategies for statecraft in conflict in international relations (negotiation, deterrence, coercive diplomacy, crisis management, war termination and détente), I have discussed so far coercive diplomacy and crisis management as strategic tools for statecraft that our government can employ in the present state of relations in the West Philippine Sea.

We should not neglect the discussion of an alternative policy strategy that pro-China apologists among us have been actively promoting as the appropriate and rational policy strategy for our government to pursue at this time. This is the policy of appeasem*nt of China, which they contend can be a viable and effective policy for the nation to employ and is the best way to avoid war in the contested waterway.

The pro-China lobby characterizes as "belligerent and confrontational" the approach of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. in navigating the dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea (the part of the South China Sea that is our exclusive economic zone under Unclos).

They contrast without blushing the Marcos policy with the earlier policy of the previous administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, which worshiped a policy of friendship and submission to China, highlighted by Duterte's dictum of being "a friend to all and an enemy to no one."

In their book "Force and Statecraft," Gordon Craig and Alexander George include a full discussion of appeasem*nt as a strategy in conflictual relationships in interstate relations. They wrote:

"The historical case against appeasem*nt is well-understood and deeply etched in the consciousness of generations of policymakers and foreign policy specialists. In contrast, the case for appeasem*nt is not well understood and lacks an analytical basis derived from historical instances when it was usefully employed in the interest of avoiding conflict and developing positive relations. Policymakers who believe it may be expedient to 'conciliate' a possible dangerous adversary or to engage in a 'constructive engagement' with him do not have available a historically grounded theory regarding the conditions under which what is essentially 'a policy of appeasem*nt' is likely to be a viable strategy. Under what conditions is appeasem*nt a dangerous policy that will increase the likelihood of war or a worse war in the future? But also, under what conditions is appeasem*nt a viable strategy that will reduce conflict with another state and markedly lower or eliminate the possibility of war?

"Only now, however, is a scholarly effort finally underway to make a systematic analysis of historical cases of appeasem*nt in order to identify those conditions under which it is likely to be a viable conflict avoidance strategy and other conditions in which appeasem*nt is likely to be misguided and contribute to the eventual onset of war.

"In the classical European balance of power system, there existed a gradation of steps for improving relations between two states that was incorporated into well-defined concepts and practices of diplomacy. The process of improving relations might begin with 'détente.' which referred merely to a relaxation of tensions, and could possibly develop into 'rapprochement,' whereby one or both sides expressed a desire to address some or all of their disagreements with a view to possible agreement. This, in turn, could lead to an 'entente' — a limited but significant improvement in relations in which the two sides at least recognized a similarity of some views and interests, but with understandings between them limited to certain issues that stopped short of an alliance. Entente could then lead to appeasem*nt — the methodical removal of the principal causes of the conflict.

"Following the breakup of the European system, the precise definition and sharp distinction among these concepts and practices were badly eroded. The history of interstate relation was marked by the experience of British appeasem*nt policy toward Hitler, and various instances in which appeasem*nt or conciliation either worked — or did not."

Woven into the narrative of pro-China apologists is the line that in defying China's bullying, the Philippines is advancing the interests of the United States and not its own. In the words of Anna Malindog-Uy, a Filipino graduate student at China's Peking University, who also happens to write a column for the Times, "President Marcos' strategy emphasizes bolstering the Philippines' military ties with the US, the trilateral defense/military pact and alliance between the Philippines, Japan and the US, and the regular joint military exercises and naval patrols by these countries in the South China Sea.

The apologists long for the time when President Duterte made kowtowing to China the official Filipino policy. No doubt Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders have the same longing for Duterte's predictable and now long-departed regime.

Up to this point, the Philippines and China have made clear the irreconcilability of their positions in the WPS dispute. They have exhausted the possibility of a negotiated solution.

China has persisted and continues to encroach on the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ), absurdly claiming for itself "indisputable sovereignty" over our EEZ. And blasting water cannons at our ships in the waterway and surreptitiously trying to turn another Philippine shoal into its own.

Meanwhile, amid these trials and tribulations, the transition from President Duterte to President Marcos has shown marked improvement and modernization of our country's armed forces and defense capability. More countries today rally to our side, and many have shared with us some of their military assets and hardware to assist in defending our interests. More and more are actively pledged to stand with us in the event of an unfortunate breakout of hostilities in the waterway.

Our country is in a much better position to defend its EEZ and its sovereign rights and interests than it was in earlier years and earlier presidencies.

As in the case of South Korea and Taiwan, under the stress and trial of persistent threat and intimidation by a powerful neighbor, the Philippines, too, is emerging from the shadows as a modern state that has become vastly more ready and capable of defending its national interest and territory. We have not had until now a more modern and better equipped armed forces. Nor have we had a people more roused and alert to the dangers posed by the ambitions and bullying of a more powerful neighbor.

Appease Goliath? Who dares to urge upon the nation such a grotesque and foolish policy in the West Philippine Sea?


Yen Makabenta Yen Makabenta The Manila Times
Trump's stormy weather https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/trumps-stormy-weather/1946128 Orlando Mercado Tue, 14 May 2024 00:07:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/trumps-stormy-weather/1946128 <![CDATA[

LIVING in this century of information technology, I find myself unable to resist the need to follow the unfolding events of today's major international conflicts. The Russian war in Ukraine and the Israeli-Palestinian war had my undivided attention since the start of hostilities. I have always made it a habit to attend webinars, listen to podcasts, and watch documentaries to have an informed and balanced view of these hotspots.

Of late, I have noticed myself spending more time in a different hotspot: the New York hush money trial of Donald Trump. The unprecedented courtroom drama can be riveting, especially as Trump has the distinction of being the first former president to be tried on criminal charges. This case was originally considered the least important of the four criminal cases against him. The three others were fraud, election subversion, and possessing and concealing classified documents. Today, it has become the only one that can affect the coming US presidential election. It is likely the only case against Trump that will be heard before November.

<![CDATA[https://www.manilatimes.net]]> (7)

The case centers on whether the former president falsified business records so he could hide hush money payments worth $130,000 to adult entertainment actress Stormy Daniels by claiming that they were "legal expenses." Her testimony revealed details about her encounter with Trump in 2006, which Trump denied. Trump's defense team sought to undermine Daniel's credibility by focusing on the financial benefits as a result of her revelations. Her testimony provided the critical motive for Trump to be fearful that her statements weeks before the election might cost him the election, thus the need to buy her silence.

Stormy Daniels said she met Trump in a celebrity golf match in Lake Tahoe. She said she was led to believe that they were only meeting to have dinner. She was graphic in her description of her "brief" sexual encounter with Trump. Daniels specified that Trump was wearing silk or satin pajamas, did not wear a condom, and asked her about her career. She also claimed that Trump said she reminded him of his daughter, Ivanka. The defense called for a mistrial, arguing that Daniel's statements would prejudice the jury against Trump. The judge denied the motion.

Daniels was repeatedly asked by the defense if she was motivated to make the revelation by financial gain. She admitted profiting from the story but emphasized that she was looking for accountability. "I have been making money by telling my story," she said, adding, "It has also cost me a lot of money." Daniels also claimed that coming forward about the encounter had been a net "negative" for her life.

Daniels also repeatedly denied the assertions of the defense that she had made up the encounter. "If that story was untrue, I would have written it to be a lot better."

The defense pressed Daniels on her feelings about the former president in an attempt to undermine her reliability. She answered yes when asked if she hates President Trump.

Trump's attempt to sweep his alleged sexual encounters with Daniels under the rug reminded me of Nixon's Watergate scandal. In 1972, then President Richard Nixon's reelection campaign members broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in an attempt to wiretap the office. They were arrested, and Nixon dismissed the issue as a "third-rate burglary." He paid hush money to the "burglars" to conceal the involvement of the White House in the crime.

Nixon and Trump's schemes are eerily the same, as both were aimed at defrauding Americans before the upcoming presidential elections. These worrisome attempts to cover up the truth are more sinister than what they are trying to hide. Both were done to secure the most coveted position of being the "leader of the free world." Nixon eventually resigned in 1974 before an almost-certain impeachment and removal from office. Whereas if convicted, Trump may face jail time.

Only when the decision results in a conviction can it be determined if it will affect the election, as more than 50 percent of swing state voters may consider Trump unfit to become president if convicted, based on a Morning Consult/Bloomberg poll. Only time will tell if Trump's stormy cover-up will also prove to be his undoing.

We can only hope that America will uphold the values of integrity, transparency and accountability as non-negotiables when choosing its next president.

The Manila Times
No, China is not building floating nuke plants https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/no-china-is-not-building-floating-nuke-plants/1946065 Ben Kritz Tue, 14 May 2024 00:06:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/no-china-is-not-building-floating-nuke-plants/1946065 <![CDATA[

LAST Monday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that China is planning to build a fleet of up to 20 floating nuclear power plants "that could power military facilities in the South China Sea," attributing the news to a report in The Washington Post. The Washington Post, in turn, attributed the news to "State Department officials" and the recently retired commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. John Aquilino. Aquilino was indirectly quoted as saying that "Chinese state media announced Beijing's intent to use this project to bolster control of the South China Sea."

I'm singling out the Inquirer because it was the only local news outlet to carry the story. Everyone else in the local media market apparently took a moment to actually read the wire report carefully or do a little quick fact-checking. The Washington Post, the unidentified State Department officials and the retired admiral should have done the same, too, but that doesn't let the Inquirer off the hook for spreading misinformation. I'm sure that was not intentional, but the consequences are the same.

The news to which the US sources were referring was a 2016 report in the Global Times Online, one of China's state-controlled media outlets, which described a plan by the government to build up to 20 floating nuclear power plants, at least some of which could be deployed to the South China Sea. Each of the recent reports picked up on the same salacious quote from the original Global Times report: "Each South China Sea island and reef, paired with a floating nuclear-powered platform [is essentially] a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.... [It is] equipped with combat aircraft and missile systems. Their military advantage far outweighs that of a US carrier fleet coming from afar."

Ooh, scary. Or it would be if it was actually happening, which it is not, and it has officially not been happening for nearly a year. I wrote about this very topic at the beginning of June last year and then fact-checked my research again in late November as part of preparing the manuscript for my book on nuclear energy. Since we're retreading already traveled ground here, recycling some excerpts from that earlier piece ("China steps back from ambitious nuke plan," June 8, 2023) will suffice:

"According to a report in the South China Morning Post on May 31, an ambitious plan by China to construct a fleet of up to 20 floating nuclear power plants has been shelved by regulators, at least for the foreseeable future.

"The lead engineer from the National Energy Offshore Nuclear Power Platform Technology Research Center told the SCMP that final approval to begin construction of China's first floating nuclear plant was withheld by regulators who expressed 'security concerns' about the project.

"'Floating nuclear power plants have various natural advantages, and the technology to build them is ready. Both China National Nuclear Corporation and China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation have been actively conducting research and development work. However, construction of China's first floating nuclear power plant demonstration project has yet to be approved,' senior engineer Wang Donghui was quoted as saying.

"The hesitance on the part of the government was, according to the SCMP report and other sources, driven by the perceived risk to placing some of the nuclear plants in the South China Sea.... To be clear, this explanation has not been publicly offered by the government directly, but only by the team managing the project. That alone suggests it is probably accurate, however, because the focus of the project, according to other news about it over the past five or six years, has not been on the South China Sea installations but rather on the hundreds of island communities along China's long east coast.

"Thus, engineer Wang and his colleagues may soon find themselves in hot water with the authorities for their unhelpful candor. Any hint that there is even a ghost of uncertainty in China about the legitimacy of its claim of sovereignty over most of the South China Sea and its ability to enforce it is definitely unproductive and embarrassing from the Chinese government's point of view.

"Be that as it may, there seems to be much more to the 'withholding' of the government regulators' approval to begin construction of the project than is being said, and in fact, the issue of a potential security risk from the South China Sea dispute may just be a minor incidental factor being used as cover for some deeper problems."

So, to summarize, China indeed had a plan to go big on floating nuclear plant construction but pulled back from it after about six years of work. It is unclear if they actually built anything; the initial program was to build a unit for sale to Russia and another of between 60 and 100 MW capacity for China's use as a demonstration project, which was supposed to be ready for sea trials by 2020.

From my earlier column, "Reports as recently as April [2023] have said the unit is currently being tested in the Bohai Sea, but on the other hand, the engineers who supposedly built the thing were describing the project that they failed to get regulatory approval for as 'China's first floating nuclear plant.' Some sources have suggested that what is being tested is actually just the boat part — in other words, without the nuclear reactor and related systems installed — as the state-run Chinese developers have recently described in great detail how they are designing floating plants to withstand severe weather and sea conditions."

