ONE-DIMENSIONAL DIPLOMACY: A COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS OF MANILA SECURITY DEAL WITH WASHINGTON

Manila and Washington are said to be rushing to complete negotiations on the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation (AEDC) so both Presidents Aquino and Obama can seal the new security deal when the American head of state arrives next week. If there is anyone in the government who can take credit—or blame—for the new security deal, it is Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who now monopolizes the ear of the President when it comes to relations with China and the United States. Our territorial conflicts with China are the reason for this new agreement, and the message del Rosario and Malacañang want to deliver is that the AEDC is the mechanism that will make the Chinese respect our rights to Scarborough Shoal, the nine islands and reefs we claim in the Spratly Islands, our continental shelf, and our 200 Mile Exclusive Economic Zone. The truth of the matter, however, is that the deal negotiated by Secretary del Rosario will do no such thing. No US obligation to defend Spratlys and Scarborough..READE MORE...

ALSO: Drilon is right: What he and pals did to Corona was wrong

AS a thousand rumors flew and bounced back about his and other PNoy allies’ being named as Janet Napoles’ “mentors” in her new affidavit about the P10-billion PDAF scam, Senate President Franklin Drilon on Thursday organized a televised media briefing. What comment-makers in Facebook, Twitter and the other social media—not to mention some of the mainstream media­—said about him being on Napoles’ list and the curses hurled against him must have stung so hard that he had to jump up. The noblest essence of what he said to the TV audiences and reporters on Thursday is that everyone should be fair and just. No one should indulge in black propaganda. The list of senators and congressmen named in Napoles’ affidavit should not be made public—unless there is “compelling documentary evidence” because that is moral and legal thing to do. The release of the names of senators implicated by Napoles would only serve to damage the image and prestige of the Senate as an institution, he warned. But “if the listahan is supported and substantiated by credible documentary evidence, please go ahead. Pero kung listahan lang naman, eh siguro pag-ingatan naman natin ang institusyon ng Senado. [But if the list is supported and substantiated by credible documentary evidence, please go ahead. But if it just a mere list, eh, perhaps we should take care [that we don’t destroy] the Senate as an institution.],” the Senate President said. He added, “Under the rules of court and under our rules of evidence, where the subject of the inquiry is the content of the document, the best evidence is the document. No other evidence is better than the document because documents do not lie.” READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy and De Lima’s conundrum

Leila de Lima insists that the Janet Lim-Napoles “tell-all” and the list given to her, will not be sanitized. If so, why is she taking such a long time in releasing that list and her affidavit, which she says has already been signed, and notarized, in which case, it stands to reason that this is already a public document, and should be released? But without giving the public even the name of the notary public engaged by Napoles and her lawyers, the public can’t even verify whether or not there is such an affidavit. De Lima’s claim is that without verifying the list and affidavit first, too many people’s reputation will be smeared. The problem with her reasoning is the fact that she has already proven too many times in the past and even in the present time, that she has so many times smeared the reputations of certain persons, especially those known to be non-allies of her political patron, Noynoy. At that time, she didn’t have her so-called evidence when she allowed her whistle-blowers to be interviewed almost daily by the yellow media, smearing the three opposition senators, and she, along with her wrecking crew, went into a deliberate trial by publicity, as did the state Audit chief, Grace Pulido-Tan with her biased pork audit report, which could not pass as hard evidence for plunder as is. Neither, for that matter, could Leila’s whistle-blowers pass for strong evidence, since most of what was being claimed was hearsay evidence. Had Lima shown the same reticence in the case of the three opposition senators, then she could be deemed credible today in claiming that she does not want to have reputations of persons smeared and that a verification must first be done. How then can her claim today of wanting to verify the “tell-all” because she does not want reputations smeared be credible? The so-called Napoles list is definitely on its way to being sanitized and it will be done only after Napoles is granted full immunity by Noynoy, De Lima and the Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio-Morales. Already, even Morales, while saying that the case against the three senators is strong and that Napoles’ testimony is not needed, she also hinted broadly that she has not closed the door on the possibility of Napoles becoming a state witness. That doesn’t make sense. If the case is strong, and Napoles is not needed, why not close the door on Napoles? READ MORE...

