April 2013

By Val G. Abelgas 

Poverty-boy-cradling-a-brotherLooking north as you are driving on the South Luzon Expressway near the Alabang Exit, you’d think you are in a highly progressive country, with skyscrapers dotting the skyline of Metro Manila, from Manila on the left side through Pasig and Mandaluyong in the middle and Makati on the right side.

Almost anywhere you go in Metro Manila, you’d see condominiums – both occupied and under construction – jutting into the sky and huge malls crowded with people. First class restaurants and classy retail stores abound in spanking new urban centers such as The Fort, Global City, Rockwell, Eastwood City and many more.

Plush subdivisions have sprouted in areas where wild grass and rice plantations used to be, such as in Dasmarinas, Cavite and Santa Rosa, Laguna. Casinos and first-class hotels are all over. Flashy SUVs and luxury cars compete for the crowded lanes with jeepneys, buses and taxis.

Metro Manila just isn’t what it used to be about two decades ago. It’s fast becoming like Hongkong where skyscrapers abound for lack of space. It’s a city on the go, a picture of affluence and progress.

Seeing all these signs of progress, you remember all the good news about the Philippine economy that you read in online Manila publications every single day. The world’s biggest financial organizations – Moody’s, Standard & Poor, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and major international banks – all predict a 6.5 to 7 percent growth for the country’s economy this year, with Moody’s even calling the Philippines a “rising star” and S&P upgrading the country’s credit rating. A recent report by S&P even described the Philippine peso as the third best performing currency in the world, next only to the Chinese renminbi and the Singapore dollar.

Finally, you say to yourself, the country whose economy used to be second only to Japan in Asia in the 60s but in recent decades called the “sick man of Asia,” has finally caught up with the tiger economies of its neighbors Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

A family living under a bridge.

A family living under a bridge.

And then you drive into the inner city and find a contrasting sight — squatter shanties with rusty roofs held together by old tires and hollow blocks and walls of discarded plywood and tin sheets; families living on carts under stinky bridges; almost naked street children begging for alms; famished kids scavenging for food in garbage cans; makeshift shelters jutting out of walls.

The stark contrast between those modern skyscrapers and fancy restaurants on one hand and the sorry state of those squatter shanties on the other reflects the confusion that the conflicting reports on economic growth and the poverty situation in the country bring. Beyond the façade of progress lies the stark reality of poverty. Amid the glowing reports of economic growth is the unflattering fact that one out of four Filipinos remain poor and hungry. And that despite the rising strength of the peso, the relatively rapid growth in GDP, record stock market gains, and the rise of condominiums and other signs of affluence, the government has not made a dent on its drive against poverty.

Last week, the Aquino administration was jolted from its lofty dreams by a report from the National Census Statistics Board (NCSB) that in July 2012, the Philippine poverty rate was at 27.9 percent, which is practically unchanged from the 2006 and 2009 data. Families forced to live on less than P7,821 a month (for a family of five) are considered poor, according to the government’s poverty threshold.

A report by the Asian Development Bank a few years ago said that about 12 million Filipinos were trapped in extreme poverty and surviving on less than P56 a day, while an IMF country report said that 4 in 10 Filipinos earned two dollars a day or less.

Confronted with the government report, President Aquino, as usual, was in state of denial, and raised doubts on the finding, saying that the agency made a mistake in a 2009 population survey. “I have my doubts. Did they not make a wrong report on the population?” Aquino said, referring to an error by the National Statistics Office in which the wrong population data was used for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in 2009.

The NCSB stood by its report, adding that it was not the NCSB, but the NSO that made the mistake the President was alluding to. Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, who released the report, paid the price for the embarrassing report when he was removed from the roster of government officials joining Aquino in the ASEAN summit in Brunei.

That was not the first time Balisacan raised the alarm on poverty. In February, Balisacan had told congressmen that despite the robust economic expansion last year, the rising inequality between the rich and the poor remains a problem. Balisacan was reacting to a report made by the Social Watch Philippines and the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, in coordination with the United Nations, which stated that the country’s poverty situation was worse than in 2000 when it started the Millennium Development Goals that the UN designed to eliminate poverty.

Aquino would have avoided criticisms had he just assured the people that the government is doing its best to reduce poverty and that the steady economic growth would eventually trickle down to the masses. But he had to dispute a government report because it was not to his liking.

Obviously, Aquino’s poverty alleviation program, the Conditional Cash Transfer, has not improved the lives of the majority of the people and that the economic gains made under his administration has not been felt by the masses. Despite the robust 6.6-percent economic growth, unemployment remains unchanged at 7.1 percent in January, from 7.2 percent a year ago. The number of unemployed and underemployed is estimated at 10 million.

The SWP-PRRM report stressed that “growth benefited a few and excluded so many, thereby widening the rich-poor gap even more.” While the improved economy made the rich richer as evidenced by the growing number of billionaires and multi-millionaires, it has also made the poor even poorer.

On account of the NSCB report, which confirmed the SWP and PRRM February report, the Aquino administration may have to review its economic program to focus on employment generation. Apparently, the robust growth failed to generate the jobs because it was fueled mostly by the continued increase in remittance from overseas workers and the increased consumer spending generated by these remittances.

Many economic experts believe that the country should develop industries that could generate more jobs, such as manufacturing, tourism, information technology, agribusiness and mining.

