July 2014

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

Oil-rig-981Geopolitical games are like a game of chess, if a player blinks it shows weakness. And that’s exactly what happened last July 15, 2014 during the oil rig standoff between China and Vietnam in the disputed waters near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. The following day, China withdrew her oil rig. Checkmate!

What happened was uncharacteristic of China who had never given up an inch of land she had taken by force or deception. In this case, China removed a $1-billion oil rig from within the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) claimed by Vietnam but only 30 miles away from the Paracel Islands that China took by force from Vietnam in 1974.

While China has de facto possession of the Paracel Islands since then, Vietnam never gave up her right of ownership of the Paracels, which she had possessed since 1802 during the reign of Emperor Gia Long. But China maintains that she had owned the Paracel Islands since ancient times; however, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Philippine Supreme Court had produced ancient maps that showed China’s southernmost territory was Hainan Island, which is 180 nautical miles northwest of the Paracels. China has yet to respond to Carpio’s exposé. Chinese cartographers are probably busy creating “ancient” maps that would dispute Carpio’s maps whose provenance is indisputably beyond question.

But knowing China’s territorial claims in the Asia-Pacific region, there is little doubt that she would give up an inch of land without going to war, which begs the question: Why did China withdraw the oil rig away from disputed waters off Vietnam without a fight? The official explanation was made by China’s Foreign Ministry who said that the move was made one month ahead of the mid-August schedule because the typhoon season would begin soon.

Power struggle

Xi Jinping and the generals

Xi Jinping and the generals

Speculation is rife that the oil rig’s removal was caused by internal strife within China’s military establishment, which is divided between generals loyal to President Xi Jinping and the war hawks. Although President Xi Jinping holds the three most powerful positions – President of the People’s Republic of China, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission – he has to play “ball” with the entrenched hard-line generals who control the military structure, which brings to mind: who is really in control of the country?

While one can argue that Xi would be the undisputed – and absolute – leader of the country, the seven-member Central Military Commission (CMC) is arguably the most powerful body, only because it has command of its own army, air force, and navy all rolled into one under the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Surmise it to say, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) doesn’t have an army; the Communist Party of China (CPC) does.

Second Island Chain

Second Island Chain

But like always, where there is power, there is struggle for dominance. The Central Military Commission is no exception to this rule. When Xi took over the chairmanship of the CMC, he had to go along with the majority – which consisted mainly of “war hawks” — who want to take full control of the South and East China Seas and extend Chinese naval and air power all the way to the Second Island Chain which encompasses the whole Western Pacific west of Guam from Japan to Papua New Guinea.

Evidently, there is a power struggle between the moderate and pragmatic leaders of the Party and the “war hawks” of the PLA who are allied with Jiang Zemin who led China in the 1990s as her “paramount leader” until he gave up power in 2004. However, Jiang still commands considerable influence among the hard-liners in the Party and the PLA today.

Pax Sinica

"Emperor" Xi Jinping (credit: The Economist)

“Emperor” Xi Jinping (credit: The Economist)

But the days of Jiang might be coming to an end pretty soon. Xi is moving fast to remove Jiang’s allies from power. Indeed, some of Jiang’s prominent allies who were purged are Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong. Guo is currently held prison for corruption. Could it be that with the Xi faction taking full control of the military, China would be taking a more conciliatory posture with her neighbors?

It is interesting to note that no sooner had the oil rig been removed than Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung warned China not to deploy any other oil rig to Vietnam’s waters or violate her territorial integrity, sovereign rights and jurisdiction.

The question is: Why did China turn tail and run? Clearly, China’s explanation about an impending storm doesn’t hold water. Why would China build a humongous oil rig that cost $1 billion and not be able to withstand a tropical storm? A Vietnamese legal expert on territorial disputes named Hoang Viet was reported to have said that the explanation of an impending storm is an unlikely reason for the withdrawal. “Some said they removed the oil rig to avoid the typhoon, but this is not convincing because the design of this oil rig was done by [a U.S. company] and it can withstand the strongest storms,” Hoang said.

US-China-flags.2Are we looking at a new Chinese geopolitical strategy to reduce tensions in the South China Sea? Is China trying to improve her bilateral relations with Vietnam? I would say that the answer to both questions is “Yes.” But the underlying question that cannot be avoided is: What is the role of the U.S. in this “new” geopolitical game? Being the dominant Pacific power that the U.S. is, China cannot remove the U.S. from any game she’s playing with Vietnam, the Philippines, and all the others who have territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Are we therefore seeing the beginning of a détente between China and the U.S.? Which makes one wonder: Is this the realization of Xi Jinping’s “China Dream” and the dawn of Pax Sinica?

And here’s a caveat to this: Watch out when China blinks.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

ON DISTANT SHORE
By Val G. Abelgas

 (File Photo)


(File Photo)

There is an unwritten code among PR practitioners that when you are in the losing end of a controversy, you explain your side once and try to keep your mouth shut. Like being caught in a quicksand, the more you move or, in this case, the more you talk, the deeper you’ll sink in the hole.

Either the officials of the Malacanang press office are amateurs in damage control or they just can’t get their boss to understand the worsening situation they are in on the matter of the Supreme Court decision on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) because President Aquino has obviously refused to keep quiet on the issue.

After Malacanang spokesmen appeared to have toned down their rhetoric over the issue, Aquino went on attack mode again and directly accused the tribunal of implementing their own DAP-like measure when the Court requested the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that funds earmarked for the building of the Manila Hall of Justice be transferred from the Department of Justice.

The DBM, according to Philippine Star columnist Alex Magno, offered P100 million from “pooled savings” but the tribunal rejected the offer through a court resolution.

Bayan Muna party list Rep. Neri Colmenares asked why the budget for the construction of the Manila Hall of Justice, which would house city courts, was placed with the DOJ in the first place when the construction of courts in the country rightly belongs to the Supreme Court.