ALSO: STANDARD & POOR's FEARS FOR PHI BANKS

STANDARD & Poor’s believes that banks in the Philippines are not prepared for the tougher competition that will come with the planned integration of Southeast Asian economies. In one of its latest publications, S&P said Philippines banks in the country, although profitable and stable, have a much smaller business scale compared with their counterparts in the region. The credit-rating firm said that Philippine banks will find it difficult to preserve market share with the free entry of foreign competition that will result from the regional integration. “We believe banks [in the Philippines] will have to walk a thin line to preserve market share while pursuing profitable expansion as Asean 2015 draws closer,” S&P said in the report titled “The Philippines’ Banking System: The Good, the Bad and the Ambivalent.” The 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have agreed to integrate their economies with the aim of boosting economic activities, job creation and incomes. The target is to realize the integration by 2015, although policymakers in the region have agreed that the process could be extended through 2020. S&P said that even the biggest banks in the Philippines are small compared with the likes of CIMB and Maybank of Malaysia or DBS and United Overseas Bank of Singapore. One of the challenges facing Philippine banks is overcrowding. Since there are too many players in the country’s banking sector, industry members could not scale up their businesses.


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington

MANILA, APRIL 28, 2014 (INQUIRER) Afterthoughts By Walden Bello - Manila and Washington are said to be rushing to complete negotiations on the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation (AEDC) so both Presidents Aquino and Obama can seal the new security deal when the American head of state arrives next week.

If there is anyone in the government who can take credit—or blame—for the new security deal, it is Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who now monopolizes the ear of the President when it comes to relations with China and the United States.

Our territorial conflicts with China are the reason for this new agreement, and the message del Rosario and Malacañang want to deliver is that the AEDC is the mechanism that will make the Chinese respect our rights to Scarborough Shoal, the nine islands and reefs we claim in the Spratly Islands, our continental shelf, and our 200 Mile Exclusive Economic Zone.

The truth of the matter, however, is that the deal negotiated by Secretary del Rosario will do no such thing.

No US obligation to defend Spratlys and Scarborough

According to Philippine officials, the new agreement is governed by the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and that the MDT obliges the US to come to the Philippines’ defense in the event of an attack on Philippine territory, including our possessions in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea. Here they cite Article V of the MDT, which says “an armed attack on either of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of either of the Parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.”

The problem with this view is that that is not the way the US sees it. Indeed, the US has not deviated from the position explicitly stated several years ago by Morton Smith, a spokesperson of the U.S. Embassy; according to researcher Roland San Juan, Smith asserted that the Kalayaan islands are excluded from the scope of the treaty because the Philippines raised its claim to them over three decades after the MDT was signed in 1951.

Senkakus, yes; Spratlys, no

Washington’s distancing itself from the defense of the Kalayaan Islands is in contrast to US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s recent aggressive statements in Beijing over the disputed Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands in Chinese) during his visit in early April. Hagel said, “I restated the principles that govern longstanding U.S. policy on the Senkaku Islands and other islands.

We affirmed that since [the Senkaku Islands] are under Japan’s administrative control, they fall under Article 5 of our Mutual Security Treaty.” Article V of the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty provides that “an armed attack against either Party in the territories under the administration of Japan would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional provisions and processes.”

The difference with the Philippines, in Washington’s view, is that, unlike Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly islands claimed by the Philippines, the Senkakus were under the administrative control of the prefecture of Okinawa when the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty was signed and were thus covered by the restoration of Okinawa to Japan’s control in 1972.

Commenting on the contrasting US behavior on the two disputes, Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt, a retired US Navy officer who was director of the Pentagon’s East Asia Policy Office during the Bush II administration writes, “At first glance, the disputes China has with the Philippines over Scarborough Shoal in the SCS [South China Sea] appear similar to the ECS [East China Sea] with Japan because the US is a treaty ally of the Philippines.

Actually, however, the two situations are different. In the case of Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines did not have undisputed ‘administrative control’ prior to the 2012 confrontation over the islet. Second, the US is not directly involved in the Scarborough Shoal dispute because its mutual defense treaty with the Philippines does not obligate Washington to take sides over sovereignty questions.”

If the deal does not provide for US support for our territorial claims in the South China Sea, what benefits then do we get from it? Most likely an increase in military aid, including a few more antiquated Hamilton class cutters. If so, this is a very poor return for a larger US military presence, especially the Constitution-defying grant to operate US bases within Philippine bases, which the deal essentially is all about.

‘Pacific Pivot’ on the cheap

What is in it for the US?

