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  • Do you know that

    If all your life you have always aspired and you think the one on top is no good, you must think again. Maybe you are no better. Or maybe you look worse!.. Or, why not think God. You're good but he loves you. You could end up that egotist stooge you hate in the mirror.
  • A small thief and a big thief are the same. They are both thieves... Uh uh, OK, we have a small thief and a big thief - they are not exactly the same... size.
  • People don't know good until they have seen bad, or they don't know bad, did not have any idea about bad, until they've seen good. Before all them could be hollow strings of words. [Tumen's doctrine]
  • Gagged people can sometimes be as dangerous as the non-reasonable. [Right of Reply]
  • One thing is always better than nothing. [When hope is gone; Kapit sa patalim.]
  • There will always be something better or advanced than the thing. [Law of Dialectic]
  • Putting down good or perceived good you lose. If good puts you down you lose as well. Try to be good. [Politics and propaganda]
  • Tyranny and rape belong to the same set of mind. They believe and look at themselves as too good.
  • When a person has lost credibility the best thing for him is to stop issuing statements because politically he has already lost any and all arguments. [Everything to a person - Integrity]
  • If truth can bring you down you must be stood on weak or false ground. If lie can bring you down then you must be stood on worse than scum!
  • Have you ever thought

    "True" church or true religion is a squabble between theists. Whatever it is people believe in must be of no problem to God. I bet He can speak very well the language of any man - any creature, actually. [A Universal God]
  • A man's gain may be another man's loss. A man's happiness may be another man's woe. A man's ease may be another man's sacrifice and misery.[Expropriation/Profiteering/Bureaucrat capitalism/Government corruption]
  • To err is human. That’s why it is not good habit to drop God’s name just to drive the self. It might be standing stinking shit aside Him. [Cashing-in on the gullible]

  • Man has sometimes relegated God to a mule. Religion and State need to separate. [Religions in politics]
  • Heroes are remembered for their greatness. The bad sides of them are all in the hidden files and folders. Villains are the other way around. Nobody is perfect.
  • Except for being a figure of speech, nothing is really absolute.
  • Some people are hard headed. They cannot be told once. Well, try and try again, who knows. [Big names that flopped in politics]

The Quick Fox and the Lazy Dog

This article has been published in this site, in the Posts section, before. Because of some critical issues, I decided to re-post the article, this time in the Page section. Posts are syndicated while Pages are each stand-alone.

Graphic1

Push and shove in the South China Sea. Lifted from Google search: chinese warship/philippine warship [Picture is of old decommissioned vessel scuttled by the Philippines in the Spratleys]

The issue is: Should media journalism be pushing for any political cause? I have always maintained that the answer is NO. That the rule of journalism is to push for the truth. That truths and facts are almost one and the same. Click for the full article >>

New Year!

It’s  2014 !

We’ve got a new year!  Thanks be to God, you and me made it this far! And we thank God as well for the year that was, good or bad.

About The Title

It was supposed to say “Happy New Year!”

Lifted from Google search: typhoon yolanda

Merry in “merry Christmas”, and Happy added to “new year” were reserved words for people I knew had had merry and happy celebrations.

typhoon-yolanda-620x350

And the dead, many remained unclaimed and uncollected after a month, stank. Lifted from Google search

December this year for Filipinos, was total destruction of the Waray provinces by super typhoon Yolanda. Thirty-six thousand [36,000] casualties might be one over-bloated estimate. Sixteen thousand [16,000] casualties might be one too many than authorities have counted and listed.

Around 10,000 people died or missing, leaving a sea of homeless people.

Happy? You’re nuts!

Classroom Backlog, Rice Importation, Final Peace in Mindanao

Widely varied matters all-in-one that might appear one weird composition. Again and again we have been feed good news about them.

And every time, I can’t help it, I might appear rude in my reactions, but I feel I am being feed preposterous information that I wish are true. I sense distortion, I sense deception – the common denominators.

Classroom, rice shortage gone by 2013

But that’s what they are – wishful thinking at least, which makes them ridiculous.  The most revolting side of it is that we are getting them from people who are supposed to be telling no-nonsense. Skip the craps, this government can survive without it hoodwinking the people.

Classroom backlog: I am a product of public school. Lack of classrooms in our public schools has always been a problem since my time. And that has been since more than 50 years ago. The problem is more acute today than in my days. In my time there were average of 45 pupils per room, whole day [morning and afternoon] session for one class.  Today it’s something like 70 pupils per room at start of school year, to taper down as time progresses due to drop-outs, two or three shifts [classes] per classroom, per teacher, per day. Common in urban areas and lesser or better as we look farther in the countryside. Out there the problems concerning education are a bit different. Like, some places need schools  and teachers where there is none.