The bottom line is that President Aquino should come out of his state of denial and face the fact that more has to be done to reduce poverty. He should make good his campaign promise that “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” As it stands now, “marami pa ring corrupt at marami pa ring mahirap.”


Source: The Philippine Star

Team PNoy senatorial candidates Risa Hontiveros
and Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay Jr. 
make it to the list
of likely winners in the May 13 polls, based on the
latest survey (Aprl 20-22, 2013) of Pulse Asia.

MANILA, Philippines – Eleven senatoriables from Team PNoy and only five candidates under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) ticket are likely to win in the May 13 elections, the latest Pulse Asia survey said.

“If the May 2013 elections were conducted during the survey period, 11 candidates from Team PNoy and five from the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) would be among the probable winners. Most of these are either former or incumbent members of Congress,” Pulse Asia said in a statement.

In the survey conducted April 20-22 with 1,800 respondents, Team PNoy’s Risa Hontiveros and Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay Jr., who have been both lagging behind in previous surveys, made it to the Top 16.

Hontiveros received 25.8 percent while Magsaysay got 25.6 percent. Both Team PNoy candidates ranked 12-17, kicking out UNA bet and former senator Richard Gordon.

The top six spots were occupied by Loren Legarda (51.5 percent, 1-2), Chiz Escudero (48.3 percent, 1-2), Grace Poe (42.4 percent, 3-4), Alan Peter Cayetano (40.0, 3-7), Cynthia Villar, 37.7 percent, 4-9) and Antonio Trillanes (35.8 percent, 4-10).


The other Team PNoy candidates who made it to the 16 likely winners were Benigno “Bam” Aquino (35.7, 4-10), Koko Pimentel (32.7 percent, 6-12) and Edgardo “Sonny” Angara (31.2 percent, 8-14).

UNA senatoriables who made it to the list were JV Ejercito Estrada (34.7 percent, 5-11), Nancy Binay (34.6 percent, 5-11), Migz Zubiri (29.7 percent, 10-16), Gringo Honasan (27.9 percent, 11-16) and Juan Ponce Enrile Jr. (27.2 percent, 11-16).

Pulse Asia said that levels of support for most of the 16 candidates remained generally unchanged, but five of them “experience a decline in their respective national voter preference.”

These candidates are: Binay with a -5.0 percentage points decline in the national voter preference, Enrile (-5.2 percentage points), Cayetano (-8.7 percentage points), Honasan (-8.9 percentage points) and Pimentel (-9.0 percentage points).

Pulse Asia also said that former senators Ernesto Maceda, Jamby Madrigal and Gordon and former Tarlac governor Margarita Cojuangco, who are outside the Top 16, registered “a drop in voter preferences.”

The firm also said that based on the latest survey, 6.1 percent or less than one in 10 Filipinos is not inclined to vote for any of the 33 candidates for senator.

“Filipinos are naming a mean of seven and a median of six preferred senatorial candidates (out of a maximum of 12) for the May 2013 elections; only about one in four Filipinos (27%) has a complete senatorial slate as of April 2013, Pulse Asia said. – Camille Diola






By Yeremia Lalisang
The Jakarta Post

China-Devil-TongueA South China Sea discussion was expected to be the highlight of the 22nd ASEAN Summit in Bandar Seri Begawan last week, considering the increased assertiveness of both China and claimant states from Southeast Asia, but the discussion did not materialize.

The summit did not conclude with a strong statement on the issue, discouraging any future efforts to settle the dispute peacefully.

Scholars agree that ASEAN–China relations have never been better in the last 16 years. This is mainly a result of increased economic ties and the considerable growth in trade volume between the two parties.

Such a phenomenon is one of the most important pillars of both China and ASEAN member states’ economic growth. China is regarded as the new center of attraction, offering the member states wide-ranging flexibilities, fruitful economic relations and openness to multilateral frameworks that are significantly different from the US–Japan alliance model.

However, China’s engagement with ASEAN states has been continuously limited and filled with uncertainty. Until now, the region has not fallen within Beijing’s sphere of influence. In this regard, ASEAN has been successful in restraining China’s influence in the region. ASEAN has relentlessly engaged China through institutional involvements and multilateral frameworks.

Within such limitations, China’s objectives remain clear and consistent. Chinese officials aim at create a stable periphery that would contribute positively to its economic growth. The quest for a strong economy has encouraged China to offer flexibility and be more accommodating in its interactions with Southeast Asian states.

In doing so, China expects to counter the “China threat theory” that finds fertile ground as its economic and military capability continues to grow. As former premier Wen Jianbao once said, China should be viewed as a “friendly elephant”. Such an image will support China’s long-term interests as a potential superpower in the international system.

The South China Sea would certainly be regarded by China as a strategic interest in its energy security framework.

The image of a “friendly elephant”, however, fails to manifest in the case of South China Sea disputes. While both sides took the confidence-building measure of signing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties
to the South China Sea in 2002, ASEAN states have been haunted by China’s pattern of assertiveness in managing the territorial disputes in which it is involved.

The Taiwan Missile Crisis in the mid-1990s and the occupation of Mischief Reef in 1995 and 1998 demonstrated the way an assertive China tends to deal with territorial disputes.

These examples suggest that it is even more plausible that a stronger China in the 21st century will use force as an instrument in the settlement of territorial disputes.

As if confirming such a belief, China declared in 2012 that the South China Sea was its “core interest”, meaning that China’s claim to the territory is non-negotiable. Beijing seems willing to use military force to respond to any party who challenges the status quo.

