August 2011

Razor’s Edge
by Jose Mari Mercader

Families of vicitims commemorate first anniversary of the Rizal Park hostage-taking bloodbath that claimed the lives of eight tourists from Hong Kong.

It would do us a well of good not to antagonize Hong Kong bearing in mind Ben Franklin’s wise advice…“There neither was a good war nor a bad peace.” Let us explore the reason/s why having friendly ties with that government is immeasurably important.

In dealing with other people we must always remember three things that can never be retrieved – time, words and opportunities. And three things in life that we should never let go…hope, peace and honesty. Future, success and dreams are never certain. Let us therefore stay focus on friendly ties and sincerity.

Officially, there are 140, 000 Filipinos working in that economic bastion in Asia (Hong Kong) not to mention TNTs (tago ng tago). The locals call our countrymen there fei yung, Filipino maids. Most of them are domestic helpers and nannies aside from the professional engineers, accountants, architects, entertainers in Hong Kong’s Disneyland, etc.

On Sundays and holidays they gather at Central Victoria Park and Hong Kong Cultural Center to socialize and picnic where they sing and eat Filipino food. “No Littering” notices are in English, Tagalog and Chinese for the consumption of Filipinos in those parks.

Sad to say, the financial bonanza enjoyed by our compatriots there may not last long unless the growing animosity between our government and Hong Kong is nipped in the bud. Ironically, our expatriates’ nemeses in that Chinese satellite island, is our own government. The genesis of this brewing disaster is Pres. Aquino’s refusal to apologize for the massacre of eight Hong Kong nationals in a tourist bus at Luneta, last Aug. 23, 2010.

The president’s refusal to apologize is well taken because the massacre was the act of one man. Besides, Filipinos have been brutalized and abused by locals in foreign lands, but we do not condemn the entire population, he said. An apology implies collective action of the Filipinos and the government condoning the crime, none of which is true.

We concur with the President that an apology would be tacit admission of guilt when a lone desperado, Roland Mendoza, an ex-police officer, did it. He was bitter about his removal from the service for alleged extortion and corruption.

In retrospect, police Senior Superintendent Rolando Mendoza (one of the most decorated Manila police officer) went on a blitzkrieg of indiscriminately shooting the eight tourists.

In behalf of the victims’ relatives Hong Kong demanded for an impartial investigation. The newspapers promptly published…“Aquino vows accountability in hostage fiasco.” Everybody felt relieved because those appointed to negotiate with hostage taker Rolando Mendoza were supposedly responsible officials headed by no less than Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.

However, it appears Aquino’s negotiators were incompetent. Impatient to negotiate with Rolando, the swellheaded big-shots followed the arrogant Lim to a nearby hotel, to eat and while away precious time. It was at this crucial point when the crisis turned for the worst. Mendoza went into a deadly rage and massacred the helpless victims because no responsible official was around to listen to his demands, and also because he saw on TV his brother being manhandled by policemen.

The stupid order of Mayor Lim to arrest Mendoza’s brother, police captain Gregorio Mendoza, literally triggered the bloodbath when the latter had nothing to do with the hostage taking. Gregorio panicked when Lim ordered him to be brought to police headquarters. Knowing the lingo meant he was singled out to be wasted he vigorously struggled screaming in front of television cameras that he feared for his life. Rolando who saw the unnerving drama on the bus TV became violent and started killing the hostages.

No matter how I try to understand the mayor’s decision, I still cannot see why Gregorio was being implicated to the crime of his amucked sibling; unless Lim was retaliating to Rolando for arresting his son for drug-pushing a year or two before, according to my informant. Curiously, the massacre took place eleven hours after the government did nothing to correct the injustice done to Rolando who wanted his job back. The wasted hours verily became the lighted fuse at the gun powder, figuratively speaking.

Mendoza might have been deluded that he was a victim of injustice. But Lim’s unmitigated hubris exacerbated the seething crisis when he left Rolando alone with his woes. The rest is history.

In the Senate hearing Lim admitted having ordered Gregorio’s arrest because police Superintendent Orlando Yebra said “ay ichacharge nila bilang accessory.” How could that be possible when Gregorio had no pipeline with his deranged brother during the crisis? Only an idiot would link him to the crime.

Former Manila Police District head Chief Superintendent Rodolfo Magtibay categorically told the Senate hearing that Lim ordered the arrest. This assertion singled out Alfredo as solely responsible for the arrest order of Gregorio Mendoza, which evidently ignited and hastened the killings that night.

Alfredo erupted before the media saying “Hindi eksaktong order na hulihin.” “Ang sinabi ko kay (Magtibay), dalhin na sa headquaters yan” because he will be charged as an accessory, according to Yebra. Now tell me what convoluted logic is that Mr. Lim.

That he was exculpated by Noynoy, is beyond this column. I can only opine the Palace was afraid to antagonize the cocky aged Manila Mayor. Lim has a reputation of being brutal when provoked. Well, if he is that volatile he should look around because the indignant citizens do not like bullies much more a decrepit mayor who still lives in the past at 90. Fred, two can dance the tango, you know.

If Alfredo Lim is honest and harmless, then Attila the Hun is a saint and incorruptible. Truth to tell Lim cannot say he is honest because he could not be that rich to finance his expensive candidacy for mayor, senator and mayor again that entails the mind-boggling hundreds of millions. A mere police officer could never afford the expensive campaign. If he is half as honest he will not be Manila mayor, today.

DoJ Secretary Leila de Lima who was ordered by PNoy to get to the bottom of the bloody incident went into it like an overactive queen bee. Leila and the brilliant prosecutors she handpicked from different departments went into a five day marathon…getting the impartial testimonies of eye-witnesses and collating an assortment of incontrovertible facts to have a formidable case. The report was classic in fearless dedication sparing no sacred cows.

The investigators recommended Lim, the military and police officers involved including Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo and DILG undersec. Rico Puno (Noynoy’s bosom friend from way back) should be administratively charged. Alfredo got the brunt of the blame.

With bulldog tenacity, De Lima recommended Mayor Alfredo Lim be administratively and criminally charged for grotesquely bungling the rescue operation; leaving nobody responsible to talk, patronize, temporize or cajole the mentally disturbed Rolando. He even dragged with him the only ranking police officer Yebra left to negotiate with Mendoza. The suspension of the negotiation did not augur well with the people’s respect and trust which they repose on so-called leaders.

