"Dalawang gabi ko lang babasahin ito." - President Rodrigo Duterte

Is Duterte thinking of resigning?

CURIOUS about the front-page newspaper reports that President Duterte said that he was thinking of resigning, as he’s exhausted and tired from the “endless” fight against corruption, I read the transcript of his speech, and even watched a video of it. The speech was made at the launch ceremony for “Go Negosyo, Pilipinas Angat Program,” a program to help small entrepreneurs funded by the country’s tycoons (would you believe that?).

To say it was a strange speech is an understatement. But perhaps not really, given Duterte’s preference for extemporaneous, often rambling speeches which spill out the things that dominate his thoughts at that time. He set aside, even ridiculed, his prepared two-page speech which he said would just take two minutes to read. Instead he talked for nearly an hour and a half, discussing the state of the nation more than his official SONA did last July. (https://pcoo.gov.ph/presidential-speech/speech-of-president-rodrigo-roa-duterte-during-the-launching-of-the-go-negosyos-pilipinas-angat-lahat-program/)

After the perfunctory “congratulations at mabuhay kayong lahat,” he said: “Now, I’d like to talk also about my personal heartaches and all.” Before an audience of mostly big-business bigwigs and ambassadors — the kind of crowd wearing designer $1,000 suits and Patek Philippe wrist watches — Duterte related how the gutter of Philippine society looks — and his frustration of not being able to clean it up after two years of trying.

He described the things that have made him angry: Continue reading

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Aquino’s Laguna Lake flood-control project to replace Arroyo’s never took off

A cautionary tale on PPP
WITH floods inundating Metropolitan Manila in recent weeks, can you think of anything worse than Benigno Aquino 3rd’s stupid move to cancel the major flood-control project involving Laguna Lake in 2011, simply because it was Gloria Arroyo’s?

Not just one but two things worse. First, P1.2 billion in taxpayers’ money went down the drain as a result of the Belgian contractor’s suit, in the form of a P700 million payment to it and over P500 million in legal fees. (How many new floodwater-pumping stations could that have constructed? At P10 million per plant, 125, enough to make at least Quezon City flood-free.)

And second, and probably much worse, the flood-control project Aquino boasted would replace Arroyo’s, never took off after five years of planning — because of his and his bureaucracy’s sheer incompetence.

With the public works department and other government agencies assuming throughout the Aquino years that there was a replacement on the pipeline for Arroyo’s Laguna Lake flood-control project, no other such major infrastructure was planned to dredge Laguna Lake.

Do you wonder now why in the past weeks, huge swathes of metropolitan Manila have been flooded despite the installation of over two dozen flood-pumping stations in the past two years?

Here is a brief narrative of this, another episode of the criminal incompetence of the Aquino regime.

Arroyo’s project
Just a few months after he assumed power, Aquino in November 2010 junked Arroyo’s Laguna Lake Rehabilitation Project, which would have dredged the lake of 4.6 million cubic meters of silt and waste so it could contain more floodwaters. The project would have involved the deepening of the critical 7-kilometer Napindan Channel in Taytay so that it could better and more quickly draw floodwaters away from the metropolis to the lake.

Costing P19 billion, the project was to be undertaken by the 150-year-old Belgian dredging firm Baagerwerken Decloedt En Zoon (BDZ) and financed by a loan from the BNP Paribas Fortis bank, with the Brussels government providing a P7-billion grant — the biggest ever financial aid it would have given the country.

CAUSE AND EFFECT? March 29, 2016 newspaper article on the fiasco (top). August 9, 2018 British paper’s coverage on the (fiasco’s) result, below.

However, Aquino claimed the project was ridden with corruption, and ordered it stopped in November 2010. I was told he even asked Sen. Franklin Drilon’s law firm to investigate it to the extent of even interviewing BDZ officials in Brussels. Six years after going through all the records, not a single hint of corruption was found. Continue reading

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Revealed: Marcos’ secret operations to take over entire Spratly archipelago

THE strongman Ferdinand Marcos ordered secret military operations in 1970 to 1971, and in 1978 to take over the entire now hotly disputed Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea.

Marcos apparently decided to undertake the military operations after being alerted of the area’s existence by fishing-industry businessman Tomas Cloma, a seafaring adventurer from Batangas. Cloma with his crew of over 40 men had wandered into the Spratly islands in 1956. He subsequently issued a “Proclamation to the Whole World” that announced the creation of a new state he called “The Free Territory of Freedomland,” made up of most of the island group.

Marines announcing our property in the Spratlys, circa 1970-1971. Photo by Capt. Tucay

The Philippine Navy and its marines though were thwarted from accomplishing fully the mission ordered by Marcos by South Vietnamese and Taiwanese ships, as they decided not to engage militarily what were, after all, forces from friendly nations.