China’s policies and behavior in managing the recent disputes will prove how strong Beijing’s commitment is to maintaining stability in the region. In other words, they will test the lower limit of Beijing’s interest in its interactions with ASEAN.

The issue of national unity is frequently utilized by the nationalist faction in China’s domestic politics to push the government to be more assertive, which limits the flexibility of policymakers in Beijing. On the other hand, it is clear to them that such a move could be counterproductive to the country’s interests in advancing its national economy.

This highlights the urgency for ASEAN to push China to make significant progress in addressing the territorial disputes in the South China Sea for at least three reasons.

First, with regard to its slowing economic might, Beijing should be concerned with preventing any potential conflict on its periphery that could negatively impact its economic performance. In line with its significant role as a source of legitimacy, China’s economic development is still the priority of the Communist regime in Beijing.

Second, any non-cooperation measure leading to the failure of maintaining peace and stability in the region would allow other major powers, such as the US and Japan, to intensify their influence in the region, at the expense of Beijing’s leadership and position in the regional balance of power. Moreover, internationalizing the dispute is something that Beijing has always tried to avoid.

Finally, it would be better for ASEAN to accelerate its progress now before China grows even bigger, as its demand for energy will also increase to support its economic wheel. The South China Sea, with its potential energy reserves, would certainly be regarded by China as a strategic interest in its energy security framework.

In its relations with ASEAN, the way China manages the South China Sea issue will showcase how China, as a great power, treats its neighbors. Assertiveness and inflexibility would only create a negative image of China, which is projected to play a more considerable role in global affairs in the future.

On the other hand, how ASEAN proceeds in managing this dispute will show what kind of regional institution ASEAN is. Having failed to achieve any significant development last year in Phnom Penh with ASEAN unable to merge contending interests internally, less meaningful progress was made in Bandar Seri Begawan this year.

With both internal and external limitations facing policymakers in Beijing, ASEAN still appears reluctant to issue the kind of strong statements necessary to show its commitment to making significant progress in managing the dispute.

This strategy of buying time, from the perspective of ASEAN–China relations, will not result in peaceful dispute settlement. China is continuing to grow larger both militarily and economically.

Any further delay in settling this dispute will only allow China to raise its bargaining power relative to ASEAN’s.

When the situation arises in which ASEAN cannot catch up with China, that will be the time when peaceful dispute settlement is no longer plausible.

The writer is managing director of the ASEAN Study Center at the University of Indonesia’s (UI) school of social and political sciences in Depok, West Java.




Chinese-tourists-Paracel-islandsIt was portrayed as an innocent trip by tourists looking to soak up the rays on a sandy island in the South China Sea. One hundred Chinese left port on Sunday for what was advertised as a three-night cruise – including time on the untouched white beaches of the “Xisha Islands.”

But to Vietnam, the arrival of the first Chinese sun-seekers on an atoll Hanoi claims as its own (and calls the Hoang Sa Islands) qualifies as an invasion. Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry filed a loud complaint, issuing a statement declaring its own “sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction” over the islands. It wasn’t clear whether the tourists had yet reached the disputed islands as of Monday.

The provocative pleasure cruise – which was encouraged by the Chinese government and cheered by state media – is just one way China has tested its neighbours in recent days. Japan, India, the Philippines and Malaysia have also complained recently of Chinese incursions into territory they say is outside Beijing’s legal control.

Beijing’s new assertiveness is rattling much of Asia and raising questions about what China’s new leader, President Xi Jinping, means when he speaks of his ambition to fulfill what he has called “the Chinese Dream.” Mr. Xi has only described the Chinese Dream in vague terms – he’s defined it as the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” – but others have linked it to the new leadership’s explicit commitments to build up the country’s military in order to strengthen its positions in territorial disputes with neighbours.

“The new Chinese leadership has created a grand dream for the country. The Chinese dream includes a dream of safeguarding China’s maritime security and building China into a strong maritime power,” Ju Hailong, a research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at Jinan University, wrote Sunday in the Global Times, a Chinese newspaper known for its nationalist viewpoint.

Writing about the tourists to the Xisha Islands – which were captured by China in a 1974 war and are known in the West as the Paracel Islands – Mr. Ju dismissed Vietnam’s claims. “Those who want to manipulate China’s moves to make troubles are not admirers of international law and regional security.”

Many see a pattern that goes well beyond a $1,150-per-passenger cruise. To the south, India says a company of Chinese soldiers, backed by helicopters, pushed 19 kilometres beyond the de facto India-China border on April 15. They have since set up camp in the Depsang Valley, on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control that was established following a 1962 war between the two countries.

Despite video shown on Indian television of what appears to be a Chinese military encampment just 100 metres from Indian military positions in the Depsang Valley, Beijing says its troops have not crossed the LAC.

To the east, Japan and China remain locked in a tense, months-long showdown over the ownership of five disputed islands in the East China Sea. Eight Chinese surveillance ships entered Japanese-controlled waters last week in an effort to dissuade a flotilla of Japanese activists from landing on the islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. The activists were eventually persuaded by the Japan Coast Guard to turn back.

Japanese media reported on the weekend that the Chinese ships were backed that day by more than 40 sorties by military planes, many of them Su-27 and Su-30 fighter jets. “It’s an unprecedented threat,” an unnamed Japanese official was quoted telling the Sankei Shimbun newspaper. Three Chinese ships entered Japanese-controlled waters again on Monday, the 10th consecutive day of such incursions.

