NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL; LENTEN REFLECTION

I am certain that it was pure coincidence for the Supreme Court to release the Reproductive Health (RH) ruling just before the Holy Week. It does provide good material for Lenten reflection. It seems that both sides can claim victory which is beneficial for societal peace and harmony. I have not had the opportunity of reading the main decision and the various concurring and dissenting opinions so I am not in a position to intelligently comment at this point. However, I do commiserate with the thinking out aloud lament raised by a few justices that the answer to certain questions are probably better left to doctors, scientists, philosophers and theologians. Query, therefore, as to whether the determination of the validity of the RH law should have been passed upon by the High Court in the first place. True, it is the province of the Supreme Court to pass upon the constitutionality of legislation passed by Congress. However, this was a grey area case where issues of morality, religion, and science commingled with questions of law. When does life begin? Is there such a thing as a “soul” and, if so, when does he/she/it attach? Jurisprudence has developed the political question doctrine where courts will shy away from deciding questions which are “non-legal” and are better left for the political process to sort out. By the way, I appreciate the emphasis given by Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te that the questioned law is NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL. By using two negatives, the Court does not uphold the “rightness” of the legislation but at the same time stating that aside from the provisions struck down, the law, as a whole, is not legally wrong either. Holy Week glossary: As we approach the Holy Week, I became curious as to the origin of the names to describe the different days of the week (e.g., Maundy Thursday). In the first place, where did the term “Holy” come from? Encyclopedia Britannica teaches us that it was “Great” before it was “Holy.” The Greeks and Romans called it the “Great Week” because great deeds were done by God during the week. The pre-Nicene Church focused the celebration on the feast of the Christian Passover which is the night before Easter Sunday. But during the latter part of the 4th century, the commemoration of specific events during various days of the week began: Judas Iscariot’s betrayal on Wednesday, the institution of the Eucharist on Thursday, the passion and death of Christ on Friday, His burial on Saturday and Resurrection on Sunday. This is also the time our Christian forefathers started using the term “Holy Week” during the time of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria and Epiphanius (not the person after whom EDSA was named), Bishop of Constantinople.

ALSO: Passion Sunday: An invite to bear the cross with Jesus

Getting ready for Palm Sunday. A man weaves palm fronds at the Central Market in Quiapo, Manila, on Friday, April 11. Palm fronds are sought-after by Catholic devotees as a cherished symbol of Christ's arrival in Jerusalem, commemorated every Palm Sunday. Danny Pata On April 13th, Palm Sunday, the Christian Churches begin the celebration of the Holy Week. It is also called Passion Sunday, because, for the first time in the Liturgical Year, the Passion narrative is proclaimed. The three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) take turn - the present Liturgical Year is Year B so we read the Passion Narrative according to St. Matthew. The Passion Narrative according to St. John is read on Good Friday of each year. The celebration of “Passion (or Palm) Sunday" begins with the commemoration of the entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem. And according to ancient custom, the ritual starts with the blessing of the palm branches and the community goes to the Church in a solemn procession, in which the faithful in song and gesture imitate the Hebrew children who went to meet the Lord singing "Hosanna." (Mt. 21: 1-11) The procession may take place only once, before the Mass which has the largest attendance, even if this should be in the evening either of Saturday or Sunday. The congregation should assemble in a secondary church or chapel or in some other suitable place (Church patio) distinct from the church to which the procession will move. The Liturgical instruction tells us that the palms or branches are blessed so that they can be carried in the procession. The palms should be taken home where they will serve as a reminder of the victory of Christ which they celebrated in the procession. In this last Sunday of Lent, the invitation to us is to bear our crosses with courage and like Jesus, trusting that with Jesus at our side, he would see us through it all. Listen anew to his words: have NO fear, it is I!