“This means the Supreme Court will have to beg from the President for the construction of its courts like an RTC judge pleading for funds from the fiscal or prosecutor. This is purposely done by the executive so it can exercise control over the judiciary thereby impairing the independence of the court,” he said.

In the same speech during rites for the 150th birth anniversary of Apolinario Mabini, Aquino again accused the justices of changing the rules on “good faith” when they ruled that some acts committed under the Disbursement Acceleration Program were unconstitutional.

Aquino is insisting that he acted in good faith because, according to him, Section 39 of the Administrative Code of 1987 allowed cross-border transfer of funds, and even accused the justices of failing to consider the law in their decision. He asked the people to read the “dissenting opinions.”

That alone showed his ignorance of the law because it was a unanimous decision (13-0) and there was no dissenting opinion. Two justices wrote separate concurring opinions that mentioned the Administrative Code of 1987, but did not say the law justified the actions made under the DAP.

Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe said in her concurring opinion that the government used Section 38 and 39 in justifying the DAP. Bernabe, however, warned that the President “must always observe and comply with existing constitutional and statutory limitations,” otherwise “he would be substituting his will over that of Congress and thereby violate the separation of powers principle…”

Legal experts said Aquino could not use it to justify his actions because the law, which was decreed by the revolutionary government of Aquino’s mother, President Cory Aquino, was superseded by the 1987 Constitution, which expressly disallowed such actions. Even Cory did not avail of the provisions of the Administrative Code that she decreed. Neither did former President Joseph Estrada.

Constitutional law experts Fr. Joaquin Bernas, a leading member of the 1987 Constitutional Commission and dean of the Ateneo College of Law, and Fr. Ranhillo Aquino, dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law, said that contrary to the President’s claim, the SC justices were aware of the Administrative Code of 1987.

Fr. Aquino wrote: “Any freshman student of law will know that when you interpret a statutory provision (referring to Section 39), you always do so in harmony with the Constitution (Article VI, Section 25)… You don’t ever make a statute qualify the Constitution. Whatever the grant of power the Administrative Code may seem to afford the President, such a statutory provision must always be read in consonance with the Constitution, and never against it.”

Fr. Bernas, on the other hand, disputed the President’s contention that Section 39 and the code are “still in effect.” He clarified that the code and other statutes or executive orders issued before the enactment of 1987 Constitution must be compatible with the latter to remain valid.

Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno commented that the constitutional violations under the DAP was more serious than those of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) which the court had earlier also declared unconstitutional.

In separate speeches, Aquino insisted that the DAP was implemented to stimulate the economy and the funds were channeled to urgent projects that would produce jobs and improve the economy. But it turns out most of the fund releases were political in nature rather than economic because many of the projects, which were far from urgent, were given to favored members of Congress and other politicians obviously for political leverage.

For example, Senators Ralph Recto and Nancy Binay – who, by the way, was impressive in the Senate hearing on the DAP – questioned why the Aquino government impounded and diverted some P14.5 billion meant to rehabilitate 22 key airports and seaports to projects “with little or no economic impact.”

“I could not understand why the repair and rehabilitation of the airports, seaports and lighthouses would be abandoned when these could have accelerated and spurred economic growth,” Recto said.

Binay, on the other hand, asked: “On these shelved projects, did you even conduct research [about whether]… these projects have a multiplier effect compared to those you have approved under DAP?” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Transportation Secretary Emilio Abaya couldn’t answer the question. Abad asked Abaya to explain, while Abaya repeatedly said he was still a member of Congress at that time.

Clearly, the Aquino administration has no clear answers to the points raised against the DAP, but continues to lie through its teeth in claiming “good faith.”

The people are beginning to see beyond the hypocrisy of this administration. Aquino’s approval ratings — even on his two biggest promises of curbing corruption and poverty — have dropped to their lowest levels. He set the bar high with his promises of reforms and now he is doing exactly what his predecessors practised – patronage politics.

Worse, his campaign manager in the presidential elections, Sen. Serge Osmena, and another ally, Sen. Antonio Trillanes declared him a failure in his handling of the energy crisis, poverty, and the DAP.

Osmena cited Aquino’s management failure while Trillanes said Filipinos have to bear and live with the shortcomings of a “sloppy” president because “we have chosen one who is sloppy.”

Maybe Aquino can still salvage his legacy by pushing for the passage of the proposed Freedom of Information Act. But he still refuses to certify it as urgent and could only promise to pass it before the end of his term in 2016. Maybe the FOI law would see the light of day a few days before the May 2016 presidential elections, when it could no longer be used to probe Aquino’s actions.

His promise on the FOI is as empty as the others.

(valabelgas@aol.com)

 

By ANDREO CALONZO
GMA News 

PNoy delivers his 5th SONA. President Benigno Aquino III delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives on Monday, July 28. Joe Galvez

PNoy delivers his 5th SONA. President Benigno Aquino III delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives on Monday, July 28. Joe Galvez

(Updated 7:08 p.m.) Faced with mounting criticism and eroding approval ratings, President Benigno Aquino III on Monday turned emotional in his fifth and penultimate State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Towards the last part of his SONA, Aquino’s voice broke and he appeared close to tears while recalling the memory of his parents, slain Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and the late President Corazon Aquino.

“Mga boss, binigyan ninyo ako ng pagkakataong pamunuan ang transpormasyon… Kung tinalikuran ko ang pagkakataon, parang tinalikuran ko na rin ang aking ama’t ina at ang lahat ng inalay nila para sa atin. Hindi po mangyayari iyon,” he said.

A reluctant candidate, Aquino was a senator who was propelled into the 2010 presidential race following the outpouring of grief when his mother died the previous year.