“These policies are not coming out of a well-reflected, ‘How do we gain friends in the region?’ It’s more China taking steps to assert what it claims as its territory,” said Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, a specialist in Chinese foreign policy at the International Crisis Group, speaking of the maritime disputes.

“The Chinese have actually been pretty transparent about what they’re looking to do. Now they’re just doing it. … They want to send a signal across the board.”

Ms. Kleine-Ahlbrandt said Mr. Xi appeared to be “completely involved and on-board” with the more assertive policy toward its neighbours.

A white paper on national defence released by Beijing on April 16 made an explicit connection between military power and China’s new ideology, saying the military’s role was to “safeguard the realization of the ‘Chinese Dream.’ ”

A report by the official Xinhua news agency on the white paper said: “The defensive nature of China’s national defence strategy has not changed, but China will not trade its sovereignty and interests for peace.”

The most jarring demonstration of China’s new assertiveness came in late March, when a People’s Liberation Army navy task force of four ships, including an amphibious landing craft, arrived at the James Shoal, an outcrop also claimed by Malaysia that lies only 80 kilometres from the Malaysian coast. The show of force was shocking because the James Shoal is fully 1,800 kilometres from the Chinese mainland.

China claims nearly all of the 3.5 million square-kilometre South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. And while Japan and India have large enough militaries (and, in Japan’s case, a mutual defence treaty with the United States) to at least give Beijing pause, the countries of Southeast Asia can do little but complain.


By Alexis Romero
The Philippine Star 

Voltaire-Gazmin-US-flagMANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said yesterday that the US can be given temporary access to Philippine bases in times of extreme emergency.

However, Gazmin told reporters the Americans cannot set up installations in the country.

“The Constitution prohibits (the setting up of US bases in the Philippines),” he said.

“If the worst case scenario happens and it becomes a shooting war, they can have access (to Philippine bases). What I meant then was access which is temporary in nature,” he added, referring to the escalation of tensions in the Korean peninsula.

Gazmin said the increased rotational presence of US troops in the Philippines was tackled during a meeting between Philippine and US officials in Washington last year.

“The technical working groups agree that when you say access here, they can have access to our bases but they do not own the base,” he said.

US troops have been replenishing supplies in Philippine military bases, Gazmin said.

2 new ships for Navy

Two brand-new frigates will be acquired for the Navy.

National Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo told reporters acquiring second-hand ships would be more costly in the long run.

“As much as possible, if we have budget, we will buy new ones,” he said.

Manalo said the government would spend about P18 billion for the two brand new ships.

Previously, P12 billion was allotted for two used frigates.

Manalo said the two new ships would be acquired through public bidding.

The procurement process may be completed within the second quarter of the year, he added.

Companies from South Korea, Spain and Singapore have expressed interest to join the bidding, Manalo said.

The government originally sought to acquire the vessels through government-to-government transactions.

Officials are now eyeing a public bidding reportedly due to the interest of several suppliers to provide equipment to the military.

A government-to-government transaction is usually faster than a public bidding.

Navy ready to protect Phl

In a statement, Col. Edgard Arevalo, Navy spokesman on West Philippine Sea issues, said the Navy is committed to protect the country’s territorial integrity.

“Despite its current operational challenges and limitations, your Navy will remain steadfast and vigilant in its mandate to ensure our nation’s territorial integrity,” he said.

“The Philippine Navy supports the development with regard to the arbitration case filed by the Philippines against China before the ITLOS (International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea).”

Arevalo said the Navy abides by the state’s advocacy for peaceful and legal means of staking its claims and interests in the West Philippine Sea.

“The Philippine Navy shall continue to secure for the Filipino people our country’s rich maritime resources in the West Philippine Sea, which are clearly within the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone,” he said.

Arevalo said the government is working to upgrade the Navy’s capabilities to secure the country’s territory.

“The move will empower the Navy to further its mission to secure the country’s territory, provide humanitarian assistance in times of great need, and help government realize its peace and development initiatives,” he said.


By Erick San Juan

TPP-mapColumnist Ben D. Kritz latest article at the front page of Manila Times, “Why You Should Be Worried About 2015?” dated April 30,2013, caught my attention especially now that that the global economy is in turmoil. Mr. Kritz was alarmed with the pulic relations fall out of the latest poverty statistics. Thanks to the NSCB (National Statistics Coordination Board) for telling the truth. He added that the PIDS (Philippine Institute for Development Studies) raised serious concerns about our preparedness for regional economic integration in 2015 as projected by the U.S. He commented that the nation’s micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector is not ready to face the competitive pressure of an ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) free market because MSME’s account for over 90% of the country’s business establishments. He concluded that the effects of AFTA could cause an economic crisis in 3 ways. First, the Philippine export sector will suffer. Second, government revenues will be adversely affected. The third effect on the economy will impact our agricultural sector more than the others. Kritz believe that with our entry with the TPP agreement, the situation will be more worrisome.

Even Wayne Allyn Root of Townhall.com (April 18,2013) said,”Here in America, we hear the same lies and distortions about the economy like ‘everything is fine’, ‘it’s getting better’, ‘unemployment is improving’, ‘the recovery is already underway’ but we now know that they are delusional lies. We are nearing complete collapse.” Most economic analysts worldwide have painted gloomy scenarios about global current situation.