ALSO: Noy buys P135-M agent 007 gadgets

Noynoy and his Liberal Party are pulling all stops to assure that control of the government remains in their hands after their current LP president in Malacañang steps down. The purchase of P135 million worth of snooping gadgets to be handled by the Department of National Defense (DND) is a major part of the effort to neutralize political rivals and of course, critics. The operation is similar to that which has been undertaken during the unpopular regime of Gloria Arroyo when political opponents’ communications were tapped to provide the government an endless information arsenal for smear campaigns and primarily to track critics and political opponents as a result of an extraordinarily paranoid regime. Despite the propaganda of his yellow survey firms, Noynoy has lost his popular appeal as a result of his failure to uplift the livelihood of Filipinos despite the claims of strong growth that does not translate into increased jobs availability, and the LP is preparing underhanded measures to aid its futile 2016 bid. The spying equipment seems to be the best of its kind coming from a German company that also supplies the National Security Agency of the United States. The difference with the US, however, is that the global power is in constant threat of terrorism which requires the best technology to keep it one step ahead of the groups wanting to create trouble, although it has spied on American citizens which have riled Americans who value their constitutional right to privacy. In the Philippines, it is the Noynoy and his bungling administration that create trouble for themselves and the monitoring is needed to know what criticisms along with opposition plans are coming their way. The equipment is also being designed to monitor the activities of Noynoy and the LP’s political opponents and families, according to a source who is privy to the setting up of the spy system. Of course, the first question that needs answering is based on the usual argument of Noynoy whenever supposedly discovering excessive spending from the previous regime. How many school buildings and food for hungry Filipino families can P135 million buy? And by the way, why the need for a negotiated contract?

ALSO: PHL: A near-failed state used by the US

That’s just one of the depressing references to our country in the recently released book “Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific” by Robert D. Kaplan, one of America’s top geopolitical analysts and foreign-affairs journalists. Kaplan isn’t portraying the Philippines, as we would want to, as a David nobly and bravely fighting a Goliath, the good kid fighting the bully in the region—China. Rather, our nation “is a semi-failed entity with weak institutions and an extremely weak military” the US is exploiting as a pawn to maintain its dominance in Asia and check the emergence of China as the superpower in the region. Another of Kaplan’s references would throw cold water on Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario’s melodramatic appeal to international law to resolve our territorial dispute with China: That’s “the ultimate demonstration of (the Philippines’) weakness, ” Kaplan writes. The book should be a must-read for our intellectual elite and for our foreign affairs officials, and very especially for our foreign secretary who thinks, and even speaks, like a conservative American so much so that in the recesses of his mind, he probably thinks he works for the US State Department. For they must be prepared to allow, in some measure, for a rising Chinese navy to assume its rightful position, as the representative of the region’s largest indigenous power. True, America must safeguard a maritime system of international legal norms, buttressed by a favorable balance of power regimen. But the age of simple American dominance, as it existed through all of the Cold War decades and immediately beyond, will likely have to pass.” Shouldn’t our weak state plan for that eventuality?T


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Not unconstitutional


By Dean Andy Bautista

MANILA, APRIL 14, 2014 (PHILSTAR) MY FOUR CENTAVOS By Dean Andy Bautista (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 12, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0

I am certain that it was pure coincidence for the Supreme Court to release the Reproductive Health (RH) ruling just before the Holy Week. It does provide good material for Lenten reflection. It seems that both sides can claim victory which is beneficial for societal peace and harmony. I have not had the opportunity of reading the main decision and the various concurring and dissenting opinions so I am not in a position to intelligently comment at this point. However, I do commiserate with the thinking out aloud lament raised by a few justices that the answer to certain questions are probably better left to doctors, scientists, philosophers and theologians.

Query, therefore, as to whether the determination of the validity of the RH law should have been passed upon by the High Court in the first place. True, it is the province of the Supreme Court to pass upon the constitutionality of legislation passed by Congress. However, this was a grey area case where issues of morality, religion, and science commingled with questions of law. When does life begin? Is there such a thing as a “soul” and, if so, when does he/she/it attach? Jurisprudence has developed the political question doctrine where courts will shy away from deciding questions which are “non-legal” and are better left for the political process to sort out.

By the way, I appreciate the emphasis given by Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te that the questioned law is NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL. By using two negatives, the Court does not uphold the “rightness” of the legislation but at the same time stating that aside from the provisions struck down, the law, as a whole, is not legally wrong either.

* * * *

Consumer update: In last week’s column, your four centavos argued that the Department of Trade and Industry Administrative Order no. 10-04 as supported by a 2013 Department of Justice legal opinion providing for the non-expiration of gift certificates and gift checks issued after July 1, 2012, applied to pre-paid mobile telephone cards as well. Unfortunately, our letter to NTC’s Atty. Ramon Nolasco has not been favored with a response. Reader Jaime Unson wrote to ask whether the logic for telephone cards applied to LRT/MRT stored value cards that also provide for an expiration date? Absolutely. In this regard, I have written MRT General Manager Al Vitangcol to inquire about the matter.