It was my guess at the time, and I have yet to see any information that suggests I'm wrong, is that "the economics of SMRs (small modular reactors) and floating nuclear plants have dampened planners' enthusiasm. The financial details of the Chinese projects are not known and are not likely to be disclosed, but the experiences elsewhere provide some strong clues. The Akademik Lomonosov [the first floating nuclear plant, built by Russia] was supposed to be relatively cheap and easy to build, particularly since it uses recycled submarine reactors, but it was not; it was supposed to be ready by 2010 at a cost of about $170 million, but was only completed in 2018 with a final price tag of close to $700 million."

As a final confirmation that the floating nuke plan still is not a thing, a brief story in the South China Morning Post on May 8, two days after the news broke here, confirmed that the Chinese project is still suspended and has not been resurrected.


Ben Kritz Ben Kritz The Manila Times
Visions of the coming superstorm https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/visions-of-the-coming-superstorm/1946064 Rafael Alunan III Tue, 14 May 2024 00:05:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/visions-of-the-coming-superstorm/1946064 <![CDATA[

A TERRIBLE thought crossed my mind while watching documentaries on the History Channel. Free World countries were massively attacked by cyber, electronic, magnetic pulses, and conventional and unconventional means to decapitate their leadership, destroy their warfighting resources, cause their instantaneous defeat and gain world dominion. They would be launched simultaneously from all points of the compass, including outer space. That would be the culminating step of asymmetric and unrestricted warfare should non-kinetic means fail.

The Free World's adversaries began applying asymmetric and unrestricted warfare long ago to weaken them from within and without. Asymmetric methods like hijackings, suicide bombings and terror attacks to narrow the power gap; unrestricted warfare for the purpose of achieving victory against a superior enemy without open warfare. It follows the principle of "no rules, nothing is forbidden" in applying a broad spectrum of creeping gray zone methods, e.g., psychological, smuggling, drug, network, technological, fabrication, resources, economic aid, cultural and international law warfare, terrorism, and influence operations.

They — China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and their networks of surrogates — aim to disperse the Free World's forces; deplete their warfighting resources through localized hot wars; infiltrate their political, business and social sectors to deceive, spy, destabilize and sabotage as they did during the Vietnam war. China et al. have the upper hand today for playing the long game that began in default or without opposition decades ago. The Free World is scrambling to catch up, stitching a counter-strategy and global alliance on-the-go to reverse the tide and win the day.

In a 1988 conference on technology I attended in Washington D.C., the Chinese delegation disclosed China's master plan to become a superpower "in 50 years." I took that to mean that it intended to replace the US as "No.1" at some point, preferably applying Sun Tzu's principle of subduing the enemy without "firing a shot" to demonstrate their "acme of skill." Since then, it has become the world's factory of everything by exploiting Western hubris, naivetè and commercial greed. I wouldn't be surprised if China et al. were manipulating world events from that time.

The signs are clear that a superstorm is heading toward us. China's core interest is to rule the roost. A prime objective is full control of the South China Sea and the countries surrounding it. China, specifically the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the People's Liberation Army (PLA), has demonstrated resolute and arrogant resistance to the Free World's pressures to return to peaceful rise. Its defiance indicates its readiness for open conflict if need be. No amount of Fonops, simulated exercises, or diplomatic protests have deterred the CPC-PLA.

China has reached the point of confidence where it's now routinely issuing warnings to the US and its allies to carefully consider the consequences of continued pushback. It's propping up Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Iran's asymmetric attacks in the Middle East and North Korea for its black operations. It's transforming the PLA and strengthening military-civilian "fusion" to wage a true "people's war." Its air force, navy, coast guard, maritime militia and integrated dark businesses intrude, harass and coerce its weak neighbors with impunity.

As we already know, the Philippines is prime real estate that hegemons lust for to control the region and project power throughout the Indo-Pacific. Whether we have US backing or not, China's hostile behavior from the time it stole Mischief Reef from us in 1995 has, in fact, intensified. China's core interest in being the next superpower puts it on a collision course with the US. The calculation is as early as within the next two years (worst case) and within the next three to five years (best case). Should open warfare erupts between them, everyone loses. Whether we like it or not, we'll be caught in the middle.

We're already badly infiltrated on land and badly outclassed at sea and in the air, as it is. Through its anti-access, area denial (A2AD) strategy, China has taken de facto control of portions of our EEZ, Mischief Reef, Scarborough Shoal and the surrounding area of Ayungin Shoal; continues to reclaim within our EEZ; poaches our marine resources; destroys our coral seabeds; forcefully disrupts our resupply missions; prevents our fishermen from fishing in their traditional areas; wages information warfare; conducts influence operations; and engages in all kinds of criminal activity with impunity.

Influence operations exploit our corruptibility and malleability to buy political support and criminal justice system protection. They burrow their way into positions of power like that spurious Bamban, Tarlac mayor, the business sector, civil society, and uniformed services. They're able to expand their united fronts to spy, scare, sow discord and sabotage as they please. They're disguised as students, as tourists, as POGO operators, and even as Filipino citizens armed with birth certificates, passports and various IDs. How many more are there?

They've managed to easily pre-position themselves in and around our sea lines of communications (SLOCs) and centers of national power. Like it or not, we must get ready for the superstorm headed our way. Risk management plans must consider the probability of hybrid warfare happening all at once that employs political warfare blended with conventional warfare, irregular warfare and cyberwarfare with other influencing methods, such as fake news, diplomacy, lawfare, regime change and foreign electoral intervention. Isn't that all too familiar?

We must fast-track our preparations. We could accelerate our defense build-up through "lend-lease" arrangements with friendly countries for required weapons and systems, the way the US came to Britain's help in WW II. And because we're import-dependent on most things, we need a stockpile policy and strategy such as supply chain resilience measures, reliable import sources, and joint-venture manufacturing, fully supported by our allies, to ensure our safety, security and survival. We can't afford to get caught with our pants down for yet another time.

Rafael M. Alunan 3rd is a former chairman and currently a trustee of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations. He also formerly headed the Department of the Interior and Local Government under President Fidel V. Ramos.

Rafael Alunan 3rd Rafael Alunan 3rd The Manila Times
Who was the author of the 'Kartilya ng Katipunan'? https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/who-was-the-author-of-the-kartilya-ng-katipunan/1946063 Michael “Xiao” Chua Tue, 14 May 2024 00:04:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/who-was-the-author-of-the-kartilya-ng-katipunan/1946063 <![CDATA[

IF I were to put up a hall of original documents at the National Library of the Philippines featuring the founding documents of the nation, the six most ideal highlights would be the "Noli Me Tangere," "El Filibusterismo" and "Mi Ultimo Adios" original manuscripts by José Rizal, the Proclamation of Philippine Independence, Andres Bonifacio's handwritten "Decalogue" and Emilio Jacinto's "Kartilya ng Katipunan," a printed copy of which was recently auctioned at Leon Gallery.

How I wish the government acquired that copy because I can even argue that the printed Kartilya is the most important of all of them. Indeed, Rizal's works were earthshaking in magnitude as the first literary manifestation against European colonialism in Asia, but they were only read by Spanish-speaking Filipinos before the revolution. People perhaps talked about them as stories and gossip, but most hadn't even read it as a text. The Proclamation of Independence, although important, had a text that was too patronizing of the Americans that Emilio Aguinaldo and Apolinario Mabini replaced it on Aug. 1, 1898, with the Proclamation at the Bacoor assembly. Andres Bonifacio's "Decalogue," as will be seen later, was not used by the Katipunan, although it encapsulates many of their beliefs and only became known later. The last letters of Andres Bonifacio that were also featured in Leon Gallery may have been highly important because they underscored the lessons we should learn from the infighting in the Philippine Revolution and the pain and heartbreak of its Father, but these were personal letters that were not shared to everyone at that time.

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"The Kartilya ng Katipunan" is the most studied of all texts from the Philippine Revolution today, but not only that, its printed copy will be familiar to many of those who joined the movement that made us a nation, especially in the lead-up to the national Revolution that started in August 1896. It was composed of two parts, according to historian Jim Richardson: the "layon" part which was composed of expectations on becoming a member and reminder to not betray the secrets of the Katipunan and was based on the "programa masonico," and the "aral" part which talks about good conduct. It was part of their primer as neophytes.

It was so important that one collector also owns a notebook where the whole text of the "Sa may nasang makisanib" was written in longhand, presumably by a member of the Katipunan. But another collector showed me a printed matter from the early 20th century which features an image of Andres Bonifacio, with the whole text of "Sa may nasang makisanib" but with a heading "Makabayang palatuntunan na sinulat ni Andres Bonifacio y Castro hinggil sa pagwawalat ng tanikalang umaalipin sa Pilipinas."

So, is there an issue with the authorship of the Kartilya? Apparently, according to Katipunan historian Jim Richardson, it was Isabelo de los Reyes who confirmed the authorship through his various OG KKK member sources, and it appeared in the "La sensacional memoria de Isabelo de los Reyes sobre la revolución Filipina de 1896-97," published in 1899. There is no actual extant copy of the Kartilya in Jacinto's handwriting, nor a printed one with the byline of Jacinto, nor his pen name, Pingkian.

Yet, this is not a problem. As National Artist Virgilio Almario underscored in his various critical studies of the Akdang Katipunan, whether a work was written by Bonifacio or Jacinto, it really doesn't matter because there is oneness in spirit and consistency in their works.

Although the fact that Jacinto is identified as writing the Kartilya is important because Jose P. Santos noted that the parents of Jacinto, since they were living in Tondo, only spoke to young "Miling" in Spanish since it was the language of the trade, their area being an entrepot of commerce. He did not know how to speak good Tagalog. But Bonifacio became his first teacher, and comparing the Kartilya and the Dekalogo tells us that Bonifacio was a very good teacher and Jacinto an even better student because in the elegance of the prose, Kartilya was far better.

Again, Emilio Jacinto wrote the Kartilya, but I am pretty sure that it contained Bonifacio's ideas as they are of one heart and mind — which launched us in our aspirations as a nation.

Michael "Xiao” Chua Michael "Xiao” Chua The Manila Times
Unstable? https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/unstable/1946062 Ma. Lourdes Tiquia Tue, 14 May 2024 00:03:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/unstable/1946062 <![CDATA[

WE could have prevented all that is happening in the country if the higher-ups of Jonathan Morales had allowed him to continue the operations to prove that the sworn statements of the confidential informants were true. That was in 2012 (pre-ops and authority to operate). Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ran in 2016 and lost. He ran for the presidency in 2022 and won. Six years to prove Marcos and his alleged habit as a candidate for higher office. Morales' act was 10 years ago, and that file remained somewhere and in the hands of those who might threaten or corner an elected leader for monies and favors. And that is the state of our nation — a 17th president cornered by his lifestyle and assisted by several people so he could reach the pinnacle of the political ladder.

The collective lapse of judgment is before us in just 23 months. Collective because all of us are to be blamed for the ascension of a second Marcos to power. A sum total of being gamed since 2016, when we had the chance to really look at him closely, and in the 2022 election, when certain people failed us, and we failed ourselves in electing the son of the 10th.

It would seem the election of Marcos Jr. was not really to ensure the legacy of Marcos Sr. but to get back at the very people who removed his father from power. A foreign power cannot do a thing in the country without the consent of Marcos Jr. He plays his cards to get what he wants: the money from the Marcos estate. After 36 years, given the chance to lead, Marcos Jr. concentrated on using the levers of power to get back at the very people who put them in office. "Them" because it seems to be conjugal.

Marcos Jr. would feign knowledge about certain operations done by a first cousin and a first lady for plausible deniability. The proof is aplenty, from those porks reduced or removed or replaced as an officer of the chamber if one questions the speaker, to preventive suspensions of local officials who showed up or hosted Maisug rallies and, of course, that telling interview on how mad the first lady is, all laid out in a long interview done by a broadcaster, released first as a clickbait.

Pre-2022, Marcos Jr. knew they needed the Dutertes to win. Post-2022, every offensive from the Marcos Jr. team has had one target: Duterte. And it is a collective target for they want the vice president to sink as they hit the 16th (from ICC to Pharmally and others). First, Marcos Jr. approved confidential and trust funds in 2022, a well-laid trap to lure the vice president and shame her. It's a good thing she saw it clearly and gave it up in 2023. Then, the vice president had to injure public display of snobbery by the first lady on red carpet send-offs.

The House of Representatives showed a high degree of hubris by holding in contempt two broadcasters but blinked because of the Mistah letter. If they can't stop the hosts, the House issued an illegal cancellation of the franchise of SMNI, a platform associated with the Dutertes, further pushing the button against Pastor Quiboloy because he didn't show up in the Senate. Take note that cases filed in the US against Quiboloy have not been tried. In our courts, they remain pending. But the intention was pure and simple: de-platform Duterte, who was answering and raising issues against the acts of the Marcos team in SMNI.

Even the military and the police have been played to the hilt. Four officers floating, and the Board of Generals have been minimized. A police officer, with his family, was about to take his oath as CPNP woke up the following day to find that there was another person standing for the change of command. And look what happened to Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos regarding the so-called new model that has been denied by the SND, NSA and the DFA. Now, if we bring the light to the Cabinet, why are they eerily silent on governance issues and the somersaults? Imagine now a super body on human rights? How many superbodies have been made, and were the problems attended to?