But Aquino told the media that De Lima was too rush in coming up with a guilty findings. He emphatically said Lim and his friends were not guilty of anything. This of course, antagonized the Hong Kong government and the relatives of the victims. What stung them was President Aquino trashing the De Lima report that clearly established the guilt of those investigated. They felt the president unconscionably ignored their hurt feelings and had no sympathy for their dead relatives.

Instead of appreciating their hard work, Pres. Aquino belittled the De Lima probe body’s findings. This is bad precedent. In the future prosecutors would be lukewarm to be so thorough in what they do for anyway he does not dignify the results. What they see does not inspire conscientious dedication to perform.

The intransigence he complacently showed regarding the De Lima report does violence to the belief his orders are inflexible. His leadership is utterly undependable depicting lack of focus on the goal to achieve good government. A true leader accepts the decision of those he delegates responsibilities even when he dislikes the results of their investigations.

Mr. President, it is said, a tree that is unbending is easily broken just as an army without flexibility never wins a battle. Not putting your head so high can spare you hard bumps as you go through the world, meaning stoop and be humble. Accept the recommendations of your Secretary of Justice to prosecute the guilty that messed up the rescue operation on that fateful Aug. 23, 2010 and spare us Hong Kong’s ire for it will affect thousands of our compatriots in that country. To repeat, there neither was a good war nor a bad peace. It will do us a well of good adhering to this wise adage.

By Virgilio J. Bugaoisan
The Daily Tribune

President Aquino yesterday left for a five-day State Visit to China, tagging with him the country’s top business leaders and vowing to further improve the trade and diplomatic relatives between the countries.

Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said that apart from members of his Cabinet, Aquino will be accompanied by a business delegation of around 200 people,

but the most prominent of them are: John Gokongwei Jr., Founder/Chairman Emeritus, JG Summit Holdings, Inc; Washigton Sycip, Founding Chairman, SGV & Co; Jose Pardo, Chairman, PCCI Council of Business Leaders; Tony Tan Caktiong,Chairman & CEO, Jollibee Foods Corporation; Antonio Cojuangco, Chairman, Nabasan Subic Development Corp; George Ty, Group Chairman, Metrobank; Teresita Sy Coson, Co-Chairperson, SM Investments Corporation; Carlos Chan, Chairman, Liwayway Holdings; Ramos Ang, President & CEO, San Miguel Corporation; Manuel V Pangilinan,Chairman, PLDT Co., Lucio Tan, Founder/Group Chairman, Lucio C. Tan Group of Companies; Andrew Tan,Chairman, Allied Group Inc. (Megaworld); Erramon Aboitiz,President & CEO, Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Alfredo Yao, Chairman, Zesto Corporation; Tan Ching, of Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. and Francis Chua, President, PCCU – PCBC.

Valte claimed that Aquino his entourage will be spending only P25 Million for five days as Aquino expressed hopes that he would be able to bring home at least USD 2 billion in investments.

Talk is that the businessmen flying with Aquino paid P85,000 each for the plane fare, while those in the second airplane were charged P45,000 each.

The President will start his activity today by meeting separately with Chinese businessmen at the China World Hotel.

He will also have a brief meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan.

This will be followed by his attendance at the Philippines-China Economic and Trade Forum where he will deliver his keynote speech.

At the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, the President will be interviewed by Yang Rui and Yang Lan of CCTV Dialog.

The President will be officially welcomed at the Great Hall of the People by Chinese President Hu Jintao, in fitting ceremonies accorded a visiting head of state.

Immediately after his first summit meeting with the Chinese leader, the two heads of state will hold a bilateral meeting.

President Aquino and President Hu Jintao are also expected to witness the signing of agreements in the fields of trade, economic and technical cooperation, media, sports, culture and information among others that will further boost the relationship between the two countries.

In the evening, the President will attend a State Banquet at the Great Hall of the People which will be hosted in his honor by the Chinese President.

He will also meet with the Filipino community of Beijing to personally check on their condition and to inform them of the positive developments of the Philippines under his administration.

There are some 2,492 Filipinos in Beijing and its neighboring cities and provinces who are working as doctors, engineers, teachers, and hotel and restaurant managers, including musicians among others.

Prior to the Coffee with the Philippine media, the President will drop by at a dinner hosted by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines for the 270 business delegation.

Aquino will also take time out from his busy schedules here to visit Beijing’s two most visited historical sites — the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City.

The Chinese government has recommended that President Aquino will visit the Badaling section of the Great Wall, which is approximately 80 kilometers northwest from the center of Beijing.

Before leaving for Shanghai, the President will meet with Chairman Wu Bangguo of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and Premier Wen Jiabao.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and China on June 9, 1975, the bilateral partnership between the two countries has reached unprecedented levels in terms of political/security and regional cooperation, trade, investment, agriculture, tourism, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, which have benefited the two countries and peoples.

The Philippines-China economic and trade cooperation continues to serve as the engine that drives Philippine-China relations to greater heights. China is the Philippines’ third largest trading partner and the fastest growing source of tourists.

Source: The Daily Tribune

President Aquino will bring up the Spratlys issue during his five-day state visit to the People’s Republic of China as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced yesterday that at least six agreements will be signed in relation to the strengthening of economic and diplomatic ties between Manila and Beijing.

Assistant Secretary of the DFA’s Office Asia and Pacific Affairs Cristina Ortega said these agreements will be signed during the business forums and meetings the President will be having with Chinese business leaders in the different cities he will be visiting.

The three cities the President will visit are Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen.

Ortega said the agreements include the Joint Statement (RP–PROC) on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the Philippines-China Five-Year Development Program for Trade and Economic Cooperation, a memorandum of understanding between the Presidential Communications Operations Office and State Council Information Office on Friendly Exchanges, an MoU on Sports Cooperation, Implementing Program on the MoU on Tourism and Exchange of Letters on the Executive Program of the Philippines-China Cultural Agreement.

On the Joint Statement on the West Philippine Sea, Ortega said the document will be released but only after the state visit.

“We will have a Joint Statement of the Philippines and China (on the West Philippine Sea)… that will be crafted during and right after the state visit to China. I don’t think we can preempt the Joint Statement but I would assume that there would be a line or two on the West Philippine Sea,” Ortega said.

China has for decades been at loggerheads with the Philippines and other claimant-countries over the control of the Spratlys in the South China Sea.

Ortega pointed out that among the activities the President will undertake during the visit include meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and Chairman Wu Bangguo of the National People’s Congress.

Aquino will embark on a five-day state visit to China from August 30 to September 3.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, for their part, said Palace officials can engage their counterparts in discussing the Spratlys issue among themselves diplomatically.

