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It is offending China, not war, that Pres. Duterte is avoiding – IBON

by IBON Media

Research group IBON said that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s stance on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue, as expressed in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA), is not about avoiding war with China, but is about avoiding offending the Chinese government and losing all its promised funds.

Last July 22, Pres. Duterte highlighted the possibility of China attacking the country if the government took a strong stance on its claims in the disputed WPS.

According to the president, “more and better results can be reached in the privacy of a conference room than in a squabble in public”.

IBON, however, said that the administration is only using the possibility of war to conceal the agreements reached “in the privacy of a conference room” between the Philippine and Chinese governments which seem to be at the expense of the Filipino people’s interests.

IBON noted that while other claimants to the disputed area, like Vietnam and Indonesia, are taking a more aggressive stance to defend their claims, China has yet to declare war against these two countries.

The group said that the administration should see this as an opportunity to foster unity between the Philippines and its other neighbors to defend their respective claims against China.

But the government is not doing this, nor is it asserting the July 2016 ruling of the international tribunal, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, that was in favor of the Philippines.

The decision upheld the country’s  rights over the 200-nautical miles exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The President instead has claimed to be proud of his friendship with China, IBON said.

Rather than defend his fellowmen, he has insulted Filipino fishermen by implying that they should be thankful that Chinese Pres. Xi Jin Ping allowed them to fish in the WPS.

He also reduced the ramming and sinking of the Filipino fishing boat Gem-Ver 1 by a Chinese ship in June to “a mere incident”.

IBON said that the reason for the Duterte administration being overly accommodating is most likely due to its desire for Chinese financing.

IBON estimates that the government is seeking as much as Php673.2 billion from China for its 75 flagship projects aside from Php204.7 billion more for infrastructure and other projects – for a total of Php877.9 billion.

According to the group, the terms of the loan agreements that the administration enters into with China for its infrastructure drive are onerous.

These include only using China’s goods and services, including for payment of Chinese contractors and even hiring of Chinese workers; stringent loan payment schedules; contracts being explicitly governed and construed in accordance with the laws of China and disputes having to be settled in the courts of China; and the Philippines waiving its sovereign rights over its patrimonial assets in connection with any arbitration proceeding.

The last is synonymous with the collateralization of  the country’s assets, like natural and strategic resources.

IBON said that instead of being concerned with stepping on China’s toes and losing financing, the Duterte administration should implement a truly independent foreign policy.

Such a policy should defend and uphold Philippine sovereignty, ensure  domestic development, and prioritize the welfare of all Filipinos, said the group. #

Some more United People’s SONA 2019 shots

These are additional shots of the United People’s SONA last Monday, July 22, on Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.

They show the burning of President Rodrigo Duterte’s effigy as a merman (siyokoy) while members of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines perform their song “Atin ang ‘Pinas”.

KODAO ASKS: Ano ang masasabi mo sa Recto Bank incident?

Reaksyon ng mamamayan hinggil sa insidente sa Recto Bank kung saan binangga ng isang barkong Tsino ang bangkang Filipino at saka iniwan na lamang ang 22 mangingisda. (Bidyo ni Jomaline D. Mamangun)

‘Busina’ protest vs Duterte’s pro-China stance on Recto Bank ramming

Activists held a protest action in Quezon City last June 19 and asked motorists to honk their vehicle horns to show solidarity with 22 fishermen whose boat was rammed by a Chinese ship and President Rodrigo Duterte’s obvious pro-China stance in the controversy.

In his speech during the rally, former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares asked Duterte to side with the Filipino victims, adding the Philippines’ victory in the international tribunal gives the country a strong foundation to assert its rights over Recto Bank.

KODAO ASKS : Natupad ba ni Duterte ang ipinangako niyang Independent Foreign Policy?

Noong Hunyo 12, Araw ng Kalayaan, tinanong ng Kodao kung natupad nga ba ni Presidente Rodrigo Duterte ang ipinangako niyang Independent Foreign Policy.

Panoorin ang sagot ng mga dumalo sa rali sa mga konsulada ng Estados Unidos at Tsina.

‘Atin ang ‘Pinas, China layas!’

Isang kilos-protesta sa Araw ng Kagitingan ang isinagawa ng iba’t-ibang grupo sa pangunguna ng Pilipinong Nagkakaisa para sa Soberanya o P1NAS sa Konsulado ng Tsinasa Makati City ngayong araw, Abril 9.