Still though, in 1978 Marcos formalized through Presidential Decree 1596 the incorporation of all of the 14 islands and 13 reefs into our territory as the Kalayaan Group of Islands, designated as a municipality of Palawan. This was despite the occupation by the Vietnamese of nine islands and reefs in the area, by the Taiwanese of the largest island Taiping, and by Malaysia of the Layang-layang reef on which it has reclaimed land to turn it into a dive resort.
Our entire holdings in the Spratlys to this day consist of these features Marcos ordered grabbed, which altogether have an area of 84 hectares, making us the biggest real-estate “magnate” in the disputed area. The next biggest property-holder is Vietnam with its nine islands and seven reefs having a total hectarage of 50. Our Pag-Asa island with 37 hectares is the second biggest island in the area, next to Taiwan’s 46-hectareTaiping island.
However, the massive land reclamation since the last decade by China on the seven reefs it occupied starting in 1988 have created a territory far bigger than the area of all of the natural islands.

First raising of the flag on Kalayaan island, circa 1970 -71. PHOTO BY CAPT. TUCAY.

Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, who has made a second career of demonizing China as a bully in the South China Sea, demonstrated his intellectual dishonesty when in his 90,000-word e-book on the territorial dispute, he devotes just one sentence to explain this very audacious move of Marcos that got for us our properties in the South China Sea.

He couldn’t even mention the word “Marcos” in the one single sentence he wrote to explain why we are in the Spratlys: “Presidential Decree No. 1596 dated 11 June 1978 incorporated the Kalayaan Island Group into Philippine national territory ‘on legal, historical and equitable grounds’.”

However, Marcos’ move to grab the Spratlys for us was far from being a staid issuance of a presidential decree.
I have stumbled in the world wide web on a narrative that reveals to us with some vivid detail Marcos’ secret operation starting in 1970 to take over all of the islands in the Spratlys.

The narrative is undoubtedly authentic as it was an interview—accompanied by photos—of Navy and Marine officers who actually undertook the operation, and who had migrated to the US. The account was in a 2012 posting in the blog bonginvirginia.blogspot.com of Filipino Americans living in Virginia. Continue reading

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Mocha must go? The Yellows wish!

“MOCHA must go” was the title of this newspaper’s editorial the other day, with the obvious topic.

I had to check again that the editorial was really in this newspaper and not in the Yellow Philippine Daily Inquirer as that has been the Yellows’ fervent wish ever since President Duterte assumed power. That editorial would have followed up that paper’s recent story that there is an alleged “outrage” against her for her “pepedederalismo” episode.

Assistant Secretary Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson has been the Yellows’ nightmare ever since she supported Duterte during the electoral campaign. Her role in forming public opinion has been tremendous, and growing.

Even if one considers that “pepedederalismo” thing as a huge gaffe, “debasing the federalism discourse,” as the editorial pompously put it, it certainly can’t ignore Uson’s huge role in rallying Filipinos —whether you like it or — in support of Duterte’s administration and its radical reform programs.

If you’ve been following Uson’s blog, it’s just been one of her many very educational postings on federalism. The sanctimonious outrage against that “pepedederalismo” and the demand for her to be fired is of the same genre as the Yellows’ paroxysms over Duterte’s “Stupid God” description of the biblical deity. Have some sense of humor, guys.

Our ambassador to the UN, and Cory Aquino’s spokesman Teodoro Locsin, Jr. even found that controversial post very useful to the national discourse: “Nobody was paying attention to federalism except its critics who didn’t bother to read the proposal. Maybe thanks to Mocha they will,” Locsin said in a series of tweets.

5.7 million followers not something to pooh-pooh.

But we could debate until kingdom come on the propriety or vulgarity of that posting. However, to put things in perspective which could clarify our thinking, consider the following facts. Continue reading

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Smartmatic chairman was Cory’s prime PR strategist in 1986 elections

I WROTE the following column in November 2015, republished here completely unchanged. That was three years ago, but I’m sure our readers will find it very relevant today, with more and more indisputable facts being unearthed over the massive cheating undertaken through Smartmatic’s computerized voting system, apparently in order to pad votes for vice-presidential candidate Leni Robredo.

This was written when the Comelec chairman then, Andres Bautista, seemed to be squeaky clean, before his wife Patricia made public his huge P1 billion unexplained bank holdings. After a PR blitz defending himself, even crying in a TV interview, Bautista surreptitiously left the country early this year, with nothing being heard from him again, except a message from his Oklahoma-based gastroenterologist brother Martin that he was ill, and can’t return to the Philippines. In Bautista’s media campaign, Martin claimed that the money in his brother’s accounts were all his, and that he was a billionaire.

