© Copyright, 2015 (PHNO) http://newsflash.org 


EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full news commentary)

FROM MALAYA

By Nestor Mata: THE FAR-REACHING CONSEQUENCES OF CHINA'S ACTIONS


NOVEMBER 26 -By NESTOR MATA
-Largely overlooked in denouncements of about China’s dredging and construction activities in the South China Sea is the necessary synthesis between the geopolitical and environmental aspects of the issue. In recent months, denouncements of these China’s actions brought international attention not only to their security implications of China’s actions, but also the ecological damage this artificial island-building to a large system of coral reefs. To be clear, these two lines of analysis–security and ecology–on China’s island building actions in the South China Sea constitute a violation of international law, a potential precursor to interference in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, and a catalyst for military confrontation in the region, in the view of Matthew Nichols of the International Environmental Policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in U.S. Here are excerpts from his article for The Diplomat magazine on current Asia-Pacific affairs: The worst case scenario–wherein the People’s Liberation Army Navy is able to “lock down” the South China Sea and prevent freedom of navigation by, say, a U.S. Navy carrier strike group or liquefied natural gas tankers headed for Japan–is worrisome on multiple levels. But geopolitical concerns actually go hand-in-hand with ecological concerns. The Spratly Islands’ coral reefs serve as spawning grounds and nurseries for nearly 400 fish species, including various commercially important stocks. By smothering and destroying these reefs, China’s actions will be detrimental to coastal populations as far away as the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam that depend on these living marine resources as a major source of daily protein and household income. The government of the Philippines estimates that the Spratly Islands reefs support roughly “$100 million in high value fisheries.” Across the region as a whole, the figure is likely a multiple of that. Destroying ecosystems and eroding food security is problematic in and of itself. But, as witnessed in conflict zones around the world, depleting natural resources also multiplies the threat of violent extremism, organized crime, and infectious disease. But examples (PDF) from across Asia illustrate that degraded ecosystems and depleted fish stocks drive some actors to disregard legal or customary frameworks of fisheries management and engage in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Regional analysts note that the IUU business model often goes hand-in-hand with piracy, human trafficking, and smuggling of arms and drugs (paywall). Unfortunately, last year the U.S. Navy disbanded its nascent Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command, one of the more promising American initiatives to combat organized crime in developing coastal states, citing budget concerns. While the Navy pledged to redistribute the command’s responsibilities to other forces, the lack of a dedicated unit sends a clear signal that the U.S. does not consider the use of soft-power and capacity-building around these issues a priority. Western governments and intergovernmental organizations are likely to recycle reactive responses to these complex and multifaceted challenges unless they work to fuse intelligence across knowledge communities and address root causes. Assessing environmental and security threats as unrelated issues reflects an outdated worldview and leaves the U.S. and its allies in Southeast Asia vulnerable to unforeseen outcomes. In today’s world, ecological crises are security threats. This is doubly true in the South China Sea. *** Have you ever wondered why one of the group of islands in the South China Sea is called the Spratlys? READ MORE...RELATED, NO WIN-WIN SOLUTION FOR CHINA, US...

ALSO By Ellen Tordesillas: DUTERTE AND AESOP’S FABLE ABOUT THE FROGS WHO DESIRED A KING


NOVEMBER 27 -By Ellen Tordesillas
The frustrations of the people over the ineptness of the Aquino government has made the “kamay na bakal” brand of leadership of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte appealing to many. Former Human Rights Commission Chair Etta Rosales warned about the dangers of a leader who wants to play God. Rosales said, “These people who say we need a Duterte, they don’t think of the law. They don’t realize that if you don’t respect the law, it would affect also you and your family.” She adds: “The moment you take the law in your hands and you think you can get away with it, then you become part of the problem, and that has been the way of all authoritarian rulers.” This situation reminds of Aesop’s fable about the frogs who desired a king. “A long time ago, when the frogs lead a free and easy life in the lakes and ponds, they became disgruntled because everyone lived according to his own whim and chaos reigned. “They gathered and petitioned the god Jupiter to let them have a king who would bring order into their lives and make them more responsible. “Knowing how foolish the frogs were, Jupiter smiled at their request and threw down a log into the lake. ‘There’s your king, ‘he declared. “The log made such a splash that it terrified the poor frogs, who dived under water and into the mud. No one dared to come within ten leaps of the spot where it lay in stillness. Eventually, one frog, who was bolder than the rest, ventured to pop his head above the water and watch their new king at a respectful distance. “When some others soon perceived that the log was lying stock-still, they began to swim up to it and around it. At last they grew so bold that they leaped upon it and treated it with the greatest contempt. “Dissatisfied with such a tame ruler they immediately petitioned Jupiter a second time to grant them a more active king. “This time Jupiter sent them a stork and no sooner did the bird arrive than he began seizing and devouring them one by one as fast as he could.” Moral of the story: When you desire change, make sure it’s an improvement. Don’t make the mistake of jumping from the frying pan to the fire. *** Blog: www.ellentordesillas.com E-mail:ellentordesillas@gmail.com THE FULL COLUMN, RELATED, THE LATEST FROM DUTERTE...