Businessworld columnist Calixto V. Chikiamco commented (April 22,2013) that “The situation seems hopeless. Our economic oligarchy is powerful. It controls conglomerates that reach into almost every aspect of Filipino lives, it’s unassailable position protected by law or other barriers to entry. It can penetrate , influence and manipulate the weak state and it’s institutions almost at will. It can buy off or influence politicians, judges, bureaucrats and media organizations to thwart change, prevent competition and extract more economic favors or rent through the weak state.” “The country may be forced to amend the constitution to lift the restrictions on foreign ownership if it’s to join the US-sponsored TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership). TPP is believed to be a counterweight to China.” Chikiamco advised that all countries in Asia should get their act together and strengthen their anti-trust law. “If not Philippines will be doomed to a thousand year rule by an irresponsible political and economic oligarchy which will resist any reform of it’s privileges and rent-seeking power.”, he warned.

According to international economic experts, the TPP is one of the most important components of U.S. strategy in returning to Asia. However, unlike a number of other integrated economic institutions, negotiations between America and TPP participating countries are reportedly conducted in a less transparent form which dissembles the pitfalls of the contract. Pundits believe that out of 26 chapters of the TPP agreement, only two are directly related to the trade. Most of the new agreement allegedly provide the rights and privileges for global corporations. Observers call the TPP agreement a ‘corporate coup’ or ‘NAFTA on steroids’. Thus, U.S. intends to grant a new political power to transnational corporations, which would weaken the ability of national authorities to regulate their economy. It is assumed that foreign corporations operating in the territory of sovereign states will no longer be subjected to the internal laws of a nation-state like environmental protection, financial and labor rights,etc. In addition, transnational corporations are entitled to sue governments directly through the created institutions, international tribunals, requiring to remove barriers to their potential profits.

In particular, the U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk, in a letter to the U.S. Congress said that the terms of TPP are expected to subject to American standards the issues related to labor, patent and copyright, as well as land use, food, agriculture, product standards, natural resources and policies. TPP will directly affect the financial and energy policy, health care, telecommunications and service sector. Experts note that the TPP goes far beyond the standard trade agreement between two countries.

TPP will surely have a huge impact on intellectual property right, copyright and patent rights. Pharmaceutical companies are provided with a ‘handicap’. Their competitors are prohibited to enter the market with a similar product for 14 years, until they pass additional tests for safety and effectiveness. Monopoly gives corporations the right to establish exclusively high price for drugs to the detriment of poor nations like the Philippines. Our nation and the Asean should build their policy based on their own economic interests and study the western corporate proposal which many think is a one sided deal. The west will earn instead of helping us, shortchanging the Asians in the process. Don’t let the elites and the ‘corporats’ of the west manipulate the elites of the east. Wake up!

Singapore is no bigger than Clark Base in the Philippines but its air force and navy are much bigger than the Philippine air force and navy. — PERRY DIAZ

The Singapore Sling
Strategy Page 

F15SG Strike Eagle jet fighters (File Photo)

F15SG Strike Eagle jet fighters (File Photo)

April 27, 2013: Singapore has ordered another 20 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder and 100 AIM-120C7 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles for its 98 American F-15 and F-16 fighters. The AIM-9X-2 is the latest version of the Sidewinder, a missile that has come a long way since it first appeared in the 1950s. The 9X-2 can lock-on-after-launch. That is, the missile can be fired and then directed to a target via a datalink. That means it can be fired at ground targets or at an enemy aircraft behind you. The X-2 version also makes improvements in the warhead fuze and other components. As impressive as all these features, most are already found in similar missiles made in several other countries (including Russia and China). In effect, the X-2 version is just keeping up. What the U.S. sells, in addition, is an impressive track record of reliability and actually performing as expected in combat. Over 4,000 X model Sidewinders have been built since it entered service in 2003. Block II (X-2) entered service four years ago. Singapore has already ordered nearly a thousand AIM-9 and AIM-120 missiles. The current order is costing $1.8 million per AMI-9X and $2.1 million per AIM-120C7. This includes technical services and support.

The AIM-9 is a heat seeking missile and the heat sensors have become much more sensitive since the first AIM-9s. The current versions of the missile work by detecting a heat source at the point where the pilot is looking. This is done using the JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems), which allows a pilot to see, displayed on his visor, critical flight and navigation information. Sort of like a see-through computer monitor or HUD (Head Up Display). Most importantly, the pilot can turn his head towards a target, get an enemy aircraft or ground target into the crosshairs displayed on the visor, and fire a missile that will promptly go after the target the pilot was looking at. For Sidewinder the pilot has to be looking at something giving off enough heat to catch the attention of the missile’s heat sensor. With the X-2 the pilot can launch the missile before he has located the target via the JHMCS, saving a critical few seconds.

AMRAAM is a longer range radar guided missile that weighs 172 kg (335 pounds), is 3.7 meters (12 feet) long, and 178mm (7 inches) in diameter. This is considerably larger than the 85.3 kg (188 pound) Sidewinder, which is about the same length but only 127mm in diameter. AMRAAM has a max range of 70 kilometers. U.S. aircraft use the AIM-120D while export customers get the C7 version.

Eight years ago Singapore decided to order a dozen two-seater F-15SG fighter-bombers and then 12 more to complement the 74 F-16s it already had. The last of the F-15SGs arrived last year. The F-15SG variant was a configuration that was unique to Singapore and was the most advanced variant of the F-15. The two-seat F-15SG had high-end electronics comparable to the F-15E it was based on.