“Those are contentious issues among nations but it can be discussed diplomatically, in a friendly and peaceful way,” Enrile said.

He pointed out that there are a number of concerns that needed to be clarified with the Chinese government.

Estrada echoed Enrile’s position despite the recent renewed tension brought about by the bungled government rescue efforts during the hostage-taking crisis last year, claiming the lives of eight Hong Kong tourists.

“We have to resolve it diplomatically. We’re not out to be at war with them. We just want to settle once and for all the issue on Spratlys,” he said.

Relatedly, China yesterday said it supports the ongoing efforts by the Philippine government to upgrade its defense capabilities as it allayed international concerns on the unveiling of its new military aircraft carrier.

Chinese Ambassador Liu Jianchao said any move by the Philippines to modernize its military is welcome and even encouraged closer defense ties and trade of military equipment with the country.

Liu noted that “the Philippine government and the people are happy” about the acquisition from the United States of a Hamilton-class ship that will patrol the country’s territorial waters encompassing some parts of the South China Sea, where it has long-running disputes with China and other claimants.

“We are supportive about this modernization drive of the Philippines, including the defense capabilities. I know the Philippines is a peaceful country and I know that China and the Philippines will have every opportunity to forge amity and to co-exist with each other for a long time to come,” Liu told a press briefing. Virgilio J. Bugaoisan, Angie M. Rosales, Michaela P. del Callar and PNA

By Jarius Bondoc
The Philippine Star

President Noynoy Aquino’s aides needed to qualify that any new joint oil exploration with China would be in “disputed waters only.” This was to dissociate it from the iniquitous JMSU (Joint Marine Seismic Understanding) of the Arroyo regime.

Everything is still under study at the ministers’ level, according to Trade Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio. But Chinese state-owned Sino Petroleum Co. supposedly has signified interest in a $1-billion venture. With a private Filipino firm it will search for oil in the disputed Spratly Islands of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The amount is part of the $2 billion to $7 billion that China aims to invest right off in the Philippines. The exploration will be conducted under Philippine laws. It will skirt acknowledged Philippine territory. There will be no betrayal of the Constitution, Malacañang spokesman Edwin Lacierda assured.

Differentiation from the Arroyo JMSU was to dispel qualms. The JMSU had ignored all the rules. In inking it first with China in 2004, the Philippines broke ranks from ASEAN that was confronting as one China’s expansionism. When Vietnam found out and protested the secret pact, the Philippines placated the ally by making it tripartite in 2005. The deal was supposed to cover “disputed waters of the South China Sea,” meaning the Spratlys that the three participants were claiming. But when the coordinates were plotted, it turned out that five-sixths of the area was in undisputed Palawan waters. Incorporated was the Recto (Reed) Bank where the Philippines has confirmed oil and gas reserves, adjacent to Malampaya, Matinloc and Linapacan fields.

In exchange for the JMSU, China lavished the Arroyo admin with $2 billion a year in padded loans. These were plunked into projects from which cronies extracted 20-percent kickbacks. Among the projects were the Northrail, Southrail, NBN-ZTE, Diwalwal-ZTE, and the near lease to China of a million hectares of farmland.

The JMSU violated the Constitution, which bars aliens from exploring Philippine natural resources, except in financial-technical aid. Malacañang released $5 million for the three-year survey, with no appropriation from the House of Representatives. The pact was never submitted to the Senate for ratification. In the outcry upon its exposure in 2008, the deal was let to lapse; with Malacañang’s non-renewal, China exercised option to keep the study to itself.

In 2009 China unilaterally declared a Nine-Dash Line territorial claim over all of the South China Sea. Included in its map consisting of nine dashes was the Recto Bank. Through the JMSU, the Philippines virtually had conceded undisputed territory as “disputed waters.” In April-June 2011 China intruded into the area seven times, accusing Philippine research, military and fishing vessels of trespassing.

Due to the sad national experience, present leaders must scrutinize the joint exploration proposal of Sino Petroleum Co. It must have no onerous terms and no strings attached, unlike the JMSU. The Spratlys consist of 45 islands and 705 reefs, atolls and cays, mostly occupied or patrolled by China; the Philippines holds only eight islets and two reefs. Why would China want to search for oil and gas near the Philippine claim, when it can do the same in its area?

* * *

Reader Mrlvin Miranda of Makati backs law professor Dennis Funa. The Philippines is bound by international law to render justice for the Hong Kong tourists hostaged at the Luneta (Gotcha, 29 Aug. 2011). He writes: “In the same vein, we Filipinos vigorously must seek justice for our overseas workers who are dehumanized, raped or murdered by foreign employers. Citing the same legal grounds of Attorney Funa, if the Philippines has the duty to protect foreign nationals sojourning in our territory, we can exact justice from the governments of those foreign employers.

* * *

Having immigrated to New Zealand, reader Edwin Uy began studying its laws. Among the enactments he stumbled upon dated as far back as 1910: the Secret Commissions Act. Edwin suggests that the Philippines adopt it, to promote honesty and transparency in the private and public sectors. (See

Basically the law deals with two parties: the agent and the principal. The agent is a person who has been or desires to be employed by another, as servant, broker, auctioneer, solicitor, director, or any other capacity, alone or jointly with others. The principal is the employer or hirer. “Consideration” means valuable of any kind, including commission, discount, rebate, bonus, deduction, percentage, employment, loan, gift, or dole.

Any consideration given to an agent without the consent of the principal is considered an offense. Likewise, the acceptance by the agent of such undisclosed consideration. As well, the use of false receipt or invoice; giving secret rewards for procuring contracts; and aiding and abetting any of the prohibited acts. The agent is duty-bound to disclose any pecuniary interest in a contract.

A person convicted under the law is imprisoned up to two years, and fined up to $1,000; if a corporation, up to $2,000. And this was written in 1910!

* * *

In observance of its 43rd anniversary, the Sigma Kappa Pi will hold a national congress on Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Angeles City Library. Right after is the anniversary festivity at the Casino Filipino Entertainment Hall in Balibago District. Contact Bing Villarta, 43rd anniversary chairman, 0905-2801782.

A pre-anniversary golf tourney tees off at 11 a.m. today, Aug. 31, at the Mimosa Country Club, Clark Freeport. Hosted by Vic Lugue, 0917-8129663; Lito Nucum, 0928-1459432; Willy Yao, 0917-5017892.

Tomorrow, Sept. 1, is the turnover of funds for additional Gawad Kalinga indigent homes in Recomville, Caloocan. Following is a party hosted by the EKIT-UP parent chapter at Vinzons Hall, Diliman, Quezon City. Contact Mark Arcaya , 0922-9953166 or 0947-4402525.