“Hangga’t nagsisilbi tayong lakas ng isa’t isa, patuloy nating mapapatunayan na the Filipino is worth dying for, the Filipino is worth living for, at idagdag ko naman po, the Filipino is definitely worth fighting for,” the President added.

Part of the phrase—the Filipino is worth dying for—comes from the President’s father, Ninoy Aquino, who was gunned down shortly after his arrival in 1983. The assassination ignited protests against the dictatorial Marcos regime and led to the 1986 EDSA uprising, which swept Mrs. Aquino to the presidency.

Aquino delivered his speech amid unresolved questions about his administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which has been declared partially unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The executive branch has already appealed the high court’s decision on the spending mechanism.

The President is facing three impeachment complaints before the House of Representatives, two of which cited DAP as basis.

Pollster Pulse Asia earlier reported a significant drop in Aquino’s trust and approval ratings based on a survey covering the period when certain acts under the DAP were struck down by the high court.

PNoy turns personal

In a rare reflective mood, Aquino recalled how he almost died during a failed coup attempt against his mother in 1987 and said the spectre of getting killed during his incumbency has crossed his mind.

“Pangalawang buhay ko na po ito. Hindi po natin maiiwasang mag-isip, may araw kayang pagsampa ng entablado, ito na ba ang huling araw? May nagtagumpay bang magtanim ng bomba? Magtatagumpay ba ang may maiitim na balak?” he said.

Aquino said if anything happened to him, he would have been satisfied with what he had accomplished in his more than four years as the country’s top elected official.

“Kapag dumating nga ang panahong iyon, masasabi ko bang okay na rin? Sasabihin ko po sa inyo, mata sa mata, sa lahat po ng inabot natin, ako po’y masasabi kong kuntento na ako,” he said.

The President’s sisters also became emotional during the speech. His youngest sister, actress Kris Aquino, was seen crying at the gallery while her brother was talking about their parents’ legacy.

After his speech, President Aquino received a standing ovation and rousing applause from Congress members, most of whom are his allies.

Initially combative

Earlier in the speech, Aquino had been in a combative mode, criticizing his “desperate” detractors for supposedly stepping up the campaign against him.

“Habang nakikita ang pagbabago sa lipunan, nangyayari na nga ang ating inasahan: lalong dumadalas, lalong umiinit, at lalong tumitindi ang pag-atake nila sa atin… Desperado na po sila,” the President said.

“Sanay na tayong sinasalubong ng negatibong komentarista sa almusal, pang-aalipusta sa tanghalian, insulto sa hapunan, may intriga pa bilang midnight snack,” he added.

The President sought to rally the public against his critics, saying the latter are out to deprive Filipinos of government services.

“Ang totoo po, hindi naman ako ang kinokontra ng mga ito, kundi ang taumbayang nakikinabang sa tuwid na daan,” Aquino said. “Mga Boss, kontra po sila sa inyo,” he added, referring to his constituents using the terminology he introduced in his first SONA in 2010.

Aquino also openly threatened rice hoarders and corrupt officials at the Bureau of Customs.

“Kumikilos kayo kontra sa mga Pilipino; kami naman, isinusulong ang interes ng bawat Pilipino. Tingnan natin kung sino ang mananalo,” he said.

A substantial part of the President’s speech, which lasted for an hour and a half, focused on the Aquino administration’s achievements.

He also cited the supposed benefits of DAP in the first part of his speech.—KBK/YA/NB, GMA News

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/372333/news/nation/sona-2014-pnoy-turns-emotional-says-filipino-worth-fighting-for

MEDIA RELEASE / 29 July 2014

IBON Foundation ∙ 114 Timog Avenue, Quezon City Philippines 1103

Phone: (632) 927-6986/927-7060 to 61 ∙ Fax: 929-2496 ∙ media@ibon.org ∙ http://www.ibon.org

Reference: Mr Sonny Africa (IBON executive director)

SONA EXAGGERATES GAINS TO DIVERT FROM REAL ECONOMIC WOES, DECLINING CREDIBILITY

SONA-2014.2The president’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) appears to have been designed to arrest the administration’s declining credibility rather than present the real state of the country and how the government can use its vast powers to improve the poor economic conditions of the majority. According to research group IBON, the SONA merely repeated so-called economic gains and evaded how any progress is felt merely by a few at the expense of many.

From a development perspective, Pres. Benigno Aquino’s SONA affirms that the administration is not reformist when it comes to the economy. The SONA affirmed its reliance on short-term measures to boost growth for the illusion of economic progress – primarily public infrastructure spending – and its avoidance of addressing the structural bottlenecks that cause underdevelopment. There are mainly three inter-related bottlenecks: low agricultural production and productivity, stunted domestic industry, and record joblessness and wide poverty.

The president did not acknowledge the failure of agrarian reform. Nine out of ten supposed beneficiary farmers still do not own the land they till and three out of four are not even able to make the onerous payments demanded by the government’s landlord-biased agrarian reform programs. He even just made excuses for his administration’s poor performance in land distribution which is well below the historical program average – at 19,700 hectares per month compared to the 27,600 hectares per month historical average. Also, instead of defining a vision for building Filipino industry he repeated the bankrupt notion that foreign investors and being open for business to foreigners is the path to domestic development.

IBON also noted how Pres. Aquino exaggerated gains against joblessness and poverty to divert from the exclusionary growth path of economic policies. Incomplete data for employment and poverty were used to give the impression of a turnaround in the conditions of the majority. However these used low standards including glossing over the deterioration in the quality of work and estimating inhumanly low poverty lines. Moreover, while Top 1000 corporate profits have increased by at least 34% and the wealth of the richest 40 Filipinos grew by at least 137% since 2010, the mandated minimum wage and average daily basic pay received by workers only increased by 2-3 percent.