“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” MELODY BEATTIE

By Alex P. Vidal

Ninoy Aquino.1The person responsible for the rise of the Aquinos in national politics was the late former Senator Rodolfo “Roding” Ganzon, who had also served as Iloilo second district congressman and Iloilo City mayor.

It was the late former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., father of President Noynoy, who started the serious political juggernaut of the illustrious family from Tarlac in Luzon when he became the youngest mayor in the country and the youngest senator in 1967.

Liberal Party’s (LP) Aquino was not qualified to sit as senator based on the age qualification for the position under the 1935 constitution. Born on November 27, 1932, Aquino was only 34 when he was elected, but was 35 by the time he took his oath. Thirty five was the age qualification for senator.

The Electoral Tribunal, composed of court justices and representatives from the Senate and the House of Representatives, tackled Aquino’ s case and ended in a deadlock. Ganzon’s deciding vote favored the brilliant politician from Tarlac and paved the way for Aquino’s meteoric rise in national politics. Ganzon’s vote angered President Ferdinand Marcos, who was with the Nacionalista Party (NP).


When Martial Law was declared in 1971, both Aquino and Ganzon were arrested and charged with sedition, illegal possession of firearms, and murder. Ganzon was found guilty of murder while Aquino was found guilty of all three charges.

Hilarion Henares, Jr., who ran for senator together with Aquino in 1967 and lost, recalled that while a battery of lawyers of national stature defended Aquino, “no one volunteered to help Roding. While Ninoy was in isolation in a comfortable cell, Roding was in a crowded cell in Cebu with hardened criminals, in his underwear, soaked in sweat, vomit, urine and feces.”

Henares said Ninoy was rich and his family lived normally. Ganzon, on the other hand, had P2,704 in his bank account when he was jailed, and his 10 children stopped schooling for the duration. “One day his wife realized he was gone and fainted from sheer shock, hit her head on the cement floor: no one helped with the medical bills. She is 80 percent inutile, can’t talk, urinates and defecates with her clothes on. Roding still pays P5,000 a month for her operation,” recalled Henares.


This political utang na loob (debt of gratitude) of Aquino to Ganzon, dubbed as “Timawa prince” and “stormy petrel of the south,” has been mentioned several times in various national dailies during that period until Aquino’s wife, Corzazon, became president via EDSA Revolution in 1986.

“During the snap election,” recalled Henares, “Marcos told Roding that he was a marked man along with Evelio Javier, unless he campaigned for Marcos in Iloilo. My wife and I met him at the house of Eva Kalaw, as we tried vainly to convince Eva to join Cory in Urdaneta. Roding was then agonizing over his decision to join or not to join Marcos, to live or to die, and realizing what happened to his family when he was in jail, he choose to survive.”

“Ganzon campaigned for Marcos for 14 days. He was persecuted by Marcos for 14 years. When he ran for mayor of Iloilo, he won overwhelmingly over the Lopez-Salonga candidate by 10,000 votes; the candidate of Paul Aquino by 20,000; and that of Laurel by 20,500.”


But instead of joining forces when President Ferdinand Marcos, common Martial Law tormentor of Aquino and Ganzon, was ousted by People Power after the 1986 snap elections, President Cory and Ganzon parted ways and traded barbs like arch enemies. As Iloilo city mayor, Ganzon became a constant thorn in President Cory’s administration accusing the first woman president of political persecution and promoting the “illegal” small town lottery (STL) through then interior and local government Secretary Luis Santos.

Ganzon and President Cory became bitter enemies even after they retired in politics and up to their death, they never reconciled.

Without that crucial vote by Ganzon in the Electoral Tribunal, Aquino would not have become senator. Tita Cory would not have been President; Kris Aquino would not have been a famous actress; Noynoy Aquino would not have been noticed and would not have been President.

Interestingly, Ganzon’s son, Jeffrey, is running for vice mayor of Iloilo City in the May 2013 elections versus the incumbent,Jose Espinosa III. President Noynoy is supporting Espinosa, not Jeffrey.

What is President Aquino’s agenda in sending Defense Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta to China to meet with Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan?  What does Azcueta hope to accomplish — Chinese withdrawal from Scarborough Shoal, Macclesfield Bank, and Mischief Reef?  Is China willing to abandon her claim of virtually the entire South China Sea for whatever Azcueta has brought to the table? Azcueta would be a national hero if he accomplished that.  Meanwhile, what is Azcueta prepared to settle with China? —  PERRY DIAZ

Aquino sends top DND exec for hushed up China meet

Source: The Daily Tribune
Written by AFP 

Philippine Defense Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta meets Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan

Philippine Defense Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta meets Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan

The Aquino administration appears to be saying one thing but doing another in the Palace insisting that the Philippines and China to wait for the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (Itlos) to settle a dispute on territorial claims over the South China Sea while Defense Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta was sent by President Aquino apparently to seek concessions with China.

The visit of Azcueta was unannounced but Chinese media said the Department of National Defense (DND) official has been meeting since Friday with top defense and military officials of China.

Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Chang Wanquan had a meeting yesterday with Azcueta.

The Chinese media was also sparse in describing the meeting between Azcueta and Chang.

Azcueta-meets-Chang-Wanquan.2.jpg“As neighbors across the sea, it is in the interest of both sides to maintain good neighborliness and boost pragmatic cooperation,” Chang said in an official statement.