* * *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).



President Benigno S. Aquino III will visit the hometown of his Chinese ancestors in Hongjian Village, located in the
township of Jiaomei, Longhai City, Zhangzhou Municipality, Fujian Province.

The Precedent of The Philippines in China: REDISCOVERING ROOTS (Feature on the Hongjian Village Visit)

State Visits are grand affairs. By its very nature, such trips made by national leaders to other countries are suffused with pomp and pageantry and punctuated by the clink of the finest crystal, china and silverware.

All the most powerful and influential people in politics, military and business come along for the ride and are herded efficiently through a battery of meetings, confabs and jaunts meant to foster better understanding and broaden trade and economic exchanges between two nations.

To be sure, President Benigno S. Aquino III will have all the elements of a standard State Visit when he comes to the Middle Kingdom on 30 August-02 September 2011.

Conferences will be held, banquets will be attended, agreements will be inked and plans to expand bilateral relations on all fronts will be made and finalized; all the more so in light of China’s rising global clout and its consequences to the economic and political make up of the east Asian region and beyond.

The paramount importance the Philippines places in its relations with the People’s Republic of China and its 1.4 billion-strong market and $US5.88 trillion-worth domestic economy ensures that President Aquino’s State Visit to China would be the Philippines’ diplomatic highlight for 2011.

Beyond all the stiff formalness of the boardrooms and state guesthouses, however, President Noynoy’s trip to China will include something more down to earth and closer to the President’s heart.

Coming to China will be an opportunity for the President to reconnect with his roots in southern Fujian province.

Tracing the very steps his mother took more than two decades ago, the President will visit the hometown of his Chinese ancestors in Hongjian Village, located in the township of Jiaomei, Longhai City, Zhangzhou Municipality, Fujian Province.

It is widely known that the late President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino is a fourth-generation Filipino-Chinese descended from Mr. Co Yu Hwan a Chinese immigrant from Hongjian Village who settled in the Philippines in 1861.

Mr. Co (the Chinese character for his surname is read as “Xu” in the national language Mandarin, while “Co” or “Kho” is the way the same character is pronounced in the southern Fujian dialect or Minnan Hua also known as Hokkien) converted to Roman Catholicism in the Philippines and was then baptized as Jose Cojuangco, the surname Cojuangco being an amalgamation of his Chinese Hokkien name, Co Yu Hwan.

Jose’s son Melecio Cojuangco (born in 1871) married another Filipino-Chinese named Tiakla Chico in 1894 and among their children was Jose Cojuangco, Jr., father to President Corazon Aquino who is the mother of the current President, Benigno S. Aquino III.

Hongjian, a sleepy rural village located near the border of Xiamen’s Haicang District and Zhangzhou Municipality, is home to about 1,700 residents with the surname Xu or Co. Though less than half an hour’s drive from the bustling metropolis of Xiamen Island, it is stands in stark contrast to the city as it has, for the moment, maintained the slow pulse of country life with friendly and hospitable locals who keep the traditional ways.

When President Cory came to Hongjian Village in 1988 she planted an araucaria tree (a genus of coniferous evergreen) to commemorate her visit. She also lighted incense at the altar of the Ancestral Temple of the Xu (Co) Clan. She was quoted as having remarked “I am the President, but I am also the daughter of Hongjian Village”

This statement has resonated among the local villagers and was much quoted by local media, including the widely circulated Xiamen Daily, during the coverage of President Cory’s passing away in August 2009.

While the araucaria tree planted by the former President was growing, its trunk split into two and now the tree has two tops of equal height. When this happened, villagers took it as a sign that another branch from the former President’s family would rise up and achieve the same stature as the mother who planted the tree.

Consequently, when Benigno Aquino III won the presidential election of 2010, Hongjian villagers took this as the fulfillment of the event foreshadowed by the tree’s trunk splitting into two with both sections growing to equal height. Today, with the care of local villagers who are blood relatives of the Cojuangcos in the Philippines, the tree has grown to about as tall as a four-storey building.

Presently a park is being constructed on the site surrounding the tree planted by the former President. Fittingly, Village planners included in the Park the construction of a hall dubbed the Sino-Philippines Friendship Memorial Hall, which when completed, shall be dedicated to the memory of President Cory.

As his mother before him had done, President Aquino shall make this spiritual journey back to the cradle of his clan. He will follow local custom in honoring his ancestors in the Clan Temple, whose pantheon his mother now joins. But to Filipinos, this is not as foreign as it initially appears. Though Christianized for the better part of half a millennium, Filipinos, like the Chinese place great importance in honoring ancestors and acknowledging one’s roots.

Filipinos have a saying “ang ‘di lumingon sa pinanggalingan, ‘di makararating sa paroroonan”, which roughly translates as “he who does not acknowledge his origins will never reach his destination.”

The President is only one of so many notable Filipinos who have Chinese ancestry. He joins the ranks of other greats, chief of them national hero Jose Rizal whose great-great grandfather Ke Yi Nan (Domingo Lamco) hailed from Qiongque Village in Jinjiang City, Fujian.

Although cited to the point of cliché, the truth remains that the Philippines and Fujian share ties that go deeper and beyond the diplomatic niceties discussed in Beijing. These ties of trade, history, culture, blood and kinship are in fact the anchors of Philippines-China bilateral relations.

For despite highs and lows in political and economic ties, the friendship for the Filipino people that emanate from southern Fujian and spreads to all other parts of China will always transcend the current, albeit transient, issues of the day.

In tracing his roots in southern Fujian, the President is symbolically acknowledging how truly close the peoples of the Philippines and China are. In planting a tree as his mother did, he will sow new seeds that will also, with care and nourishment, take root and grow tall and strong.

With these roots in Hongjian Village, Philippines-China cooperation and exchange will grow surely and steadily, nurtured by the very hands of the Filipino and Chinese peoples themselves.

SOURCE: Philippines Consulate of Xiamen


Empowering the Filipino People

By Former Philippine President FIDEL V. RAMOS

(Last of Two Parts)

MANILA, Philippines — On the eve of President Benigno Aquino III’s visit to huge neighbor China, his immediate circle of advisers (apart from DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario), should sharpen him with latest backgrounders on China’s relations with the Philippines, ASEAN, and the US.

China, ASEAN, and the US

According to official reports, trade volume between China and the Philippines was at US$277 billion in 2010 or 25% higher than 2009. China is the Philippines’ third largest trading partner, and we are sixth among 10 ASEAN partners in China trading.

