No ASEAN role in Scarborough conflict between PH and China

Traditional link-arms photo of ASEAN Foreign Ministers in the recently concluded ASEAN50 Foreign Ministers meeting in Manila.

The agreed framework for a Code on South China Sea was the most important achievement of the recently-concluded meeting of the foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations which segued to more meetings with its dialogue partners and the Asean Regional Forum.

After the much-awaited meeting between ASEAN foreign ministers and China Sunday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced that China have agreed on the framework for a Code on SCS. He said substantive consultations will be undertaken in the coming months with the end view of an implementable COC on South China Sea.

Aside from the question of when is the actual COC expected to be completed, is another question: what kind of COC on South China Sea would it be.
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August 17, 2017 11:11 am  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  No Comments

A COC that would legitimize China’s artificial islands in the Spratlys

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano at the gala dinner of ASEAN and its dialogue partners.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Sunday that he and the 10 foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have approved the framework for the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

This is just a framework, not the long-desired COC. Nevertheless, it is a major step towards an agreement that hopefully would provide stability in the vast body of water disputed by China, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

The substance of that framework will be discussed in the coming months, Wang said.
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August 7, 2017 10:36 pm  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  One Comment

China’s concept of setting side sovereignty dispute for joint exploration of Spratlys

Asked during his press conference last Wednesday when the talks about the joint exploration in Philippine territory that is also being claimed by China and other countries started, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano recalled the meeting of the late Deng Xiaoping with then President Corazon Aquino.

Meeting of China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and Pres. Corazon Aquino in Beijing in April 1988. Photo from People’s Daily online


In that meeting, Deng suggested to set aside the issue of sovereignty on the Spratlys because that won’t be resolved in their lifetime. He suggested joint development.

Cayetano assured the public that the joint exploration they would be entering with the Chinese will not violate the Constitution and cited the Malampaya oil project in Palawan which is being operated by Shell, a British–Dutch multinational oil and gas company.
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August 1, 2017 6:11 am  Tags: , , , , , ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  2 Comments

The trade off: multi-billion dollar projects in exchange for Chinese exploration in PH EEZ

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi July 25,2017. DFA photo.

From the fragmented information about the resumption of talks on joint exploration with China in the disputed parts of the Spratlys, what is emerging is a repeat of jumbo loans that the administration of Gloria Arroyo obtained from the Chinese government in 2004 in exchange for agreeing to allow China to explore within the country’s economic exclusive zone.

In his State-of-the Nation address last Monday, the issue about West Philippine Sea was mentioned sort of in passing. “The West Philippine Sea issue and federalism are matters that we have to tackle sooner or later,” Duterte said.

Reporters followed it up in his post-SONA press conference. Duterte added more information:

“When they start to excavate the gas and all. I tell you, it’s going to be just like a joint venture. Para pareho. (So it’s equal). “
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July 29, 2017 9:24 am  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  One Comment

Vera Files fact checks Duterte’s SONA

What’s Duterte’s speech without his trademark slogan, “Putang Ina?”

I’m bit disappointed that he spewed out only nine putang ina in his State-of-the Nation address Monday. That’s way below his usual 20 or so Putang Ina in one speech. And he spoke for two hours!

Pres. Duterte applauded by Senate President Koko Pimentel and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.


In his 2017 SONA, regaled the Filipino people with his own imagined “truths”, telling people of praises that were never uttered and ordering or taking credit for what are already long in place.

During the SONA, VERA Files did a live Fact Check of some of what Duterte said.

Here are some of the items VERA Files came up with:
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July 27, 2017 10:33 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: Governance  2 Comments

Trump has a lot to learn from Duterte on taming media

Oftentimes, when we read or watch on TV news about what’s happening in Donald Trump’s United States of America, you can easily find similarities in the Philippines.

It’s because Trump and the Philippine’s Rodrigo Duterte have many things in common: their contempt for the rule of law, their low regard of women, and their antagonism towards media.

The other day, Trump’s press, Secretary Sean Spicer resigned. This inspired social media wit, Bernard Ong, to pen a letter to Trump with very exciting recommendations.

U.S. former Press Secretary Sean Spicer


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July 24, 2017 8:00 am  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: Media  2 Comments

Explaining Duterte


The president of the Philippines is the country’s chief executive, head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
His powers are awesome, so his words carry the weight of his powerful position.

In his one year in office, President Duterte has shocked, stunned, and bewildered not only Filipinos but also the international community with his pronouncements.

A political observer said that to keep his sanity, he usually waits a day or two before deciding whether to take seriously or dismissing Duterte’s statements.
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July 22, 2017 12:53 pm  Tags:   Posted in: Communication  2 Comments

North Korea in the lives of Filipinos

A photograph released by the North Korean news agency showing Kim Jong-un reacting after the launch. Credit KCNA, via Reuters

I’m intrigued by the results of the survey conducted by the American fact tank, Pew Research Center, showing only Filipinos, among seven countries in Asia Pacific, have a generally positive view of North Korea.

The survey was conducted between February and May this year, before North Korea’s successful launching of an intercontinental ballistic missile last July 4. It was reported as North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un’s gift to the United States.

The survey showed the Japanese are most negative on North Korea (94%); Australians, 82 %; the Americans, whose president is the most hostile towards North Korea, 78%.
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July 17, 2017 11:02 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  No Comments

The height of impunity

The President’s favorite cop: Police Supt Marvin Marcos.

Upon orders of President Duterte, Police Chief Director General Ronald de la Rosa said the murderer-cops, led by Police Supt. Marvin Marcos will be re-instated to the positions they held before they were suspended for the killing of former Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and his fellow inmate, Raul Yap, in Baybay provincial jail in Leyte on November 5 last year.

The reaction of Sen. Panfilo Lacson sent to the media by text expresses the feeling of many upon hearing the reinstatement of Marcos: “There is a phrase to describe this whole damn thing: P… Ina.”

Lacson’s committee investigated the incident and found that the killing of Espinosa and Yap was premeditated
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July 13, 2017 9:25 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: Peace and Order, Philippine National Police  8 Comments

PH win in Arbitral Court, one year after

Pres. Duterte and China Pres. Xi Jinping in Beijing Oct. 2016 state visit. Malacanang photo.

One of the good things that President Duterte has done was to rekindle relations with China which reached its lowest ebb during the administration of Benigno Aquino III.

Never mind that during the election campaign, he rode on the anti-China sentiments of most Filipinos fueled by the pro-American leanings of Aquino and his Foreign Secretary, Albert del Rosario.

Remember, a standard in Duterte’s campaign speech was his boast that he will ride on a jet ski to one of the islands in the disputed Spratlys and plant the Philippine flag. He would kiss the flag to dramatize his promise.

Once in Malacanang, he was asked when he was going to jetski to Spratlys and he replied it was a joke. He said he didn’t even know how to swim.
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July 12, 2017 8:19 am  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  5 Comments