And it would be wrong to assume that all the public school administrators that came and went, never thought of putting an end to that. To say it simply, I think the problem is money. The Philippines is not rich to slash dead the problem in a single stroke. Government needs to deliver many other [legitimate] services, and funds can only be allocated and divided, meager and inadequately it will seem, for each of all those needs. Any allegation of neglect in there appears nothing but politics and political squabble, actually. Who of all the administrators who came and went never dreamed of being hailed a hero?  Nobody. OK, maybe priority is an issue. Sure,  sound priority makes some difference. But I don’t think that the difference can be considered revolutionary in regard to the scope of the problem. Indeed notable improvement in there could be awesome.

The Philippine public school system is no place to talk about success. I know how parents feel in there. I have 7 children who went through there. Those who capitalized on the public education system for higher positions did not win elections: Secretary Raul S. Roco for President and former Senator Teresa Aquino Oreta for re-election.

OK, there must be an end to this problem. But looking at present government resources and needs, I don’t think we will see that happening in President Benigno Simeon Aquino’s time. The problem appears perennial that could be marginalized to its barest minimum. Again, I don’t think that it is possible under the present administration without putting itself into a very difficult situation.

Like, one solution being tried with the private sector right now, as reported, which is Build and Lease – is actually a dig deeper into a hole dug for the taxpayers. We are dealing there with debt, interest and rent, charged on the Filipino people. And it is not good news like they make it appear. It is a bitter pill forced on the people hoping it will do them better in the end.

Another is for government to push for more revenues. Former President Gloria Arroyo was criticized and attacked for pushing Value added taxation [VAT] from 10 percent to 20 percent. The present administration not only maintained them, it actually pushed for more like the added hundred percent [increased] taxation called “Sin tax” on consumer products like cigarettes and alcoholic drinks. No, my figure may not be real. But “sin tax” has caused consumer products like cigarettes to sell double the cost they used to be at the retail end, as a result.

While the authors of this “sin tax ” can praise themselves as progressives, I think the nation is actually reeling back in its push forward. We are killing there industries and jobs at a time when we need more of them. More industries and jobs can also mean more revenues.

Done is done. I think Filipinos prefer to hear sympathy instead, something not in the vocabulary of much-disliked-ex-President Gloria M. Arroyo, rarely heard in her State of the nation addresses. Personally, I rated her as the most egotistic president who went in this republic, for anybody to grab that title from her.

Rice self-sufficiency

Ancient Rice Terraces, Philippines

The Banaue rice terraces, Mountain Province, Philippines. Lifted from Google search: riceland philippines.

Department of Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, in the time of President Arroyo assured rice self-sufficiency for the Philippines starting 2010. Where does that put him now that we are 2013?  So we see, what works in paper does not always work in the real world. And sad to say, sometimes we get to see technocrats who seem do not know what they are talking about.

Now Filipinos are being told that we are soon to become a rice exporter country. Indeed, rice produced in the Philippines to be shipped out will qualify as “export”. But in the situation where the country is a traditional net importer of rice, I think the nearest description is plunder of Philippine resources by foreigners. Like, when foreign nationals invest in rice production, clouted under assistance or cooperation, or disguised as local capital and the product is shipped out when there is shortage of rice in the Philippines.  Chinese capitals for one have been investing significantly in rice production in the Philippines. No, nationality behind investment in agriculture is not really an issue. There are government regulations regarding foreign ownership in the country, if anybody would like to make an issue of them. It is the shortage of rice in the Philippines that is the issue.

I remember during the rice crisis of 1972, local government units were empowered to restrict or regulate movement of rice in their municipalities.

I think Filipinos need to review their values of  bad and good. OK, lets upgrade that to good and better. Like, it is good that our neighbors from Malaysia, China, Taiwan and Korea are buying out the Filipinos. But is not it better if it is the Filipinos who are buying into Malaysia, China, Taiwan and Korea? So we see that the Filipinos are not really better than their neighbors, for them to prate anything about when it comes to the economy.

But we are going a-side, where were we… ah, the awesome great leap from being a rice importer to becoming a rice exporter country just around the corner for the Filipinos.

Malacañang has announced a drastic drop in rice importation by the National Foods Authority this year. No, there is no revolutionary leap in rice production if that was the impression.

The [projected] importation by NFA this year will be an impressive drop from previous figures due to “over importation” by National Foods Authority [NFA] done last year. Or, the buffer stock of the NFA has been considered a glut. Importation can only be approximated because typhoons and drought conditions that are among the causes to them cannot accurately be predicted.

I really feel this “rice exporter” talks is mental conditioning and  a pa-consuelo de bobo for Juan dela Cruz while he is being plundered – my nearest word of choice, when that happensThis dashing convergence of bigger-than-reality good news could not be by chance.

Preposterous issues like in the world of showbiz do not really work. They affect more the people engaging them than their intended audience – the masses, actually. Like, should Presidential sister Chris Aquino be endorsing political candidates for the May 2013 election? Remembering her as a Presidential problem-daughter, and also looking at people around me, I think she has more dislikes than likes, to even be endorsing anything.