To prevent the public from joining the arena, one by one, our rights were marginalized by the Marcos administration. Test cases were made to show everyone they could use their power to control dissent and gag critics. No declaration of martial law because they can't sever the Senate and hostage the Supreme Court, but they continue to constrict our rights, from the right to free expression to the right to assemble peaceably, by threatening local officials on the grant of permits to rallies. When a freedom park was identified as a way forward, Maisug was confronted by local kingpins flexing their powers by putting vehicles in the area and tarps placed supposedly by the lawyer of the owner of a private property. Naked power held by dubious hands results in public anger. This is not happening again.

Critics are part and parcel of democracy. They play an important role in a democracy by providing constructive feedback, questioning the status quo, and holding those in power accountable. Without critics, we are in a state of dictatorship. Silenced critics are not within an international rules-based order, right, Uncle Sam?

Why and how did we come to this? Because certain individuals failed us in telling us the truth about candidates and not revealing things to the people, others didn't take up the cudgels for the people in the 2022 elections; fixing things and forgetting records were deals made to maintain political peace. Were the Dutertes played to the hilt?

All the enemies of Duterte have combined to put the 16th down for good, which means putting the vice president out of contention in the 2028 elections. Why? Because they want an exit that they can control and influence. For some, getting back at PRRD gives them a high.

And from the abyss comes a call for UniTeam again for 2025. We build on dreams. Aspirations define us in every election, and the alliance for Bagong Pilipinas will again use unity. For what? To deceive voters? To show that unity can be made. Voters should be aware that this is just a ploy. The vice president was attacked in the first quarter of 2023. Marcos Jr.'s team played the voters on the people's initiative in January 2024. At the start of every year of this administration, there have been political attacks all the way. Now, who is playing the jukebox? Isn't that akin to politicians who act that way when confronted with a choice between the people and their pockets? Play that funky music, white boy!

Ma. Lourdes Tiquia Ma. Lourdes Tiquia The Manila Times
The 2025 midterm elections https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/the-2025-midterm-elections/1946060 Lloyd C. Bautista Tue, 14 May 2024 00:02:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/the-2025-midterm-elections/1946060 <![CDATA[

A YEAR from now, in May 2025, the national and local midterm elections will be held. It proxies as the barometer of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s performance after three years in office. The OCTA survey from March 11 to 14, 2024, provides insights on how the electoral winds will blow, with 31 percent of Filipinos supporting the Marcos administration while 20 percent supporting the Duterte family. Some 29 percent are noncommittal with regard to the two, while only 4 percent support the opposition. The remaining 15 percent are indifferent.

31 percent who support Marcos administration

One-third seemed satisfied with the Marcos administration. Despite early slip-ups, 31 percent gave his governance a chance rather than indulging in his blunders and miscues. This 31 percent are not necessarily Marcos loyalists but people who earnestly hope the President is successful in ending poverty, creating more jobs, and even improving our military capabilities to fend off foreign bullies. They believe he is on the right track or trying his best despite the circ*mstances.

20 percent who support Duterte family and allies

One out of five Filipinos, however, are supportive of the Duterte faction. The nostalgia for the former President's hard-nosed leadership is sorely missed in the face of a slow, grinding bureaucracy. These supporters are enamored with the firebrand politics that swept the land when he assumed office. They perceived his rule as forceful and results-oriented, with no tolerance for crime and corruption.

29 percent who do not support anyone

But the math tells us that around one out of three Filipinos are unhappy with current politics. A lot of them are fed up with toxic politics, bottlenecks and corruption. They would rather move forward to realize our national goals than take sides on either of the two forces. This 29 percent is likely the swing vote in the midterm elections.

15 percent who are not aware

The 15 percent are, unfortunately, apathetic and fence-sitters in the political contest at hand. They are just happy to receive any largesse from any political side and would rather stay away from the fray. This minority does not see any significant difference from the contending actors in the political order. They have become skeptical and cool about the capabilities of the government to change their lives for the better.

4 percent who oppose the Marcos administration

No matter who the incumbent is in the government, this 4 percent shall oppose any sitting administration for two reasons. One is their socialist ideology, which they think Filipinos deserve and would alleviate their problems. Second are the sore losers or disenchanted who cannot get over the prevailing political realities. They are the outliers who will consistently refuse to submit to the powers that be.

A divided majority

In the said OCTA survey, the midterm election results may be one-third for the President's candidates, one-fifth for the Dutertes and one-third undecided. The latter vote is up for grabs. The survey forebodes that the Marcos administration might lose its majority support after three years in office.

Our electorate could be looking for dynamic leadership with quick, resolute actions. Thus, the President needs to excite his base of supporters to campaign hard for his candidates. With his courageous stand in the West Philippine Sea, he is emerging as the "unifying leader" who has the ability to cross the aisle and invite the Yellows, Reds and Greens to his big tent.

However, the Marcos administration is also hobbled by issues that political opponents can capitalize on to win the midterm elections. These are 1) weak enforcement of environmental laws; 2) rising cybercrimes, sex trafficking and illegal drugs; 3) horrendous traffic and immobility; 4) cost-of-living crisis; 5) people's initiative fiasco; and 6) perceived corruption in high places. On the one hand, it showed success in the following: 1) upholding human rights and international law; 2) ensuring the steady supply of basic commodities; 3) professionalizing the PNP and AFP; 4) ramping up infrastructure program; 5) hiring technocrats in the bureaucracy; and 6) shifting to external defense and the maritime domain.

The 2025 midterm elections are just around the corner. The Comelec has directed candidates to file their applications by October, and the country will be busy with the electoral season. Governance must not take a back seat. The national agenda should be vigorously pursued.

In the next months, it is urgent to spark enthusiasm for the President's leadership and ignite his battle cry "Bagong Pilipinas" across voters. The president must again recapture the Filipinos' imagination and win the political narrative despite relentless attacks from his opponents. Otherwise, his major policy reforms on national security, economics, and Charter change will slow down as he loses political capital.

Lloyd C. Bautista Lloyd C. Bautista The Manila Times
A laudable act for DoJ https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/a-laudable-act-for-doj/1946059 Charlie V. Manalo Tue, 14 May 2024 00:01:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/14/opinion/columns/a-laudable-act-for-doj/1946059 <![CDATA[

THE news that a Chinese businessman thanked the Department of Justice for acting on his complaint of kidnapping with ransom — but downgrading it to grave coercion —demonstrates the side of the Chinese character of recognizing a good deed especially when done within the parameters of the law and the interest of justice.

If this should be a cause for reflection among our officials over the heightening tension between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea issue, we just leave it to their sound discretion. For the moment, let us focus our attention on the above complaint, as it also illuminates the darker side of doing business within the Chinese community.

From what we gathered, last Feb. 27, 2024, the DoJ issued a resolution on the complaint of kidnapping for ransom and serious illegal detention filed by Chinese businessman Lin Xiaoqing, the owner of an online gaming company, Big Emperor Technology. The subject of the complaint is his former business partner, Richard Lim, a Chinese-Filipino owner of another POGO company, Xionwei Technology, as well as other local businesses.

And going over the resolution, we can see why Lin, also known as 'Eric Lim,' praised the DoJ, considering the resolution came out some seven months after he filed his complaint last July 27, 2023.

Given the rumored "influence" of Richard Lim in our government, in all three branches by the way — executive, legislative, judiciary — this made Lin despondent and hesitant to file a complaint. But on the prodding of some friends and associates, Lin took courage partly because of the belief that doing so would also entice other "victims" to follow suit and expose their fellow Chinese preying on their own.

This courage took about one year to take shape when Lin said he was vacationing at a beach resort in Batangas last Aug. 19, 2022, and ended up being 'abducted' by armed men. The copy of his complaint that reached us is one long narration of a harrowing experience of a foreign national in the hands of our law enforcers, the CIDG, with an agenda other than making a legal arrest.

In the main, the resolution appeared to have sided with Richard Lim, when it rejected Lin's allegation that he was "kidnapped," that he and his family were threatened with death, and that he was forced to pay a "ransom" of P100 million to Lim, plus the controlling share in his POGO company, Big Emperor Technology in exchange for his release from CIDG custody last Sept. 14, 2022.

However, the DoJ said that while Lim may not be guilty of kidnapping as the predicates laid down by Lin failed to meet the requirements of the law, the accusations cannot simply be dismissed as demanded by Lim's lawyer since, at the very least, he should be sued for grave coercion.

As part of the DoJ resolution stated: "(Even) if we find that respondent Lim may not be held liable for kidnapping, it is shown from the allegations in the complaint and supporting evidence that respondent Lim should be held liable for another crime." And that crime, the DoJ said, is grave coercion.

But how did two former business partners end up hurling serious accusations against each other? It all started in the aftermath of the "Pharmally scandal" and the personality behind it, Michael Yang.

It turned out that back in the day, during former president Duterte's "rapprochement" with China, Lin was among those from the mainland enticed to set up a business in the country. And the "quickest" way to achieve a return on investment was through online gaming or POGO.

Convinced by Yang, Lin put Big Emperor as a "third service provider" to Yang's own company, Xionwei Technology. And the "good times" never seem to end back then.

However, when the "Pharmally scandal" broke out, with Yang in the eye of the storm, he decided to let go of Xionwei and gave it to one of his partners, Richard Lim.

It was not clear from Lin's affidavit as to when Yang had turned over control of Xionwei to Lim. What is clear is that Xionwei was on the bad side of the news in 2022.

News reports in September of that year said that the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG chief, Col. Rodolfo Castil Jr., reported to Pagcor chairman Al Tengco that Xionwei was among the three Chinese POGOs under probe for kidnapping, with the victims being also Chinese nationals.

Were the news reports supporting the claim of Lin that he too was a kidnap victim a month before, on Aug. 19, 2022, while vacationing in Batangas and that his "arrest" by the CIDG over a qualified theft case also a machination of Lim as the basis to frame him? And were some of Lim's "silent" victims among those who encouraged Lin to stand up?

Since the DoJ said Lin failed to lay the predicates for the kidnapping case to stick and that Lim should instead be probed for grave coercion, our questions may no longer be answered.

Nevertheless, Lin still thanked the DoJ because as he puts it, the resolution is also a "vindication" of his and his family's honor.

Indeed, the DoJ's decision not to throw out his complaint but to proceed with the court trial of Lim substantially proves that most, if not all, that Lin narrated in his affidavit and the evidence he presented are not concocted or mere hearsay but have the ring of truth. We cannot agree more.

Lim is now out on bail of P36,000 that he posted last April 15, and he is expected to be arraigned, with Lin also present, before Branch 115 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Taguig early next month.

Abangan natin ang susunod na kabanata.

Charlie V. Manalo Charlie V. Manalo The Manila Times
Highly paid lawyer gathering dirt vs Duterte https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/highly-paid-lawyer-gathering-dirt-vs-duterte/1945976 Rigoberto D. Tiglao Mon, 13 May 2024 00:14:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/highly-paid-lawyer-gathering-dirt-vs-duterte/1945976 <![CDATA[

WELL-KNOWN in leftist circles, lawyer Kristina Conti is unarguably among the highest-paid attorneys in the country, making at least P8 million yearly.

For doing what? Gathering evidence, I suspect even concocted testimonies and mere media reports, against former president Rodrigo Duterte and his two police chiefs, Ronald de la Rosa and Oscar Albayalde, for alleged murders committed in the former president's war against drugs, from July 2016 to March 2019.

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This is officially her work in the case that was filed with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2017 by then-opposition senator Antonio Trillanes IV. After seven years, it has proven to be essentially Trillanes' clever propaganda plot, obviously with tons of US help, to demonize Duterte.

Trillanes and Conti in recent weeks have suddenly appeared in media, claiming that Duterte and the police officials will be arrested soon by the ICC. That is totally fake news.

It is rather Conti's wishful thinking: she does not really work for the ICC as an institution but for the purported victims of Duterte's war on drugs. The ICC is years away from even undertaking the actual trial of the case. The ICC investigators and prosecution have not even identified who was responsible for the murders if indeed there were unjustified ones. ICC cases and especially convictions — without exception — are against individuals, not states.


The ICC case is really a massive propaganda campaign by the US to falsely portray Duterte as a mass murderer because of his mortal sin: veering the Philippines away from American vassalage and being more friendly to China.

The ICC's "Pre-trial Chamber'' did rule in January 2023 that there is a "reasonable basis to believe that the crime against humanity of murder appears to have been committed from 2016 to 2019." However, the ICC prosecutor's office hasn't even identified yet who was responsible for these crimes against humanity. How on earth could they even link police killings on the ground level to the highest post of the land? ICC judgments (so far) are never against states but against individuals.

The ICC case is totally based on biased, inaccurate media reports by the anti-Duterte Philippine Daily Inquirer and the internet-only news site Rappler. I have documented this in my columns and even shown statistics proving this. (See "ICC case totally based on biased, inaccurate report," The Manila Times, Feb. 23, 2023, and "ICC report vs Duterte based solely on Rappler, biased media reports," Feb. 20, 2023.)