In 2011, China’s GDP is expected to grow by 8%. The contiguous provinces of Guangxi, Guangdong, and Hainan are predicted to achieve growths of 13%, 9%, and 13% respectively, or higher than the projected national GDP.

The Philippine economy, however, is estimated to grow by only 5%, per the World Bank.

Recent developments concerning the disputed islands of the South China Sea have stiffened the postures of ASEAN members, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam, against Beijing’s “U-shaped” (or “Nine-dotted line) South China Sea claim.

The Philippine proposal to transform the Spratlys in the West Philippines Sea into a “Zone of Peace, Friendship, Freedom, and Cooperation” was taken up during the talks between Foreign Secretary Del Rosario and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington last 23 June.

For the US, Clinton gave firm assurances that America will honor its commitments to the Philippines under our 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty. They agreed to consult closely on the protection of both countries’ interests in maintaining lawful commerce, freedom of navigation, and international law in the West Philippine Sea.

Comes now US Senator Richard Lugar (who fought the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship 25 years ago) with his Resolution 252 to urge the US government to continue assisting the Philippines in maritime security, communications infrastructure, information sharing, and military professionalization.

Lugar’s Resolution last week honors the MDT’s 60th Anniversary.

Building up the modern regional economy

As keynote speaker at the 6th Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum last 18 August in Nanning-Guangxi, China, FVR praised PBGEC’s efforts in building cooperative ventures, infrastructures, and institutions of the modern economy.

In these undertakings, both China’s central and local governments are investing substantially. Guangxi Province (China’s richest after Guangdong province) alone is putting up some US$100 billion over five years for connective infrastructure.

The most significant of these are the systems for greater cross-border access and networking in the China-Greater Mekong subregion, notably joint programs in education, finance, production, tourism, culture, and health.

A corridor of highways/railroads is envisioned to connect Nanning to Singapore – with broad multiplier effects for the countries through which it will run. Its initial phase includes Nanning-Hanoi expressways and railways, eventually connecting Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh. Parallel arrangements for shipping and logistics hubs are being negotiated – to facilitate the purposes of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA).

China as ASEAN’s economic partner

As the northern CAFTA air-land-sea hub, Nanning City is focused on aluminum processing, electronic equipment, agricultural products, chemical industries, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and alternative energy. On-going construction/upgrading of various industrial sites includes the Nanning National Hi-Tech Development Zone, Nanning National Economic and Technical Development Zone, and Nanning-ASEAN Economic Growth Zone.

The common components of these modern manufacturing and service centers embody finance, exhibition, tourism, outsourcing, and information centers.

Within 90 minutes driving distance from Nanning is Beihai City along Beibu Gulf. It hosts logistics and maritime assets for developing petrochemical industries, marine products processing, paper manufacturing, and heavy materials handling. Relying on green ecological advantages, Beihai is building attractive venues for sub-tropical tourism.

In 2003, CAFTA emerged when Beijing unilaterally reduced its tariffs on ASEAN agricultural products. CAFTA came into full force last year – with reductions in 90% of all tariffs among them. ASEAN’s newer economies have until 2015 to comply fully.

CAFTA is ASEAN-10’s first free-trade arrangement with an outside power; and also China’s first, outside of the WTO.

For Southeast Asian states, CAFTA heightens China’s role as a cooperative development partner instead of being a potential enemy. Mutual security, trust, benefit, and harmony are, indeed, CAFTA’s reachable objectives.

Of course, much work still needs to be done on the part of all our countries- for our peoples to enjoy the benefits of economic integration.

Promoting complementation

Today, the structure of ASEAN-China trade is still more competitive than complementary. Most of ASEAN’s current exports to China are intermediate inputs that Chinese industry processes into products for eventual export to rich-country markets.

But Chine won’t be just a mass-producer of low-value, labor-intensive manufactures much longer. Already its comparative advantages are shifting to higher –level goods and services. China is racing ahead in developing “clean energy” to power industrial and domestic needs. It is now the world’s largest wind turbine maker, and is pioneering electric cars and solar panels. Last year, China built the fastest supercomputer-surpassing what was until then the world’s top model (American-made).

China and ASEAN must collaborate deliberately to promote complementation and eliminate their rivalry in market access. And, ASEAN economies should find profitable niches they can develop in China’s vast market.

East Asian integration was never meant to stop at the ASEAN-10+1 level. Japan, South Korea, and India have always been counted as charter-partners.

Their entry will give Asia three additional “growth engines,” thus enabling our region to sustain economic growth from within, because of its increasingly wealthy home-market and huge talent pool.

Prospering they neighbor: Security, wisdom, patience

Because of sheer size and vigor, China with its own products, could easily flood ASEAN’s export destinations and capture ASEAN’s share in Japanese and Western markets. China could also divert foreign direct investment away from ASEAN.

But, such unfriendly scenarios could only happen –God forbid – if China radically changes its avowed global vision of “One Dream, One World” (characterized by peace and harmony) which it announced before the worldwide Beijing Olympics audience in August, 2008.

This oft-repeated bright future of world harmony and brotherhood was again affirmed by China President Hu Jintao at the Boao Forum for Asia (which I served as chairman for eight years) last April, 2011, in Hainan, thus:

“We need to seek common ground while shelving differences and enhance common security … We need to accommodate each other’s security concerns, demonstrate utmost goodwill, wisdom, and patience in settling differences through dialogue and consultation, and promote regional security cooperation so as to uphold peace and stability in our region.”

CAFTA has become the world’s largest free-trade area in population terms and third largest in nominal GDP (after NAFTA and the EU). Right now, it represents markets counting 1.9 billion people, combined GDP of over US$2.6 trillion and external trade valued at US$1.5 trillion.

Two-way China-ASEAN trade has increased by nearly half since the two sides began opening their economies to each other. In 2006, China’s trade with ASEAN-10 approximated the region’s US$120 billion trade with the US.

Economic integration will not happen quickly

It must be emphasized, nevertheless, that CAFTA will not happen in just one day, or become a part of just one nation.

The ASEAN countries must pursue their shared interests through practical, doable steps in economic, cultural, and security cooperation of self-evident usefulness – by way of confidence-building measures to inculcate a sense of common purpose among East Asian peoples.

As ASEAN and China’s leaders have repeatedly urged, we will need to respect our own diversity of cultures – to translate all of that into a powerful force for increased mutual understanding, more durable stability, and higher levels of development for all.

Shelving cultural/political differences and enhancing our common security, we must together seek shared growth based on mutual trust, mutual benefit, mutual security, and mutual harmony.