Pres. Aquino also insisted on defending the undemocratic Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Yet this controversial scheme of presidential pork barrel makes claims of budget reforms hollow with the false assertion that the president can subvert institutional mechanisms because he has good intentions. The president’s SONA did not and could not refute how the administration intentionally makes billions of pesos in the national budget available for political and patronage purposes rather than rational economic uses. (end)

IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.

GLIMPSES
By Jose Ma. Montelibano

SWS-net-satisfaction-presidents.1Many public officials will say publicly that they are not serving for the ratings, results of regular surveys measuring people’s sentiments about trust and performance. They will say that they will do what is right more than what is popular. Yes, most of them will say that.

Privately, though, ratings come across with much more importance than publicly admitted. And they should be. In a true democracy that is of the people, by the people, and for the people, the sentiments of the people must, by and large, be of priority value.

Governance is not a popularity game. But making people realize that their dreams, and their daily well-being, are being served effectively by governance is. Of what use is good governance among unappreciative, or worse, resentful people? It is a contradiction of terms – good governance and unpopular governance.

Decisions will not be all well accepted. That is a given. Issues will bring positive or negative reactions, and that is normal. Governance is not about an issue, it is a continuing service program intended to serve the common good. Lack of understanding or acceptance affecting any issue can cause negative reactions, and intelligent communications can almost always mitigate or reverse those reactions. However, a stream of negative reactions over key issues indicates that governance and the common good threaten to part ways.

Perception usually drives the first conclusions and sentiments. The intelligence of the audience, or lack of it, largely dictates whether perception and truth share the same stage. A gullible audience can easily be manipulated, or an overly intellectual message may fly over people’s heads. Perception becomes even more important when information is being dished out at a rapid rate, or given at volumes that overload the capacity of the audience to process quickly.

President Noynoy Aquino has maintained trust and approval ratings over four years in an unprecedented manner. That meant 70% of Filipinos appreciating his character and leadership. Beyond this, opposition to him remained from 7 – 15%, a minority which can be conceded as determined to dislike him no matter what. Usually, these are the more hardcore supporters and followers of political enemies.

The outstanding ratings show that people recognize and appreciate, not one issue, but their continuing relationship with their President. Beyond the Philippines, most of the world recognized that outstanding relationship as well, exemplified with a solid economic growth that has been praised by international institutions who themselves set the tone of global investments and credit.

The political performance of PNoy has been outstanding, too, or even more so. Political performance in governance is well beyond elections, though even his senatorial bets scored a hefty victory in 2013. Political performance is reflected in the relationship between the President and Congress, the Executive and the Legislative. His performance in this area is even more solid and remains most potent.

For four years, and most probably for the remainder of his term, PNoy and Congress will have a level of cooperation that will continue to upset their opposition. This relationship is really less about perception and truly more about what obtains. The PDAF has been abolished yet the relationship persists on a high note. The DAP has been declared unconstitutional but the relationship will survive even that. And PNoy will be not take this relationship for granted; else, only then will he be a lame duck of a president.

It is PNoy’s relationship with the majority of Filipinos that he must defend. Trust and approval ratings have dropped from around 70% to 55%. That is not dismal, that is not a cause of panic, but that is a clear message that all is not that well anymore. In the next ratings, conducted in the second quarter that may already include the recent supreme Court declaration of DAP’s unconstitutionality, PNoy’s ratings can be expected to drop even more.

PNoy will then be governing in an unfamiliar stage, when his relationship with the people has weakened considerably. From the government response to Yolanda and post-Yolanda reconstruction efforts to the political issues of the PDAF and the DAP, the solid bond between the overwhelming majority and the President has cracked. It is not beyond repair, not at all, but the causes to that crack must be objectively studied and truthfully, in private chambers, accepted.

The unfortunate weakening of a fantastic four-year relationship is less about the 2016 elections that it is about the grand opportunity of change and reform that PNoy had personified from the very beginning. PNoy is not running for president in 2016, and I hope he will not allow his political character to subjugate his reform character. He has seen through the experience of his father when Ninoy became a political pariah during martial law, the experience of his mother when the many false friends of Cory showed their true color, that life beyond power will be a sharp contrast. But it is a great legacy that will endure, of Ninoy the Hero, of Cory the Mother of Democracy.

Legacy is not a political eunuch. Heroes and national icons live way beyond their lifetimes. It is not just memory that carries them, it is their continuing influence in the daily lives of the people they loved and served. Heroes are not dead. They are the fire to our value system, they are highlights of our culture and history, they live through us.

The new generations of Filipinos are poised to make their mark in Philippine society. They have the idealism, they have the strength, they are the engine of society, they are the warriors of the nation. It will not be the victory or defeat of party mates or political allies that will inspire them towards pursuing their new and brighter dreams, it will be the power of a clear legacy of honor. It will be the legacy of character, the kind that Filipinos hereafter will proudly claim as theirs.

Destiny invited Noynoy Aquino, but it is PNoy who has to respond to it.

By Erick San Juan

South-China-Sea-territorial-claimsFormer DILG Sec. Rafael Alunan III shared in his Facebook account a game changer article of Ms. Yun Sun, a fellow with East Asia Program at Stimson Center entitled, ‘China’s New Calculation in SCS.’ She claimed that China’s unilateral actions in asserting it’s claims in South China Sea have driven regional tensions to a new high. Sun said that China’s well calculated moves are motivated by multiple internal and external factors.

“These include boosting Pres. Xi Jinping’s prestige and authority for his domestic reform agenda, along with an assumption that the US is EXTREMELY UNLIKELY TO INTERVENE at this moment in time. Other than the overt actions to assert its claims in the South China Sea, official statements and legal studies analysis within China also reflect a RECALIBRATED DETERMINATION to uphold the country’s controversial 9-dashed line in SCS.”