“The two armies have an important responsibility in promoting bilateral friendliness and safeguarding regional stability,” the statement added.

The statement quoted Azcueta as saying the Philippine side is “committed to enhancing cooperation in defense and security with China, for the smooth development of bilateral relations.”

On Saturday, Azcueta was supposedly with top Chinese military officials for the “4th national defense consultation on defense and security” between both countries in Beijing. Azcueta met Lt. Gen. Qi Jianguo, deputy chief of general staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) during what the Chinese media described as “consultation.”

“The two sides widely exchanged views on regional security situation, maritime security, relations between the two countries and the two militaries as well as issues of common concern,” it was reported.

Qi Jianguo expressed that the international and regional situations have changed greatly and the China-Philippines relations are in a special period, China’s local media said.

Under such background, the consultation on defense and security between the two countries has extraordinary significance, it added.

“Qi Jianguo told the Filipino guests that China consistently adheres to the neighboring diplomatic policy of ‘being a good neighbor and partner’ and hopes the Filipino side to join China’s efforts to push forward the improvement and development of the relations between the two countries and jointly safeguard the regional peace and stability,” it said.

“Azcueta said that Philippines attaches great importance to the relations with China and is willing to make joint efforts with the Chinese side to enhance the communication and dialogue as well as to promote the cooperation and exchanges between the defense departments of the two countries,” the Chinese media reported.

The meeting was held as the first Chinese tour ship to visit disputed South China Sea islands set sail, state media reported.

Plans to allow tourists to visit the Paracel Islands is the latest stage in China’s development of the territory, which has previously angered Vietnam and caused concern in Washington.

Vietnam and China have a longstanding territorial row over the Paracel Islands. Hanoi last month accused a Chinese vessel of firing on one of its fishing boats which had sailed in disputed waters in the area.

Up to 100 passengers paid a ticket price between 7,000 yuan ($1,135) and 9,000 yuan for the four-day voyage, which is set to become a monthly or twice monthly trip if the maiden trip proves successful, the Global Times said.

Only passengers in “good health, which includes having a normal weight” are permitted on the trip, the newspaper added, in a report which cites the Shanghai Morning Post.

The plan to allow cruise tours follows rapid development of infrastructure in a new city — Sansha — along with the establishment of an army garrison in the Paracels last year.

A named commentary in the Global Times defended the decision to allow tourists to visit the islands, which are known as Xisha in China.

“China’s Xisha tourism has nothing to do with its neighboring countries,” said Ju Hailong, a research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at Jinan University, in the southern city of Guangzhou.

“Those who want to manipulate China’s moves to make trouble are not admirers of international law and regional security.”

Officials earlier this month confirmed they would open up the Islands to tourism.

China has occupied the Paracels since a brief war with South Vietnam in 1974. It is a cluster of about 40 islets, sandbanks and reefs.

Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia all have rival claims to parts of the South China Sea, while the United States is also watching Beijing’s increased assertiveness.

In his address opening China’s parliament last month, former Premier Wen Jiabao said Beijing should “develop the marine economy… and safeguard China’s maritime rights and interests”.

China also demanded last Friday that the Philippine government withdraw its citizens who have been occupying some islands and reefs in the disputed South China Sea.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, however, said the government will not heed the call made by China that the Philippines “withdraw all its nationals and facilities from China’s islands and reefs.”

“We will continue to exercise sovereignty over our territory,” she said.

Citing the Bajo de Masinloc off Zambales province, Valte said, “That’s ours.”

But three Chinese vessels have been “de facto” occupying the Bajo de Masinloc, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier said.

Valte said that the Philippines as well as China would just have to wait for the development on the case filed before the Itlos.

In a statement posted on its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China accused the Philippines of trying to “cover in a cloak of legality its illegal occupation of China’s islands and reefs.”

China does not want to negotiate multilaterally with the claimant countries, preferring instead to talk with on a bilateral basis.

In the statement, China said it will never give up its claims on the islands, islets, reefs, buoys and rock formations in the region.

It also asked the Philippines to vacate a list of islands in the South China Sea.

China cited records showed that the Philippines is currently occupying eight Chinese islands and reefs: Loaita Island, Nanshan Island, Feixin Dao Island, Northeast Cay Island, Thitu Island, West York Island, Loaita Nan, and Commodore reef.


By Erick San Juan

Philippine-and-Chines-flagsI was advised several times by some pundits that we in Asia must strive towards a modus vivendi with Red China. I reiterate this need, which is becoming more urgent each day. Before long, Communist China will have increased its striking power a thousand folds with a sophisticated delivery system for its nuclear weapons.

I was told that we must prepare for that day. We must allegedly prepare to co-exist peaceably with Communist China. For our part, this means relentless work towards full self-development, so that we can live beside our powerful neighbor with confidence and dignity. For her own part, Communist China must accept the fact that superior military strength cannot justify aggression.

Methinks that the faith and goodwill, as well as the competence, for peaceable co-existence exist in the heart and mind of all Asians.

An excerpt from the speech given by the late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Manila Overseas Press Club in November 1968 (taken from his 1969 SONA) – a foresight then, a reality now. If government leaders after him heeded his caution, maybe some of the problems we are facing now with our neighbors are lesser and the country will be far better than today.

It is not mere co-existence, former President Marcos emphasized the need for our country to ‘work relentlessly towards full self-development’ in order to gain dignity and confidence.