Celebrating: Controversial former COMELEC chairman Andres Bautista (with moustache) living it up with brother Martin in Oklahoma City. (Photo March 2018).

2015 column starts here:
A bit of information that was not mentioned in the bio-data of Smartmatic Chairman Mark Malloch Brown, as posted on the company’s website, was that he was the close media adviser and speechwriter of the late President Corazon Aquino. He was then disguised as a foreign correspondent during the “snap” elections that led to the 1986 People Power Revolution in the Philippines.

Book that narrates how US firm ‘handled’ Cory’s campaign that led to EDSA I. Right, it’s main operative, Malloch Brown, now Smartmatic chairman.

He even played a very crucial role in Cory Aquino’s ascent to power in 1986, according to an authoritative book on that episode. Continue reading

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Aquino, Del Rosario begged US to use its military in Scarborough crisis

Just go to court and pass EDCA, Americans responded
IF not for the US leaders’ pragmatism and cool-headedness, President Aquino 3rd and his foreign secretary Albert del Rosario could have dragged it into a war against China on the South China Sea, a conflict that could have even triggered a nuclear war between the two superpowers— just to cover up their bungling of the Scarborough Shoal crisis.

In April 2012, Chinese civilian-government and fishing vessels went to their fishermen’s succor at Scarborough Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal) when the Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Aquatic Resources accosted them for alleged illegal fishing. Aquino ordered to the shoal the Navy’s biggest warship, acquired only a year earlier, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar to board the fishermen’s vessels to take them in.

That was a big boo-boo. China pounced on Aquino’s blunder by loudly protesting that the Philippines had “militarized” the dispute, and that “Philippine warships” were detaining its helpless fishermen.

Cleverly, China did not respond by sending its own warships, even as several of its modern frigates were on alert stand-by just over the horizon. It instead undertook a sea-borne version of people power by having over 60 Chinese fishermen’s vessels—escorted by some six civilian government vessels—to the shoal. The Chinese and Filipinos vessels were then locked in a stand-off that lasted for about six weeks from late April to May 2012, with each party aware that whoever blinks, or withdraws from the shoal, will lose it – forever, as it were.

Aquino’s June 8, 2012 meeting with Obama to beg for US intervention. The dour-faced Obama probably thought: ‘What part of ‘No’ doesn’t he understand?’

Continue reading

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Did the US manipulate Aquino and Del Rosario to lose Panatag to the Chinese?

THERE are very valid reasons to conclude so. Read on, you decide.

When Philippine and Chinese vessels in May 2012 were in a stand-off at Panatag Shoal, President Aquino’s foreign secretary Alberto del Rosario quite suddenly ordered the vessels of the Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to withdraw from the area. This is according to Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th, an ardent supporter of Aquino at the time, who was his personal envoy to the Chinese to resolve the crisis.

The Philippine ships left June 3, but the Chinese vessels didn’t. Our vessels since then have been blocked from the area. That’s how we lost Panatag (also called Bajo de Masinloc and Scarborough Shoal).

Del Rosario’s own account of this episode, which he wrote in an article, is as follows: “We were approached by the US, an honest broker, for both China and the Philippines to agree to a simultaneous withdrawal of ships from the shoal. We therefore agreed. At the appointed time, we withdrew, whereas China did not — in violation of our agreement.”

Trillanes, however, claimed that when del Rosario ordered the ships out, he (Trillanes) was still negotiating with the Chinese on how to resolve the stand-off. A former Navy officer, Trillanes even pointed out the physical difficulty of a simultaneous withdrawal because the lagoon’s mouth was narrow and involved the high risk of a collision if two ships passed through it at the same time.

Aquino deployed this warship to Panatag in 2012, giving the Chinese the reason to claim the Philippines had militarized the dispute. The US donated it to us a year earlier.

Trillanes claimed that even Aquino himself was livid over del Rosario’s move. He wrote in his aide memoire, quoting Aquino: “Kaya nga sinabihan ko si Albert kung bakit niya pinalabas yung BFAR na hindi ko nalalaman.” (That’s why I asked Albert [del Rosario] why he ordered the BFAR vessels to leave without my permission.) Del Rosario has not disputed Trillanes’ claims, which I first wrote about in 2016 and repeated in several columns. Continue reading

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Aquino, Del Rosario must disclose to the nation exactly how they lost Panatag

Congress has the duty to investigate this colossal boo-boo
I WAS astonished at the gall, and hypocrisy, of former President Benigno Aquino 3rd, when he recently admonished President Duterte to be transparent in his dealings with China.

