Nothing much can be expected from US President Barack Obama in his April 28-29 official visit in Manila.While he is likely to reassure the Philippines of Americans’ commitment to defend the Philippines in its raging territorial dispute with China, it will not make a difference, given how the US has been badly treating its Asia-Pacific ally over the past decades.
Since both countries forged their so-called Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) in 1951, the US hardly cared about the poor state of the Philippines’ military capability.
Calls by Manila for increase in American military aid usually fell on deaf ears among policy makers in Washington. Whatever the Americans gave were nothing more than second-hand hardware – either of World War II vintage or their leftovers in the Vietnam war era.
Now that the geo-political situation has vastly changed, it’s time for both strategic allies to redraw their treaty or risk overtaken by new and bold challenges.
From what was once dubbed the “sleeping giant,” China has suddenly awaken, emerging as the biggest threat to the Philippines’ security interests as both have interlocking claims to the oil-rich Spratlys islands.
With superior naval assets patrolling the disputed chain of islands, China has bullied the Philippines, long perceived as militarily weak.
In the face of China’s aggressiveness in asserting its sovereign claims to the Sprawls, also referred to as the west Philippine sea, Manila in not a few times wanted to invoke the MDT which many politicians label as a mere paper tiger.
But thanks to cooler heads, the MDT remains as a last resort mechanism to avoid what’s likely to be a bigger problem – war.
Hopefully, Obama will use his two-day visit to assess the Philippines’ defense needs, especially in light that the two countries will enter into a new security alliance under the banner of the so-called enhanced defense security agreement.
An offshoot of months of hard bargaining, Filipino negotiators were hard put as they had to reckon with the Constitutional ban on the presence of foreign bases on Philippine soil.
In the end, they had to compromise as Manila agreed to allow US forces the use of Philippines-builtmilitary installations.
For both countries, it’s a win-win situation as they usher in a paradigm shift in their strategic ties, given China’s surging aggression in the hotly contested Spratlys.For the US, Manila’s nod to a new pact gives the Americans the leeway needed as they reposition their defense forces from theMiddle East to Asia.
Under Barack’s pivot policy, the Philippines plays a crucial role because of its strategic location in keeping peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
But more than the much-needed military materiel, the Philippines badly requires America’s political succor as its row with China has assumed complex dimensions.Neither has China eased up in its flexing its military muscle in the high seas nor has it showed signs of flexibility in its diplomatic rapport with the Philippines.
As the world’s policeman, the US is in the best position to cool the tensions between Manila and Beijing for the sake of regional peace and stability.
DIFFERENT speculations came out as to why US President Barack Obama did not attend the important summits together with his Asian tour particularly in the ASEAN nations. Some pundits believe that the so-called partial US government shutdown was not the real reason. And the situation became more suspicious when even US Secretary of State John Kerry also cancelled his visit to the Philippines ‘due to bad weather’ (kuno). The mere fact that this visit of President Obama and Sec. Kerry to the region, is very crucial to US pivot to Asia, particularly to its allies, one will wonder—did the sudden change of travel plans of both Obama and Kerry have something to do with China? Is the Chinese pressure so strong that such important plans had to be cancelled?
Just asking because both alibis seemed quite shallow.As what Manong Ernie Maceda said in his column in the Philippine Star last week– the cancellation of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Manila because of storm Santi shows the low priority that the Philippines has with US officials. Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was open. No flights were cancelled. The storm was coming in from Catanduanes, while the flight path from Brunei is through Mindanao.
Kerry’s visit was supposed to substitute for President Obama’s state visit. It should have gone through at all costs. Yes, at all costs, that is why the excuse he gave was not valid at all.We also have to consider the statement of President BS Aquino at the APEC about the Philippines-US Framework Agreement on Increased Rotational Presence. PNoy said the United States should be clear with the words they use concerning the said agreement.
“During negotiations, we always get entangled with all the semantics. Those words that are actually used to convey the thoughts.”He said that the words to be used in the agreement on increased rotational presence should “satisfy both parties needs and wants; and satisfy all or addresses all concerns and anxieties.”“Their language is geared to support the request for budget when they go to Congress,” the President pointed out. “Their language might be perfect in an American manner of speaking English but might be construed differently through a Filipino.” (Source: Aquino presses careful crafting of US rotational presence deal by Roy Mabasa mb.com 10.9.13)
If PNoy felt this urgency to discuss this executive agreement that entails another pact that will make the country beholden to a perceived master in the offing, it is very clear that our relationship with Uncle Sam is one way. So Manong Ernie is right, we are being given low priority by these US officials.