Unfortunately, we didn’t gain any confidence because we are still under the wings of the ‘big brother’ and actually manipulated by our Chinese neighbors. And dignity? It goes without saying that the current state of the nation is worse than the previous ones when it comes to corruption. Just because the same people(corruptors) from the previous administrations are still in the present government’s loop.

Our dream for a full self-development will remain a dream if we will not unite and change the system that has enslaved us for so many years now. What we need is an honest to goodness Filipino ideology that will guide us towards self-fulfillment as a sovereign nation- free from the dictates of some perceived master.

China’s present status in world geopolitics did not happen overnight, Marcos felt that this day will come when China will lead the rest of the Asia-Pacific region when it comes to economic and military power. Marcos knew his history. He has Chinese blood. In a document written by Julie A. Baeyens entitled “Once Upon a Red Star” which circulated through the Worldwide Filipino Alliance, she cited how the Chinese Secret Service infiltrated the Philippines. To quote-“Through the years, the Chinese Secret Service has constantly kept a keen eye on the Philippines, being strategically located in the South China Sea, long considered by China as a Chinese lake. Control of early Philippine operation was handled directly from Yan’an, Mao Zedong’s stronghold. Yan’an was then the seat of the Central Committee of the CPC-Communist Party of China. As early as January 1930, Mao asserted that a spark can set fire to the whole plain. That plain was the whole of Asia including the Philippines. Spearheading the conflagration was the Department of Special Affairs, the TEWU, first led by Zhou EnLai and later by Kang Sheng. The Philippines became a special zone in the red chinese international intelligence and espionage activities. They infiltrated all sectors of Philippine society including the leftist front, PKP-Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas and the AFP- Armed Forces of the Philippines through Pedro de la Pena,an intelligence officer of the Army G2 as army assistant chief of staff for intelligence. In the 1950’s, so many were recruited through a CPC’s satellite organization named Philippine Committee of Overseas Chinese under the care of TEWU. De la Pena was a good asset due his being a fierce anti-communist. His friend, Antonio Chua Cruz, a millionaire-owner of the anti-Huk and anti-Soviet newspaper, Free Asia, was also employed by TEWU. These two were unmasked in 1952 when Philippine authorities arrested William Pomeroy and Celia Mariano from Rizal. Pomeroy was an ex-US Air Force, a journalist and later a student at UP. In UP, he met and married Celia who was a member of the PKP central committee. Seized from them were documents and detailed notes running of de la Pena and Cruz.”

It is now 2013, how many de la Pena’s and Cruz’s are now embedded in our society, in the government service, in politics, in our law enforcement and in our military today? And the way some of our politicians saber rattled “na akala mo me ikakaya tayo?” Or is it a deliberate way of provoking, to justify a take over by the awakened dragon?

The world’s perception, especially its neighbors, of the continuous bullying of China does not affect China in the process because it insisted on its historical claim in the contested areas in the SCS and Beijing believe that it can only be settled through bilateral talks between each claimant country and China – no more, no less. A bully? To some but because China has proven its power and cannot be a pushover anymore, even from the mighty Uncle Sam, claimant nations will have to abide by what Beijing wants.

Sadly, our country has no other choice but to run to Uncle Sam, but on second thought, it is Uncle Sam who is perceived creating the situation that will destabilize this region. And in the process creating proxy wars by dragging its allies in a war only Uncle Sam and possibly China want.

China’s silent army.

In my article dated August 13, 2012 – Fear China From Within, I cited the possibility of the growing presence of China’s citizens in the country through the so-called fifth column. But there is another explanation here cited in the book by Juan Pablo Cardenal and Heriberto Araujo – China’s Silent Army: The Pioneers, Traders, Fixers and Workers Who Are Remaking the World in Beijing’s Image, to wit: “The growth of China’s global economic influence is the obvious lead story of the 21st century so far. As China’s Silent Army convincingly demonstrates, no corner of the world is immune from China’s reach, whether as a tireless hawker of goods from baby clothes to hydroelectric dams or as a consumer of natural and human resources, often as both a major buyer and seller in the same market.” (From the review written by Muhammad Cohen – Searching the Globe for China Inc.)

Several questions were given by Cohen in analyzing China’s ‘silent army’ – to what extent is the Chinese government controlling Chinese commercial initiatives as part of a broader strategic plan? In other words, from the copper fields of Chile and Zambia to the forests of Siberia, are Chinese companies doing Beijing’s dirty work? How and how much do Chinese diplomacy and business cooperate to serve Beijing’s geopolitical goals? Can nations trust a Chinese provider with its telecommunication network, ports, or other vital infrastructure? Is business with a Chinese company overseas ever strictly business?

I myself been asking some of these questions as I discussed these things in my daily radio program (@DWSS 1494khz 5:30 to 6p.m.) that Chinese companies are running vital and strategic utilities here like in the area of telecommunications, our national electric grid and several mining companies to name a few. I have been warning the present administration to be wary and revisit the contracts made between our government and China from the previous administrations. The utilities I mentioned are vital and can be a security threat in the long run. Like what Cohen asked, can we trust a Chinese company to run our own electric grid – the backbone of our power supply?

There is nothing to fear if we have aspire and done something to acquire the status of a developed nation as how we aspired us to be – a full self-developed sovereign nation with dignity and confidence to live beside our powerful neighbors.

“But the Greeks already delivered the gift.” What’s next? An ongoing surrender of our beloved nation without firing a single shot!