The Philippine entertainment world is a different world by itself. It is a syndicated world with its own established order. What their mafias in there think become their reality. They affect little the world of politics.

In politics, leaders stay because masses see no better. And masses know better when they see them. Oh, OK, this is a free country, anybody has the right to campaign for, or even against anybody.

Graphic1

Killing a myth. Endorsers of Sen Manny Villar for President in 2010 election, clockwise top to bottom: Willie Revillame, Manny Pacquiao and Dolphy. Politics has its own rules. One, people are sold by their own merits and not really of who are selling them.
Lifted from Google search: willie revillame, manny pacquiao, dolphy. Pictures arranged by rltjs.

If the trend lives on, tomorrow’s elections might even be costlier for candidates as expenses could include endorsement by big names –  a becoming must-spend-for by those seeking elective public office. Talents and their handlers cost.  It is business, and nothing is free – binabayaran ng pera kung di utang na loob.

But we are going a-side, where were we… ah, 10 tons average harvest, per hectare, for Filipinos. The Philippines is not in the Mekong or in the Yangtze for a 10 metric-tons-per-hectare large-scale projection, to douse the over-expectations and the hope of becoming a rice exporter country. A harvest of one kg of rice is achievable in one square meter experimental plot. It means, a hectare which is 10,000 square meters, could produce 10 tons per harvest or 30 tons in a three-crops year. Ten tons per hectare,  times area,  times three, works only in paper.

Where 3 cropping is possible, 15 tons per hectare per year is achievable. That has been the Filipino computation. But considering upland and rain-fed rice-lands, and considering Philippine weather or seasons, the total national  average in rice production is way, way down 100 cavans, or 5 tons per hectare. And that is per year and not per harvest. That’s about Philippine reality at present.

There has been an anti-landlord culture in the country that has discouraged large-scale agriculture by Filipinos, actually, adding to the situation. You can thank the Maoist revolutionaries for that if you think it is good. But I think they need to update their politics to be in the mainstream. Three quarters century has brought many changes to the Philippine and world political landscapes.

Anyway, I think we have a prospect of free trade coming into heads with national food security – the looming issue.

Bangsamoro Entity – the so-called Final Peace in Mindanao

“Final Peace” is too big a phrase to use and  it is actually baseless at this point in time.

Secession, like any rebellion, has its own bases that determine it. Say, poverty. Say, government neglect. Whatever, there is social-political-economic discontent by a people for their government. Discontent becomes dissension that in turn further develops to organized armed rebellion.

Eliminate all those causes and rebellion will be floating on air with nothing to stand on. That would be next to lasting peace.  But the situation is far from that.

Moreover, the Mindanao conflict is quite complicated than that. Add in there Bangsamoro nationalism and religious Islamism and that would be more like it – the Mindanao war.

In 2007, President Gloria M. Arroyo actually announced the end to Moro Secession and NPA rebellion by year 2010. Well, if she knew what she was talking about, as we are now 2013.

Right now we have a ceasefire or cessation of hostilities – peace that is good while it lasts, between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front  and the Philippine government.

The Bangsamoro Entity to replace ARMM:  MILF to govern a [Moro nation] within the folds of the Republic of the Philippines. It has to be real, genuine and never token, or else the romance and honeymoon between rebels and this administration, like with the ARMM under the MNLF, will come to an early end.  Philippine government must deliver the agreement, which is a contradiction with itself.

It smells like Federalism between the Bangsamoro and the Philippines but it cannot be a federal form of government that Malacañang is creating over there since it has no power to do that over the Constitutions. Chief architect for the Mindanao peace process, Marvic Leonen, who negotiated this Bangsamoro Entity for Philippine government, and who has since there been promoted as one of the justices of the Supreme Court, surely would assure us more on that.

Bangsamoro Entity is bringing us just a step away to “Final” peace? Come on, give us a break, that’s another crap. It is just another name for ARMM which was a failure in the views of Muslim rebels. Frankly, I see Bangsamoro Entity more in the side of Moro independence should it veer that way. For one thing, it brought cognizance to Bangsamoro as a different people or nation giving it an international legal personality. Bangsamoro means Moro nation. The mere word alone serves as a concrete divide between the Moros  and all other Filipinos.

I am of western Visayas. Ilonggos do not call themselves as BanwangIlonggo. They are comfortable being Filipinos, co-equal rightful owners of what is entire Philippines.

I think anything that divides any Philippine tribe with the rest of the Filipino nation, which cannot be reconciled, should be pulled down, dismantled, or eliminated.

Probably, a little near to “Final peace” in Mindanao is when or if the Moro rebels will cease to see themselves as a different nation fighting for a different state. That has not been easy, though we see progress,  as it is very deeply rooted in their culture. The lingering animosity between ethnic groups comprising Bangsamoro and all the others that make up the Philippines stretches back since Spanish colonization of the archipelago in the 16th century, or probably even before that in old Borneo.

Or, if Republic of the Philippines will surrender part of its territory to this Bangsamoro.