The US has always said that its main interest in the South China Sea is “ensuring freedom of navigation.” The first thing to note here is that although China claims the South China Sea as a domestic waterway in its notorious Nine-Dash-Line claim, the threat of its interfering with freedom of navigation has always been remote. China is not about to court world condemnation by enforcing its domestic shipping regulations on a busy waterway through which an estimated one-third of international trade passes. Nor does it have the capability to do so, at least not for a long to come.

But even if the Chinese were to pose a threat to international navigation, the US does not need a Philippine outpost to accomplish its stated goal of protecting international shipping. Even with the US bases in the Philippines already gone in the mid-1990’s, the Pentagon had the South China Sea firmly under control: According to analyst William Berry, during the Mischief Reef crisis in 1995, then Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Joseph Nye “stated that if any conflict in the South China Sea threatens freedom of the seas, then the United States Seventh Fleet was prepared to provide escort services so that freedom of navigation could be protected.”

That this was no bluff was revealed in 1996, during the Taiwan Straits crisis, when two aircraft carrier battle groups were deployed swiftly and with ease out of Yokosuka, Japan, to show Washington’s support for Taiwan.

The fact is the US does not need bases in the Philippines for its upgraded military presence in the Asia Pacific. The loss of the Philippine bases in 1992 did not translate into any difficulties in the ability to deploy and logistically support its forces from the North Pacific to the Indian Ocean. The only significant modification to naval logistics that the event led to was the negotiation with Singapore for the provision of ship repair facilities. Indeed, the elimination of Subic and Clark was probably a big plus for the US since it did away with the great cost of maintaining large fixed bases.

So why does the US now want a higher military profile in the Philippines? This is owing to what one might call Washington’s “exhibitionist syndrome,” that is, the imperative it feels to “show the flag” to its allies and to China, and to do so in an inexpensive way, with no rent to the host country, with a quid pro quo involving just a few of what the Americans call “Excess Defense Articles” like antiquated cutters.

This is what John Feffer calls “Pacific Pivot” on the cheap in the era of Pentagon budget cutbacks, since using Philippine bases will involve probably just a fraction of having large fixed bases. As Frank Chang of the Foreign Policy Research Institute writes, “For the United States, the…agreement helps demonstrate to the Philippines and the region its commitment to the Obama administration’s oft-mentioned pivot or rebalance to Asia and to do so without the expense of building or maintaining new military installations.” He adds, “It clearly offers the United States a cost-effective way to enhance its presence in Asia, something that Washington has wanted to do for a long time.”

Strategic costs for the Philippines

But coming back to what the Philippines gains from the coming agreement, the increase in obsolete military donations from Washington will be more than offset by the negative strategic consequences. Three of these must be highlighted. First of all, the coming agreement will, paradoxically, bring us farther away from a resolution to the territorial disputes with China because this issue will be marginalized by the dynamics of a superpower conflict, to one side of which the Philippines will be considered an adjunct.

Second, it will definitely turn the Philippines into another of Washington’s front line states, like Afghanistan and Pakistan, with all the detrimental and destabilizing effects of such a status, including the subordination of the country’s economic, social, and cultural dynamics to Washington’s security needs. Third, it will move the region farther away from the negotiation of a collective security agreement that is a far better alternative to the current state of volatile balance of power politics, where a simple thing like a ship collision involving antagonistic parties can lead to a bigger conflict.

From balance of power to collective security

Make no mistake: the territorial conflict with China is real, but the way to resolve it is to rely on international law and diplomacy, and this is a terrain in which the Philippines has a big advantage. As I said in an earlier column, the submission of the 1000-page “memorial” delineating our entitlements in the West Philippine Sea to the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal is a giant step in this direction. Beijing knows it does not have a leg to stand on in international law, which is why they have been pushing us to drop the case on pain of “damaging bilateral relations.”

We must also maximize the diplomatic option, where we too have an advantage over Beijing. We must also press our ASEAN partners to remind Beijing to live up to the commitment to negotiate a binding code of conduct on maritime behavior in the West Philippine Sea that it made at the foreign ministers’ meeting in Brunei in June 2013. It was pressure from ASEAN and internationally that forced Beijing to make this commitment, and it will be consistent pressure that will force it to follow through on it.