Nananawagan sila na itigil ng China ang panghihimasok nito sa teritoryo ng bansa kabilang na ang mga isla sa West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Ayon sa P1NAS, sa kabila ng panalo ng bansa sa International Tribunal ay patuloy pa rin ang pag-okupa ng China at pag-angkin sa ilang isla sa WPS.

Binatikos ng P1NAS ang administrasyong Duterte at nagbabala sa posibleng pagkabaon sa utang ng bansa kapag nagpatuloy pa ang pag-utang nito sa China para sa mga proyekto tulad ng Kaliwa Dam Project at iba pang kwestiyonableng kasunduan. (Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Impunity charge vs China filed at ICC

Former ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario filed a complaint against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to “check impunity” in the disputed South China Sea. Morales said they want to send a clear message to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte administration and to all Filipinos. “We demand accountability from those who destroy marine areas, and we want to check impunity as a deterrent to progress,” she said.

Cartoon by Mark Suva/Kodao

Protest greets Xi Jinping visit

Various groups held a mass action at the Chinese consulate in Makati City last Tuesday (November 20) to denounce the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping as they expressed outrage against the Rodrigo Duterte government for its subservience to the Chinese government.

The Pilipinong Nagkakaisa Para sa Soberanya o P1NAS called Duterte a traitor to the Pilipino people as it pointed out that his government is virtually surrendering Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea to China.

Even after losing in an international tribunal that determined the disputed areas are part of the Philippine exclusive economic zone three years ago, China refuses to recognize the decision  proceeded to militarize some islands.

China’s presence in the area includes so-called “ joint development” schemes with the Duterte government seen as a  weakening of the Philippine claims.

In the said rally, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) expressed concern that Duterte’s economic deals with China may push the Philippines under deeper debt.

In his visit to the Philippines, Xi took home 29 agreements, including an understanding on joint oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea and the construction of mega dams, including the Chico River Pump Irrigation, the New Centennial  Water Source Kaliwa Project, and the Agus-Pulangi Mega Dam project.

Indigenous peoples earlier raised fears that the China-ODA projects will cause their displacement from their lands and livelihood.

“Pawning our lands to an imperialist country like China is a serious crime that may lead to ethnocide,” Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas said. # (Joseph Cuevas)

Destroyer of worlds

In a far from modest and less than truthful description of itself, the Philippine government, said a Malacanang statement, is “headed by someone who has strong political will, decisive leadership, and compassion for his fellow men,” hence the “fruitful” first two years of the six-year Rodrigo Duterte presidency.

How “fruitful” have the past two years of the Duterte regime been? Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in the same statement that the government is winning the “war” on drugs, as evidenced by, he said, the number of police anti-drug operations (91,704 from July 2016 to March 2018), the arrest of 123,648 suspected drug pushers and users, the dismantling of drug dens and laboratories, and the government’s seizure of billions of pesos worth of illegal drugs and laboratory equipment. There’s also the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s (PDEA) declaration of over 6,000 barangay as being “drug free.”

In addition are the “economic feats” — Roque’s words — of the administration and its “independent foreign policy.” The first includes the 6.7 percent growth of the country’s gross domestic product (GRP) in 2017, while the second has “resulted in billions worth of investments that are expected to create thousands of jobs for Filipinos.”

Those “feats,” however, are not of any consequence to the imperative of ending the poverty of nearly 25 percent of Filipinos to which Mr. Duterte said he was committed. Only one percent of the population benefit from economic growth, while the remaining 99 million Filipinos don’t because of the skewed system of wealth distribution that’s one of the worst in Asia. Rooted in the archaic land tenancy system that has defied abolition for centuries, that system has kept millions desperately poor.

But Roque’s statement was nevertheless echoed by former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, who said — without, however, specifying anything — that Mr. Duterte has made good on all his election promises except three. Special Assistant to the President Bong Go said basically the same thing, but was similarly short on the specifics.

None of these three regime worthies mentioned Mr. Duterte’s pre-election promise to enrich funeral parlor owners by killing 100,000 drug pushers and users, which, with four more years to go in his term, he can handily fulfill, 20,000 mostly poor Filipinos including women and children having been killed by the police and their surrogate assassins in only two years since 2016.

Roque’s celebration of his president’s “political will” and “decisive leadership” no doubt refers to his being true to that threat. It certainly doesn’t apply to his promise to pursue “an independent foreign policy,” despite the pledges of billions in investments and aid he has managed to extract from various countries, primarily China.