“From a Chinese perspective, the most transparent and direct explanation of China’s rising assertiveness in the South China Sea is simple. China believes that its past unilateral restraint has done nothing to improve China’s position regarding SCS disputes and these inactions have in fact resulted in othet claimant countries strengthening their presence and claims. Therefore, for China to improve it’s position in the current climate or for future negotiations, it must first change the status quo through ALL AVAILABLE MEANS NECESSARY.”

“China prefers to utilize civilian and paramilitary approaches but does not reject MILITARY COERCION if required. An advanced position and certain exclusive privilege in the SCS are both believed to be indispensable for China’s aspiration to become a ‘strong maritime power’, a key task stipulated by the 18th Party Congress in 2012 and a policy personally endorsed by Pres. Xi. While China’s aspirations for a ‘blue water navy’ and naval expansion face multiple choke points along its east coast from Japan down to the Philippines, the SCS is considered to offer China a much larger and less constrained maritime domain for naval maneuvers.”

Sun cited the timing of China’s policy to change the status quo and pursue a strong maritime power status has existed and that the timing of China’s most recent actions is closely associated with Chinese domestic politics to strengthen Pres. Xi’s domestic power base especially his reported fight against corruption where the oppositors claim that Xi is also stained with graft and corruption as exposed by Bloomberg.

“Therefore, Xi needs as much foreign policy credits as possible to build his strong man image and defuse internal criticisms of his various domestic agendas.”

“Last but not least, China is behaving assertively in SCS because it believes it can. This assessment is not only based on China’s growing military capacity which dwarfs the capabilities of all other South East Asian claimant countries combined, but also on A STRONG CONVICTION IN CHINA THAT THE U.S. WILL NOT USE IT’S HARD POWER TO COUNTER CHINESE ACTIONS. China has watched closely the U. S. hesitation about military intervention in Syria, also in Ukraine and draws the conclusion that the OBAMA ADMINISTRATION DOES NOT WANT TO INVOLVE ITSELF IN A MILITARY CONFLICT. It is further believed that there is NO DESIRE WITHIN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION FOR A POLICY LEGACY THAT INCLUDES A CONFLICT WITH CHINA.”

Sun added, “Having said that, China does recognize the difference between Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO and the Philippines which is a U.S. ally. However, when China seized control of the Scarborough Shoal in 2012, the U.S. DID NOTHING. Furthermore, as Madame Fu Ying, chairperson of China’s Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, pointed out recently at the Singapore’s Shangri-la Dialogue, the dispute between China and Vietnam HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE U.S. The implied message is that Vietnam is not even a U.S. ally and the LIKELIHOOD OF U.S. MILITARY INTERVENTION ON BEHALF OF VIETNAM IS EXTREMELY REMOTE, if not non-existent.”

Sun concluded that even if the UN international tribunal supports the Philippine claims, China will not accept the result and it will be very difficult and impossible for the UN court to enforce its ruling. “Whether others like it or not, China is getting what it wants.”

Thanks to the timely open-secret deal of businessman Manny V. Pangilinan with China’s CNOOC regarding the joint exploration of the Sampaguita oil and gas field. It was a long delayed joint project of CNOOC with Forum Energy and MVP’s Philex Petroleum with the blessing of the Philippine government. It will now push thru as per news report. It was allegedly a deal that was almost forfeited due to the bullying of China. It was also an open-secret that the ABC5 TV network of MVP exposed PNoy’s administration’s ‘deal’ at Malampaya ( televised twice and exposed by Luchie Cruz Valdes) where billions of pesos were lost during the time of GMA and during the watch of PNoy. P137 billion was on the record of the treasury. But during the senate hearing chaired by Sen. Ralph Recto, national treasurer Rosalia de Leon said that there was no cash on hand and possibly the funds were co-mingled with other funds. Sounds familiar, just like what happened to the sale of Fort Bonifacio for the AFP modernization.

According to pundits, this was the reason why China stopped bullying us despite the reported secret arrangement between the U.S. and China as interpreted by Yun Sun of Stimson Center.

Even the chicken hawks at the DFA suddenly change their stand and it’s priority now is to ensure peace in the West Philippine Sea amid rising territorial conflict with China. (PDI 7/28/14) According to Amando Doronila of PDI, the Pew Center just conducted a study in 44 countries that this year, in all 11 Asian nations polled, roughly half or more say they are concerned that the disputes between China and her neighbors will lead to a military conflict. As reported by Agence France-Presse (7/28/14), found that 93% Filipinos were most concerned, including the Japanese, Vietnamese and South Koreans. In China, the poll showed that 62% of chinese were worried that the row could lead to war.

The release of the study is suspect. We have to be wary as to the hidden agenda of powers behind the scene. Will PNoy suffer the same fate like what happened to GMA who signed several deals with China?

Let’s wait for the possible confluence of events to unfold. It could be ominous that Pnoy’s SONA (State of the Nation Address) last Monday was like a farewell speech especially that the month of August has been a bad omen to the Aquino family. So many phenomena of tragedies happened in the past and could be the reason why the Aquino sisters are really worried and crying. It is also called by the chinese as ‘ghost month’.

God forbid!

By Sam LaGrone
USNI News

  Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy electronic surveillance ship Beijixing (pennant number 851). A ship of this class is currently off the coast of Oahu, monitoring RIMPAC 2014.


Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy electronic surveillance ship Beijixing (pennant number 851). A ship of this class is currently off the coast of Oahu, monitoring RIMPAC 2014.

China slipped an uninvited guest into the world’s largest naval exercise.

The U.S. invited four ships from China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to the Rim of the Pacific 2014 exercise — a move that was hailed as a sign of improved military-to-military relations between the two countries.

But China also sent an electronic surveillance ship designed to monitor signals from the ships, right to the edges of the exercise.