This is the sad reality I have been saying for so many times now, these so-called agreements and treaties we entered into with Uncle Sam are always for the benefit of their country than ours and in the process we are always shortchanged. When are we going to learn to assert our rights as a sovereign nation?
This is not a simple matter that we can just to ignore and let Washington craft the agreement to their own liking. This is about national security, and most of all, our sovereignty (what was left of it) is at stake here.
In the four rounds of talks that transpired regarding the access agreement, there are “gaps” in the “critical provisions” that need “more work,” according to Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, who heads the Philippine panel.
The military-to-military agreement is expected to boost the defense capability of the AFP amid growing territorial threats, increase the training of its troops, and improve disaster response.
Batino said they have narrowed down the framework agreement to 5 key provisions namely: scope, agreed installations/AFP Facilities, prepositioning of defense equipment, supplies, and materiel, ownership and security. (Source: Bases access: PH, US disagree on ‘critical provisions’ by Carmela Fonbuena, rappler.com)Now that the chance for our President and other government officials to tackle the crucial decisions covering the new access agreement was postponed (until who knows when), methinks that this pact is already a done deal on Washington’s side for their Congress to release the budget, and will left us (again) to just accept it with open legs, as usual. So, what else is new?And don’t forget (as Reuters reported last October 3), also on the cards is the development of Oyster Bay, which lies about 550 km (340 miles) southwest of Manila.”It will be a mini-Subic,” Commodore Joseph Rostum O. Peña, the commander of the Philippines’ western navy, said in the first public comments about converting Oyster Bay into a major naval base.
“A future port here would extend the reach of the navy’s two frigates, both former U.S. Coast Guard cutters, over the disputed Spratly Islands, in the southern part of the South China Sea.” he said in an interview from his office overlooking the mouth of the bay.
Oyster Bay is about 160 km (100 miles) from the Spratlys.
“In Manila, the leaders must move behind rhetorical blandishments about a new spirit of partnership and start to detail specific actions that will strengthen Philippine defense capabilities,” said Patrick Cronin, an Asia-Pacific security expert at the Center for a New American Security in Washington DC.
That includes building a permanent home for the Philippines’ two big warships. It also means finding strategic areas where the United States could rotate troops, ships and naval aircraft — all within easy reach of territory claimed by Beijing. Oyster Bay may be the best choice,” said Cronin.
After reading this, the access agreement is already a done deal, to hell with the other critical provisions that we wanted to further discuss with Washington.
Need we say more?
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- Rappler Newscast | September 2, 2013 (rappler.com)
- Temporary structures by US troops may be allowed, says PH panel (globalnation.inquirer.net)
- Friends of Aurora kidnapping suspect claim he has alibi (kdvr.com)
- May I Have More Bread With That Baguette? (kneedeeplife.wordpress.com)
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- PH, US tackling ‘gaps’ in defense talks (globalnation.inquirer.net)
by: Bobby Starr
CHEER and applause as the country’s first Miss World Megan Lynne Young arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 in Paranaque City last October 10, 2013. She was accompanied by officials of the Miss World Organization led by its chairperson Julia Morley and were welcomed by Cory Quirino, exclusive licensee and franchise holder of Miss World Philippines and Mister World Philippines contests, local officials, Young’s family members and friends.
“Our daughter has come home and she is Miss World 2013,” says Quirino, who is very excited about Young’s homecoming visit following her success in Bali, Indonesia where she beat 126 other candidates late last month.
From the airport, Young and her entourage proceeded to the Solaire Resort and Casino in Paranaque City where a press conference and victory ball awaited her. The new beauty queen is on a six-day homecoming trip and kicked off her world tour, as part of her duties as Miss World. #OpinYon #ePlus #MeganYoung
read cont | http://bit.ly/172v0q0
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- A Message from Ms. Cory Quirino (normannorman.com)
- Hopes are high for Megan Young (entertainment.inquirer.net)
- Miss World: ‘I’m pro-life’ and ‘Sex is for marriage’ (lifesitenews.com)
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- Will Megan Young finally bring home the Miss World crown? (manilastandardtoday.com)
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A FILIPINO community leader in Hawaii has been awarded for his outstanding accomplishments in the field of equal opportunity, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Friday.
Dr. Serafin “Jun” Colmenares, executive director of the Hawaii State Office of Language Access (OLA), received the 2013 William J. Harris Equal Opportunity Award last September 19, the DFA said in a statement.
The DFA described Colmenares as “a prominent and active leader of the Filipino community in Hawaii. He received the award during the 77th Annual Conference of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) in Denver, Colorado. #OpinYon #Pinoy #Foreign
read cont | http://bit.ly/1bTE9Qd
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- Saudi Arabia: A few more details on the Filipina MERS cases (crofsblogs.typepad.com)
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