KING OF DARKNESS

By REY O. ARCILLA
MALAYA

Cory and Noynoy(Months ago, when power shortage in the country first reared its ugly head, I expressed the hope Noynoy would turn his attention to it as soon as possible lest he suffer the same fate as his beloved mother, the revered Cory, did. He could wind up being called the “King of Darkness” as Cory was dubbed the “Queen of Darkness” in the latter part of her tenure as president due to the extensive blackouts we had then.)

The bully has backed down.

No, I am not referring to China. But I will in the next section. Right now, I am referring to President Noynoy Aquino.

After menacingly warning, a la Yul Brynner in “The Magnificent Seven” movie, the Supreme Court for shooting down his Development Acceleration Program (DAP) as illegal and unconstitutional, Noynoy had toned down his tough stance. He said he bears no ill will against the high tribunal and that he would abide by its decision on the Motion for Reconsideration that the government has filed.

I think it has finally dawned on him that his bosses could no longer be swayed by mere bluster. They are wiser now. The “wear yellow ribbon” ploy also fell flat that his chief spokesman was constrained to say “we can take it seriously, but not too seriously”. No one did, as it turned out. That’s how far south Noynoy’s popularity has gone, in case he is not aware.

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Yes, the other bully has also backed down. This time I refer to China.

China has withdrawn her oil rig placed in waters that are within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Vietnam in the Paracels in the South China Sea (SCS).

To assign a reason for China’s withdrawal of the oil rig will be pure conjecture on my part. Suffice it to say that Vietnam stood her ground in the face off with China. China sent a very high ranking official to Hanoi to talk things over. Now, the oil rig is gone.

I believe there is a lesson to be learned here and it is up to our leaders to try and find out what it is.

Incidentally, Washington promptly welcomed China’s withdrawal of the oil rig.

What? No echoing of the US sentiment from Super Amboy Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario?

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So now, we are partly to blame for the tension that has arisen in the SCS/West Philippine Sea (WPS)?

Michael Fuchs, identified as the second top policy maker for Asia Pacific in the US State Department, said that “no claimant is solely responsible for the state of the tensions” in the South China Sea.

“It’s because the way in which countries pursue their claims speaks to whether future disputes will be handled by the threat and use of force on the one hand or the rule of law on the other. It speaks to whether the same rules will apply to all claimants – big and small alike,” Fuchs said. Huh?

How can the Philippines even think of “the threat and use of force” against China? This guy must be off his rocker. And doesn’t he know that the US, indeed a large number of countries, has lauded us for resorting to peaceful means to have the territorial dispute in the SCS resolved by taking our case before the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and urging China to conclude a legally binding Code of Conduct with ASEAN?

No response from the Department of Foreign Affairs to set the record straight?

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I was glad to read about Del Rosario’s efforts to convene a meeting among ASEAN members (Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam) with territorial claims in the SCS with a view to forging a common stance in dealing with China.

I like to think that the plan is to have the four agree on a common stance and then talk with China directly, with ASEAN merely being informed of their agreement. As I have said time and again, a common position among ALL the ASEAN members on the dispute with China, including the forging of a Code of Conduct, is not possible, at least at this time. Some of the members consider it more important not to jeopardize their relations with China… incidentally including Malaysia, in case we forget.

I wish Del Rosario good luck.

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I understand that as of this writing, millions of our people still do not have electricity, partly because of typhoon Glenda, but more so because of short power supply.

Rotating blackouts have also now gone up to five hours.

So what does Noynoy’s “promising” energy secretary Jericho Petilla, the perennially Commission on Appointments-bypassed fellow, have to say?

“The only solution to the problem is more plants. Power shortage can be solved only until we have enough plants coming in and the demands are coming down,” he said.

He didn’t say though what he and the government are doing about building more plants. He did mention that his department is “studying the power outlook and the private sector’s capability to mitigate the shortfall in power supply”. At the same time, he said he is not setting aside the idea of recommending to Noynoy to declare a state of emergency as a “last recourse”.

I say, do what has to be done now instead of waiting for the time when the government has to resort to the “last recourse”. It will be too late by then. Noynoy has less than two years to go.

Somehow, I find it hard to believe what Petilla is saying. He is the same fellow who promised he would resign if electricity in all the areas devastated by typhoon Yolanda were not restored before Christmas last year. It was not. He did not resign either.

