Like Andanar, I cried listening to the President’s speech

President Rodrigo R. Duterte delivering his first State of the Nation Address at Batasang Pambansa. Photo by King Rodriguez/PPD

President Rodrigo R. Duterte delivering his first State of the Nation Address at Batasang Pambansa. Photo by King Rodriguez/PPD

Press Secretary Martin Andanar, who said he cried when he read the draft of President Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address, was not being melodramatic.

I, too, cried listening to the President’s speech.

I don’t know which part made Andanar cry. As for me, it was the part when he lambasted media for likening to Michaelangelo’s “The Pieta”, the heart-wrenching photo of Jennelyn Olaires cradling the dead body of Michael Siaron, a 30-year-old pedicab driver, who was shot dead by motorcycle-riding men while he was waiting for passengers past midnight last Friday in Pasay City.

The unidentified gunmen left a cardboard sign, “I’m a drug pusher, do not emulate me.”

This is the picture (July 24 Inquirer) that Pres. Duterte dismissed as "drama.'

This is the picture (July 24 Inquirer) that Pres. Duterte dismissed as “drama.’


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July 26, 2016 11:44 pm  Tags:   Posted in: Human Rights, Illegal Drugs  17 Comments

Duterte gives Yasay a graceful exit

Now I see how astute President Duterte is.

He can appear to be assuring you of his trust and confidence while actually cutting your neck.

That was what his July 19 video statement released by Malacañang on the status of Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr. showed.

In the video, a very formal Duterte in barong tagalog with the emblem of the President of the Republic of the Philippine behind and in front of him, said:
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July 21, 2016 9:16 pm  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  10 Comments

How much did PH pay for foreign lawyers in case vs China?

(I did this article for VERA Files.)

The government paid $7 million in legal fees to the international team that gave the Philippines its landmark victory against China over the disputed features in the South China Sea, a member of the Philippine delegation to The Hague hearings said.

The source who asked for anonymity said the $7 million was a ceiling in lawyers’ fees the government of President Benigno Aquino III insisted on, having learned a costly lesson from the case against the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. (Piatco) where, under an open-ended agreement, the lawyers’ fees reached $65 million.

The Philippines was represented in the two-and-a half year litigation by Foley Hoag LLP. The case against China was filed with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands on January 22, 2013.

Counsel for the Philippines Paul S. Reichler. Photo from Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Counsel for the Philippines Paul S. Reichler. Photo from Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The $7 million (P328,996,500 at P47 to $1) was the third ceiling set, more than 65 per cent higher than the original contract fee of $4,212,000 agreed upon in December 2012 by then Solicitor General and now Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza and Paul S. Reichler of Foley Hoag.
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July 21, 2016 12:18 pm  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs, South China Sea  3 Comments

Questions remain about some senator winners in May election

Sen. Serge Osmeña. Photo by  Josh Lim (Sky Harbor)

Sen. Serge Osmeña. Photo by Josh Lim (Sky Harbor)

When 17th Congress opens on July 25, the Senate will have a new set of 12 legislators -winners of the senatorial race in the recent May 9 elections.

Not all are new faces in the Senate because there were re-electionists like Franklin Drilon, Tito Sotto, and Ralph Recto. There were also the balik-Senado, former senators who ran again like Panfilo Lacson, Richard Gordon, Francis Pangilinan, and Miguel Zubiri.

The first timers are boxing champ Manny Pacquiao; Risa Hontiveros, who is dubbed as the Senate’s Pia Wurtzbach because like the 2015 Miss Universe, she made it to the Senate on her third attempt; TESDAman Joel Villanueva; former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima; and former Valenzuela (1st district) Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian.

They join the 12 other senators whose term will be ending in 2019. Four of the last termers ran for vice presidebt last election but lost: Alan Peter Cayetano, Franciz Escudero, Gregorio Honasan, and Antonio Trillanes IV. One, Grace Poe, was not successful in her presidential bid.

The rest of the members of the 17th Senate are Loren Legarda,Aquilino Pimentel III, Cynthia Villar, JV Ejercito ,Sonny Angara,Bam Aquino, and Nancy Binay.
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July 20, 2016 11:58 pm  Tags: , ,   Posted in: 2016 elections  6 Comments

FVR wants to clarify role as special envoy to China

Former President Fidel V. Ramos with Vietnam Ambassador Truong Trieu Duong and Madame Dinh Thi Thu Huong

Former President Fidel V. Ramos with Vietnam Ambassador Truong Trieu Duong and Madame Dinh Thi Thu Huong.

Former President Fidel V. Ramos said there are some things he has to discuss with President Duterte before he agrees to be the latter’s special envoy to China.

Duterte made the announcement during a tribute to him by his fellow Bedans at Club Filipino in Greenhills last Thursday and Ramos said, “It was noisy, there was no time to talk about it.”

Ramos said he is elated by Duterte’s confidence in him for the important job of repairing relations with China especially in the wake of the humiliation that had been rendered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration to the Asian behemoth in the case filed by the Philippines against its nine-dash lines and other activities in the Spratlys. But he said he is 88 years old.
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July 17, 2016 11:26 pm   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  6 Comments

China avoids criticizing PH, hits Arbitral court

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

Take note that in China’s reaction to the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the case filed by the Philippines against its all-encompassing nine-dash-line map and its claim of maritime rights over Scarborough Shoal and the Spratlys, it hit the Tribunal, not the Philippine government.