Ironically, the Left is the US partner in this ICC project because Duterte had also undertaken an all-out against the Communist Party and its New People's Army, which has all but decimated the two outfits. It is no wonder that it is mainly the Left that has been providing the staff to collect and concoct evidence against Duterte and his officials.

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Conti has been the general secretary for the National Capital Region of the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL), whose chairman is Edru Olalia, a long-time friend and personal lawyer of the late communist leader Jose Ma. Sison.

This ICC case is all sound and fury, signifying nothing. It got traction only because of the US' powerful media apparatus and pressure on the ICC to accept the obviously politically motivated complaint filed by Trillanes. This coincided with widespread criticisms against the ICC that it has been made a tool of the racist US and European powers since most of those convicted or standing trial are leaders from African countries. The ICC or whoever is controlling it wants to disprove that allegation by convicting an Asian leader, Duterte.

Conti's press blitz is, first of all, intended to make the public believe that the case is proceeding at a quick pace. The reality is that it is losing the ICC's interest since it has become obvious that the case against Duterte is so baseless compared to the charges against Russian leader Vladimir Putin for war crimes against Ukraine and against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the horrible genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

An indication that the ICC is starting to lose all interest in the case is that out of the five judges in the chamber that decided in July to reject the Philippine appeal to dismiss the case, two had dissented and argued, I think conclusively, that the ICC, under the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, has no jurisdiction over the allegations.

Conti's recent press blitz was also intended — other than to continue to receive the huge income she gets from the ICC because of the case — to convince Duterte to beg President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. for help to shield him from the ICC in exchange for the bending of his knees to the ruler.

That will not happen. Whoever thought of that plot is an idiot: it has only further raised Duterte's wrath against Marcos. Conti even pontificated that "Marcos' snubbing of the ICC investigation against Duterte would be unwise on domestic and international political fronts." Who is she — who, from her activities and affiliations, is linked with the Left — to say that?

Lawyer Conti has been misrepresenting herself as an important official of the ICC — taking advantage of her misleading title "assistant to counsel" — to claim that the case is against Duterte and his police chiefs is progressing and that they will be ordered arrested soon.

This is fake news. In the first place, she is a mere researcher for the ICC team investigating the case. The case is not even designated by the ICC as against Duterte but merely as an investigation of the "Philippine situation."


Conti is just one of the ICC's 500 researchers called "assistant to counsel." These assistants are researchers for the 1,000 "counsels before the ICC," the lawyers that the institution routinely recruits on a contractual basis to help its investigators gather evidence on the cases filed before it, the most famous being that of actor George Clooney's wife Amal.

But how can it be an objective court if there are no counsels and their researchers gathering evidence to disprove the claims that there were extrajudicial killings in Duterte's war against drugs?

There are four other Filipinos in the ICC's list of "counsels," which is a higher rank than "assistant to counsel." These are Duterte's former spokesman Harry Roque, the executive director of the Center for International Law, Gilbert Andres, and Joel Butuyan, chairman of the NGO Center for International Law. I have no information on what case in the ICC they are helping investigate.

These lawyers certainly have not been going around town, as Conti has been doing, claiming to be "ICC counsels" and commenting on a case before the ICC.

As "assistant to counsel," Conti gets a monthly remuneration of £6,500, or P6 million per year. According to ICC documents, she would also get "reimbursem*nt for travel to and from The Hague and related subsistence daily allowance." A source estimated that Conti's income from her job as assistant to counsel is at least P8 million yearly.

Not bad, especially for someone doing work before her ICC employment as a pro-bono human rights lawyer and getting a negligible amount in allowances from some entity she hasn't disclosed.

Conti and the Yellows have repeated in Hitlerian fashion that the ICC case is investigating the former president and de la Rosa for these crimes. This is fake news. It is still an investigation of the "Philippine situation," and there is no mention of Duterte in all of the ICC's documents on the case, which are labeled only as an investigation of the "Situation in the Republic of the Philippines."

It is shameless for leftist activists and the Yellows to put down Duterte's war on drugs, which was successful during his administration to the extent that the scourge was minimized when he ended his term, resulting in a huge drop in crime in the country.

Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao

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My website: www.rigobertotiglao.com

Rigoberto Tiglao Rigoberto Tiglao The Manila Times
The arbitral judgment https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/the-arbitral-judgment/1945974 Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino Mon, 13 May 2024 00:13:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/the-arbitral-judgment/1945974 <![CDATA[

Third of a series

CHINA drew a map and encompassed virtually the whole swath of sea between itself and the Philippines by nine dashes — lately, 10, it seems — so, the notorious "nine-dash line." It insisted that historical maps and records gave it exclusive rights over this vast area of sea.

On the issue of historic rights, the tribunal ruled that such rights engender "exceptions" to general rules on the basis of history and can, therefore, not be claimed when the rights exercised as those granted by law. The fact that Chinese sea-going vessels freely navigated over the area covered by the nine dashes or that Chinese fishermen traditionally fished in the area would not be sufficient to support a claim to historic rights to the extent that the PROC claims them. More interestingly, as an issue of fact, the tribunal found no evidence that China had ever regulated or controlled fishing in the area to which it presently lays exclusive claim.

Concluding this part of the judgment on the nine-dash line, the tribunal rules that whatever rights China may have claimed on the basis of history have been overtaken by the Convention on the Law of the Sea and are unavailing against the express provisions of the Convention. "...China's claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the nine-dash line are contrary to the Convention and without lawful effect to the extent that they exceed the geographic and substantive limits of China's maritime entitlements under the Convention."

With respect to the Scarborough Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc), the tribunal finds it to be a high-tide elevation. Furthermore, it classifies Scarborough as a "rock" — which is not a geological but a legal characterization under the Convention on the Law of the Sea, meaning, inter alia, that, in its natural state, it cannot sustain human habitation. It is important to point out that the tribunal was insistent about characterizing features as they existed in their natural state — and not as a result of enhancement activities resulting in man-made islands, though subsequently capable of sustaining human life by virtue of such enhancements.

The Scarborough Shoal has been a traditional fishing ground for fishermen of many nationalities, the Philippines, China, Taiwan and Vietnam included. Finding further that the fishing done at Bajo de Masinloc has been "artisanal fishing" — subsistence or traditional fishing — it is this kind of fishing that is protected by historic rights. The tribunal was careful not to pass upon territorial claims or assertions of sovereignty — as this would clearly be beyond its jurisdiction. It did, however, rule that "traditional fishing rights" constituted a vested right and, as such, were apt for protection by law. In fact, it took note of the Philippines' position that if the Philippines enjoyed sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal, the surrounding waters would constitute the territorial sea of the Philippines and that even if Chinese sovereignty over the shoal were upheld, China would still be in violation of the fishing rights of Filipino and other fishermen consolidated throughout history. Pointedly, the tribunal found China's measures that prevented Filipinos from fishing at the Scarborough Shoal while permitting its own nationals to go on happily fishing to be "incompatible with international law."

Clearly, despite a favorable arbitral judgment, we need a firm and definitive judicial pronouncement on our territorial claims that include assertions of sovereignty, which is the reason that I have been firm about my position that it would do the Philippines much good go to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over these unresolved issues.

Fr. Rannie Aquino is dean of the Graduate School of Law, San Beda College-Mendiola.




Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino The Manila Times
Has Singapore become the 'exceptional state'? https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/has-singapore-become-the-exceptional-state/1945972 Francisco S. Tatad Mon, 13 May 2024 00:12:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/has-singapore-become-the-exceptional-state/1945972 <![CDATA[

(This is a republication of the author's May 10, 2024 column, which inadvertently contained a factual error that is already corrected in this version. We apologize for the error. – Ed.)

ON May 15, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong will become the fourth prime minister (PM) of Singapore. He'll have to choose whose pair of shoes to fill — Lee Kuan Yew's (LKY), Goh Chok Tong's or Lee Hsien Loong's (LHL).

Not one of them is small. In a lustily cheered valedictory coinciding with his final May Day speech, Lee Hsien Loong gave a brilliant summing up of his nearly 20 years in office as one devoted to the ethos of exceptionalism and excellence.

After the legendary LKY, and Goh Chok Tong who followed him, LHL is the latest political icon to come out of the city-state. It seems the making of political icons is a cottage industry in that state, and the story spins out more like fiction than historical fact. Singapore has neither hinterland nor natural resources, but LKY has transformed it from a Third World backwater into a First World shining metropolis.

LKY lived long enough to become one of the world's truly wise men. But he stepped down from power and became a senior minister and minister mentor instead to help prepare the next generation of leaders. Thus, Goh Chok Tong, rather than LKY's brigadier general-son, followed him in office, and only after Goh had served for nearly 14 years did LHL become prime minister.

But none of this ever went to LKY's head. In one of the Shangri-La Dialogues in Singapore, one of the highest-ranking female officers of the Chinese armed forces asked LKY what advice he could possibly give to help China deal with its myriad global problems. With a broad, affable smile, LKY said one did not give advice to China but rather tried to learn from her.

In one of LKY's private visits to Manila, in conversation with President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and Mrs. Imelda Marcos at dinner, he spoke modestly of LHL, who was already being eyed as a future PM. People were inclined to look at LHL as a possible xerox copy of his father, but LKY said if his son became PM, he would have his own style and make his own particular contribution to the character and future of Singapore. This is what happened in the last nearly 20 years.

In his May Day speech, LHL summarized how, through the last three prime ministers, Singapore has coped with the rising tensions and rivalry between the big powers, deglobalization and protectionism, technical advances and climate change, and questions of war and peace, among others. It was a test of leadership all the way.

In 1965, after Singapore's independence, LKY famously predicted that what was once a mudflat swamp 100 years ago would one day become a world-class metropolis. Today, it is that. It leads many other countries in biotechnology, information technology, nanotechnology, financial services, transport, pharmaceuticals and health care, artificial intelligence, economic management and political governance. Its leaders have built a society unshakably committed to meritocracy and incorruptibility, way beyond their own generation, LHL said.

Although two Lees, father and son, have now run the country for over 50 years, there has been no visible effort to exclude nonmembers of the Lee family from Singapore's top leadership. The incoming 52-year-old PM Lawrence Wong is not a family member; neither was Goh Chok Tong, LKY's immediate successor. LKY chose Goh over his son, LHL. Since then, LHL has confirmed the wisdom of his father's choice.

In a generous reference to Goh's years in office, LHL said Goh showed that "it was possible to come after LKY and take Singapore further forward." Goh launched "national conversations on the sort of society we aspired to become and strengthened our sense of community and national belonging," LHL said. "Under Goh, Singapore matured. We became more vibrant and open, and also more resilient and cohesive. I have sought to build on these strengths," LHL said. "Working closely with Singaporeans, we have improved everyone's lives."

LHL spoke of three "imperatives" behind Singapore's continued rise — social cohesion, long-term planning, political stability and public trust. First, the people should live and work together harmoniously as a multiracial and multireligious community based on meritocracy and equal opportunity. Then, the government should have the vision and sense of stewardship to peer beyond the horizon and plan far ahead. Finally, everyone must see that the leader is trying to build something that would endure far beyond his term of office.

LHL said Singapore has succeeded because it has become an "exceptional" state. "Even if we just become ordinary, average, we will already be in serious trouble," he said. "Because we have no natural resources, no hinterland, 700 square kilometers is nothing. If our politics becomes like that of other countries, we will end up worse than other countries. Graver still, if our system malfunctions, becomes beset by populism, tribalism, nativism or obsessed by short-term gains, like some other countries, then we will certainly be sunk. All our reserves (estimated at $296.63 billion in 2022) will not last very long. It is crucial that all of us uphold the ethos of exceptionalism and excellence," he concluded.

For a while, I thought LHL had gone beyond the limits of modesty to speak of Singapore as an "exceptional state." This is an exclusionary term Americans normally use to describe their own unmatched position in the world. But how I wish President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. were the one calling upon the Filipinos to uphold the same ethos.


Francisco Tatad Francisco Tatad The Manila Times
Is Alice Leal Guo real? https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/is-alice-leal-guo-real/1945971 Tita C. Valderama Mon, 13 May 2024 00:11:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/is-alice-leal-guo-real/1945971 <![CDATA[

ALICE Leal Guo, the forgetful young mayor of Bamban, Tarlac, claims she grew up raising hogs in one of the town's 15 barangay. During the campaign for the 2022 elections, she offered to be married to the town's residents.

Two years after her historic win, being Bamban's first female chief executive, Guo finds herself the subject of a Senate inquiry on her possible connection to the questionable operations of a Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) hub in the same town.

POGOs are licensed online gambling firms operating in the Philippines but catering to customers outside the country. They are regulated by the Philippine Amusem*nt and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).

Guo's answers during the initial Senate probe on May 7 raised more questions regarding her identity and the circ*mstances that led to her election as mayor of Bamban town. While she spoke like a Filipino more than the typical Chinese, her physical features are more Chinese than Filipino.