We don’t see any of that, or any of that happening soon, to expect that kind of peace.

The CJ Got Looped

Finally it is over. The chief justice of the Philippine Supreme Court was finally impeached by the Philippine Senate today. He was impeached for failing to include in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net-worth [SAL-N]  his Dollar-bank account with some “substantial” amount deposited in it .

It can be put differently. That the CJ was impeached for his wrong personal interpretation of a law. He says he is free not to include his dollar account in his SAL-Ns as it is covered by the Bank Secrecy law.

They are culpable violation of the constitutions and betrayal of public trust, the Senate ruled.

The chief justice of the supreme court, Renato Corona. Lifted from Google search: Renato corona.

I have not really been following up the impeachment case, the local news actually, after a couple of weeks that it started, except in some instances.

As I remember it then,  the lower House of Congress has impeached the Chief Justice for non-disclosure to the public of his SAL-N, among other articles. The other articles were laid aside in the Senate later. They were about the Chief Justice charged by the lower house for acts, acts that to them are questionable, which  were actually acts of the Supreme Court and not acts of one person. One article questioned the manner the  CJ voted  in the SC, which is his freedom of prerogative.

But impeachment is what it is  – a political exercise. What is needed is numbers. Getting enough  votes, the resolution becomes an act of Congress or of the Senate. The act is legal and apparently cannot be questioned.  Articles for impeachment, as demonstrated, may be mere formality. It’s been unlike in ordinary courts of law where a fiscal’s office determines prima facie evidence first before the case can be elevated to court. That ought to be the role of the lower house of congress in impeachment cases, are they not? In principle, they ought to be. The lower house has thrown out a case once, for lack of substance. But in practice, as we just saw, they don’t always do.

An impeachment is more of a one way street. They have always gone naturally in favor of Malacañang. There is a long story to that, but we are going a side.

When the Senate received the case from the lower house, it appeared that the CJ has been complying with the filing and submission of his SAL-Ns.  It is the Supreme Court that ruled on non-disclosure of SAL-Ns unless a request for copy is approved by the Supreme Court.  And that ruling has been there since before Corona became chief. Technically, Justice Corona has been disclosing his SAL-Ns to the public. SAL-Ns are public property. They are public documents under the care of government.

It should be noted that until the Senate subpoenaed the clerk of court for copies of the SAL-Ns, prosecutors did not have anything real to possibly base any argument. Later, when the SAL-Ns became open matter in the impeachment court, I remember the issue shifted from non-disclosure of SAL-N to non-inclusion of properties in the SAL-Ns. And next instances they were arguing about bank accounts allegedly not disclosed or included in the SAL-Ns. But the indignant part of them is that those kind of information ought to appear in court only upon order or subpoena of appropriate court.

Obviously, the prosecutors under Congressman Neil Tupas started their moves with the assumption that nobody is perfect.  Lahat na tao kung hahanapan ng butas, ay may butas. They had almost limitless resources and boundless means behind them, for that.

It is obvious by the shoddy work of Congress that the strategy was simply to pass an impeachment resolution that could be rammed against the CJ by rule of numbers in the Senate. The congressman from Ilo-ilo can celebrate their victory but I think he took most of the dirt upon his face than he came out handsomer.

I have watched the Senate in TV when the verdict was read. I stayed until Senator Enrile was finished. I think only he made sense…non-disclosure of “substantial amount”  in the SAL -N, was that the right phrase? The other speakers sounded more like hot rhetoric meant for the consumption of a hungry mob. They were saying that they are clean, in different words, is my summary of them. Fine.

“Substantial amount”. That is interesting.  Because I am dead-sure 100% of people there in the impeachment court did not file a perfect SAL-N. Given all resources I can prove that. But right now you can call my idea a rotten fish because it is a conclusion I made before the facts.

The Senate president has steered the impeachment court past its difficult times.

CJ Corona must be ousted. That is my impression of it since the beginning. I guess he got tangled. And the irony of it all now is that prosecution is nowhere near proving that the impeached Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court stole a peso from the Filipino people, much more a plunderer that prosecution propaganda has successfully painted  him.

Now, that settles it. Ang buhay ay weather-weather langWhat the President wants, the President gets – that is  where former  President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was for 9 long years, except in the case of the MOA-AD. She was the most unpopular President that went in this republic.  And for one who appeared to be  in full control of the state I guess that’s how she became the fertilizer scam, the ZTE-NBN anomalous deal, the executioner of  800 or more victims of human rights violations. Amen.

The big problem of CJ Corona is that he happened to be the former President’s appointee and her former associate.

Personally, I think the President was rid of some protection, which he saw was thorn in his side, in the person of justice Corona. But that is a long story and it looks like the President knows best his own business for himself.