Those pledges — most are yet to materialize — hardly qualify as either proof or fruit of an independent anything. China’s promise of high interest loans are in fact a trap likely to condemn succeeding generations to indebtedness. Meanwhile, despite his early rants against American intervention and its sordid human rights record in the Philippines, his promise to end Philippine involvement in US war games, and his declaration of “separation” from the US, the country remains bound to US economic and strategic interests. The Mutual Defense Treaty is still in force, and so are the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) despite Mr. Duterte’s control over the majority in Congress, which could have enabled him to have all three abrogated.

As glaring as that reality is, even more flagrantly obvious is Mr. Duterte’s downplaying, and at times even justifying, Chinese imperialism’s brazen violation of Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, where it has built military bases on the artificial islands it has constructed within the the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, barred Filipino fisherfolk from their traditional fishing grounds, and even seized the catch of those who had initially managed to evade its coast guard cutters.

Mr. Duterte’s “compassion for his fellow men” is as mythical as his “independent” foreign policy. It apparently doesn’t include the poor, the marginalized, women, priests, and the Lumad against whom his various other “wars” have been directed.

An Ateneo de Manila University, University of the Philippines and La Salle University study has documented and established the anti-poor character of the killings that have primarily characterized the misnamed “war” against drugs, which has spared drug lords while focusing on small-time drug pushers. Mr. Duterte has even promoted government officials suspected of involvement in the P6.4 billion drug smuggling scandal, while reappointing others he had fired for corruption or made to resign, demonstrating thereby how serious his pledge to end both the drug problem and government corruption has been.

Over the last two years, instead of making an alternative world possible through the initiation of the social and economic reforms the country so desperately needs, Mr. Duterte has laid waste the world — as insecure, problematic and terrifying as it already was — of the widows and orphans of the breadwinners murdered in the course of his selectively anti-poor campaign against illegal drugs. A humanitarian crisis created by those murders is developing, as thousands of wives and children are made even more destitute by the loss of their husbands and fathers.

His order to arrest “istambay” is similarly savaging entire communities. Potentially productive young men — those looking for work but who are unable to find it, as well as those between jobs — are being hauled off to prison together with ne’er-do-wells and petty thieves. Their families are in the process deprived of the help and support of their sons who, among the poor, are their best hopes for survival in a country where the loss or absence of a family member can mean the difference between having food on the table or starving.

As distressing as all of these are, what’s likely to be one of Mr. Duterte’s lasting impacts on Philippine society is his relentless assault on the Constitution and the system of checks and balances which has made authoritarian rule beguiling and democracy repugnant to the uninformed. There is as well his and his minions’ demonization of the media, of the Church, of dissenting and critical women, and of individual clergymen in his apparent belief that they’re potential or actual instruments in a conspiracy to remove him from the power he claims to disdain but in reality so desperately craved.

His rants, ravings, profanities and tirades against critics, human rights defenders, clerics, women and God Himself have further divided a society already fragmented by economic, social and political inequality, and have made rational and informed discourse the subject of scorn among those sectors of the population that need it most. Mr. Duterte’s enshrinement of abuse, impunity, violence, lawlessness, and intimidation as State policies and as substitutes for informed debate and discussion is creating a generation of cynical, ignorant, brutal and mindless citizens and civilian and military bureaucrats who even now venerate, propagate and uphold the very opposite of the values of respect for others and the truth, and the right to free expression necessary in the making of a society of equals in which no one need sleep in fear or under bridges. This is how “fruitful” his first two years in power have been. #

First published in BusinessWorld Photo from PCOO.

ITANONG MO KAY PROF: ITLOS at ang panalo ng Pilipinas laban sa China

Lubos ang kaligayahan ng sambayanang Pilipino sa pagkakamit ng tagumpay sa kaso ng Pilipinas laban sa panghihimasok ng Tsina sa West Philippine Sea. Bigo ang Tsina sa pang-aagaw sa syento porsyento ng ating extended continental shelf at 80 por syento ng ating exclusive economic zone.

Napatunayan batay sa malakas na ebidensya na boladas lamang ang ipinangangalandakan ng Tsina na istorikong karapatan sa umanoy undisputable sovereignty o lubusang pagmamay-ari sa halos buong South China Sea na isang taguri lamang ng Ingles na tagagawa ng mapa. Mahalagang matalakay natin ang ating panalo at kung ano pa ang magagawa natin para tuluyang manaig ang ating mga karapatan sa harap ng pagbabanta at propaganda ng Tsina. Read more