She didn't look nervous when opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros peppered her with questions about her personal circ*mstances. Most of her responses were insubstantial — either she could no longer remember, or she had forgotten about the thing, such as the house where she was born.

Guo has no school records, saying she was homeschooled by a certain Teacher Rubilyn. Her certificate of birth was registered 17 years after she was born. Online sources have conflicting versions of the year of her birth registration: some say it was in 2003, while others say it was in 2013.

Questions about Guo's identity led Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian to suspect that the Bamban town mayor's electoral victory could have been a signal that the Philippines was entering the era of so-called POGO politics.

Gatchalian, who has been pushing for a total POGO ban in the country, initiated the investigation of Guo after finding out that she supposedly facilitated and backed an illegal Chinese gambling site in Bamban that was raided in February 2023 and last March.

Gatchalian cited official documents linking Guo to Hongsheng Gaming Technology Inc., which supposedly changed its business name to Zun Yuan Technology Inc. after its facility in Barangay Anupul was first raided in February 2023. He said that in 2020, when Guo was still a private citizen, she asked the Bamban municipal council to allow Hongsheng to operate there. The 8-hectare POGO hub, with 36 buildings, was raided again last March 13 over charges of alleged human trafficking and serious illegal detention.

At the May 7 Senate hearing, Guo said without batting an eyelash, "Hindi po kami involved in any POGO operation." Hontiveros later said Guo lied before the joint committees on women, children, family relations, and gender equality; migrant workers; and public order and dangerous drugs.

The POGO hub in Bamban was also suspected of involvement in surveillance activities and the hacking of government websites.

During the hearing, Guo identified her father as Anghelito Guo but later admitted that his real name was Jian Zhong Guo. Hontiveros said the Senate is in possession of a certificate of live birth of Anghelito Guo, of which his nationality was registered as Filipino. However, another document for his embroidery business listed him as a Chinese national.

Hontiveros said the Bamban town mayor has yet to present a public record that will undoubtedly establish her identity as a Filipino national.

Filipino nationality is a basic qualification for running for public office. How she managed to run and even win the election in 2022 underscores the need for tighter scrutiny of the candidates not only for national positions but also for local seats.

How this Chinese-looking candidate who "just came out of nowhere" during the 2022 elections got the highest number of votes among five candidates is puzzling. She won as an independent by 468 votes over the Nationalist People's Coalition bet, Joey Salting, who got 16,035 votes, but it is still perplexing how she bested three candidates backed by established political parties.

Apart from offering herself to be married to the Bamban residents, what else did she promise that made her win the voters' support? Her Facebook page shows her gifting senior citizens with cake on their birthday. She also danced, held children, and went house to house during the campaign.

Hontiveros said Guo might be a Chinese "asset" trained to infiltrate and influence the Philippine government. She said her statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth, as well as the statement of contributions and expenses she should have filed in 2022, would reveal more about her identity.

For now, what is clear is that this town mayor, who grew up raising hogs, has been making a mockery of our laws and political system.Binababoy tayo sa ating sariling bayan!

This is worse than businessmen and contractors who used to finance the candidacy of politicians but are now occupying important positions in government, disregarding prohibitions on conflict of interest.

The Manila Times
Four aggrieved employees cause suspension of city mayor https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/four-aggrieved-employees-cause-suspension-of-city-mayor/1945970 Marit Stinus-Cabugon Mon, 13 May 2024 00:10:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/four-aggrieved-employees-cause-suspension-of-city-mayor/1945970 <![CDATA[

ANOTHER virtual bomb hit Cebu City when the Ombudsman ordered the preventive suspension of Mayor Michael Rama, city administrator Collin Rosell, the officer in charge of the Office of the City Assessor who happens to be Rosell's wife, and five other personnel of the City Assessor's Office. Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia is now acting mayor of Cebu City.

The six-month preventive suspension arose from a complaint filed by four Cebu City Hall employees last February 23. The four were reassigned from the City Assessor's Office, effective June 1, 2023, to positions that did not match their skills and experience. At the time of the reassignments, the four employees had been with the Office of the City Assessor for 16 to 35 years. The Civil Service Commission's regional office ruled that the reassignments were invalid. However, while the four were allowed to "sit" in the office, they were provided neither proper space nor equipment. Despite being regular employees, they were not given their salaries as the city assessor head no longer considered them staff members of her office.

On January 24, the City Council passed a resolution requesting Mayor Rama to release the salaries and benefits to the four on humanitarian grounds. The resolution took cognizance of the pending dispute between the city government and CSC over the legality of the reassignment orders.

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No money was released, and on February 23, the four employees filed a complaint with the Ombudsman. The following month, they were told to report to the city administrator's office. They again questioned this before the CSC.

In response to an April 16 press conference held by the four employees, city administrator Rosell said that the reassignment of personnel was part of the "regular dynamics of government" (The Freeman, April 18, 2024). The four would have received their salaries had they not been defiant and refused to follow orders, that is, accept the reassignments. Reassignments, the city administrator also explained, are supposed to be confidential and not a subject for publicity and media coverage.

Rosell insinuated, without giving details, that the reassigned personnel might have committed or were suspected of committing something wrong and were, therefore, transferred. Indeed, the four in their complaint claim that after the CSC had ruled their reassignments to be invalid, and they again reported to the city assessor's office, they were labeled as "fixers" and not allowed to entertain visitors. They were treated as pariahs.

One must assume that there are specific grounds for reassigning personnel to new positions that appear to be demotions or punishment. If indeed the reassigned personnel had committed or were suspected of committing unlawful acts, they should, of course, be removed and investigated. If found guilty, such employees should be dismissed and charged. In this particular case, however, we have not heard that the employees were investigated, found to be involved in anything illegal, or determined to be incompetent, tardy or insubordinate.

As mentioned above, the officer in charge of the Cebu City' Office of the City Assessor is the wife of the city administrator. Maria Theresa Ceballos-Rosell was appointed OIC by Mayor Rama in December 2022. Her husband was then the mayor's executive assistant. The city was at the time rocked by the garbage disposal scandal, where millions of pesos had been paid for garbage that was never collected. The assessor's office was not implicated, but the mayor reassigned the incumbent head. Ceballos-Rosell, a certified public accountant, licensed real estate broker and holder of a doctorate in business administration, worked for the city government from December 2015 to June 2016, when Rama was also the mayor. Her husband was then the head of the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor. In the 2022 elections, Rosell was the third nominee of the Marino party-list, the party that was carried by Rama in the elections.

Rosell was promoted from executive assistant to city administrator in April 2023. The controversial reassignment orders were issued six weeks later by the mayor, according to the complaint.

Mayor Rama says he was unaware when news of the suspension order broke. Did he not read the correspondence with the CSC? Or the city council resolution? On April 16, the mayor referred a local reporter who wanted to get his reaction to the four employees' allegations to Rosell. "I'll have this looked into," the mayor added in his text message to The Freeman (The Freeman, April 17, 2024).

The mayor is a victim of politics, some say. Was somebody pulling strings? Yet, this could also simply be a case of the system working as it should: higher authorities addressing the grievances of four ordinary citizens whose basic rights were violated and who had exhausted all other remedies. Mayor Rama and his city administrator, both lawyers, had all the power and opportunity to prevent a simple matter from escalating.

The Manila Times
Mothers need protection too https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/mothers-need-protection-too/1945969 Anagel “Jay” Ledesma Mon, 13 May 2024 00:09:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/mothers-need-protection-too/1945969 <![CDATA[

Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field since the payment is pure love.

– Mildred B. Vermont

YESTERDAY, May 12, was Mother's Day. It was a special day for the most important woman in our lives ... our nanay, inay, mommy, mama, momshie or however you call her. I bet most of you gifted your mother with the usuals: flowers, bags, shoes, perfume or a dinner date or an out-of-town trip. But how many of you have thought of gifting your mother with life or health insurance? It's not the most typical gift, but it could be just what our moms need.

Statistics show there are still a lot of mothers who either do not have enough insurance coverage or do not have any coverage at all. Regardless of their status — married, single, working or a stay-at-home mom, the number of moms owning insurance is far less compared to dads. Even in more advanced countries like the US and Canada, gender gaps exist. Women are still not considered the primary breadwinners in most households. It's no surprise, therefore, that men tend to own more life insurance than women.

I recently came across a US reading material where the author asked a very interesting question, "If 'Mom' is a job title, what would her salary be?" Because, in reality, full-time or stay-at-home moms are working (or at least on call) 24 hours a day. Can you imagine a family living without a mom? Being a full-time mom is a full-time job; therefore, there should be monetary value attached to it. This is important since when purchasing a life insurance policy, the recommended coverage is usually 10 times an individual's salary. Now, considering that all motherly love and care come at no cost, how can we even compute the value of a mother's policy? Well, when the author shared that back in 2019, a mother's services were estimated at an average yearly salary of $178,201 (or P10 million using the current exchange rate) for a 40-hour work week (not including the "overtime" for stay-at-home moms). It may be lower for Filipino moms since our minimum daily wage is much lower than the US hourly rate. But this is a good starting point in case you want to determine how much insurance coverage your mom should have. The amount may not initially matter, but what's important is that your mom gets insurance protection.

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A mother's love, care and sacrifice is definitely unquantifiable. You can never repay those sleepless nights, missed meals, and stress and anxiety they experienced while taking care of you. But as she grows much older, she won't be as strong and healthy as she used to be. As adults, you can do your part. You can support her future medical needs by getting her health and medical insurance coverage that will provide her with proper and long-term medical care and treatment when she faces any health issues. She will have access to the services and treatments from in-network medical centers and hospitals, which can be very costly without insurance. Some policies provide out-patient care, medical reimbursem*nts and daily compensation which are beneficial to your mother. With health and medical insurance, they will not be deprived of the required medical needs despite the rising costs and loss of income.

Even working moms, when they retire, cannot expect much from the pension funds from SSS or GSIS. The amount cannot sustain their daily expenses and medical bills. They may even need to downgrade their lifestyle. Without a supplemental retirement plan, retirement can be a sad state for a mother. Much more for those without even government pension funds. How many mothers do you know who have to continue working not because they want to but because they need to? Otherwise, even her daily basic sustenance can be a struggle. Since you may already have a family of your own by then, it will be challenging for you to support her retirement living. A retirement plan is your best ally. Signing your mom to an insurance plan that will give regular pay-outs, lumpsum maturity benefits, or both, will enable her to retire comfortably and with dignity.

You can also provide for your mother by designating her as your beneficiary. Even now that I am married, my mom is still one of my beneficiaries. This is to ensure that my mom, who has no pension fund, will still be provided for even when I am no longer around. Taking out a life insurance policy that would be paid to your loved ones (in this case, your mom) if anything happens to you is the most meaningful and thoughtful gift you can give. It's a powerful way to reassure your mom how much you love her and that you are thinking about her well-being.

The Covid pandemic made everyone, especially moms, more conscious and thinking more about the future of our family. The real value of insurance is that it gives you peace of mind. It is a stress reliever since it provides assistance in the event of a sudden crisis — accident, illness or death in the family. An insurance policy provides a sense of security against the worries of the unknown. For young moms (especially single moms), it could mean income continuation/replacement or college funds. For older moms, it could ease the stress of retirement or a potential medical problem.

You may already have given her your Mother's Day gift. The flowers, chocolates, perfume, and even your hugs and kisses will surely make your moms feel special. But if you want to take your love and concern for her a notch higher, the best (and most practical) way to do it is by gifting her with the most appropriate insurance plan there is. You see, our mothers need insurance protection, too.

Anagel “Jay” Ledesma Anagel “Jay” Ledesma The Manila Times
Legal ways to enter and stay in the US https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/legal-ways-to-enter-and-stay-in-the-us/1945968 Crispin Aranda Mon, 13 May 2024 00:08:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/legal-ways-to-enter-and-stay-in-the-us/1945968 <![CDATA[

IN March 2024 alone, the US State Department issued 967,731 non-immigrant visas in its 271 diplomatic posts worldwide.

The US Embassy in Manila issued 20,718 non-immigrant, temporary visas, with B1/B-2 visitor visas leading the way at 10,319, followed by C-1 seafarers (7,656), F and J student and exchange visitors (588), H-2B non-agricultural temporary workers (164), H-1B (121) and H-2A (12).

There were 134 visas issued to derivative beneficiaries of H temporary work visa holders.

Fiancées and children of US citizens were issued 984 K visas. Take note that while technically, K-1 visas are in the non-immigrant category, applicants are treated as intending immigrants not subject to Section 214 (b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

A K-1 visa holder is expected to get married to the US citizen petitioner within 90 days from arrival and then apply for adjustment of status as the spouse of the US citizen, usually in the CR1 immigrant category.