OK, now, with no one in the way, maybe Filipinos can move forward and be brought out of the quagmires they’ve been in.  But maybe next time, before any talk of any removal from office, a public official should be tried of direct violation. And once proven of offense that will constitute  say, treason,  they can be removed for culpable violation of the constitution based on that. That simplifies matter. Like, say, instead of trying to impeach PGMA for betrayal of public trust based on the “fertilizer scam”, why had not they proven first that there was a fertilizer scam which will constitute betrayal of public trust. More than half a decade later, Filipinos are not even sure if there was indeed that scam or not.

A special investigation and a conclusive report by Congress could perform a preliminary work of establishing facts. That in turn may provide something undeniably solid for further actions.

An allegation based on another un-established allegation is actually crazy. It is speculative. When acts that constitute culpable violation of the constitutions and or betrayal of public trust appear clear enough, then I guess that justifies filing them outright.

Otherwise it might also be wasting everybody’s time. Because arguments will be whether or not there was a violation that spells to say treason, anyway, so why should not people limit to direct violations, first? Congress and Senate have lots of important things to do. In the case of this impeachment, constrained by time, Senate had been rigid with the time frame. There is a negative side to that if everybody is talking about justice.  Bitin ang maraming Filipino sa katotohanan.

In politics, crazy things can happen. As we have seen, the lower house impeached the Chief Justice, among other things for always voting in favor of then President Gloria Arroyo. Not only the allegation proved untrue but there is also no law that says he cannot vote in favor of what the President of the Republic of the Philippines stood for. If it was a case filed in the fiscal’s office, the case might have been dismissed. Because while in the lower house of Congress “nondisclosure” of SAL-N  would have proven baseless. The CJ has a case of bad luck. What started to be ridiculous and speculative ended in his conviction. Still, I think impeachment needs refinement.

Impeached for an erroneous interpretation of a law, that sounds funny. That could not be a violation of the constitutions and by laws. Or else everybody who loses a case in court can automatically be called a criminal. A betrayal of public trust, well, maybe it can be squeezed into that. I think, Lawyer – International judge – Senator Miriam Santiago, said it better. In another time, this could have probably called for no serious than warning or reprimand.

They cannot even charge him now of direct offense, real or imagined. Because chances are he might be acquitted. And if that happens, it will appear that he was impeached over nothing.

And to the many of the  blood thirsty mobs in  the streets, probably it was just a case of plunderers killing one of their kind for sacrifice. And the mob’s lust for blood is insatiable; so, who’s gonna be their next food, folks?

There Are No White Beaches and Green Meadows in Scarborough, Sire/Ma’am

About the Title

Philippine media seems overwhelmed by patriotism, or maybe it was just coincidental. Every time I saw Philippine-China stand-off in the Scarborough, I noticed articles always carried picture of beautiful isle or islet that I think belonged in the Spratlys.

If it is about drumming up public support for the Philippine cause, will it make less if Scarborough is actually only shallow sea and a few jotting rocks?

The Best of Scarborough Shoal. Picture was lifted from Google search: Scarborough shoal.

Ships do not sail through the place. World maritime has established the place as Scarborough Shoal since a sea mishap involving one ship named Scarborough there in the 18th century. The Chinese believe it is the Huangyan Island noted in some old geography by Chinese scholars.  Filipinos call the place Panatag Shoal.

Panatag [pa na tag] adj  Tagalog, Pilipino:  serene, peaceful, calm, steady

The best of Scarborough shoal at low tide. Apparently taken later, same rock pictured above, actually having a twin near it. Lifted from Google search: Scarborough shoal

Scarborough is defined as a shoal and not an island nor a group of islands.

shoal [shōl] noun (plural shoals)
1. shallow water: an area of shallow water in a larger body of water
2. underwater sandbank: an underwater sandbank or sandbar that is visible at low water
Microsoft® Encarta® 2007. © 1993-2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

No island mass. Just shoal and reef systems reflecting different colors of sea.  It gets too shallow in parts so that white ripples resulting as waves roll over the shallows show. Lifted from Google search: Scarborough shoal.

During the time when fishermen did not normally go out more than 5 miles to sea, the place used to be no-man’s land, a hazardous place for ships, some few useless pieces of rocks that jot out of the water especially at low tide –  absolutely unlivable to be of interest.  If there was something interesting of the place, it must be the danger it has posed to maritime. It would have been no good map if it did not show dangerous places like useless Scarborough shoal.

But that was yesterday. And the world has grown since then. Commercial fishing has become a way of life. The place is irresistibly very rich in marine life. And added to that, there are other prospects the old world had never known before.

Shallow sea is rich in algae and corals as the sea-bed is blessed with, or penetrated by much sunlight. Reef systems are formed. The shoal formation hosts a wide variety and complete chains of marine biology. The place has become an important fishing ground, and later disputed.

Modern day Balangay that fishes in deeper seas, at rest in port with frolickers aboard. Lifted from Google search: Navotas fishport

Scarborough is about two weeks round-trip fishing run from Batangas and Navotas – Metro Manila’s fish-ports. That depends on provisions like food, drinks, ice, and how soon the holds are filled with catch. In deeper seas around the shoal are the big species, omnivores and carnivores, like Yellow Fins.