Aquino will go down in history as the first, and hopefully the last, president to preside over the loss of territory: Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Panatag or Scarborough, Shoal, in June 2012.

Yet Aquino and his official directly responsible for the loss, his foreign affairs secretary Alberto del Rosario, have not explained exactly how they lost Panatag to China. It is not just an academic exercise for the truth on this matter to be ferreted out. The details of Aquino and del Rosario’s colossal boo-boo, will enable our nation to see clearly what our foreign-policy stance should be over the South China Sea territorial dispute.

I have written a number of articles on what led to Aquino and del Rosario’s loss of Panatag, all of which have been confirmed by unbiased reports abroad, a summary of which is as follows:

In April 2012 vessels of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries Aquatic Resources arrested Chinese fishermen in the shoal’s lagoon, alleging they were catching endangered fish. When a China Maritime Surveillance t(CMS) vessel — a civilian ship — arrived to prevent the arrest, Aquino deployed the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the Philippine Navy’s biggest warship, which had been donated to us by the US a year earlier.

Yellow media reported our ships left Panatag due to typhoon mid-June, when they actually left June 3 Trillanes alleged, upon Del Rosario’s orders.

However, the very next day, Aquino ordered the warship out, informed that oops! he had just militarized the squabble. Three CMS ships with about 50 small fishermen’s dinghies enter the shoal and block the Coast Guard and BFAR vessels, which had of course released the Chinese they had arrested. Continue reading

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Do the Yellows now control Rappler?

WITH the Aquinos’ Yellow Cultists losing control of media that was their biggest strength in the past regime, they have turned to the financially troubled, foreign-funded news website Rappler as their main propaganda venue. If Rappler would be true to itself, it should change the orange color of its logo to yellow.

Sources in the business community claim that at least two old oligarchic clans that were close to former President Benigno Aquino 3rd are now either the biggest funder, or in fact the largest stockholders, of Rappler.

Its original biggest shareholder, property tycoon Benjamin Bitanga, gave up on the controversial media firm in in 2016, exasperated over the reckless anti-Duterte reportage of the media outfit he couldn’t control.

On the other hand, Rappler’s two American funders, North Base Media and Omidyar Network, which had put in P150 million from 2015 to 2016, won’t touch the firm now with a ten-foot pole, as they are irate that they were misinformed on the legal issues their funding would encounter, which involves the constitutional ban on foreign participation in any form in Philippine media.
Rappler’s financial requirements since its start in 2012 have gone way beyond those needed by an ordinary news outfit, as it has relied on expensive technology and internet experts, rather than solid reportage (its staff is composed mostly of straight-from-college reporters supervised by Yellow editors), to carve out a presence in the world wide web. It has for example been able to use expensive internet software so that its articles would be ranked high in Google search listings—even if these posts aren’t really viewed much—and for the website to appear to have a bigger viewership.

New stockholders’ board directors: Monsod and Factoran

Two Coryistas
The allegation that the Yellows have moved into Rappler is bolstered by the fact that last March, Bitanga’s representatives in the board were removed. Among the new board members are two who are not only of the Yellow Cult but are staunch “Coryistas”:Continue reading

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Duterte on a roll as he starts his third year

IF the Philippine presidents’ State of the Nation Address (SONA) is of any use to us, it is as a marker when we pause to assess: “How is this president doing?”

President Duterte’s aura in his SONA the other day was of supreme confidence, even as he uncharacteristically stuck to reading his prepared speech, in a few instances apparently resisting the temptation to move to his default attitude, which is to say what he feels at the moment, no matter who his audience is.

The Liberal Party and the Yellow Cult are in retreat, with its head, former President Benigno Aquino 3rd, so lacking in confidence he again refused to attend the event, yet saying nothing about it — probably deathly afraid that any criticism of Duterte from him now would accelerate the criminal charges being brought against him, foremost of which is the colossal Dengvaxia scam that has claimed more than 70 children’s lives so far.

The party’s president Sen. Francis Pangilinan was dressed up as some unwashed farmer among the demonstrators that included the Southern Tagalog mass base of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which the CPP in desperation had ordered fully mobilized for the anti-SONA rally. As with Pangilinan, the rallyists hardly paid any attention to the other anti-Duterte senator, Antonio Trillanes 4th, coming to join them, and simply tolerated these opportunistic politicians.

The media may have gotten tired of them and their silly tirades, but hardly anything was heard of the other Liberal Party stalwarts on what they thought of Duterte’s SONA.

The Supreme Court just a month ago affirmed the legality of the arrest and detention of the Aquino administration’s political assassin, detained Sen. Leila de Lima, whose Liberal Party-mates seem to have forgotten or simply didn’t bother to ask the courts to allow her to attend the SONA since after all she is still a senator.

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