AI version of applying

A search for "how to apply for US visitor visas" generated this response with AI assist:

A visit to the US Embassy in Manila website confirms the following steps:

  1. Go to the US Embassy website at https://ph.usembassy.gov.
  2. Click the A US Visa link in the white box at the bottom of the page.
  3. Click the link to the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application page (DS-160) at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv.
  4. Enter your country and complete the captcha test.
  5. Click Start an application.
  6. Pay the visa application fee.
  7. Complete the DS-160 form.
  8. Schedule an appointment on the website. You will need your passport number and MRV fee payment receipt number to schedule an appointment.
  9. Visit the US Embassy or consulate on the date and time of your visa interview. You will need to bring a printed copy of your appointment letter, your DS-160 confirmation page, and one recent photograph taken within the last six months with a white background.

Simple, right? Yes. And more tips.

The US embassy also publishes several videos online occasionally (e.g., "Visa Hour," "MaVisang Usapan." "Pros and Cons") as well as Consular Tips and Guide.

The most recent guide, "Walang Sikreto sa Visa, no additional fee," garnered 505 views. It is a take-off from the "Walang Sikreto sa Visa Campaign" by the US Embassy in 2019-2020 to alert visa applicants on potential visa scams. That original video on applying for a visitor visa in "4 easy steps" on YouTube garnered 461,000 views - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOlyM5CI2z8&t=38s&ab_channel=U.S.EmbassyinthePhilippines.

Step 1. Pay the visa application fee.

Step 2. Fill out the DS 160 application form.

Step 3. Schedule your interview.

Step 4. Go to the interview at the US Embassy in Manila.

There is, however, an "Open Secret," i.e., "The devil is in the details."

And remember the most current US Embassy announcement should be more reliable.

For example, the original "Walang Sikreto sa Visa" video has BPI as the designated bank to pay the visa fee. It is currently RCBC. Second, Air21 has been replaced by LBC as the official courier.

The embassy still interviews more than 1,000 visa applicants every day. Due to the pandemic and presidential ban on interviews, there was a backlog of interview schedules of up to 999 days. At the date of writing (May 11, 2024), the waiting time for applicants who need to be interviewed is 60 calendar days.

Completing the DS 160 application form remains virtually the same. You do not need to pay anyone to complete the form since you know your own personal information, e.g., date, place of birth, address, phone number, etc. You can proceed with DIY mode throughout the application process — there is no need to pay a dime. Just spend your time.

Who are you, though?

Unless you are a repeat visitor visa applicant, chances are the consul interviewing you will see, hear and assess you for the first time. The consul does not know you from Adam or Eve, instead relying on the information you provided in your submitted DS 160.

The latter part of the "Walang Sikreto sa Visa" emphasizes the fact that you must be "open and honest with us" – the interviewing consul.

"Open and honest" is a double-edged sword.

All non-immigrants — especially visitor visa applicants — are "intending immigrants unless proven otherwise."

The State Department's non-immigrant visa statistics show a visa rejection rate of 15.77 percent — or about 160 for every 1,000 applicants daily, or approximately 3,200 a month.

Once in the US, not all visitor visa holders comply with their visa conditions. Thus, the monicker "tago ng tago," or TNT, was born. In 2019, the Migration Policy Institute reported approximately 370,000 TNTs.

Back to the "open and honest" issue.

If you have a relative who belongs to the 370,000 plus TNTs, will you be "open and truthful" about it? How could you prepare for this potential question during the interview? All the guides in print or on YouTube cannot help you out regarding this moral dilemma.

In an interview last year, Consul General Mark McGovern said applicants may bring letters of recommendation from even the highest government officials, but third-party letters "mean nothing...we don't even look at it."

Applicants may bring tons or volumes of documents, and the consul may not even look or ask for them. Consuls interview applicants, not the documents. They read your DS 160 and your body language: how you look (dressed for the part), the way you answer the questions and your overall demeanor. Fumbling through folders for supporting evidence is not a good sign. Neither is insisting that the consul look at your documents.

Memorizing the reason for the visit is also a no-no. If you lose track of the sentence and appear to be at a loss for words, say goodbye to your visa application and be issued a 214 (b) refusal, i.e., the consul is not convinced you are coming back, or that your interview performance was less than believable, and you are an intending immigrant.

That is the truth.

Next: Staying in the US after admission on a tourist, visitor visa

The Manila Times
Primary consideration on the best interest of the child in <a class="als" href="https://parentsdex.com/forums/parenting.3/" title="parenting" target="_blank" rel="noopener">parenting</a> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/primary-consideration-on-the-best-interest-of-the-child-in-parenting/1945967 Joseph Noel M. Estrada Mon, 13 May 2024 00:07:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/primary-consideration-on-the-best-interest-of-the-child-in-parenting/1945967 <![CDATA[

PUBLICLY calling a 14-year-old female student with defamatory words such as "makati ang laman," "malandi" and "hindi matino" in front of her peers, teachers and parents is undoubtedly a harsh, degrading, and humiliating experience to which no child should ever be subjected. Uttering such words is held by the Supreme Court as not only against public policy but also contrary to the constitutional mandate of protecting the best interest of children.

While the right of parents to rear their children is also recognized by our Constitution, no less, this does not mean that they are free to do anything or adopt any means to ensure that their children grow to be in a certain mold, or in most cases, patterned after their own life and success.

In Spark v. Quezon City, the court explained that parents are not only given the privilege of exercising their authority over their children; they are equally obliged to exercise this authority conscientiously. The duty aspect of this right is a reflection of the State's independent interest to ensure that the youth would eventually grow into free, independent, and well-developed citizens of this nation. For indeed, it is during childhood that minors are prepared for additional obligations to society. The duty to prepare the child for these obligations must be read to include the inculcation of moral standards, religious beliefs and elements of good citizenship. This affirmative process of teaching, guiding, and inspiring by precept and example is essential to the growth of young people into mature, socially responsible citizens.

Indeed, parents are given the rightful control and protection of their unemancipated children to the extent of their needs. The scope of parental authority extends to the protection of the children's physical preservation and development, as well as the cultivation of their intellect and the education of their hearts and senses. But as explained by the court in Versoza v. People, in parental authority, there is no power but a task; no complex of rights but a sum of duties; no sovereignty but a sacred trust for the welfare of the minor.

This natural right and duty of a parent over their unemancipated children does not only focus on discipline but includes caring for and rearing them for the development of their moral, mental, and physical character and well-being. While laws do not prescribe in detail how parents must relate to or guide their child, the framework in all actions concerning children is one that gives primary consideration to the best interest of the child.

In Dorao v. Sps. CCC and BBB, the Court held that a parent must give due weight to a child's views. A child must be respected as an active person in their own right with their own concerns, interests and points of view and should not be treated as a parent's possession or merely as "an object of concern."

While parents and legal guardians are bestowed with the right and duty to provide direction to a child, a child must still be accorded equal and inalienable rights consistent with the evolving capacities of the child. In this regard, evolving capacities must not be seen as an excuse for authoritarian practices that restrict children's autonomy and self-expression and which have traditionally been justified by pointing to a child's relative immaturity but rather as a "positive and enabling process."

Thus, the best interest of a child cannot justify forms of cruel or degrading punishment that conflict with a child's human dignity, including punishment that belittles, humiliates, denigrates, scapegoats, threatens, scares, or ridicules a child.

As they say, "Parents know best." But not at all times. When parents attempt to justify abusive acts under the pretense of exercising parental authority over a child, the State knows better. As parens patriae, the State has the inherent right and duty to aid parents in the moral development of their children, and, thus, assumes a supporting role for parents to fulfill their parental obligations.

The author regularly holds The Legal Mind Executive Sessions for teachers and school administrators. Email info@estradaaquino.com.

The Manila Times
PDEA document a cause célèbre https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/pdea-document-a-cause-celebre/1945966 Salvador S. Panelo Mon, 13 May 2024 00:06:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/pdea-document-a-cause-celebre/1945966 <![CDATA[

Last of two parts

THE accusation against President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. that he is a user of a prohibited drug is not only a serious matter but a perilous one, as it puts into question the character of the head of state. It goes to the very core of his integrity. It raises continuing doubts about his capacity to govern.

It challenges his ability to enforce the laws of the land without fear or favor.

It poses a threat to the security of the state if the illegal drug taker, by its habitual use, has impaired his judgment to judiciously determine the dangers to the country and people in relation to his dealings with other countries.

It's been more than three months since the issue of whether or not BBM is a prohibited drug taker or high on drugs — has been raging. It has spawned unsavory speculations on the unfitness of the occupant in Malacañang. The initial response of BBM to former president Duterte's declaration that the former is high on drugs was that the latter's accusatory rant was the result of the former president's taking fentanyl.

The subtle, truculent, but evasive response rather than killing the issue fanned the fires of incredulity.

His second take on the subject, when queried by reporters that he would not dignify responding to the accusation, increased the people's curiosity about his refusal to confront the percolating subject.

In an ambush interview, he was asked about his reaction to an alleged leaked Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) document pointing to him and actress Maricel Soriano as targets of a planned illegal drug raid. Instead of replying — he just laughed it off.

Such nonchalance did not sit well with those eager to hear from him — either an outright denial that he is addicted to a prohibited substance or that he, like many scions of rich families, who in their youthful adventurism partook of the prohibited drug, but had long discarded such wayward experimentation so common in the children of society's upper crust.

Admission to previous substance abuse in one's youth or any other time in later years would have been met with understanding by the public.

There have been local and world celebrities who have owned to substance abuse who have freed themselves from such addiction and lived to tell the tale.

A former president of the United States, Barack Obama, publicly admitted to having smoked marijuana and taking cocaine in his youth and how he overcame it. When he ran for the US presidency, he bravely faced the issue during the Democratic convention.

The current prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, admitted taking marijuana and cocaine even when he was still a member of parliament.

Betty Ford, the wife of President Gerald Ford, confessed to her addiction to alcohol and underwent rehabilitation.

Hollywood actor Robert Downey Jr. confessed to his addiction to alcohol and was able to overcome it.

So was Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor, who was addicted to painkillers and liquor and did not hide it from the public.

Another Hollywood actor, David Hasselhoff, struggled for years with alcohol addiction.

Famous world boxing champion Oscar de la Joya was chained to alcoholism for years and came forward, then subjected himself to treatment.

Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps entered rehabilitation for marijuana addiction and came out a better person.

The list of world figures and celebrities admitting to substance abuse goes on and on — demonstrating that owning to substance abuse is not something to be ashamed of and overcoming it is a courageous and honorable act.

Last May 10, in a media briefing in General Santos City, the president called the former PDEA agent who investigated an informant who linked him to illegal drugs a "professional liar."

Said BBM on ex-PDEA agent Jonathan Morales:

"You know, Morales is a professional liar, like a jukebox. Whatever you drop in, as long as you drop money, whatever song you want, he'll sing it. "

"Things don't make sense. Just look at this: he has a case of false testimony. That's how it is. How many... He has a history of involvement with various people and situations. It seems like that's his livelihood; that's why I call him a professional liar. "

After a prolonged and deafening silence on the matter and thereafter shrugging it off and ignoring it, BBM unleashed an uncharacteristic mighty condemnation of the ex-PDEA agent who prepared the pre-planned raid document against suspected persons that included him — by attacking Morales' character and credibility citing the latter's pending case of false testimony.

In the Senate hearing on the so-called PDEA leaks, a senator also questioned the credibility and integrity of Morales because of criminal charges that had been filed against him, forgetting that the lawmaker himself is facing the heinous crime of plunder.

Calling someone a professional liar just because he has a false testimony charge being tried in court is misplaced, even as it pierces the constitutional presumption of innocence. Until Morales is sentenced by final judgment by a court for falsely testifying in court, calling him a liar is flawed as it is wrong.

Court records show Morales has been acquitted on a criminal charge filed by a PDEA official in connection with his work as a PDEA agent.

BBM must have been ill-advised or misinformed. Morales was not accusing BBM of being a drug user. He was merely narrating an investigation incident where a confidential informer provided information regarding a group of show business and political personalities frequenting the condominium unit of Maricel Soriano, regularly taking a prohibited substance or substances, which led to his preparation of a pre-planned report, preparatory to conducting a raid.

In a court of law, attacking the character of a witness to impair his/her credibility is the route usually taken by lawyers. In the court of public opinion, what matters is the validity of the issue raised.

The question of whether or not the president had in the past engaged in substance abuse or currently taking a prohibited drug is not only a valid issue but one of national interest and importance as it strikes at the very heart of the presidency.

It is, therefore, in the best interest of BBM and the nation as well that he undergo a toxicology test or drug test.

Simply denying that he is not taking any prohibited drug will not quash the people's lingering doubt over a mere denial. A negative result on a drug test will. A positive one indicating that he did take a prohibited substance in previous years most probably will as well.

Refusing to undergo a medical test will reap a whirlwind of mistrust that will haunt him for the rest of his term. Such refusal will be the albatross that will prevent him from effective governance — and put to waste the political capital and the redemption of the Marcos name he gained in winning the presidency.