No, they are not the tuna capital of the Philippines. The tuna capital of the Philippines is Gensan or General Santos that fishes in the Celebes Sea…Celebes Sea! Hey, why don’t some bright guy rename that sea to South Philippine Sea!  And while at it, expand the country’s territorial and economic zones farther out south, as well. How?  Since Philippine government has claimed Benham Plateau in the east, why cannot it claim a sort of Benham Valley or Benham Hills that lies under what we would then call South Philippine Sea – from what to be formerly Celebes Sea! Nothing tribal, nothing economic, nothing political [ugh, Lol]. No, it is not some Filipinos going crazy, it must be the whole world moving backward. What do you think, folks? :-)

Meantime, the Scarborough shoal has been claimed by the Republic of the Philippines [Ph], by Republic of China [Taiwan], and by the People’s Republic of China [PRC]. It all started when Filipinos planted the country’s flag in there in the time of President Marcos in the 60s, claiming the place for the Philippines, which drew protests and counter claims.

So, we see all the territorial claims are not new. All them asserted only in the late 20th century are decades old,  Scarborough shoal used to be a common fishing ground while disputed.  But not anymore.

Scarborough shoal is located in the South China Sea, slightly northeast of the Spratlys. The shoal is only around 130 nautical miles off  Zambales, Philippines.

Lifted from Google satellite Maps: Philippines and Scarborough Shoal

Under the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS] it falls within the 200 miles Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ] of the Philippines. The Philippines is supposed to hold fishing rights in there, or in its parts that are within the EEZ.

[My rough estimate of Scarborough shoal, that one estimate has put at 130 square kilometers in area, is 125 nautical miles on center [OC] to baseline Zambales.  Nautical mile x 1.852 = km]

With ownership there comes right[s]. Rights can come with or without ownership. The rights of the Philippines over the shoal under the EEZ has been complicated by issue of ownership. Issues of territorial ownership and sovereign rights have now apparently put them into limbo. And the situation can hang in there indefinitely.

Obviously, the shoal has to be cleared of any claim of ownership, for EEZ to become the guiding authority. I think the Philippines and PRC are locked in an impasse over the  Scarborough.

For the Filipinos, territorial sovereignty over the Scarborough shoal will mean expanding more into the South China Sea that they have already renamed “West Philippine Sea.”  I guess the Chinese simply cannot allow that.  I don’t think others in the region welcome Philippine position, either. Not with the loss, more than they should, of common fishing ground it means for them. There are oil deposits in the region. Most of all, in the region are very critical international sea lanes.

The Chinese have re-asserted their claim of ownership of the shoal. Whereas before, their fishermen were arrested by Philippine authorities for fishing there, lately they have positioned naval forces that prevented that from happening. This time they seem to be more meaningful, more resolute, of where  their mouth is, or maybe one of these days they might.

And why did not the world put the EEZ at 300 or 350 nautical miles from baseline. That might have contained people who see 200 miles as not enough, thus minimizing the possibility of wars.  Haaaah…  :-(

In the Rim of a Storm

The Philippine Supreme Court has issued a TRO that prevented the impeachment court to have a subpoenaed bank divulge account[s] of Chief Justice Corona. The TRO is specific to any that falls under Republic Act 6426, or the Foreign Currency Deposit Act (FCDA). It stayed clear of  Republic Act 1405, or the Bank Secrecy Act, which then left wide leeway to the opening of  information on several  peso-accounts owning to the CJ. It was issued upon a motion by the bank, actually.

RA 1405 allows the opening of bank accounts in cases as impeachment. RA 6426 specifies written permission of the owner of an account for its divulgence.

The Three Sides of it. Lifted from Google search: the impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, Senate President and Impeachment court head Sen Juan Ponce Enrile, The President Benigno Simeon C Aquino III.

The TRO has been viewed by prosecutors as an intervention by the SC in the impeachment process. By itself, I don’t think the SC intervened in the big meaning and in the serious implications of the word. This made me post a comment somewhere, excerpts hereunder:

I think the supreme court never intervened for anybody, anywhere, anytime. It only receives the complaint. It must act on them. It likes doing them or not. It [SC], they [justices], must.

But, does the Supreme Court really intervene with the impeachment? I think the right-of-way of the Impeachment Court has never been in question. Nobody has questioned it. Nobody is questioning it.

