Is the Aquino administration turning a blind eye on US environmental violations?
Malacañang has chosen to play favorites, condemning China for its brazen acts against the country’s environment, and yet are absolutely lenient when it comes to US ecological violations.
Is President Aquino not addressing the issue in fear that it will affect RP-US diplomatic relations, especially when much-needed military support has been emphasized after the previous Obama visit?
The Aquino administration’s sincerity in following up the case of the destruction of the Tubbataha reefs over a year ago by both Chinese vessels and US warships found in Philippine waters is put into question due to its lack of interest in pursuing the US while calling for China’s accountability in the incident.
The grounding of the USS Guardian in Tubbataha last 2013 caused the destruction of at least 2,345 square meters of the marine protected area, while Chinese fishing vessels hit the heritage site not long after.
The government is quick to condemn China for the damage it caused, stating that they are here to defy our national sovereignty and poach within Philippine waters.
Environmental groups raised concerns that other marine reserves and areas would not fare so well as the Tubbataha Reef if poaching activities continued.
Meanwhile, the government continues to neglect its obligation to also hold responsible the US whose presence in the Philippines is to guard its country’s interests.
In 2012, a US warship allegedly disposed toxic chemical wastes at Subic Bay, claiming as means of a cover-up that it disposed “waste water” which was already treated aboard the ship.
However, the secret dumping of toxic waste is an affront to Philippine sovereignty, as it showed their utter disregard for the environment and health of the Filipinos.
Importance of Tubbataha
The Tubbataha Reef Marine Park covers about 130,028 hectares, including the North and South Reefs. It is a unique example of an atoll reef with a very high density of marine species, with the North Islet serving as a nesting site for birds and marine turtles.
The site is an excellent example of a pristine coral reef with a 100-meter perpendicular wall, extensive lagoons and two coral islands.
In December 1993, UNESCO declared Tubbataha as a World Heritage Site. With 358 species of mostly hard corals, it is recognized as having one of the most remarkable coral reefs on the planet.
One millimeter of hard corals takes one year to grow, while one meter of hard corals to mature takes approximately 250 years.
According to CNN, Tubbataha is among the top eight dive sites in the world.
“Karambola!” is a more than decade old unique radio program aired from 8 to 10 am, Monday to Friday, on DWIZ, 880 Khz AM Band. It had a karambola or mixed bag of anchors, namely: Cong. Crispin “Boying” Remulla (Mountainous Southern District of Cavite), Cong. Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin (Makati; President Cory Aquino’s first Public Information Chief), Ed Javier (Paranaque Congressional Candidate), Atty. Dodo Dulay (MMDA and COMELEC Chairman Ben Abalos’ defense attorney), Cong. Jonathan de la Cruz, Cong. “Sonny” Escudero (Sorsogon; Marcos and Ramos; Agriculture Secretary) and Alvin Matthew Palmes Capino.
A week ago, Sunday, June 1, 2014, Alvin Capino was laid to rest at the Loyola Memorial Park along Santos Ave in Sucat, Paranaque. He was 64 years old when he died at his home in B F Homes on Thursday night, May 29. He died of cancer of the kidney. It was “Strike Three” for him. It was his third bout in two years. He was also diabetic and he did not like to drive and go out at night.
That is why, we did not see too much of him in our batch and class reunions. “We” are Ateneo de Manila University’s Batch 198. 198 is the sum total of 62 + 66 + 70, ie. Grade School ’62, High School ’66 and College ’70. Alvin belonged to College ’70 and was an AB Political Science Major.
After College, he worked with Lexington International, with Press Secretary Francisco “Kit” Tatad at the Department of Public Info or Malacanang Press Office, Pilipinas Shell and Mobile Oil Philippines. He wrote for the Observer, The Independent, The Phil Free Press, The Daily Globe and Today. He was an Anchor and Commentator for DZRH, DZRV and DWWW. Over a decade, he rose to Vice Chairman at Tony Zorilla and partners. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the BCDA from 2001 to 2010.
In four days our Batch 198 lost three members – Alvin on Thursday, May 29, Lito Villarama on Saturday, May 31 and Jed Natividad, BS Chemistry ’70, on Sunday, June 1. Thirteen years ago, in October – November 2001, I lost my best friend and classmate from Grade One to Third Year College, Gerardo “Gerry” Jaminola Katigbak Esguerra, to a stroke (during his son’s wedding) after a long bout also with cancer of the kidney.