* * * *

Holy Week glossary: As we approach the Holy Week, I became curious as to the origin of the names to describe the different days of the week (e.g., Maundy Thursday). In the first place, where did the term “Holy” come from?

Encyclopedia Britannica teaches us that it was “Great” before it was “Holy.” The Greeks and Romans called it the “Great Week” because great deeds were done by God during the week. The pre-Nicene Church focused the celebration on the feast of the Christian Passover which is the night before Easter Sunday. But during the latter part of the 4th century, the commemoration of specific events during various days of the week began: Judas Iscariot’s betrayal on Wednesday, the institution of the Eucharist on Thursday, the passion and death of Christ on Friday, His burial on Saturday and Resurrection on Sunday. This is also the time our Christian forefathers started using the term “Holy Week” during the time of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria and Epiphanius (not the person after whom EDSA was named), Bishop of Constantinople.

How about the other terms? Well, the name “Palm” Sunday is obvious as this is the time when Jesus was triumphantly greeted by palms as He entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Ironically, some of those who cried “Hosanna” on that day were the same ones to shout “Crucify Him” five days later. I did not know that there is a “Fig” Monday which apparently was the day when Jesus cursed the fig tree. Certain orthodox Christians eat dried figs on this day to commemorate the miracle. The more generic “Holy” Tuesday in the Eastern Orthodox Church, that follow the Byzantine Rite, commemorates the Parable of the Ten Virgins teaching the virtues of vigilance and patience while awaiting the arrival of Messiah in the form of the Bridegroom. “Spy” Wednesday is the day Judas met the Jewish Sanhedrin to betray him for 30 pieces of silver. (When one thinks about it, why call it “spy” and not “Betray” Wednesday?) “Maundy” Thursday is more complicated. It is apparently taken from the original Latin version of John 13:34 where after washing the disciples’ feet at the last supper, He teaches a new commandment “That you love one another as I have loved you.” In Latin, the verse begins with Mandatum nouvum do vobis. The word “Maundy” is taken from “mandatum” which means commandment. This is a term familiar to lawyers as the legal term “Mandamus” also has a similar meaning.

“Good” Friday dates back to Middle English when the word “good” denotes piety or holiness “Black” Saturday not only connotes death but also the portion of the Apostles’ Creed describing Jesus’ descending into Hell to deliver the saints of the Old Testament. The modern English term “Easter”, cognate with the German “Ostern,” both refer to the direction from which the spring sun rises. Spring is the time when nature returns to life and in a similar fashion, the Resurrection of Christ brings the promise of a new, everlasting life to those who believe in Him.

Speaking of the Creed, we are taught that “on the third day He rose again.” But if he died on a Friday at 3 p.m. in the afternoon, query if He should not have resurrected on Monday? Maybe the days were shorter then or perhaps they counted them differently.

I hope that the foregoing helps in your Holy Week meditation. Since there is no newspaper next Saturday, let me take this opportunity to greet you a Great and meaning-full Easter!

* * * *

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” – Og Mandino

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Passion Sunday: An invite to bear the cross with Jesus By FR. JUN MERCADO, OMI April 10, 2014 4:30pm 4 4 2 107


By Fr. Jun Mercado, OMI (Photo: www.facebook.com/Fr. Jun Mercado).

Getting ready for Palm Sunday.

A man weaves palm fronds at the Central Market in Quiapo, Manila, on Friday, April 11. Palm fronds are sought-after by Catholic devotees as a cherished symbol of Christ's arrival in Jerusalem, commemorated every Palm Sunday. Danny Pata On April 13th, Palm Sunday, the Christian Churches begin the celebration of the Holy Week. It is also called Passion Sunday, because, for the first time in the Liturgical Year, the Passion narrative is proclaimed. The three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) take turn - the present Liturgical Year is Year B so we read the Passion Narrative according to St. Matthew. The Passion Narrative according to St. John is read on Good Friday of each year.

The celebration of “Passion (or Palm) Sunday" begins with the commemoration of the entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem. And according to ancient custom, the ritual starts with the blessing of the palm branches and the community goes to the Church in a solemn procession, in which the faithful in song and gesture imitate the Hebrew children who went to meet the Lord singing "Hosanna." (Mt. 21: 1-11)

The procession may take place only once, before the Mass which has the largest attendance, even if this should be in the evening either of Saturday or Sunday. The congregation should assemble in a secondary church or chapel or in some other suitable place (Church patio) distinct from the church to which the procession will move.