Our immense diversity makes it unlikely that deep integration will occur quickly. We must continually motivate each other to make the patient, painstaking, step-by-step efforts together.

Task forces for peace and development?

Announced recently by various media are these headlines:

(1) “Vietnam Pouring US$21 Billion In Ports” (March).

(2) “Philippines Dispatches War Relic; China Dispatches 14 Patrol Boats” (June).

(3) “Chinese Patrol Ship Steaming Through Spratlys” (June).

(4) “AFP To Buy 6 Fighters” (July).

(5) “China’s Aircraft Carrier Completes Trials” (August).

(6) “Vietnam Receives Russian-made Warship” (August).

(7) “Submarine for Philippine Navy?” (August).

C’mon, are the above reports indications of mutual trust and harmony – or deception, suspicion, and fear, and waste of taxpayers’ money? Or are they Task Forces for Peace and Development?

Revisit our Manila Bulletin 2011 columns: “Presidents Obama and Hu Jintao in Search of Common Ground” (23 January); “Joint US-China Commitment: Plus or Minus for the Philippines?” (30 January); “China’s New 5-Year Roadmap” (17 April); “Philippines and China: Close Neighbors or Distant Relatives” (01 May); “Rizal, Spratlys, China, Philippines, Vietnam” (19 June); “China’s Deadly Spratlys Chess Game” (28 June); and “China-ASEAN Free Trade Area” (21 August).

Please send any comments to Copies of articles are available at

By Marichu A. Villanueva
The Philippine Star

The court’s acquittal of two of the so-called “Alabang boys” of illegal drug charges last week due to a technicality has, as expected, triggered a wave of criticisms.

But more than the criticisms, the result of this celebrated case seriously indicted the integrity of the five pillars of the country’s criminal justice system to serve the ends of justice.

These pillars are, namely law enforcement, prosecution, the judiciary, penology, and the community. As one popular idiom says, a chain is no stronger than its weakest link. This means any process, organization or system is vulnerable because the weakest part can always damage, ruin or break the whole body.

This was highlighted in the case of the “Alabang boys.” The case earned this dubious title from the arrest of three young men in a buy-bust operation by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Sept. 19, 2008 in the posh Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City.

Three years later, Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 dismissed the case against the two accused. The judge found serious “lapses” by the arresting agents of the PDEA in the custody of the illegal drugs seized from accused Jorge Joseph and Richard Brodett. They were arrested for allegedly selling 60 pieces of Ecstacy tablets worth P750 each to an undercover PDEA agent. Several grams of cocaine and dried marijuana leaves were also recovered inside the car of Brodett.

Guerrero said PDEA’s buy-bust operation against Joseph and Brodett was “valid,” but “the link in the custody of the drug evidence,” as required by Section 21 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, “has been broken.” “The failure of the prosecution therefore to establish all the links in the chain of custody is fatal to the case,” Judge Guerrero said.

Section 21 of the law covers the “custody and disposition of confiscated, seized, and/or surrendered dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment.” Under this provision, the law requires the apprehending team to immediately conduct a physical inventory of the seized illegal drugs and other evidence in the presence of the suspect(s), suspect’s counsel or representative, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and an elected public official. These witnesses are required to sign copies of the inventory.

In her ruling, Judge Guerrero noted that the lapses could have been explained had former PDEA chief retired Gen. Dionisio Santiago or the PDEA arresting team’s head Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino been called to “justify” the lapses before the court. “In this case, the prosecution did not even acknowledge and discuss the reason for the missing links in the chain,” the judge pointed out.

With the acquittal of Joseph and Brodett, the only remaining member of the “Alabang boys” still with pending charges is Richard Tecson, whose drug trafficking case has yet to be resolved by the Quezon City RTC Branch 227.

The case of the “Alabang boys” caught public attention after Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño and some of his deputies at the DOJ were questioned on alleged lapses and improprieties in handling the case. In particular, State Prosecutor John Resado, who was the first to dismiss the case, was charged with allegedly accepting bribe money from the families of the accused.

The controversy led to several congressional hearings and the issuance of Administrative Order 253 by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in January 2009. AO 253 directed the automatic review by the Office of the President of all decisions and resolutions involving the dismissal of illegal drug cases. After the conduct of a fact-finding probe on the bribery charges, the Palace subsequently reversed the findings of the DOJ and ordered the filing of cases against the three suspects in court.

Now retired from the government, Zuño was quoted as saying that the court decision on the “Alabang boys” has vindicated him when he approved the dismissal of the charges due precisely to the PDEA’s mishandling of the evidence. Unfortunately, however, Zuño’s vindication came too late in the day. At the time these allegations came out, Zuño was among the popular nominees for the Ombudsman post. He lost the nomination to his former boss at the DOJ, Merceditas Gutierrez, who was then Mrs. Arroyo’s chief presidential legal counsel.

Following the setback in this “Alabang boys” case, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima vowed to do something to prevent a repeat of the bungling of what should have been an open-and-shut case. The prosecution team, as De Lima rightly pointed out, could only do so much with the evidence if law enforcers have done their job in accordance with the law.

Past experiences with “bad eggs” in the police service, De Lima cited, resulted in such stringent requirements of the law to prevent “planted” evidence. However, it resulted in “certain procedural provisions (in the law) that are very difficult to comply with.”

De Lima admitted that such strict provisions of the existing law need to be relaxed by way of amendments that only Congress could do. She would rather have Congress revisit these specific provisions of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act that was passed into law in 2002.

De Lima believes certain provisions of RA 9165 are a bit impractical since they make it harder not only for prosecutors but more so for law enforcers to run after drug offenders, especially the international drug syndicates. For one, the DOJ recommends that the Rules of Court be adopted where only two disinterested parties are required as witnesses during the inventory of seized evidence.

Among all kinds of cases being prosecuted by the DOJ, De Lima revealed, those involving illegal drugs have the lowest conviction rate in court — a measly one percent. She lamented that DOJ prosecutors have been losing drug cases in courts for so many reasons not only due to a technicality such as in the “Alabang boys” case but also due to the stringent provisions of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

Dura lex, sed lex, as the legal maxim has it. The law is harsh but that is the law. And it can only be undone by a new law passed by Congress.

By Erick San Juan

Most nations worldwide, their intelligence services, the people and media were focused on the possible threat of Islamist violence which were shown daily on TV news and print media(Terrorism as an Instrument of Cultural Warfare by Ahmed S. Hashim). But it does not exist in Norway and their intelligence community have been updating their asssessments. Most of them believe that even right wing extremism will not pose any serious threat to their citizenry. But what went wrong?