There were series of events that led to the defense running to the Supreme court for relief. I think the TRO came at a time better than if the SC might or will say later that the impeachment court had been party to what the SC might say is [anything not good]. The impeachment court, being not really a party to prosecution, has choices between agreeing with the prosecution on their interpretations of the constitutions and by laws, or to honor the TRO from the SC,  so it seems now. I think it would be safe for the impeachment court to give a little room for the SC at some distance.

in·ter·vene

(past and past participle in·ter·vened, present participle in·ter·ven·ing, 3rd person present singular in·ter·venes)

intransitive verb
1. become involved in situation: to involve yourself deliberately in a situation, especially in a conflict or dispute, in order to influence what is happening and, most often, to prevent undesirable consequences
2. have preventive or delaying effect: to occur or take effect in such a way as to stop or delay something
3. elapse: to elapse between one point in time and another
4. break into conversation: to break into a conversation or discussion
5. be situated in between: to be located between two things
6. law enter lawsuit: to enter a lawsuit as a third party in order to protect your own interests
7. economics act to manipulate economic markets: to take economic action that is designed to counter a trend in a market, especially in order to stabilize a country’s currency

[Late 16th century. < Latin intervenire “come between” < venire“come”]

Microsoft® Encarta® 2007. © 1993-2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

The apparent conflicts between Malacañang and some legislators in one hand and the Supreme court in the other hand, made people to worry of a constitutional crisis. Malacañang Palace says that such a crisis is “malabo” [unlikely to happen].

Not only the possibility is there. Filipinos may not be in the eye of a constitutional crisis but they are already in the dark cloud of such a storm. I think the constitution is in effect being questioned by the President and his men.

There are times when people can debate in public on what they cannot agree with, without any problem to them. They are so when  the subject is hypothetical or the exercise is academic. Any question to the constitution right in the middle of a difficult real situation is, I think, itself a constitutional crisis. There is a difference between amending a law and subverting a law, the high forms of them.

That [duty and obligation of the SC] being it, a constitutional-political crisis is not impossible. Right now some legislators want the supreme court to totally stay out. The way some legislators act, it is possible the SC upon complaint might say the rights of the defendant is violated during the impeachment. Executive and Legislative could override the Judiciary. We have a collision when or if that happens. We can only imagine the rest.

Some of the President known allies and men. Lifted from Google search. Clockwise from top left: Sen Kiko Pangilinan, Sen Franklin Drilon, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Laceirda, Head prosecutor Cong Neil Tupas

The TRO handed to the Impeachment court was promulgated by the Supreme court after a vote of 8-5 with 2 abstentions. Cong Rodolfo Fariñas, member of the Impeachment prosecution panel has called for the impeachment of the 8 justices who favored the TRO.

No doubt Malacañang has the numbers in the lower house of congress where impeachments are born. The impeachment of the Chief Justice passing in there without or without much house deliberations has proven it. But Cong Feleciano Belmonte, the current head of the lower house, although a known ally of the President, has been quite apologetic for Cong Fariñas’ action.

Right now, the critical theater is the Senate where the impeachment of the Chief Justice is being handled.  Has Malacañang the numbers in there to finally impeach Justice Corona, too? Most political analysts will say yes.

But Philippine Senate in general, especially Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, has been trying to show impartiality in handling the proceeding.

Senator Enrile’s tenure as Senate President has always been threatened by coup.  Nearest contender would be Senator Franklin Drilon, a staunch ally of the President. But a coup would not be necessary. In the Senate that is acting as an impeachment court, anybody can be overruled.

People could wake up one morning under a declared or undeclared revolutionary government. It might not be planned. It could just happen.  A Judiciary that, in deed or in effect, might be gagged and suspended or arrested by the Legislative and Executive branches of government.

And that is not actually stated in the constitutions.  But it can be squeezed by the Executives into the shell of an emergency rule and then hatched. And the Philippine constitution saw only an independent Legislative branch to check that, which in the imagined scenario based on how things are, is likely a mere formality rather than functional. We see a scenario of the Legislative, more than checking, ganging up with  the Executives over the [Supreme Court and the] Judiciary.

Well,  if that would not be a constitutional storm enough that can develop into a political one. Whether Revolutionary government or dictatorship, then, are but matters of opinion.

This has always been a natural material world. Behind the rhetoric about good governance it is hard for the situation not to develop into a simple struggle for power and survival.

“The symptoms of this weak state are the large gap between rich and poor—a gap that has been exploited for political ends—and a political system based on patronage and, ultimately, corruption to support that patronage,” Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former President.

That is where PGMA has been. Stated one way differently, as political power is harangued and harassed, it gathers all forces around it and in the end their interests – personal survival – become one, or are one of symbiosis. A formidable machinery whose loyalty is to itself is formed, by people tolerant of one another, and whose mainstay is the President.

Filipinos have seen history repeated times and again. We have the ingredients of past failures very much around. It is hard to hope for something very different under the same old circumstances.

The Two Views on the Matter

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is being impeached for culpable violations of the constitution, betrayal of public trust, and graft and corruption –  that’s the legalistic side of it.

The President, even before he was sworn into office, has never liked the Chief Justice, and his camp is busy working on that – that’s the politics’ side of it.

Meanwhile, things are drifting towards a storm and pointed to the eye of it.