Still on the diplomatic track, we should prepare the ground at the United Nations General Assembly for the eventual introduction of a resolution condemning Beijing’s unilateral annexation of over 80 per cent of the South China Sea, brusquely disregarding other littoral states’ rights to their continental shelves and 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones.

There’s a very good recent precedent: Beijing’s aggressive annexationism based on its arbitrary Nine-Dash-Line claim is essentially similar to Russia’s gobbling up of Crimea, which the General Assembly condemned few weeks ago.

The strategic aim of our diplomatic efforts must be to bring about a collective security agreement for the region that would include ASEAN, Japan, the two Koreas, and China. The ASEAN Regional Forum was headed in this direction in the 1990’s, despite the opposition of the United States, which arrogated unto itself the role of serving as the enforcer of stability in the region. Its momentum was, unfortunately derailed by the Asian financial crisis in 1997, which swept the rug from under the credibility of ASEAN’s major states. Though the process will be difficult, it is time to revive this project of collective security since the unstable and volatile balance of power politics favored by Washington is not a viable mechanism for regional peace and security.

With the impending basing agreement with the US, we are right back to our position during the Cold War, when we played the role of handmaiden to the US strategy of Containment by hosting two huge military bases. The small window of opportunity to forge an independent foreign policy that we gained with the expulsion of the US bases in 1992 will disappear with the impending signing of the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation with the US.

As many have noted, President Aquino’s presidency already has two important legacies: the anti-corruption campaign and the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Unfortunately, these achievements will be cancelled out by his embrace of Secretary Albert del Rosario’s one-dimensional diplomacy of reintroducing a massive American military presence in the Philippines.

*INQUIRER.net columnist Walden Bello represents Akbayan (Citizens’ Action Party) in the House of Representatives.

INQUIRER EDITORIAL

Drilon is right: What he and pals did to Corona was wrong
April 26, 2014 11:32 pm

AS a thousand rumors flew and bounced back about his and other PNoy allies’ being named as Janet Napoles’ “mentors” in her new affidavit about the P10-billion PDAF scam, Senate President Franklin Drilon on Thursday organized a televised media briefing.

What comment-makers in Facebook, Twitter and the other social media—not to mention some of the mainstream media­—said about him being on Napoles’ list and the curses hurled against him must have stung so hard that he had to jump up.

The noblest essence of what he said to the TV audiences and reporters on Thursday is that everyone should be fair and just.

No one should indulge in black propaganda. The list of senators and congressmen named in Napoles’ affidavit should not be made public—unless there is “compelling documentary evidence” because that is moral and legal thing to do.

The release of the names of senators implicated by Napoles would only serve to damage the image and prestige of the Senate as an institution, he warned.

But “if the listahan is supported and substantiated by credible documentary evidence, please go ahead. Pero kung listahan lang naman, eh siguro pag-ingatan naman natin ang institusyon ng Senado. [But if the list is supported and substantiated by credible documentary evidence, please go ahead. But if it just a mere list, eh, perhaps we should take care [that we don’t destroy] the Senate as an institution.],” the Senate President said.

He added, “Under the rules of court and under our rules of evidence, where the subject of the inquiry is the content of the document, the best evidence is the document. No other evidence is better than the document because documents do not lie.”

“The imputation must be supported by substantial, substantive documentary evidence.”

Whenever he talks about these things he cites his being a former secretary of justice, to raise his credibility and knowledge of the law.

Elementary sense of justice

What he has in effect been saying about the Napoles/PDAF affair is that the elementary sense of justice must reign. That is the aim of the strict application of the rules of evidence. That is why we must comply with the most basic civil requirement of making sure with proofs when assessing accusations.

We must be careful when accusing persons in authority who represent honorable institutions because we must not just act morally toward these persons but also be respectful of the institutions they represent because bringing down these institutions would also shatter the foundations of our Republic.

He seems to have realized that what he did was wrong.

What he did together with the other senators, the members of the House who prosecuted former Chief Justice Renato C. Corona in his impeachment trial, the media bowing to the dictates of President Benigno Cojuangco Aquino 3rd was unjust, unfair and less than legal.

They had the flimsiest of evidence or none at all to prove the House of Representatives’ charges against Mr. Corona. In the end the senator-judges found him guilty of failure to declare the correct value of property he and his wife had bought.

And for that they voted to oust him.

They dishonored the Supreme Court and the other justices.

Testimonies have now emerged stating that President Aquino had to bribe the senators to find then Chief Justice Corona guilty.