Last Thursday, our Batch 198 organized and sponsored a forum with former General and FVR’s NSA Secretary Jose Almonte as the Resource Person. His topic ranged from Nation Building to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) to the Philippine China conflict in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea. He fleshed out his principles and theory on Nation Building by taking us through FVR’s journey of running for the Presidency in 1992, winning, winning over the opposition and running the government for six years.
Then, we jumped to the present and he put us through a crash course on China and our problems with them in the South China Sea/ West Philippine Sea.
The day before, on Wednesday, June 4, at the Fernandina Media Forum at the Club Filipino, our main topic was Women’s Issues including Marital Rape, Child Rape, Profile of a Rapist, Abused Women and Abusive Men. Aside from resource persons Atty. Rowena “Bing” Guanzon and Women Involved in Nation Building Chairperson Emeritus Baby del Mundo, we also had the second rape complainant against actor Vhong Navarro, Miss Bikini Contestant, Roxanne Cabanero, and her lawyer, Atty. Mendoza.
However, our resident fortune teller, Danny Atienza, also dropped by because he had some important and pressing matters to share with us. In general, he predicted impending doom. According to him, the government is bankrupt. The last two years of the Aquino Administration will continue to be a downward spiral. However, the next President will uplift the country in 2016, 2017 and 2018. He hinted that Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” C. Binay is sick and that the next President will be a woman. Late last year, he privately told me that it would be Senator Grace Poe L.
The removal of Gov. E. R. Ejercito was just the beginning and a sample of things to come. Many more would follow. However, E. R. would be able to make a comeback. The filing of plunder cases against the three senators, JPE, Jinggoy and Bong was imminent. Senator Revilla is sure to be convicted and jailed. Senator Enrile will get away. Senator Estrada’s future is an uncertainty.
The disqualification of Mayor Joseph Estrada will proceed and is imminent with a condition, “kung kaya”. Even if Erap is removed, the people will support him. He can even run for President with massive People’s support. DILG Secretary and Liberal Party Presidentiable Mar Araneta Roxas is a sure loser. Noynoy Aquino’s problems with Corruption, Pork, DAP and Malampaya Scandals as well as our conflict with China will continue and grow even bigger.
By the way, this week’s calendar is loaded. Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 10, the Supreme Court will deliberate and vote on the constitutionality of the DAP. My guess is that they will declare it unconstitutional but prospectively.
On Thursday, June 12, an anti Pork, PDAF, DAP, Malampaya, etc … protest rally at the Bonifacio Shrine near the Manila City Hall, will try to repeat the One million March August 26, 2013 Rally at the Luneta.
Where will these take us? To be continued…
Why the Philippines is not really a free country
By Andrea Lim
In a government that mostly serves the interests of capitalists and foreign powers, this is one question we should all take the time to ponder – are we even truly free? Every June 12th, Filipinos are lulled into an even further sense of false ‘nationalism’ and ‘freedom’ when the reality of the matter is that we are still not free as a country.
Our national policies are still influenced by our former American colonizers. Our economic freedom is being sold part and parcel to China by big business taipans, and the oligarchs are keeping us under servitude to the interests of multinationals.
President Noynoy Aquino defined ‘true freedom’ as freedom from hunger, ignorance, poverty and joblessness. However, youth group Anakbayan national chairperson Vencer Crisostomo says that the number of hungry, jobless and poor Filipinos actually increased in Aquino’s first year, and more so in the succeeding ones. The number of school drop-outs also remain in large numbers.
This shows that not only is the government’s so-called declaration of independence a façade, but it also proves that the country’s political and economic policies stay-one sided in favor of foreign powers and their local puppets.
Sovereignty For Sale
Instead of calling for national sovereignty, we have a President who chooses only to bow down to foreign powers even if it is at the expense of the Filipino people.
US influences on our armed forces through policies and programs extends to our economy – the economic crisis being experienced by the Philippines is a result of the government’s neo-liberal policies pushed by the US, such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the Balikatan exercises, and most recently, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
Meanwhile, China has already subdued the Philippines economically. Big capitalists such as Henry Sy, Lucio Tan and other foreign businessmen continue to exploit the Filipinos for cheap labor. What’s worse is that President Aquino himself offers us to them.
Aquino’s government has steered mainstream media into distracting us from relevant issues in our society. Instead of having us focus on the corruption cases involving Budget Secretary Butch Abad and other yellow cronies, we are bombarded with news of Noynoy’s new ‘love interest’ or Kris Aquino’s summer fling with Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista.