“The U.S. Pacific Fleet has been monitoring a Chinese navy surveillance ship operating in the vicinity of Hawaii outside U.S. territorial seas,” Capt. Darryn James, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet, told USNI News late Friday.

“We expect this ship will remain outside of U.S. territorial seas and not operate in a manner that disrupts the ongoing Rim of the Pacific maritime exercise.”

James said the ship was not part of the exercise and would not speculate on the ship’s purpose but said that it appeared in the vicinity of Hawaii about a week ago.

“Any questions about the ship’s intent or capabilities will need to be addressed by the People’s Liberation Army Navy,” he said.

A message left with PLAN representatives at RIMPAC was not immediately returned.

As of Friday, the ship was operating south of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, near the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) carrier strike group (CSG) and the main body of the 50 ships participating in the exercise, several sources confirmed to USNI News.

The ship is a Dongdiao-class auxiliary general intelligence (AGI) ship, one in a class of three PLAN ships designed to gather electronic and communication data from surrounding vessels and aircraft, sources confirmed to USNI News.

China watcher Andrew Erikson said the ship is likely to be one the PLAN’s most experienced, in a late Friday interview with USNI News.

“This AGI is most likely to be the Type 815 Dongdiao-class intelligence collection vessel Beijixing (pennant number 851), home ported in the East Sea Fleet,” Erickson, an associate professor at the Naval War College said.

“Beijixing is the most experienced vessel from the PLAN’s most advanced class of AGI. Based on Internet photos and Japanese government and other media reports, Beijixing is China’s most well-traveled AGI, having operated frequently near and within Japan’s claimed Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).”

The Dongdiao-class off Hawaii is operating inside the U.S. EEZ but not in territorial waters, James said.

“The Chinese Navy AGI ship’s presence is in accordance with international law regarding freedom of navigation,” he said.

“The U.S. Navy operates in waters beyond the territorial seas of coastal nations around the world while adhering to international law and norms, and China’s AGI is permitted to do the same.”

Monitoring electronic signals and communications from rivals exercises is nothing new. The U.S. and then-Soviet navies were famous for stalking one anothers exercises to gain intelligence information. China often accuses the U.S. of doing the same in areas like the South China Sea.

Adversaries and allies both can learn much from monitoring and analyzing electronic signals from a plane or a warship — say the frequencies in which an air defense radar operates. Likewise the communications between ships and aircraft can tell an adversary procedures of how a navy operates.

What’s strange about the Chinese ship monitoring RIMPAC from afar is four PLAN ships and their crews have already been included in most levels of the operation.

“For an operation that risks making the PLAN look like an untactful guest, as well as undermining its insistence that it has the right to oppose similar activities in its own EEZ, China would want to deploy the vessel least likely to make visible mistake(s) that would generate further embarrassment in that fishbowl environment,” Erickson said.

The revelation of the spy ship near the exercise has caused at least one member of Congress to say the U.S. shouldn’t invite China back for RIMPAC 2016.

“Given China’s recent disregard for principles like freedom of navigation and the peaceful resolution of territorial disputes, it was already a stretch to reward Beijing with an invite to such a prestigious event like RIMPAC,” Rep Randy Forbes (R-Va.) chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces told USNI News in a late Friday statement.
“Now we learn they chose to disrespect the 20 other international participants by sailing an intelligence gathering ship directly into the middle of the exercise. It is clear China is not ready to be a responsible partner and that their first trip to RIMPAC should probably be their last.”

RIMPAC — held every two years — includes 50 ships, 200 aircraft and more than 25,000 military personnel from 23 nations. The exercises will run until August.

RIMPAC-2014-flags

http://news.usni.org/2014/07/18/china-sends-uninvited-spy-ship-rimpac

By Erick San Juan

Malaysia-Airline-MH17While watching tv last week, CNN reported that another Malaysian Airlines plane crashed. I was puzzled and kept on thinking as to what bad luck struck the Malaysian Airlines that it’s planes would end up in tragedy. Both MH370, the jet that disappeared at the Indian Ocean vicinity and the MH17 are Boeing 777. But talking through experience, as a frequent flier, I believe that the Boeing 777 is the most safest and comfortable plane being used by international airlines.

What went wrong? It’s unusual that both the local and international media were used for attack and counter propaganda. The blame game started the same night after the crash. A word war ensued between the Ukraine and the separatists kicked off immediately.

Of course, the Filipino people condemned the carnage in the strongest manner. At the Manila Bulletin headline on July 20,2014, it says: Obama blames Russia. Separatists would not be capable of carrying attack without Moscow’s support. Basically, all the banner headlines of several broadsheets have the same tone. But the internet news analysis, opinions and bloggers are saying a different thing. Are the Americans and Russians being set up to clash and create a global chaos?

It’s quite amazing that some people in the vicinity of the crash site recorded a video so soon and after the crash. Ukraine accused Russia and it’s pro-Moscow rebels of destroying evidence from the wreckage and shotdown the passenger jet with a missile. But an American blogger, Tom A. sent me a You tube video (July19,2014), showing that Ukraine was caught trying to ‘frame Russia’ for shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. The Ukraine government supported a You Tube clip that they say proved Russia had involvement and that the rebels shot down the said plane. However, due to their sloppy work, the Ukraine’s have been caught in video lying. They have reportedly tried deleting the You Tube file, but not before it was down loaded over 800 times. As of this writing July 23, CNN TV News confirmed that the two Ukraine fighter jets tailing the strayed Malaysian plane were both shot down near the crash site. Who did? Slavyangrad.worldpress.com article said that an eyewitness account last July 18,2014 confirmed that a Spanish air controller working at Kiev Borispol Airport suggested in a private evaluation and basing it on military sources in Kiev, that the Ukrainian military was behind the shoot down. Radar records were immediately confiscated after it became clear that a commercial plane was shot down. Radar screen shots also showed an unexplained change of course of the said jet. The change of course took the jet directly over the eastern Ukraine war zone. Agence France Presse reported the fingerpointing, saying that the western media to blame the self-defense forces of the Peoples Republic of Donetsk for bringing the plane down. The claim were denied by the representatives of PRD, saying that it’s the Ukrainian military which destroyed the aircraft. Even IHS Jane’s Defence analyst, Nick de Larrinaga shared the belief that the forces of PRD lack the capability to bring the Malaysian jet down. It was seconded by Retired Brig. Gen. Kevin Ryan, the director of the Defense and Intelligence project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, that the self defense forces could not have used ‘Buk’ surface to air missile system to down the said plane.