The Liturgical instruction tells us that the palms or branches are blessed so that they can be carried in the procession. The palms should be taken home where they will serve as a reminder of the victory of Christ which they celebrated in the procession.

It is called Passion Sunday also, because the passion narrative occupies a special place. Beyond that triumphal entry to Jerusalem where the Hebrew people acclaimed him with “Hosannas” as they welcomed him as the “anointed’ (Christ) is the passion and death of Jesus and the same people crying out: “Crucify him”.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem he was ready to face death that would be horrible, shameful and painful death. It was a death akin to a costly ransom being paid for the sins of humanity. He wondered if he would endure the pain and the agony to the end. Yet, he was assured of the Father’s grace and love as he embraced the CROSS with courage and trust.

In December 2013, I traced silently Christ’s journey - beginning with his entry to Jerusalem, his celebration of the Passover with his beloved in the Upper Room (Cenacle); his prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was tempted not to drink of the cup of suffering; the 14 Stations of the Cross that ended in Holy Sepulcher. The new realization that dawned on me this time of ‘personal pilgrimage’ is the fact that the real miracle that happened in Jerusalem was NOT the sparing of Jesus from the suffering, agony and the shameful death, but the inner strength given to Jesus to embrace all these with courage that others and the whole creation may have life and life to the full.

The celebration of Passion Sunday tells of the continuing ambiguity of men and women’s responses vis-à-vis the revelation of God’s redemptive love in Jesus. It reveals our own dilemma and moral ambiguity. At one moment, we join the people in acclaiming him as King and Messiah. But when Jesus did NOT fulfill their expectations the people got tired of him and in their frustration, they shouted ‘crucify him’ on that morn of Good Friday forgetting their earlier profession.

The Passion narrative tells us also of Pilate with all the power he held yet in the end allowed the condemnation of an innocent man and ‘ritualizing this lack of moral stance by wishing he had no part in it by washing his hands.

The reading of the Passion allows us to participate in that drama carrying of the cross, the crucifixion and death on the cross amid derision and insults. He bears them with patient endurance telling each disciple then and now that there is NO other path to life but the cross. With complete trust in God, forward he went, determined to complete the mission knowing that his loving Father would see him through it all.

The proclamation of the Passion of our Lord according the St. Matthew gives us the right motif as we enter the Holy Week. The celebration of the Passion Sunday is our immediate preparation in the Paschal Celebration through the traditional Triduum - Holy Thursday (the celebration of the Lord’s Supper), Good Friday (the Proclamation of the Lord’s Passion and the Adoration of the Cross) and the Celebration of Easter beginning with the Easter Vigil on the evening of Saturday (the Celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection).

In this last Sunday of Lent, the invitation to us is to bear our crosses with courage and like Jesus, trusting that with Jesus at our side, he would see us through it all. Listen anew to his words: have NO fear, it is I!

EDITORIAL FROM THE TRIBUNE

Noy buys P135-M agent 007 gadgets Written by Tribune Editorial Tuesday, 08 April 2014 00:00

Noynoy and his Liberal Party are pulling all stops to assure that control of the government remains in their hands after their current LP president in Malacañang steps down.

The purchase of P135 million worth of snooping gadgets to be handled by the Department of National Defense (DND) is a major part of the effort to neutralize political rivals and of course, critics.

The operation is similar to that which has been undertaken during the unpopular regime of Gloria Arroyo when political opponents’ communications were tapped to provide the government an endless information arsenal for smear campaigns and primarily to track critics and political opponents as a result of an extraordinarily paranoid regime.

Despite the propaganda of his yellow survey firms, Noynoy has lost his popular appeal as a result of his failure to uplift the livelihood of Filipinos despite the claims of strong growth that does not translate into increased jobs availability, and the LP is preparing underhanded measures to aid its futile 2016 bid.

The spying equipment seems to be the best of its kind coming from a German company that also supplies the National Security Agency of the United States.

The difference with the US, however, is that the global power is in constant threat of terrorism which requires the best technology to keep it one step ahead of the groups wanting to create trouble, although it has spied on American citizens which have riled Americans who value their constitutional right to privacy.

In the Philippines, it is the Noynoy and his bungling administration that create trouble for themselves and the monitoring is needed to know what criticisms along with opposition plans are coming their way.

The equipment is also being designed to monitor the activities of Noynoy and the LP’s political opponents and families, according to a source who is privy to the setting up of the spy system.

The surveillance network will also include the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) which was earlier reported up for abolition and replacement of a new body.