Cuban freedom fighter Che Guevarra says that the mere act of proclaiming independence or winning an armed victory in a revolution does not mean the freedom of a country. True freedom is achieved when the “imperialistic economic domination” over people is brought to an end.
Incidents of Chinese fishermen poaching sea turtles in the West Philippine Sea only prove now that China is not only a threat to the Philippine territory, but also to the country’s environment and biodiversity.
Philippine authorities said they seized a Chinese fishing boat with 11 crew members and carrying more or less 500 turtles and a local vessel with more or less 40 turtles.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki expressed concern over the most recent report, saying that the vessels appeared to be engaged in direct harvest of endangered species of sea turtles.
China said that it lost contact with the 11 fishermen, and demanded the immediate release of the boat and its crew. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying warned the Philippines against taking any “further provocative action.”
Meanwhile, Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello and members of Akbayan Partlist slammed the Chinese government for labelling the capture and filing of charges against the poachers as “provocative action.”
According to Bello, China’s continuing aggression is an indication that it has “morphed from a regional bully into an environmental terrorist.”
Not satisfied with its continuing aggression on baseless claims on Philippine territory, it has resorted to actively engaging in illegal activities that, in effect has long-term disastrous results on the Philippines’ environmental resources.
By Erick San Juan
When China parked a giant oil rig in disputed waters off Vietnam, it confirmed what Washington and regional governments have long feared: Beijing is taking a major leap in the defense of its territorial claims, testing the resolve of rattled neighbors—as well as the U.S. (Asia News online 5/8/14)
‘Like a thief in the night’, such major leap will not sit well with the rest of the neighborhood especially claimants in the disputed areas in the South and East China Sea. As an observer of events and geopolitics, I have been saying through my radio program and my blog that given the premise (as most writers say) that war is inevitable, the epicenter is here, either with Vietnam or the Philippines (or both). For the nth time since I wrote this possibility of war between Vietnam and China way back in the 90’s, that crisis like this was designed to happen and as always – it could be delayed but sadly it will happen whether we like it or not.
When Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung visited the Philippines during the World Economic Forum on East Asia, economic and security issues were discussed and focused on the disputes with China over contested areas.
Reports from the WEF-EA: While stressing that Vietnam “strives for peace and stability in Asia Pacific,” Dung slammed China for violating international law and failing to adhere to his country’s demands to “immediately withdraw” a drilling rig it deployed near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.
Speaking before the WEF at the Makati Shangri-la on Thursday, May 22, Dung said China’s actions “threaten peace, stability, and security and freedom of navigation and aviation” in the East Sea (South China Sea) and violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
“Vietnam always wants peace and friendship,” Dung said in Vietnamese. “We have exercised utmost restraint and showed every… good goal and exhausted all dialogue channels to communicate with Chinese authorities of different levels by expressing protest and demanding China to immediately withdraw its drilling rig and its escorting vessels from the Vietnamese waters.”
He added: “We ask China to observe the 1982 UNCLOS. However, China (has failed) to respond to Vietnam’s legitimate demand. On the contrary, it has been slandering and blaming Vietnam while continuing to use force and escalating its increasingly adventurous and serious act of intimidation and violation.”
“The entire Vietnamese nation has been protesting against China,” Dung said. He added that his government has had to manage unrest over the dispute and punish law violators.
It was reported that more than 3,000 Chinese have already returned home from Vietnam following riots by Viet citizens protesting China’s deployment of an oil rig to the Paracels.
In an earlier e-mail sent exclusively to Reuters, Dung said, “Vietnam is considering various defense options, including legal actions in accordance with international law.”
The Philippines has said it wants Vietnam, along with Malaysia, to join its historic case against China over the disputed waters, parts of which it calls the West Philippine Sea. But Malaysia immediately countered that it won’t get involved.
Of course, peaceful resolutions to such crisis had to be done first but as I have warned before – confrontations like this will take place in a regular basis in the contested areas in the SCS among the claimants and China if there will be no clear discussions on the matter, and a possible regional conflict is in the offing.
The fact that China deployed the rig shortly after US Pres. Barack Obama’s Asia tour “underlines Beijing’s commitment to test the resolve of Vietnam, its Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] neighbors and Washington,” wrote security scholars Ernest Bower and Gregory Poling, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
China has laid claim to much of the South China Sea for years. Its intent to establish control hasn’t changed, security analysts say. But under President Xi Jinping, China’s government has begun to more aggressively demonstrate its capabilities, courting more direct conflict with neighbors—trends that have prompted deep worry in Washington. A senior State Department official on a visit to Hanoi on Thursday said the U.S. is “very concerned about any dangers.” (Vietnam Spat Represents a Chinese Leap by Brian Spegele and Vu Trong Khanh, 5/8/14)
Given the escalated tensions in the South China Sea through provocations, only a miscalculation could bring the response that has been predicted long time that will spark the conflict.