While the blame game continue to unravel, Jim Stone, a blogger and a freelance reporter made a compelling revelation and analysis that the airplane shot down over the Ukraine was actually the Malaysian Airlines flight 370 and not MH 17. While Yoichi Shimatsu, an investigative reporter, a science and technology journalist based in Hongkong and former editor of Japan Times weekly in Tokyo, now writing for Rense.com, made a very powerful accusation that flight MH 17 was in fact a bioweapon, intended to be used in Malaysia. This is reportedly a payback by the Israelis for the acidic and uncomplimentary comments of former Prime Minister Mahathir and creating an international war crimes tribunal in Kuala Lumpur.

Shimatsu narrated that one must dare to think the unthinkable because the early evidences from the crash sites indicated a hellish scenario beyond imagining. Besides, the nearly 300 passengers aboard the ill-fated Malaysian jet, the plane’s cargo bay was loaded with dozens of infected corpses drained of their blood and countless packets of possibly virus contaminated blood serum. The report allegedly came from the local eyewitnesses near the crash site in the Donetsk region along Ukraine-Russian border. He added that the gruesome finding points irrefutably to Malthusian skullduggery at the highest level of who is sponsoring a covert biological warfare program against the population of Asia. A systematic investigation is now required to uncover the deadliest plot against humanity. Yoichi believe that there could be a cover up to protect the globalist elite from scrutiny, legal prosecution and justice. According to Yoichi, the blatant violation of international laws for transporting infectious agents indicate a criminal intent in their use at destination. The IATA and the World Health Organization failed in monitoring and imposing tight rules for physical transfer of corpses and infectious substance which could be used for biowarfare. Dead passengers of the plane included some 100 top virus researchers and staff members.

Rebel commander, Igor Girson aka Strelkov, (was quoted by Associated Press), reported that local villagers who rushed to the crash scene found a “significant number of the dead bodies found weren’t fresh” and reeked of decomposition. Shimatsu and Stone both believed that the corpses can be nothing other than carriers of infectious disease and threat to public health for millions of people of Ukraine and nearby countries even as far as Greece.

The MH17 crash in Ukraine could have been described as the start of a real World War Z, the movie. The WHO was allegedly shipping it’s ‘zombie’ passengers for a criminal purpose, possibly genocide on a wide scale. The nightmare arose from one of the busiest airports of Europe and one controlled by ITCS, a security company allegedly linked with the Israeli Mossad. Yoichi said that the Netherlands, the origin of Malaysian flight 17, is the center for the engineering of weaponized viruses under Ron Fouchier, the research associate of the notorious Japanese influenza expert Yoshihiro Kawaoka. The flu research center at Eramus Medical University in Rotterdam is the sister laboratory of Kawaoka’s Institute of Infectious Virus Research at the University of Wisconsin, USA. The deadly duo’s research include the ‘perfection’ of a Spanish flu virus that killed 20 million people worldwide in the 1918-19 and the variant of the avian flu virus. They are also developing an antidote available only to the ‘chosen few’ ( just like another movie, Mission Impossible of Tom Cruise).

Yoichi clarified that the threat of ‘World War Z’ is not over yet, not when Ukrainians and Russians are being exposed to the unleashed viruses that defy inoculation with vaccines. By the time the clean up is finished, Eastern Ukraine could end up as uninhabited as the Central Congo after WHO teams eliminated all potential carriers of Ebola. This summer, another brazen biowarfare attack was allegedly within razor’s edge of exterminating Malaysians and possibly millions of other Asians. War on a global scale is no longer fought in trenches, but waged in laboratories, airports, city centers, hospitals, senior homes and schools. It is not called TOTAL WAR, it is simply known as GLOBAL POLICY.

By Kounteya Sinha, TNN 
Times of India

YukosLONDON: In a massive blow to Russian president Vladimir Putin, share holders of the defunct oil giant Yukos have won a decade-long court battle against Moscow with a Hague tribunal ruling that the Russian state had sought to bankrupt the company, appropriate its assets and prevent its owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky from entering politics.

The international arbitration panel ordered Moscow to pay a whopping $ 51.57 billion in damages to shareholders announcing that officials under President Vladimir Putin had manipulated the legal system to bankrupt the company.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague issued rulings in three separate cases that had sought a total of over $100 billion from Russia for expropriating the assets of Yukos, formerly controlled by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man.

Yukos was the largest oil company in Russia when in 2003, Khodorkovsky was arrested at gunpoint on an airport runway in Siberia.

GML Ltd., the former majority shareholder of Yukos Oil Company won the record award, the largest in international arbitration history, was brought under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). In the decision, an independent arbitral tribunal sitting in The Hague ruled unanimously that the actions of the Russian Federation were politically motivated and constituted expropriation of the majority shareholders’ investment in Yukos.

Tim Osborne, executive director of GML Ltd said “The majority shareholders of Yukos Oil were left without compensation for the loss of their investment when Russia illegally expropriated Yukos. It is a major step forward for the majority shareholders, who have been battling for over 10 years for this decision. It also demonstrates the vital role that international arbitration plays in resolving disputes of this nature. Without the binding terms of the Energy Charter Treaty, GML would have had a much tougher task to obtain justice”.