Definitely, not President Rodrigo Duterte.

If this sets the tone for post-Decision Philippine-China relations, there’s a good chance that talks on the disputed waters will achieve something positive.

Duterte had the good sense of letting Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay issue the statement who simply welcomed the decision and called for restraint and sobriety.

Yasay was heavily criticized by not looking happy over the decision that was overwhelmingly in favor of the Philippines.
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July 14, 2016 11:13 pm  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  6 Comments

The South China Sea Arbitration: the Philippines’ Nicaraguan moment

The judges:  Thomas A. Mensah (President), Jean-Pierre Cot, Stanislaw Pawlak, Alfred H. Soons, Rüdiger Wolfrum

The judges: Thomas A. Mensah (President), Jean-Pierre Cot, Stanislaw Pawlak, Alfred H. Soons, Rüdiger Wolfrum

By Romel Regalado Bagares

And so the Philippines has just had its Nicaraguan moment as it clinched a unanimous decision in most of its 15 arbitral claims against Chinese “Nine-Dash Line” expansionism in the South China Sea.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration, in a landmark ruling released July 12 on the case In the Matter of the South China Sea Arbitration (it’s formal name, also referred to here as the Philippine Case), invalidated China’s claims over pretty much of the maritime areas in the region.

The Arbitral Court also clarified in favor of the Philippines the status of many features in the contested Spratly islands and Scarborough Shoal with both scientific and legal criteria, in relation to a resource-rich Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf.

The win recalls an earlier and similar David versus Goliath seminal ruling by an international tribunal, the case filed by Nicaragua against the United States in 1984, which was decided by the International Court of Justice in 1986. Here, the United States was sued by Nicaragua before the World Court over the former’s promotion of Low Intensity Conflict and direct military action in its territory through the mining of its harbors.

Key wins for the Philippines
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July 14, 2016 4:48 pm  Tags:   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  4 Comments

PH wins: Arbitral court invalidates China’s 9-dash line

China's 9-dash line map

China’s 9-dash line map


The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled today that China’s all-encompassing nine-dash line is not valid.

(To read the 501-page Award, please click to this site: https://pca-cpa.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/175/2016/07/PH-CN-20160712-Award.pdf)

“The Tribunal found that China’s claim to historic rights to resources was incompatible with the detailed allocation of rights and maritime zones in the Convention and concluded that, to the extent China had historic rights to resources in the waters of the South China Sea, such rights were extinguished by the entry into force of the Convention to the extent they were incompatible with the Convention’s system of maritime zones,” the decision said.

The Tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources, in excess of the rights provided for by the Convention, within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line
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July 13, 2016 2:07 am  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  29 Comments

Inspired by Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, solons propose state-run crematoriums

AKO Bicol representatives. Proponents fro state-run crematoriums.

AKO Bicol representatives. Proponents fro state-run crematoriums.


Inspired by the spate of killings which is an offshoot of President Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, three congressmen proposed building a crematorium in every legislative district.

The proposal, contained in House Bill No. 135 authored by AKO Bicol party list Representatives Rodel Batocabe, Alfredo Garbin, and Christopher Co, is reminiscent of Nazi Germany more than 80 years ago, when Adolf Hitler waged a campaign to eliminate the Jews.

More than 20 million were killed in the 12-year reign of terror. Gas chambers and crematoriums were built to hasten the killings and the disposal of dead bodies.

News reports about the bill quoted Batocabe as saying, “Should President Duterte stay true to his mission to eliminate drug pushers by hook or by crook, our cemeteries will definitely be filled to the brim and the crematories will greatly help in this regard.”
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July 12, 2016 3:11 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: Human Rights, Illegal Drugs  5 Comments

The pitfalls of joint development of Spratlys with China

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr.

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr.

It’s best that Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. study carefully the intricacies of joint exploration with China so he can advise President Rodrigo Duterte to go slow about it.

Yasay, in his clarification about what he said in an interview with Agence France Presse last week, said, ““As the ruling will not address sovereignty and delimitation, it is possible that some time in the future, claimant countries might consider entering into arrangements such as joint exploration and utilization of resources in disputed areas that do not prejudice the parties’ claims and delimitation of boundaries in accordance with Unclos (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).”

Even if the Philippines gets a favorable ruling Tuesday on the issues they raised against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, there would still be a lot of complications about joint development of the disputed areas in the South China Sea.

The number one problem is China’s concept of “setting aside dispute and pursuing joint development.”

One of the resource materials on the issue in the website of the China’s Foreign Ministry, says “The concept of setting aside dispute and pursuing joint development has the following four elements: 1. The sovereignty of the territories concerned belongs to China. 2. When conditions are not ripe to bring about a thorough solution to territorial dispute, discussion on the issue of sovereignty may be postponed so that the dispute is set aside. To set aside dispute does not mean giving up sovereignty. It is just to leave the dispute aside for the time being. 3. The territories under dispute may be developed in a joint way. 4. The purpose of joint development is to enhance mutual understanding through cooperation and create conditions for the eventual resolution of territorial ownership.”
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July 10, 2016 8:45 pm  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  5 Comments