How Do We Do

How are we doing. Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has criticized the present administration lately as a “politics of division”. The Aquino administration, in the other hand, claiming to be making strides, hit back at her as a “huge failure”. Except for, I should say, its overly zealous campaign against alleged anomalies of the past administration, I think, the Aquino administration is no more than threading along on the paths left by the PGMA administration i.e. Build Operate and/or Transfer schemes for public works, Tourism development, Cash Transfer for the destitute, others. Carry overs of the Arroyo administration, furtherance or expanding some of them,  actually.  Tourism seems to be one good prospect.

But are we really making stride at everything as claimed? I think this has become a boring claim by everyone since President Marcos. Where Filipinos are, today, tells it loud.

GDP and the Simple Man in the Street.

Gross Domestic Product [GDP] is one system indicator that a government relies on to tell itself of the country’s progress. It is a language usually understandable only to the business sector. It is usually expressed in amount of money and converted to percentage, say a GDP of 3.2% [annual] growth. And what does that in turn mean? Actually, nothing except to give people a near idea how the country is doing compared with its neighbors.  Sometimes we hear politicians prate about them. But figures are not really conclusive unless we are comparing countries that have exactly same external-internal conditions. But this is going a-side.

So, let’s say there was P95.00 then that now is P150.00. It shows a gain of P55.00 or roughly a 58% of [accumulated] gain. It might be considered good for the business sector. What is presented there as gain is more of a result of inflation – value on production was re-adjusted. It does not necessarily mean that the business has grown. It does not also automatically mean that business has become more profitable which is another thing independent.

But there must be growth of businesses as the population grows so we can say that the country is really doing good. Growth of businesses means more employment. And growth of businesses has to surpass growth of population so it can be said that the whole nation is making a stride forward. This is within what they mean by Positive economic growth. That will mean pushing against an existing huge backlog in employment for one thing.

[The figures in term of money given as example represent 1 kg of chicken then [P95.00] and 1 kg of chicken now [P150.00]. While it showed a gain [P55.00]. I kg then and I kg now, actually, is zero growth. What was presented as a 58% gain is actually inflation figure. It has to be 1 kg then and 1 plus [1+] kg now, to have really grown. If production was 1 unit then that now is 1.1 unit, then 0.1 unit or 10% is the real growth. What was P95.00 then must now show P165.00, which is actually 58% inflation plus 10% growth.  The gross production that is P165.00 is actually inflation plus growth.]

Whatever in reality, what  are perceived as gains cannot be felt or understood by people in the streets. Sometimes there is actually a feeling of retrogression. As when one breadwinner had 3 mouths to feed then, but now he has four or five. Or, when a bread-winner belongs to a sector that is short-changed at every round of unending readjustments because of inflation, as happening in countries where states lean or lean heavily on the side of the business class who are themselves also hard pressed by world trade and competition. The buying power of the wage earners in such places is shrinking. While the business class might be progressing, the wage earners will be seeing retrogression. But we are going a-side.

Figures will have been expressed better based on volume of production i.e. metric tons, other units; or showing both volume and value of production to compare them then and now. Otherwise partial figures [showing only value] are actually some misleading.  The national figure is a summary of them. And a summary is possible only using a common denominator – value. The amount in money can be awesome. It somehow projects progress.  But there are people who cannot feel it. They don’t understand why.

One direct indicator, a short cut showing the state of national economy, is employment figure. A claim of economic growth is actually false when there is a decline in employment. [Again, in there, figures might be tricky but we are going a-side.]

I think another, and real-hard indicator, is the 8 million overseas Filipino workers [OFW].  I was in Guam in 1991 when overseas Korean workers started going home, many of them cutting contracts. I guess it was a feeling of missing  new-found-friends that made me think they were wasting opportunity that, as a Filipino earning 10 times more in there, was how I saw things.

That there was a growing need for employment in Korea, that the differential in pay was narrowing, and that they have no more reason to be away from family – those are what I learned from them. How true. People will do with less if they can have them near their loved ones.

[SOKOR economic stride was awesome. Today, a few hundred thousand Filipinos are in Korea doing work. Korean corporations like Hanil and Hanjin are in the Philippines directly providing tens of thousand jobs for Filipinos not to mention secondary opportunities they have generated.]

For business to go abroad may mean  expansion or growth. But for workers going abroad to find work does not speak well of local economy.

Problems are not solved overnight.  But at least we should see a reversal of the trend of Filipinos going abroad to find work, to claim our country’s economy  is really doing good.

Yes, how do we do. There are sleeping issues not up yet because of the impeachment of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. How long can this administration keep economic issues at bay or how long before economic issues will come to play remains to be seen.

Or maybe some of them already do. Discontent can assume any form. It can ride even on unrelated issues.

Lifted from Pinoyweeklyonline / Google search: mga larawan, P-noy

Scaring away graft and corruption might be good for this administration.  But that alone is not enough.  People have seen the best of PGMA’s economic programs and policies.  Ok, maybe same things, same everything, but different players equals different results.  Frankly, I find it hard to be optimistic.

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