After a century since the Great War (First World War), is the world ripe for another global war?
Here we go again!!!
By Ramon Orosa
The Vietnam violence does not come as a surprise. While seemingly symbiotic, having worked together for many years in Vietnam’s fight for independence and being somewhat conjoined by having similar ideologies, and finally adopting their ideology to allow greater economic freedoms, I think there is some tendency to under estimate the fierce independence of the Vietnamese and their determination to protect their national interests from China’s escalating attempt at robbery, no matter how China might defensively view it’s actions.
They have not abandoned a centralized autocratic form of governance and when it is not damaging to her interests, Vietnam is likely to be accommodative of China’s “requests” but there is a clear point when Vietnam will no longer accommodate China. The sea grab of China is one of them. The violence is meant to send a loud and clear message to China that her Middle Ages world view needs to be seriously updated and revised. The world is no longer the same and while China has prospered greatly in the last 50 years, it is not sufficient reason to look at the other countries that are her neighbors as vassals that need to pay tribute to China as an overlord.
In modern times, China has decided to restore that tribute paying practice by the attempt to extend her sovereignty over the seas and extend, because she thinks no one can challenge her, to the virtual shores of the neighboring countries. She looks with so much condescension on her neighbors, viewing herself as a superior race to which all others must bow and acquiesce. Witness her response to statements from the US essentially telling the US to keep out- this is our turf and we are free to do whatsoever we wish including rewriting all the boundaries of neighboring nations. First the seas, and then virtual takeovers of the involved nations.
This is why she insists that bilateral discussions are the only way to resolve this whole issue. First, bilateral discussions will weaken any resistance, because China’s economic size and military might are unmatchable by any of the neighboring countries and so the negotiations would be truly one sided. Second, China’s twin objectives are simply to have everyone accept what is in the seas are theirs and if you accept that, you may do whatever you wish there provided we get the lion’s share of the riches in the water and the sea beds at the bottom. That is your tribute to your overlord and you still get some of the riches but you grow at our discretion.
I suppose some of the thinking in terms of timing was based on their assessment that the US is a spent force that would be unwilling to take on China in a confrontation in the area and that the American public, devastated by the economic problems of the last 5 years and the accumulated debts of their Middle Eastern adventures since 9/11, would not be supportive.
But, at best, the world view of China is barbaric and has absolutely no place in the modern world. In some way, some might even be able to say that because it is race discriminative, China is today’s resurrection of nazi, gestapo type national policy. The problem is that China essentially plans long term and in this case, hopes to wear out all of the other affected nations, including the US. It is what I interpret as China’s beginning war versus the world. All of her alliances are strategic, serving her political, commercial and military interests. She has no real allies, just nations under her dominance. And when, in her estimation, the payoff is inestimable, just as the potential riches of the South Seas are, she will attempt to grab whatever can be grabbed.
This sea grab of China is truly unconscionable and in a way, I suggest that cowardice is behind the statements of the US that they are neutral in terms of the disputatious grab being done by China. What could be more unlawful, unreasonable if not unconscionable than what China is doing? This is what China is relying on. That is why she continues to expand her South Seas presence while America does nothing but talk.
Even if US stations forces in Palawan, it will take several years before any decent facility can be constructed. In those years of construction, China will be expanding her presence so that by the time the US is able to establish herself, China would already have built a mighty presence in the area she is grabbing. The problem then is how to get her out without a major confrontation. It seems to me it would probably be too late. I would think it is time not just for port visits by American naval forces, but a temporary placement in the disputed areas of some of those vessels and aircraft that constantly move and shadow the Chinese vessels.
Some might ask, why China is reclaiming land and building an airfield? Because of the distance from China’s coastline to the disputed area so she can station both naval and air forces and not run out of fuel or supplies should there be combat.
What China may not have anticipated was the protest reactions and attacks on Chinese interests in Vietnam. She also did not expect our forces to arrest the fishermen who were clearly trespassing and poaching endangered species of sea life in the area. So the response has been somewhat muted. What China fails to understand is that times have changed, the world has changed and while she has much military might, she will have to do a whole lot of killing to subdue the neighboring nations and make a pariah of herself in the world. Does she mind? I doubt it and that is what is truly unfortunate about this situation.