Unfortunately, Senate President Drilon—at that time plain Senator Drilon because it was his political foe, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who was Senate President—did not seem as concerned as he is now about preserving the image and integrity of the Senate. For he did allow the bribery to happen.

And he did act during the trial and then voted against Chief Justice Corona without proper regard for the rules of evidence that he now invokes.

An old saw Senate President Drilon is fond of repeating is “Politics must not get in the way of finding out the truth.”

He must persuade President Aquino and the other leaders of their political alliance to take that saying to heart.

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Noy and De Lima’s conundrum Written by Ninez Cacho-Olivares Sunday, 27 April 2014 00:00

Leila de Lima insists that the Janet Lim-Napoles “tell-all” and the list given to her, will not be sanitized.

If so, why is she taking such a long time in releasing that list and her affidavit, which she says has already been signed, and notarized, in which case, it stands to reason that this is already a public document, and should be released?

But without giving the public even the name of the notary public engaged by Napoles and her lawyers, the public can’t even verify whether or not there is such an affidavit.

De Lima’s claim is that without verifying the list and affidavit first, too many people’s reputation will be smeared.

The problem with her reasoning is the fact that she has already proven too many times in the past and even in the present time, that she has so many times smeared the reputations of certain persons, especially those known to be non-allies of her political patron, Noynoy.

At that time, she didn’t have her so-called evidence when she allowed her whistle-blowers to be interviewed almost daily by the yellow media, smearing the three opposition senators, and she, along with her wrecking crew, went into a deliberate trial by publicity, as did the state Audit chief, Grace Pulido-Tan with her biased pork audit report, which could not pass as hard evidence for plunder as is. Neither, for that matter, could Leila’s whistle-blowers pass for strong evidence, since most of what was being claimed was hearsay evidence.

Had Lima shown the same reticence in the case of the three opposition senators, then she could be deemed credible today in claiming that she does not want to have reputations of persons smeared and that a verification must first be done.

How then can her claim today of wanting to verify the “tell-all” because she does not want reputations smeared be credible?

The so-called Napoles list is definitely on its way to being sanitized and it will be done only after Napoles is granted full immunity by Noynoy, De Lima and the Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio-Morales. Already, even Morales, while saying that the case against the three senators is strong and that Napoles’ testimony is not needed, she also hinted broadly that she has not closed the door on the possibility of Napoles becoming a state witness. That doesn’t make sense. If the case is strong, and Napoles is not needed, why not close the door on Napoles?

The answer it seems, is that she is awaiting orders from Noynoy to get Napoles in as a state witness, with full immunity.
That the deal among Noynoy, De Lima and Napoles is all about the grant of immunity in exchange for her not linking Noynoy’s bigtime political allies, such as Butch Abad and Franklin Drilon, among others, is much too clear.

They give her immunity, and she will willingly pin the crime on whoever Noynoy and his LP team want and delete the names of those Noynoy wants protected.

Why else is De Lima rejecting calls to make public the affidavit and the list? Why is there that sudden talk of Napoles becoming a state witness, if not because Napoles’ tell all incriminates Malacañang occupants and political allies who must be delisted since this could bring the Aquino house down?

That the camps of Napoles and Aquino are still working on Napoles to delist the names that must be protected by Malacañang is evident in the way those who are said to be on the list all say, let’s wait for De Lima to make public the Napoles list — especially Butch Abad, who denied he is Napoles’ mentor.

They know that Napoles has a dangerous ace up her sleeve and if they don’t give in to her demand of immunity, she really will spill the beans on the biggies in the pork and congressional insertions plunder.

But there is also another problem, since the public outcry is for Napoles to face the music and not be granted any immunity or state witness status.

Either way, Aquino and men, like Humpty Dumpty, take a great fall.

FROM MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHTS

S&P FEARS FOR PHI BANKS By Ducky Paredes | April 25, 2014


PAREDES

STANDARD & Poor’s believes that banks in the Philippines are not prepared for the tougher competition that will come with the planned integration of Southeast Asian economies.

In one of its latest publications, S&P said Philippines banks in the country, although profitable and stable, have a much smaller business scale compared with their counterparts in the region.

The credit-rating firm said that Philippine banks will find it difficult to preserve market share with the free entry of foreign competition that will result from the regional integration.