The Manila Times
PH's epochal stand: Uniting against the heat apocalypse https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/phs-epochal-stand-uniting-against-the-heat-apocalypse/1945965 Glenn S. Banaguas Mon, 13 May 2024 00:05:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/13/opinion/columns/phs-epochal-stand-uniting-against-the-heat-apocalypse/1945965 <![CDATA[

IN the Philippines, a country celebrated for its tropical splendor and cultural richness, the escalating heat index is not merely a seasonal discomfort but a critical environmental crisis. The heat index — a metric that combines air temperature and humidity — has soared to alarming heights across the nation, posing significant health risks and disrupting the daily existence of its citizens.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has delivered a stark verdict: the Earth is warming at an unprecedented rate, and human activity is the definitive cause. For the Philippines, this global crisis manifests in the form of intensified heat waves, ecological imbalances, and an urgent call for adaptive measures.

– Hydration the first line of defense. In the battle against the heat, hydration emerges as a fundamental shield. Filipinos are urged to increase their water intake, aiming for at least 8 to 10 glasses daily to stave off dehydration, heat exhaustion, and even heat stroke —conditions that are increasingly prevalent as temperatures climb. Public health campaigns emphasize the importance of consistent fluid intake throughout the day, not just in response to thirst. Community centers and local governments are setting up hydration stations in public areas to ensure access to clean drinking water. Educational initiatives are also underway to inform citizens about the signs of dehydration and the necessity of electrolyte replenishment in extreme heat scenarios. Moreover, the elderly and children, who are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, are being given special attention through targeted outreach programs.

– The shield of clothing. Clothing serves as a primary barrier against the heat. Light-colored, loose-fitting attire made from natural fibers like cotton allows the skin to breathe and reflect sunlight, aiding the body's natural thermoregulation. Incorporating wide-brimmed hats and UV-protection sunglasses can further protect the eyes and skin from harmful solar radiation. The use of moisture-wicking fabrics in clothing is also encouraged, as these materials help to quickly evaporate sweat and keep the body cool. Local fashion designers are innovating with traditional patterns to create modern, heat-combating garments that honor cultural heritage while providing practical benefits. Additionally, authorities recommend avoiding synthetic materials that trap heat, advocating instead for breathable textiles that support continuous airflow. Outreach programs are distributing heat-reflective clothing to vulnerable communities, ensuring that all citizens have access to appropriate heat defense.

– Adjusting to the sun's rhythm. As the sun's intensity grows, Filipinos are recalibrating their schedules. Outdoor labor and recreational activities are being rescheduled to the cooler hours of dawn and dusk, minimizing exposure to the day's peak temperatures. Schools and businesses are adapting by starting earlier or closing later, allowing for a siesta-like break during the hottest part of the day. Public advisories are being broadcasted to encourage people to plan their day around the sun's schedule, promoting indoor activities when the UV index is at its highest. Local governments are also modifying traffic regulations to reduce congestion during cooler periods, aiding in a smoother flow of people and goods. Health officials are emphasizing the importance of rest and shade, advising against strenuous activities between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Furthermore, community events are now being planned with consideration for heat risks, often featuring cooling stations and emergency medical services.

– Sun protection: A health imperative. The sun's ultraviolet rays have become more intense and damaging. Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses have transitioned from accessories to essential tools for safeguarding against skin cancer and other UV-related health risks. Awareness campaigns are now promoting the use of broad-spectrum sunscreens that offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays. The importance of reapplying sunscreen every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating, is being emphasized. Clothing with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) ratings is becoming more popular, providing measurable protection against solar radiation. Health organizations are partnering with local communities to provide free or subsidized sun protection products to those in need. Additionally, urban planning now considers sun-safe zones, incorporating shaded pathways and UV-resistant materials in public spaces.

– Indoor refuge. For many Filipinos, air conditioning remains a luxury. Nonetheless, staying indoors, utilizing fans, and adopting traditional cooling methods like bamboo blinds and indoor foliage offer a sanctuary from the oppressive heat. Community centers are opening their doors during the hottest parts of the day, providing a cool space for those without adequate home cooling. Innovative architectural designs that maximize airflow and reduce heat absorption are being promoted in new constructions. Educational programs are teaching residents how to create effective cross-ventilation in their homes using windows and doors. The revival of ancient practices, such as hanging wet cloths over windows, is helping many to lower indoor temperatures naturally. Additionally, the government is subsidizing energy-efficient appliances, making fans and air coolers more accessible to the general population.

– Eating for coolness. The rich and flavorful Filipino cuisine is adapting to the climate. Lighter, more digestible meals, such as fresh produce, are favored during heat waves, as they contribute to the body's thermal comfort. Culinary experts are introducing recipes that incorporate hydrating fruits and vegetables, which help maintain hydration levels. Traditional dishes are being reinvented with a focus on cooling ingredients like cucumbers, melons and leafy greens. Cooking workshops are being organized to teach the preparation of cold soups and salads that are both nutritious and cooling. The practice of consuming "halo-halo," a popular shaved ice dessert, is gaining even more prominence as a delicious way to beat the heat. Moreover, there is an increased emphasis on avoiding heavy, oily foods that can exacerbate discomfort during high temperatures.

– Cooling centers: A community haven. Local governments are proactively establishing cooling centers. These public spaces, often air-conditioned or fan-cooled, provide a vital respite for the heat-vulnerable segments of the population, including the elderly and the indigent. To enhance accessibility, these centers are strategically located in areas with high foot traffic, such as near markets and transportation hubs. They are equipped with comfortable seating and water stations, ensuring visitors can rest and rehydrate. Partnerships with local businesses and organizations are being formed to extend the hours of operation during heat wave conditions. Informational sessions on heat safety and health are regularly held at these centers, serving as educational hubs. Additionally, emergency cooling packs containing water bottles, electrolyte sachets, and cooling towels are distributed to provide immediate relief for those in distress.

– Greening the urban landscape. The urban expanses of the Philippines are undergoing a transformation, with initiatives to plant trees and develop parks. These verdant spaces not only offer shade and cooling but also enhance air quality and foster communal well-being. Urban planners are focusing on native species that thrive in local conditions, contributing to biodiversity and requiring less water. Community-driven 'green brigades' are volunteering to maintain these spaces, creating a sense of ownership and stewardship among residents. The introduction of rooftop gardens and vertical greenery is also gaining traction, maximizing limited urban space for plant life. Educational programs in schools are incorporating lessons on urban gardening, instilling the importance of green spaces from a young age. Moreover, the government is incentivizing businesses to integrate plant life into their architecture, promoting a greener skyline.

– Energy efficiency: The sustainable path. Energy-efficient appliances and home insulation are more than cost-saving measures; they represent a commitment to a cooler, more sustainable future. By reducing the need for air conditioning, these investments also diminish the carbon footprint. The government is offering incentives for homeowners to upgrade to energy-efficient models, which not only lower utility bills but also reduce overall energy demand. Educational campaigns are highlighting the long-term benefits of energy conservation, encouraging the adoption of smart thermostats and LED lighting. Builders are being trained in green construction techniques, ensuring new homes meet high standards of energy efficiency. The push for renewable energy sources, like solar panels, is gaining momentum, allowing households to generate their own clean power. Moreover, the movement towards energy efficiency is fostering a new industry of eco-friendly products and services, creating jobs and stimulating the economy.

– Empowerment through education. In a warming world, knowledge equates to protection. Public education campaigns on the risks of heat waves and the significance of early warning systems are vital in equipping Filipinos for the impending climatic challenges. Interactive workshops and seminars are being conducted nationwide to teach communities about heat wave preparedness and response. Schools are integrating climate education into their curricula, ensuring students understand the environmental factors contributing to extreme heat. Local media are playing a crucial role, broadcasting tips on staying cool and safe during heat emergencies. Authorities are also utilizing social media platforms to disseminate real-time alerts and updates on heat conditions. Moreover, collaboration with meteorological experts is enabling the development of localized educational materials that address the specific needs of various regions in the Philippines.

– Climate advocacy: Voices for change. The IPCC's plea for immediate and sustained action to counter climate change resonates deeply within the Philippines. A united front of government, private sector, civil society and local communities is emerging, advocating for policies and initiatives that promise a sustainable and resilient future. Youth-led movements are gaining momentum, inspiring a new generation of environmental activists committed to ecological preservation. Innovative partnerships are being forged to finance green projects, from renewable energy installations to sustainable agriculture practices. The nation is also championing the expansion of marine protected areas to safeguard biodiversity and bolster fishery resources against climate impacts. Grassroots campaigns are educating citizens on the importance of reducing carbon footprints, promoting everything from cycling to tree planting. Furthermore, the Philippines is actively participating in international climate dialogues, asserting the need for global cooperation in addressing this urgent issue.

– Agriculture adapting to the heat. The agricultural sector, the linchpin of the Filipino economy, confronts an unparalleled threat from the escalating temperatures. Extended heat waves can diminish crop yields, disrupt planting cycles, and intensify pest invasions. The thermal stress impacts not only the crops but also the livestock, leading to reduced productivity and increased mortality. Farmers are encouraged to embrace some climate-resilient farming techniques: a) crop diversification that focuses on cultivating heat and drought-resistant crop varieties; b) irrigation efficiency that concentrates on enhancing water conservation and ensuring adequate crop hydration; c) integrated pest management (IPM) that highlights the employing eco-friendly pest control strategies; and d) Conservation agriculture that emphasizes practicing minimal soil disturbance, maintaining soil cover, and rotating crops to improve soil health and water retention.

– Fishery adaptive strategies. In parallel, the fisheries sector faces peril. Elevated water temperatures can upset marine ecosystems, altering fish distribution and abundance. Coral bleaching, exacerbated by the heat, threatens coral reefs, which are crucial for marine biodiversity and coastal defense. Fishermen and aquaculture operators are advised to adopt sustainable practices. Some of them are as follows: a) climate-resilient species that concentrate on transitioning to fish varieties that can thrive in warmer waters; b) mangrove conservation that focuses on protecting coastal zones and maintaining fish breeding grounds; c) sustainable aquaculture that concentrates on implementing eco-conscious aquaculture techniques; and d) community-based resource management (CBRM) that focuses on ensuring the sustainable utilization of marine resources.

As the world watches with bated breath, the Philippines rises as a beacon in the global crusade against climate change. These strategies are not mere suggestions; they are powerful summons to collective action. The indomitable Filipino spirit, renowned for its tenacity and versatility, faces a formidable test. Yet, it is in the crucible of this challenge that the nation's true strength will shine. With unwavering resolve and dedication to transformative change, the Philippines is charting a course toward a future that is not only enduring but also thriving in the wake of an unparalleled thermal onslaught. Harnessing the synergy of community wisdom and scientific innovation, the country is crafting a legacy of resilience that will echo through the ages. Each step forward is a testament to the power of unity and the relentless pursuit of progress. The Philippines stands not as a solitary fighter but as an inspiring exemplar of what can be achieved when hearts align in the pursuit of a cooler, more sustainable world. The narrative of "bayanihan" is being rewritten, this time to encapsulate a nation's journey towards ecological harmony. A new chapter of environmental stewardship is being authored by the youth, who are stepping boldly into leadership with green dreams in their eyes. The winds of change are being fueled by green technology and eco-friendly initiatives, propelling the country towards a verdant economy. In the end, the Philippines' spirited response to the climate emergency will stand as a resounding affirmation of humanity's capacity for greatness when confronted with the gravest of challenges.

Scrap the wage boards, legislate the minimum wage https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/12/opinion/columns/scrap-the-wage-boards-legislate-the-minimum-wage/1945798 Marlen Ronquillo Sun, 12 May 2024 00:10:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/12/opinion/columns/scrap-the-wage-boards-legislate-the-minimum-wage/1945798 <![CDATA[

THE creation of tripartite wage boards decades ago — one for every region — had a solid economic basis. The underlying principle — underdeveloped regions may attract investments if their wage levels are slightly lower than their richer counterparts — looked like a sound investment-generation principle, after all. The core principle was this: let the regions decide on their ideal wage levels and see if this would work as a generator of much-needed investments in the laggard regions.

Development experts agree, then and now, that the surge of investments and economic opportunities in the eastern part of the country — the side facing the Pacific Ocean where the poorer regions are — would easily translate to a 3- to 5-percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth. That growth alone was enough reason to tone down opposition to the handover of wage-setting powers to the tripartite wage boards.

Several decades have passed since these boards took over the wage-setting functions from Congress, which used to be the institution that set the minimum wage for the country's workers. And this has been the dismal result. The experiment did not work. Growth's center of gravity did not budge an inch. Those falling under the category of poor regions when the new policy was adopted are still the laggard regions today. The poverty and illiteracy rates in poor regions such as Muslim Mindanao remain close to a heartbreaking 50 percent. Even the great leverage granted to the regions, which was to use lower wage levels to attract investors, was snubbed by investors.

The three regions that have been the growth centers since time immemorial and through three periods of colonization — Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog or Region 4A, and Central Luzon — remain so and contribute roughly 70 percent of the country's yearly GDP. And these three have been tightening, not loosening, their grip on economic productivity. The late Blas Ople once said the "Tagalo-Kapampangan Empire" — those three productive regions — has been the cultural and economic heart of the nation for so long that it is so hard to break, or even dent, its dominance.