It turns out that the ISAFP is being folded into the new body under the DND to create a mega intelligence network that would be at the beck and call of the LP.

With the Palace claiming that peace is within reach as a result of the major act surrender that is the creation of the Bangsamoro substate and the claim that the New People’s Army (NPA) has been marginalized with the arrest of head of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Benito Tiamzon, the setting up of a massive spy grid becomes a big but malice-filled mystery.

The administration of Noynoy, meanwhile, should explain the hushed transactions regarding the snooping equipment which was supposedly undertaken through a negotiated contract which means that it did not go through the usual bidding process.

If the equipment and the new intelligence agency being created are related to the enhanced defense cooperation agreement or the rotational basing deal with the United States, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin should be made to explain about it.

Gazmin should also be asked what other hidden deals with the US are being withheld from the public as a result of the new agreement that is being intentionally blurred from public attention.

The administration of Noynoy has a lot of explaining to do regarding the setting up of the extensive spy network and the purchase of the surveillance gadgets particularly with the presidential elections coming around the corner.

The first thing that Noynoy should explain is the need to spend P135 million for powerful spying equipment that approximates the gadgets in use in the much more complex situation in the United States.

Would the equipment be used to snoop against China and its officials in the country? Those are some of the questions that the Palace needs to answer.

Of course, the first question that needs answering is based on the usual argument of Noynoy whenever supposedly discovering excessive spending from the previous regime.

How many school buildings and food for hungry Filipino families can P135 million buy?

And by the way, why the need for a negotiated contract?

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

PHL: A near-failed state used by the US April 10, 2014 10:38 pm by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO


Rigoberto Tiglao

That’s just one of the depressing references to our country in the recently released book “Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific” by Robert D. Kaplan, one of America’s top geopolitical analysts and foreign-affairs journalists.

Kaplan isn’t portraying the Philippines, as we would want to, as a David nobly and bravely fighting a Goliath, the good kid fighting the bully in the region—China.

Rather, our nation “is a semi-failed entity with weak institutions and an extremely weak military” the US is exploiting as a pawn to maintain its dominance in Asia and check the emergence of China as the superpower in the region.

Another of Kaplan’s references would throw cold water on Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario’s melodramatic appeal to international law to resolve our territorial dispute with China:

That’s “the ultimate demonstration of (the Philippines’) weakness, ” Kaplan writes.

The book should be a must-read for our intellectual elite and for our foreign affairs officials, and very especially for our foreign secretary who thinks, and even speaks, like a conservative American so much so that in the recesses of his mind, he probably thinks he works for the US State Department.

Kaplan’s book cannot be pooh-poohed, and an indication of its must-read status is that most US and British publications reviewed the book a week after its release.

Having written more than a dozen books on geopolitics and global security, Kaplan is a respected and much-read neoconservative writer, one of Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers. From 2009 to 2011, he was a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board advising the US Defense Secretary. He’s certainly not an isolationist nor a pinko, having been one of the leading pundits who supported the US invasion of Iraq.

If del Rosario reads the book, there would be a glimmer of hope that he would reconsider his catastrophic monochromatic “what-is-ours-is-ours”, “the-law-and-the-Americans-are-behind-us” foreign policy.

Kaplan explains why the US has become seemingly so concerned about our territorial dispute with China, and even egging us on to be tough:

Why US is involved

“The United States got involved ostensibly because it sought to protect a legal, rules-based order enshrining freedom of navigation, which the nine-dashed line appeared to threaten.

“In fact, the real problem that the Americans have had with China was its expanding submarine base at Hainan Island in the northwestern corner of the South China Sea, which is home to both the latest diesel-electric submarines as well as nuclear ballistic missile subs. Largely because of that base, and because China’s deployment of more and more submarines threatened American power projection in the region, the United States pushed back in the guise of strengthening ties to the smaller littoral countries, offering to mediate these nettlesome maritime disputes in 2010.

In 2011, the United States announced a “pivot” to the Pacific from the Middle East.”

But the US lost its major foothold in Asia, which could have been the terra firma for its pivot. The Philippines threw out in 1992 America’s US naval facility in Subic Bay—the forward base of the Seventh Fleet that was its most powerful demonstration of its military projection in the region.

“That was before China’s naval power became truly demonstrable. Only two years later, China would move to occupy Philippine-controlled reefs in the Spratlys, and from the mid-1990s forward China would undergo a vast expansion of its air and sea forces, accompanied by a more aggressive posture in the South China Sea.”