Months ago, when power shortage in the country first reared its ugly head, I expressed the hope Noynoy would turn his attention to it as soon as possible lest he suffer the same fate as his beloved mother, the revered Cory, did. He could wind up being called the “King of Darkness” as Cory was dubbed the “Queen of Darkness” in the latter part of her tenure as president due to the extensive blackouts we had then.

He would be wise to crack the whip on Petilla now or replace him with someone who can do a better job as Senator Serge Osmena has been suggesting.

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Someone asked what we would like to hear in Noynoy’s SONA next week. I hesitate to say what I would. They’ll fall on deaf ears anyway.

But I do have certain things in mind that I definitely would not want to see during his SONA.

First, I would not want to see cabinet members and other officials who should have been fired or resigned a long time ago for alleged corruption and ineptitude.

Second, I would not want to see any of those so-called lawmakers, senators and congressmen alike, and other elected officials who have been linked to corrupt practices, particularly to the pork barrel scam.

Third, I would not want to see female lawmakers, congressional spouses and, in general, female attendees garbed in costly ternos and other outlandish attires and wearing expensive pieces of jewelry. Surely, that is not the kind of image, one of opulence and extravagance, that they want millions of impoverished Filipinos to see on national TV. It will be bad for their… well, image. An ordinary working or business attire would be a lot better.

Last but not least, I definitely would not want to see our Super Amboy of a foreign secretary, Albert del Rosario, wearing headphones again while listening to Noynoy who, as in the past, is expected to deliver his speech in the national language. As far as I know, Del Rosario is not hard of hearing. So, I assume he was listening to the simultaneous interpretation of Noynoy’s speech in English intended for the foreign diplomats present.

Everyone knows Del Rosario does not speak or thoroughly understand Pilipino. Perhaps he could just ask for an advance copy of Noynoy’s address in English. Imagine, a foreign secretary who does not know his own national language. Medyo nakakahiya sa mga banyaga.

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A lot of readers have asked what can be done to make GSIS head Robert “Pretty Boy” Vergara to at least publicly explain or justify why he is the highest paid civil servant. As I have been suggesting, only Noynoy can make him do that. Unfortunately, it appears he is not inclined to do so. Vergara, it seems, is one of the sacred cows in his administration.

Vergara received P16.36 million in 2012 and P12.09 million in 2013 in salary and allowances.

And to think that he heads an agency that is supported by poor government employees who, except for the high ranking ones, could hardly make both ends meet.

Incidentally, Item 11 of the List of DAP-Identified Projects released by the Budget Department of Florencio Abad in the amount of P644 million includes “the payment of mandatory obligations or employer counterpart contributions to GSIS/PHIC/ECC”.

If I am not mistaken, all government agencies include in their respective budgets the amount of mandatory obligations or employer counterpart contributions to GSIS.

Perhaps, Vergara could enlighten us on this too.

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For lack of space, the Reminders (for Noynoy) portion of this column will be published next week.

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Today is the 88th day of the eighth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.

On April 1 last year, I wrote:

“For nearly six years now, this space has been keeping count of the number of days in every year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance. That’s a very long time for anyone to suffer excruciating pain, particularly his mother Edita, his wife and children, his siblings and all those who love him.

“With the Court of Appeals (CA) declaring that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), specifically the Philippine Army, is accountable for the enforced disappearance of Jonas, there now appears to be a faint light at the end of the tunnel for his loved ones.

“As Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales said: “The decision is noteworthy because it categorically declares the AFP, as an institution, directly accountable for the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos. This conclusion effectively discredits the theory propounded by the Armed Forces that Jonas was the victim of an internal CPP-NPA plot.”

“Let’s watch what happens from here on. (Nothing much, I’m afraid.)

“Incidentally, nothing is being mentioned of late about the ‘disappearance’ of the fugitive retired General Jovito Palparan, Jr. Another case of shabby sleuthing by the Philippine National Police?”

Mr. President, Sir?

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From an internet friend:

LUCKY DRIVER

A police officer pulls over a driver and informs him that he has just won $5,000 in a safety competition, all because he is wearing his seat belt.

“What are you going to do with the prize money?” the officer asks.

The man responds, “I guess I’ll go to driving school and get my license.”

His wife says, “Officer, don’t listen to him. He’s a smart aleck when he’s drunk.”

The guy in the back seat pops up out from under the blanket and says, “I knew we wouldn’t get far in this stolen car.”

Just then a knock comes from the trunk and a voice calls out, “Are we over the border yet?”

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22 July 2014

Email: roacrosshairs@outlook.com

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