Now, most European governments and law enforcement agencies are now haunted by a new ‘specter’ within the new extreme right populist movement committted to the use of violence. According to Hashim, counter-terrrorism officials have been warning of a new trend, the so callled “solo terrorist”. A fighter trained by organizations like Al Qaeda, but then sent off to act on his own, with little or no further correspondence with the group. this tactic reduces the amount of ‘chatter’-discussions on cell phones and over the internet where counter terrorism experts routinely pick up when a terrorist plot is in the offing.

“Breivik represents a new paradigm.”, says Janne Kristiansen, head of Norway’s domestic intelligence, the Police Security Service. “He’s not a solo terrorist. He’s a ‘lone wolf’ who has been very intent on staying under the radar of of the security services by leading a lawful life.”

Sounds familiar! This same line of ‘lone wolf’ was also parroted by U.S. President Barack Obama the other week when he stated that a ‘lone wolf’ could attack the U.S. anytime. Is this part of the laying the predicate? It seems that the situation has a pattern of history. Most of them were seen in the movies, television series and manufactured in Hollywood. Remember the movie, Wag the Dog? It was shown first worldwide where the life of former US President Bill Clinton was depicted. The former president was almost indicted because of his sexcapade.

Before the 911 incident, a TV series,”The Lone Gunman”, an episode of X Files aired by Fox on March 4,2001, in which the actual scenario for the 911 attacks was revealed using a Boieng 727,enroute to Boston. The plane was hijacked by a shadowy group of US government plotters intent on crashing into the World Trade Center and blame it on anti-US despot to drag the US into war and increase weapon sales. The plot was called, Scenario 12D, where the plane auto-pilot was commandeered from the ground. The show series was allllegedly cancelled in June,2001.

The American people should follow the vigilance and the collective effort of the Norwegians. The ‘lone wolf’ scenario could be real, especially now that the anniversary of the 911 is getting nearer. This could be a pretext for something “big”. Another movie with the same pattern of incident and the latest movie, the “Source Code”, which was released last April, 2011 has almost identical scenario. A lone terrorist builds a nuke dirty bomb and plan to detonate it in Chicago killing two million people using a commuter train.

Even the reported computer files of Osama bin Laden in his Abbotabad safe house confirmed that the main target of attack by the Al Qaeda are the Chicago Water Tower, a US rail system and bridges as aspirational phase which could be another false flag operation to pressure the American people to fight ‘unknown’ enemies.

“Be wary of the invisible empire of the new world order.”, author Geoffrey Wheatcroft said. It is an order out of chaos. “A strange new world the Americans find themselves in and one where they are finding it harder than ever to impose their will on anyone, anywhere.” Need I say more?

By Michaela P. del Callar
The Daily Tribune

The United States had opposed the review of the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the Philippines even as the Philippine government pointed out “defects” in the defense accord, a US Embassy cable released by online whistleblower WikiLeaks said.

Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs Richard Lawless, who visited in Manila in 2007, told Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis in a meeting that there is no need to review the agreement since it is working well for both countries.

Manila is spe-cifically against a vague provision granting the US primary custody of American military personnel ac-cused of breaking Philippine laws. Surrendering erring American troops to Philippine authorities would mean they would have to be incarcerated in a local jail, touted as one of the worst prison cells in the world, and join other Filipino inmates, a move the US government strongly objects.

This situation was put to a test when Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith was accused of raping a Filipina off military hours.

The Makati Regional Court found Smith guilty of rape and ordered his stay at the Makati jail.

It didn’t take too long, however, for the US Embassy to get then President Gloria Arroyo to get Smith out of the city jail and whisk him to the US Embassy in Roxas Blvd, where the American

government had jurisdiction, and refused to give him up, saying that officials from the Department of Interior and Local Governments were never refused entry to see Smith whom US officials claimed was incarcerated in a cell-like airconditioned container.

When the case reached the appellate court, however, the rape victim recanted and claimed that it was consensual sex that she and Smith had, despite evidence to the contrary.

The Filipina was said to have been paid $150,000 plus a green card. She has been living in the US since.

In the confidential U.S. embassy communication dated May 24, 2007, Seguis informed Lawless that the DFA was consistent in defending the agreement amid public clamor to abrogate or review it following a rape incident that involved four U.S. Marines who were in the country for a joint military training under the VFA at the former American base in Subic Bay, Zambales.

Seguis, the cable said, suggested to Lawless that since the trial against the four Marines in the lower court was over, “perhaps certain paragraphs could be revisited.”

“There are some defects we would like to address,” Seguis told Lawless.

The embassy said “Lawless noted Seguis’ points, but stressed that the agreement was working, so there was absolutely no need to change or renegotiate it.”

In response, Seguis agreed that “the VFA was working,” and admitted that a lot of the “noise” surrounding the case against the accused US Marines “had died down,” the cable said.

Manila and Washington signed the VFA in 1999, eight years after the closure of US military bases in the Philippines. The accord governs the conduct and the exit and entry movements of American troops visiting the Philippines for military exercises.

It is also the mechanism being used by both countries for the continued presence of the U.S. military in Mindanao, where a significant number of local and foreign extremist terrorist groups are based.

The VFA came under fire when the American Embassy won custody of a US Marine accused of raping a Filipina in 2006.

Left-wing groups demanded the abrogation of the VFA, prompting senators to take a second look at the treaty, particularly a provision which specifies which of the two allied countries should take custody of any soldier who would face local prosecution for any crime.

While Manila acknowledged that the VFA is “working well” for the country, a review of the agreement under the term of former President Arroyo, was conducted following alleged violations committed by U.S. troops.

US and Philippine military cooperation under the auspices of the VFA has led to the capture and death of top leaders of the extremist Abu Sayyaf group (ASG), which is said to have links with the Al-Qaeda network.

The ASG, which is included in the US government’s foreign terrorist organization list, has claimed responsibility for several terror attacks in the country and is notorious for kidnapping foreigners in exchange for huge ransom.

Despite the US’ continuing presence in Mindanao, Washington maintained that American troops are not involved in combat operations against Muslim rebels but said they can retaliate if attacked. Foreign troops are barred by the Constitution to engage in combat operation in the Philippines. There has been no move on the part of the Aquino administration to have the VFA reviewed.

The military exercises between the Philippines and the United States continue.

Like It Is
Peter Wallace
Manila Standard Today

Even from her sickbed, Gloria Arroyo doesn’t stop. The full-page ad boasting of her achievements does it all over again. She made similar preposterous claims in January last year and we destroyed them in an article entitled “Fairyland”. I guess we have to do it all over again.