Emmanuel Gaillard, head of Shearman & Sterling LLP’s International Arbitration Group which represented the Claimants, said “This is an historic award. It is now judicially established that the Russian Federation’s actions were not a legitimate exercise in tax collection but, rather, were aimed at destroying Yukos and illegally expropriating its assets for the benefit of State instrumentalities Rosneft and Gazprom.”

The proceedings were initiated in early 2005 before an independent arbitral tribunal under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The Claimants are two subsidiaries of former majority shareholder GML Limited, namely Hulley Enterprises Ltd. and Yukos Universal Ltd., as well as Veteran Petroleum Ltd., the pension fund set up by GML for the benefit of former Yukos employees.

In 2009, the Tribunal issued an Interim Award unanimously confirming that the claimants were protected investors holding a protected investment under the ECT, and that the Russian Federation is fully bound by the Treaty until its formal withdrawal from provisional application of the Treaty takes effect in October 2009 for new investments made in Russia.
In a damning indictment of the rule of law in Russia, the tribunal found that the country’s courts had bent to the will of Russian executive authorities to incarcerate a man who gave signs of becoming a political competitor.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/international-business/Massive-blow-for-Putin-as-Hague-gives-landmark-judgment-against-Moscow/articleshow/39182606.cms

ON DISTANT SHORE
By Val G. Abelgas

SWS-net-satisfaction-presidents.1With the growing clamor for the impeachment of President Aquino following the ruling by the Supreme Court that the Disbursement Acceleration Program, the negative response to his attacks against the Court, and the plunge in his satisfaction, approval and trust ratings in two recent surveys, Malacanang’s press office should now be in damage control mode.

It showed in two recent pronouncements by Aquino’s spokespersons. A day after Aquino called on his followers to wear yellow ribbons to show that they still supported him, Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said the President’s call should not be taken seriously, saying that the President’s response to a question was “just a light moment in the entire dialogue.”

Coloma’s statement came amid criticisms that the President’s call for supporters to wear yellow ribbon was polarizing the nation. Indeed after Aquino’s call, citizens posted black ribbons and ribbons using the colors of the Philippine flag as Facebook covers and Bayan Muna suggested wearing peach ribbons in support of impeachment. Protesters displayed black and red ribbons in their marches to show support for court employees and judges who vowed to wear black and red clothes to protest Aquino’s attacks on the judiciary.

“At least our country has become colorful. Maybe we should not be too serious about it,” Coloma said.

But Aquino appeared serious when he made the call for the yellow ribbons. But when nobody wore yellow ribbon the next day, Malacanang had to backtrack and say it was just a joke.

And then the next day after Aquino received overwhelming criticisms from various sectors, including some of his allies, for his scathing attacks on the Supreme Court, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said Malacanang is “following the processes as mandated by the Constitution and the law.” She also said Malacanang respects the right of court workers to air their grievances.

Malacanang’s turnaround, however, may be too late for the President as two surveys taken a few days before and after the SC decision showed Aquino’s satisfaction, approval and trust ratings had taken a beating, plunging to their lowest levels since he assumed office on July 1, 2010.

In the Pulse Asia survey taken from June 28 to July 2, Aquino’s approval rating dropped 14 points, and his trust rating plunged by 16 points. The drop showed in all economic classes, unlike before when Class A-B (the upper and upper middle classes) remained highly approved of his performance and his trustworthiness.

Ana Maria Tabunda, Pulse Asia research director, said the Supreme Court decision declaring the DAP unconstitutional came out toward the end of the survey. “I don’t think we caught the full extent of the DAP on the popularity of the President,” Tabunda said.

A separate survey by the Social Weather Station (SWS), on the other hand, showed that Aquino’s net satisfaction rating dropped by 20 big points, from a “good” plus 45 to a “moderate” plus 25. The survey was conducted from June 27 to June 30, the day before the SC was set to announce its DAP ruling.

I surmise it could have been worse if both surveys were conducted a few days after the SC ruling, especially following Aquino’s arrogant attacks.

The issues that were in place at the time of the surveys, however, were just as damaging to the President – the pork barrel scam, rising prices of goods and services, escalating poverty, and the worsening power outages throughout the country.

The decline followed a consistent pattern of diminishing approval ratings for Aquino since he assumed the presidency. His approval rating in July 2010, just a month after he became president, was 88 percent, while his approval rating in June 2014 was only 56 percent, meaning his ratings have dropped 32 points in four years. If this pattern keeps up, Aquino would have a negative net approval rating by next year.

But unlike before when Aquino and his spokesmen would downplay the survey results by saying governance should not be “survey-driven,” Malacanang chose to remain silent about the survey results this time.

Drowned in the Aquino-SC brouhaha are two reports that showed the impact of the DAP ruling and its aftermath.

In one report, New York-based think tank Global Source slashed its growth forecast for the Philippine economy this year to only 5.8%, citing the controversy over the Disbursement Allocation Program.

In another report, the Philippine peso was said to have gone from first to worst in Southeast Asia following the DAP ruling. The peso advanced 0.3 percent this month, compared with a 1.5 percent jump in the Indonesian rupiah and a 1.1 percent gain in the Malaysian ringgit, after the July 1 Supreme Court ruling. The currency led the region with a 2.7 percent rally last quarter as the nation got a credit-rating upgrade from Standard & Poor’s.

Aquino raised the people’s hopes when he became president. The people had hoped that with his promise of battling corruption using the slogans “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” and “daang matuwid,” the country would finally be on its way to eradicating both corruption and poverty.

The high hope has turned to disappointment with just two years left of his term. As I had warned in my column on November 1, 2010 or exactly four months into his presidency: “The trouble with hello is goodbye; the trouble with hope is disappointment.”

(valabelgas@aol.com)