“We believe banks [in the Philippines] will have to walk a thin line to preserve market share while pursuing profitable expansion as Asean 2015 draws closer,” S&P said in the report titled “The Philippines’ Banking System: The Good, the Bad and the Ambivalent.”

The 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have agreed to integrate their economies with the aim of boosting economic activities, job creation and incomes.

The target is to realize the integration by 2015, although policymakers in the region have agreed that the process could be extended through 2020.

S&P said that even the biggest banks in the Philippines are small compared with the likes of CIMB and Maybank of Malaysia or DBS and United Overseas Bank of Singapore.

One of the challenges facing Philippine banks is overcrowding. Since there are too many players in the country’s banking sector, industry members could not scale up their businesses.

Although the number of banks in the country has been on a decline over the last few years, it remained big compared with regional standards.

“We believe greater scale is essential for banks to deal with the more intense incoming competition. Even the largest domestic banks are relatively small compared with banks in Singapore and Malaysia,” S&P said. As of September 2013, there were 676 banks in the Philippines. Thirty-six were universal and commercial banks, 71 were thrift banks, and 569 were rural banks.

Another problem confronting Philippine banks is the heavy concentration of credit to the corporate sector. This makes the stability of banks highly dependent on the performance of big borrowers.

S&P noted that as of the end of last year, 82.7 percent of loan portfolio of banks was accounted for by credit extended to corporate entities and that consumer loans accounted for a much smaller portion. Out of the loans to the corporate sector, a substantial chunk was accounted for by large conglomerates.

“The Philippine banking system is heavily skewed toward corporate lending. Systemic risks also are heightened because the conglomerates account for a sizable share of bank capital,” S&P said. In fact, many of these conglomerates are also in the banking sector, It noted, nonetheless, that default by a conglomerate was highly unlikely at this point.

Meantime, S&P said that pending Asean integration, banks in the Philippines are expected to continue reaping the benefits of a growing economy.

***

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon has affirmed his complete support for the full and immediate prosecution of all individuals involved in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, regardless of political affiliation.

“I fully support the full prosecution of all individuals involved in the pork barrel scam. The quest for justice must spare no one no matter their affiliation, and even the administration lawmakers and allies of the President must be covered by the investigation and its eventual prosecution,” stressed Drilon.

He said the pursuit of delivering justice “should be blind to political colors.”

However, the Senate chief cautioned against turning the process of finding out the truth into unlimited opportunities for mudslinging, witch hunts and smear campaigns, which “serve only to further the personal and political causes of some individuals.”

The Senate President called for an “atmosphere of sobriety” on the process of ferreting out the whole truth and enforcing the law on the controversy.

“In the face of controversy, what is important is we remain rational and circumspect while we search for the truth, and until we have put the perpetrators in jail. A sober approach on this controversy is of paramount importance, in order for this process to be successful,” emphasized Drilon, a former justice secretary.

“I understand that this issue provides a lot of opportunities for political attacks. But we should not muddle the issue by embarking on witch hunts and black propaganda and ruin the sincere efforts to find the truth and render justice,” he added.

“When anyone becomes a target of propaganda attacks, it is their reputation - their very integrity- that is wrongly put at stake,” he pointed out.

Drilon said he wants that all involved in the scam face the full brunt of the law, as long as there is enough evidence to support the charges.

“All charges must be supported by compelling and undeniable evidence, and they must be laid out and presented to the court and to the public” said Drilon.

He however said that those who will be charged should be given adequate opportunities to defend themselves, while those proven innocent should be freed of the charges.

“It is only through our courts and the country’s justice system that we can achieve the genuine truth and justice rightfully demanded by our people. I invite everyone to help us in this just cause,” he concluded.

The process has taken too long as it is. If only charges had been filed in court months ago, maybe the accused would by now be already answering in court the charges against them instead of trying to muddle the fact by throwing accusations of politically motivated vendettas to the winds.

***

Here’s something to think about for those who will demonstrate during next week’s visit of Barack Obama:. When people in the United States were asked this question: “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable view of the American people?”

86% of Filipinos had a more favorable view than even Americans had. Only 84% of Americans had a favorable view of their fellow Americans, 84% of people from Ghana and 80% of South Koreans and Israelis.

The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan American think tank based in Washington, D.C., that provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends shaping the United States and the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research.

It does not take policy positions. - See more at: http://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/opinion/sp-fears-phi-banks#sthash.29e1Vmkr.dpuf


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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