But let’s start with the most basic: Honesty. Arroyo had 18 (that we counted) questionable deals under her term, four of them are now being investigated. Aquino has none, and doesn’t seem too likely to have them.

The high-profile scandals include:

• IMPSA extension (amount involved, $ 2 million)

• Megapacific -COMELEC poll modernization contract (P1.3 billion)

• Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard (P600 million)

• “Jose Pidal” ($200 million)

• Venable contract (contract designating a U.S. law firm to lobby in the United States government to release funds to finance Cha-Cha bid in the Philippines, $1million).

• Bolante Fertilizer fund (P728 million)

• Northrail project ($503 million)

• Southrail project ($70 million)

• “Hello Garci” (no less than our democracy at stake)

• Palace cash gift (alleged pay-off to LGU officials ranging from P200 thousand to P500 thousand each, reportedly to thwart the impeachment bid vs. Arroyo, P120 million)

• NBN-ZTE deal ($329 million)

• Cyber-Ed project ($460 million)

• Irrigation fund (P3 billion)

• Swines (P5 billion)

• OWWA funds (P550 million)

• Midnight pork barrel (PAGCOR “pabaon” to GMA, P345 million)

• PCSO intelligence funds (P325 million)

• ARMM kickbacks (P200 million)

We can now add to that the helicopters Iggy Arroyo says he leased at the incredible cost of $500,000. That works out at $100,000 per helicopter per year. We checked the normal lease rate for that kind of chopper and it’s around $50,000/year. So either he was conned, or is extremely generous, or, shudder the thought, lying. No doubt he’s got a simple explanation.

But let’s get back to the list of achievements. Mrs. Arroyo compares the wonders of her nine-year rule with one quarter of Aquino’s. One quarter, that just by chance I’m sure, had a base of a quarter in 2010 that was at the height of her profligacy in an attempt to win the election for her people (an attempt that failed dismally). Anyway 1Q 2010 was not a usual quarter, it was an inflated one. 1Q 2010 was just getting back to normal. So a more reasonable comparison would be to the Arroyo nine-year average.

But I’m not going to do that, I’m going to make a much fairer comparison. I’m going to compare her nine years to nine years in Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. That’s a much fairer comparison because it covers the same period and the three countries were sufficiently similar in their development, people locality (all in Asia), and potential to grow.

The significant difference was the leadership, which one did the best job at improving the lot of its people. Which is what it’s all about. And on this one, Arroyo failed dismally, ever so dismally. When she came into power, 34.4 million Filipinos earned less that US$2 a day. In 2006 (latest World Bank data available) 39.2 million were poverty stricken—4.8 million MORE had to survive on less than P100 a day.

Social Weather Stations data, meanwhile, showed that the number of families experiencing involuntary hunger “at least once in the past 3 months” reached 3.5 million in 2009 from 1.7 million in 2000.

In Vietnam in 2000, some 68.7 percent of the population or 53.3 million subsisted on less than US$2 a day. This improved significantly to 38.5 percent or 32.7 million in 2008, or 20.6 million less.

The number of Indonesians living on less than US$2 a day also dropped from 141.6 million in 2002 to 117.8 million in 2009.

When Mrs. Arroyo came to power, 3.5 million Filipinos were without jobs. By the end of 2009 around 4.2 million (using the old definition of unemployment) were unemployed or 700,000 MORE.

In Thailand, unemployment fell from 1.2 million in 2000 to 572,000 in 2009. Some 628,000 LESS.

I consider this a massive failure of leadership. Filipinos were worse off after nine years of Arroyo’s rule; our neighbors’ people were better off.

She succeeded, though, in improving the country’s Gini coefficient (an indicator which measures the income inequality in a society; a figure closer to zero indicates a more equal income distribution) from 0.481 before her presidency to 0.448 in 2009. Still, that’s far worse than Vietnam’s 0.378, Indonesia’s 0.394, and Thailand’s 0.425. Income distribution is more equal even in least developed Laos (0.326) and Cambodia (0.407).

I could really stop here. But she didn’t, so neither can I. I won’t cover every single one of the 68 points she made, just enough to demolish the nonsense published.

Take: “GDP grew by 2.23 times since 2001 in peso terms”. Vietnam’s grew by 3.8 times in Dong terms and Indonesia’s by 4 times in Rupiah.

Or “GDP/capita increased by 89% in 2000-2008”. Current GDP per capita has in fact increased from $907 in 2001 to $1,746 in 2009. The figure, however, is just less than half of Thailand’s $3,945 or 75 percent of Indonesia’s $2,331. Even Vietnam whose GDP/Capita was not even half of RP’s in 2001 had risen to two-thirds of it by 2009.

In real terms, the average growth in the country’s GDP per capita was a sluggish 2.7 percent. Again, we were outdone by Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. In fact, from 2001 to 2008, the Philippines recorded the SLOWEST annual growth in real GDP per capita amongst the Asean 5.

“GDP peak growth of 8.3% in 2Q 2007 is the highest in 30 years”. Yes, and lasted one quarter. A flash in the pan, a one time in 38 quarters. She averaged 4.1 percent during her term. Vietnam averaged 7.3 percent while Indonesia did 5.1 percent.

“Average inflation lowest since 1996”. Much of the control of inflation is the role of the BSP (central bank) where an excellent governor kept control. He is independent of the machinations of the Executive branch. The ad boasted of “Pump priming for continued economic growth despite global recession”. And then went to criticize the Aquino administration for underspending. Well, this underspending was a major reason the economy grew slower in the 1st quarter but President Aquino had to because all the projects had to be checked for possible corruption, and that takes time. Mind you, I think Aquino needs to speed up these investigations, we need more money spent to stimulate the economy.

Mrs. Arroyo makes the incredible boast of having lower gasoline and diesel prices, as if the Philippine government, any government had anything to do with oil prices. The world dictates the price, we pay it.

Glaring was the omission of key indicators for long-term economic growth: foreign direct investments and gross capital formation. FDI under Arroyo reached $14.1 billion, trumped by Vietnam’s $34 billion. During the same period Indonesia attracted $32.8 billion while Thailand cornered $61.8 billion.

The country is also way behind in terms of gross fixed capital formation (i.e. investment spending). From 2001 to 2009 investment spending increased by an average of 1.1 percent. In the comparable period, Vietnam recorded an average investment spending growth of 12.7 percent, Indonesia 6.8 percent, and Thailand 6.5 percent.