The great experiment to break that dominance and move growth's center of gravity elsewhere through the use of wage incentives has spectacularly failed, and there is data to prove that. The government, it turned out, created low-wage regions for nothing.

Wage-setting by the tripartite wage boards has not just failed to push investors into the historically poor regions. Their slow work in adjusting wages so workers' wages can cope with inflation and the general rise in household expenditures is the main reason behind the overall misery of the working class. The wage boards are stuck in endless and senseless deliberations on economic data and labor economics, which most of its members probably don't understand, and that has led to the paralysis of decision-making.

You are probably wondering why the labor representatives in the wage boards are not doing enough to force representatives of the government and private sector to move fast and make quick decisions on wage adjustments. Maybe the labor representative in the tripartite body has been doing just that, to no avail. Or maybe the representative is not really pro-labor but pro-management. If you track down the policy formulations of the agencies and financial institutions of government with the mandatory labor or farmer representatives, you will notice that the "labor" or "farmer" representatives there are mostly jokers with no grounding in farming or labor issues. And these dummies abet policies that are anti-farm or anti-labor, either because of their cluelessness or their being compensated to shut up and to see and hear no evil.

The sense of paralysis at the tripartite wage boards was the reason senators recently passed a decent hike in the minimum wage, which was a major rebuke by the boards. Had the Charter change-obsessed House of Representatives taken up the Senate initiative, the country's workers would have been gifted with a minimum wage increase before May 1, 2024, or Labor Day. But no, nothing can move the House except Charter change, which, ironically, is being pushed by a posse of billionaire public contractors-cum-lawmakers whose only concern is "investment generation" and not the marginal, suffering lives of the country's workers.

Had the House adopted and passed the Senate initiative, that would have been the equivalent of reinstating the old way of wage-setting — that is, Congress setting the country's minimum wage instead of the wage boards. That would have been a de facto act of scrapping the boards because of their utter uselessness.

The wage boards are anachronistic institutions that have miserably failed to fulfill their original mandate and are the reason for the miserable lives of the country's workers.

It is now time to scrap these inutile boards and return the act of setting wages to Congress.

Marcos' Marian prayer: Can it keep war away? https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/12/opinion/columns/marcos-marian-prayer-can-it-keep-war-away/1945790 Ricardo Saludo Sun, 12 May 2024 00:09:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/12/opinion/columns/marcos-marian-prayer-can-it-keep-war-away/1945790 <![CDATA[

Second of three parts

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the true God, our merciful Mother, we, thy children, come today in an act of filial homage, of faith, love and trust, to consecrate our nation, the Philippines, to thy Immaculate Heart. Take it from our fragile hands into thine own, defend it and guard it as thy own property. Make our Lord Jesus reign, conquer and rule in it as King, for outside of Him, there is no salvation.

– Beginning of the Consecration prayer of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

AFTER seeing the full text online, we repeat the opening lines of the Act of Consecration of the Philippines to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, recently prayed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., addressing Our Lady of Guadalupe, secondary patroness of our nation, right from the start.

A note accompanying the consecration post said: "Parts of the Consecration were adapted from the Act of Consecration of Portugal ... done by Portuguese bishops on May 13, 1931. This protected Portugal from the effects of Communism, shielded [the country] from World War II and preserved the faith." Portugal was also spared from the Spanish Civil War between factions backed by fascist and communist powers.

The commentary added that in 1999, "Our Lady revealed through an Irish visionary, 'In the end, my Immaculate Heart with triumph, beginning in the Philippines and spreading throughout the world.' Our Blessed Mother desires to preserve the Philippines through this Act of Consecration [as] it was done in Portugal in 1931."

Mary's message to Christina Gallagher was revealed by the visionary's adviser, Fr. Gerard McGinnity, at a Marian prayer event in New York on Sept. 11, 1999, with a 15-boat East River regatta and a prayer rally at Battery Park in downtown Manhattan.

Fr. McGinnity recounted divine messages for Gallagher to visit the Philippines in 1992 and join the Battery Park prayers, as seen in a video about the 1999 event organized by multi-awarded filmmaker Baby Nebrida, citing the Blessed Virgin's instructions. (https://youtu.be/JcAVRU2UjVk?si=XaIhPeWNKqbj7Fvq).

Deo-politics, not geopolitics

Thus, the commentary asserts that saving the Philippines, as President Marcos prayed in the Consecration, is for our sake and heaven's — the global triumph of Mary's Immaculate Heart, prophesied in her 1917 apparitions in Fatima, rural Portugal.

So, how will the Marian consecration by the President at his residence across the Pasig from Malacañang safeguard our nation? Marcos fears we could be the "front line" in a possible Asian conflict between mega-powers China and the United States.

Can the prayer prevent "a fight where," outgoing Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned, "you will be the battleground"? Lee was apparently referring to us being attacked due to US forces operating out of our country — the same reason Japan invaded in World War II.

Besides Portugal escaping wartime ravages, consecrations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary also stopped global conflict in 1942, 1953, 1984 and perhaps in 2024. God had asked through Our Lady of Fatima for the papal consecration of Russia and the Five First Saturdays devotion to her Immaculate Heart to establish world peace ("Our Lord may have stopped world war — for now," https://tinyurl.com/4a4mhyhe).

Pope Pius XII's 1942 prayer heralded the first major Allied victory over Axis powers Germany, Italy and Japan, which launched more battlefield triumphs till final victory. His 1952 consecration happened when supremo Josef Stalin of the Soviet Union, predecessor state of today's Russian Federation, plotted war in Europe while America was fighting in Korea. Brain hemorrhage killed him in 1953, and his successors warmed ties with the West, splitting communist giants Moscow and Beijing.

After surviving an assassin's bullets on May 13, 1981 — the feast of Our Lady of Fatima — St. John Paul II entrusted to her the world and the Church on Dec. 8, 1981, the Solemnity of her Immaculate Conception; May 13, 1982, 65th anniversary of the 1917 apparitions; and March 25, 1984, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of our Lord becoming man in Mary's womb.

In 1983, the Soviets again planned war, this time to take out US intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) in Europe, which could nuke Moscow without retaliation, the same threat it feared if Ukraine joined the Washington-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

But weeks after the 1984 consecration, mammoth explosions destroyed most armaments of the Soviet Navy in its main base of Sevenromorsk on May 13 that year — another Fatima feast. Consequently, the Russian fleet could not fulfill its crucial task of blocking American forces crossing the Atlantic to fight in Europe.

Soviet leaders shelved war plans, and the next year, reformer Mikhail Gorbachev took power. And on Dec. 8, 1987 — again, the Immaculate Conception feast — Moscow and Washington banned IRBMs. Finally, on Dec. 25, 1991, the Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord, seven years after the 1984 consecration on the Annunciation feast, Russia replaced the defunct Soviet Union in the United Nations.

No world war — for now

What about Pope Francis' consecration of Russia, Ukraine and the world on March 25, 2022, as requested by Ukraine's bishops and joined by thousands of prelates across the globe? That was the consecration most compliant with Fatima's instructions.

That papal prayer seemed to bear immediate fruit, with Moscow and Kyiv negotiating a pact for Russian invaders to withdraw completely if Ukraine stayed out of NATO. But America pressed Ukraine to keep fighting with Western arms, seeking to "weaken" Russia. That devastated Ukraine's forces and depleted NATO arms stocks, while Russia mobilized 800,000 troops — the largest force in Europe since World War II.

Thus, NATO cannot challenge Russia in Europe. The Israel-Hamas conflict and the threat of war in Asia have further led Washington to avoid conflict. That has helped make world war unlikely — for now.

But with Russia, China and the US-led alliance still building up arms and armies, including allied forces burgeoning in the Philippines, the threat of our country going the way of Ukraine remains. On May 16, we explore scenarios for us to escape this fate and advance Mary's prophesied triumph.

The Manila Times
Courageous child victims winning cases against their abusers https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/12/opinion/columns/courageous-child-victims-winning-cases-against-their-abusers/1945789 Fr. Shay Cullen Sun, 12 May 2024 00:08:00 +0800 <![CDATA[Opinion]]> https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/05/12/opinion/columns/courageous-child-victims-winning-cases-against-their-abusers/1945789 <![CDATA[

THERE is great encouragement and inspiration that one can get from the true-life stories of the brave Filipino children who fought back against their abusers and made them answer for their crimes against them. Hundreds of kids in Preda's children's homes have been healed and found justice by securing convictions against their rapists and human traffickers, thanks to those homes' staff. They have cared for these children and healed and empowered them so they can testify without fear and embarrassment.

One of those children was Maricel (not her real name). It was not easy for the 12-year-old child to accuse the live-in partner of her mother, Raymund Sison, of rape and sexual assault. But with the help of a caring grandmother and the dedicated municipal social worker of San Narciso, Zambales, Maricel won a great legal victory in the court of Judge Maribel Marianmo-Beltran in Iba, also in Zambales.

It all began when Maricel was feeling sickly one day, and her mother brought her for a check-up. She was found to be six months pregnant. Then Maricel revealed that Sison had been sexually abusing her for months. He had threatened her not to tell anyone. But now the truth was out. Maricel's mother also told her not to tell anyone. Then Maricel went to live with her maternal grandmother, who, as a woman of conscience, brought her granddaughter to the municipal social worker in San Narciso. They went to the police and filed a case against Sison, but he and her mother hid Maricel in Bataan, likely to have an abortion. The social worker rescued her and brought her to the Preda Home for Girls in Subic.

There, Maricel and her unborn baby were protected from harm. At Preda, she shared her life story and found affirmation, support, help and therapy. She safely delivered her baby, whom she loves and cares for. She pursued her case, and the dedicated provincial prosecutor, Fiscal Joe Mari Nacin, fought for justice on her behalf in Iba. Maricel took the witness stand and testified courageously and clearly, as she wanted justice and to protect her baby. Then she was "reintegrated," or reunited, with her biological father, but he inexplicably also sexually abused her. Maricel immediately reported the crime, and her father was arrested and jailed. There, facing the prospect of spending life behind bars, he allegedly committed suicide.

Maricel's case against Sison prospered when she was believed by Judge Mariano-Beltran, who found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt and handed him a long prison term. That conviction was the eighth won by Preda children in 2024. These brave children win an average of 20 cases every year, with most of the convicted abusers and human traffickers sentenced to life in prison.

Maricel and her baby are strong and healthy, and she is studying while living at the Preda home. At present, they have nowhere else to go and are looking for a sponsor who could continue supporting her and her baby, the beautiful Princess Amber.

Another Preda child is 9-year-old Ariela (not her real name). Like Maricel, Ariela has a dramatic story. She was betrayed by her mother and grandmother when her step-grandfather sexually abused her in the grandmother's sari-sari store in Santa Cruz, Zambales.

Young children, when supported and empowered, can have the resilience and courage to stand up for themselves, protest against being abused and have their abusers convicted. Ariela is one of those children. Her parents broke up when she was younger, and when her mother had a live-in partner, she sent Ariela, then only 7, to live in Santa Cruz with her grandmother Analiza, who had her own live-in partner, Gerardo Guilaran. Ariela called him Daddy Uniko. When Analiza went to the market one time, Guilaran undressed Ariela and sexually abused her.

This happened several times, and Ariela got really scared. Guilaran threatened her, telling her he would kill her stepsisters if she told anybody about the abuse. Ariela complained to her grandmother about the abuse but was told to keep it a secret. Her mother also heard about it, but she, too, did nothing and kept it a secret.

These adults — Ariela's mother and grandmother — allowed her, a 9-year-old, to be sexually abused by Guilaran just to continue getting financial support. They are traffickers and should be brought to justice. It seemed there was no hope for Ariela, like thousands of abused children who have no one to trust and tell and nowhere to go to escape the abuse. The Preda Foundation is open to accepting all abuse victims; we just need to know about the abuse, and we will rescue, protect and heal them.

Ariela's father came to visit her one time and took her to Jollibee with her relatives. There, she told him of the abuse, which led him to bring charges against Guilaran. Ariela was referred to the protection and care of a Preda home, where she became stronger and overcame her fears. She was able to testify clearly in Judge Mariano-Beltran's court. Soon after, she was reintegrated with her mother. Back home, she was subjected to verbal and psychological abuse and forced to recant and withdraw her testimony.

The abuser and Ariela's own family thought they had intimidated the child, fooled the Preda social workers and outsmarted the judge. But Judge Mariano-Beltran was having none of it. She reviewed and upheld the original testimony of Ariela and Guilaran, who had no defense, only denials. He was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt in April and sentenced to several years. Justice was surely done in this case, and Ariela's victory is the ninth earned this year by the courageous Preda children.


Fr. Shay Cullen Fr. Shay Cullen The Manila Times
<![CDATA[https://www.manilatimes.net]]> (2024)
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