The US in the past few years has scrambled to strengthen military ties with the Philippines, rushed to provide the Philippine navy with a refurbished 1960s Coast Guard cutter to patrol its claims in the South China Sea, declared support for our tough stance versus China, and has been putting US forces on Philippine soil on a “rotating” or temporary basis purportedly for joint exercises with Filipino forces.

For Kaplan, this meant that “the vulnerability of a near-failed state under China’s lowering gaze was being exploited by Washington in order to resurrect in different form the strategic platform the Americans had here on the eastern edge of the South China Sea for almost a century from 1899 through the end of the Cold War.”

But not only the US, but China is in effect exploiting us for its domestic politics, which makes our stance so dangerous, a reality which should sober up the simplistic accusations, now very popular in Manila, of China’s “bullying.”

Kaplan explains:
“The truth was, that pushing the Philippines around served a purpose in nationalistic circles in Beijing that pushing Vietnam around just didn’t. Hating Vietnam was a default emotion inside China and therefore did not advance any Chinese official’s or military officer’s nationalistic bona fides; whereas, because the Philippines was a formal treaty ally of the United States, bullying the Philippines telegraphed that China was pushing back at the United States. And this was easy to do because of the Philippine military’s own lack of capacity. By fortifying the bilateral military relationship with Manila, Washington was upping the ante—that is, intensifying the struggle with China.”

Plan in Ayungin

The book was obviously written many months before our small Navy vessel disguised as a civilian boat played cat and mouse with much bigger Chinese Coast Guard cutters in order to resupply our contingent in rust-filled ship grounded on Ayungin Shoal. That incident though would seem to confirm a point raised by Kaplan in his book:
“There was a school of thought among local officials here (Manila)—both civilian and military—that believed naval brinkmanship on the Philippines’ part would force Washington into a more confrontational stance toward Beijing to the strategic benefit of Manila.”

Kaplan however claims the US has frowned on this: “The Obama administration in 2012 warned Manila specifically against that approach. Certainly, it was not in the American interest for China to dominate the South China Sea. But neither was it in the American interest, given its many financial and other equities with Beijing, to be dragged into a conflict with China because of the hot-blooded, combustible nationalisms of countries like the Philippines and Vietnam.”

Kaplan isn’t too sympathetic to the Philippines’ claim, which should alert us that given the author’s influence in US policy circles and media, American policy makers and public opinion wouldn’t be enthusiastic about US forces battling Chinese ships to defend our claims in some “Kalayaan” or Nansha islands they can’t even pronounce right nor know where on the globe these are.

While he devotes several pages expounding China and Vietnams’ claims in the Spratlys, he explains ours as basically made “only in the 1950s”, “after the Philippine adventurer and fishing magnate Tomás Cloma and several dozen of his men took possession in 1956 of “the Spratly islands he called Freedomland, or ‘Kapuluan ng Kalayaan.’”

China’s views of the Philippines, as Kaplan writes, should worry us:
“Unlike the Vietnamese claims to the Paracels, which the Chinese privately respect and worry about, the Chinese don’t respect Philippine designs on the Spratlys. Whereas Vietnam is a tough and battle-hardened warrior state, the Philippines, to repeat, constitutes a semi-failed entity with weak institutions and an extremely weak military—and the Chinese know all this. Even so, China has to keep its aggression against the Philippines in check because the Philippines is a treaty ally of the United States.”

China’s Caribbean Sea

A worrying analogy Kaplan makes several times is that the Caribbean Sea was to the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as what the South China Sea is to China in the 21st century. Just as the Caribbean was vital to US trade and defense, and its control by US marked that empire’s dominance in the Western hemisphere, the control of South China Sea will signal China’s hegemony in the region.

With such view, Kaplan forecasts:
“It is a world where sea denial is cheaper and easier to accomplish than sea control, so that lesser sea powers like China and India may be able to check the ambitions of a greater power like the United States, and submarines and mines and land-based missiles may combine to inhibit the use of aircraft carriers and other large surface warships.

“It is a world in which it is just not good enough for American officials to plan for continued dominance in these waters.

For they must be prepared to allow, in some measure, for a rising Chinese navy to assume its rightful position, as the representative of the region’s largest indigenous power. True, America must safeguard a maritime system of international legal norms, buttressed by a favorable balance of power regimen. But the age of simple American dominance, as it existed through all of the Cold War decades and immediately beyond, will likely have to pass.”

Shouldn’t our weak state plan for that eventuality?


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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