ALSO Views on the Muslims:  ‘DISTORTIONS’


NOVEMBER 27 By DODY LACUNA
As the ISIS butchers stole the limelight from the APEC Summit here in Manila, CNN and FOX News International virtually demolished the global impact of the sudden and untold grief of the families of the victims in the Paris attacks. Personal pain and anguish have been left out from the sumptuous hourly fare of police raids and bombings and replaced with rage and derision from the United States and Europe for the merciless marauders. A handful of jihadists slipping into Greece along with Syrian refugees and into France to slaughter non-combatants has not deterred Barack Obama from being misunderstood for his sense of compassion towards thousands of Syrian families and their children in a world where new boundaries have been put up in the name of fear, intolerance and Islamic extremism. Except for some photos of the blood-soaked Bataclan concert hall, of a hospital emergency room tending to shooting and bombing victims, and a feature on a spirited American girl killed at a street bar, the coverage of the massacre aftermath has been nonetheless comprehensive but tepid and cautious without lending itself to actual blood, gore and grief. The message seems to be clear: France will not bow to the nearly universal consequence of misery, despair and brokenness wrought by this profound tragedy for the whole world to see and which the blood-thirsty terrorists had hoped to achieve grandly. Unlike our broadcast news media that shamelessly craves to be part of the news headlines by breaking various ethical and physical restrictions on coverage of crime, CNN, FOX and especially the BBC knew their part so well in blocking the venomous messages from the afflicting and searing images of terrorist mayhem to millions of viewers. In the midst of the brutal chaos, CNN came out with a unique and interesting story of Maggie, an Egyptian and formerly an executive of a multinational company in Cairo. After witnessing first-hand the plight of some distraught and neglected children whom she washed, fed and clothed, she ultimately resigned her lucrative job and put up an orphanage. She said she was able to raise them well and taught them how to live for God first, above all. Five of them were among the twelve Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS four months ago. The families of the slain did not shrink from what to them was the grand opportunity to tell the world that their children were not afraid to die, and that was because, as Maggie would say, they knew of the eternal life and had been sure they were going to spend it with Jesus Christ. Biblical teachers and scholars along with moderate Muslim leaders have refused to be taken by the lure of paradise of 70 to 1000(!) waiting virgins and feasting galore for Islamic suicide bombers in exchange for blowing themselves up and their hapless targets. Scores of jihadists have come from moderate Muslim families and one wonders how much of the Western world’s decadence, hostility, abundant wealth, and economic power have broken the distinction between moderation and extremism even for young people who did not think this world was good enough for them. READ MORE...

ALSO: On PH ENVIRONMENT AND MINING
[I will say again the denial of a permit to Sagittarius Mines in Tampakan, South Cotabato left this country missing the $5.9 billion investments offered by the company’s foreign joint venture partners. They have left and may never come back unless the next administration tells them they will be treated fairly or at least in the same light as the mines in operations for many decades but have not been found violating the laws on environment protection. The fallacy, in fact, stupidity here is the government sends investment missions to attract foreign investors to risk capital in this country.]


NOVEMBER 27 -By Amado P. Macasaet Before they could even start operations, new mines are already pronounced guilty of poisoning the environment. It is this baseless fear planted in the head of President Aquino by non-government organizations that probably never even visited surface mining least of all a winding tunnel deep in the bowels of the earth that prevents him from granting permits to new mines. By his refusal, the President admits the law on environment protection does not and cannot work. Thus his government is not known to have ordered the closure of a mine even if it may not be compliant with the law. One way to look at this matter is the people tasked to implement the law are not doing their jobs. The other is a stupid presumption there have been no violations at all. All is quiet on the Western front. Or as an American mother said when she was busy in the kitchen and her kids are all quiet watching Western movies on TV “all Western on the quiet front.” The common-sense interpretation is there could well be violations committed under the noses of government people whose duty is to prevent it. The presumption or fear of environment harm by the new mines as the potential “offender” is baseless because they are held at bay by the denial of a permit to operate. Therefore, the new mines are denied possibility of violating environment laws or complying with it. The President is scared that allowing new mines to operate will poison the environment. Until they get a permit to operate, there should be no fear they will violate the laws. If the operating mines are “clean as a whistle” so to speak what ground should the President have suspecting, in fact declaring, the new mines will violate the laws? Why doesn’t he give them a chance to comply or violate? Not even the President may presume that new mines will violate environmental laws. Psychologists and law enforcers with sharp minds on the possible commission of a crime by somebody prone to do it cannot arrest a potential criminal. They have to wait for the commission of the crime. In the same light, it is wrong for President Aquino to deny permits to new mines on baseless suspicions they will poison the environment. It is morally and legally wrong for any one, President Aquino included, to presume the guilt of any owners of new mines they will violate the laws on environmental protection. That presumption cannot be held valid even in the mind of a nitwit. READ MORE...

ALSO EDITORIAL: ROCK SOLID AND IRON CLAD


NOVEMBER 20 -COURTESY OF THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER AMERICAN President Barack Obama may be considered one of the better speakers of English among world leaders, and his facility with the language, use of range and nuances of meaning, invariably add a measure of sincerity in what he says. Such is the impression that his speeches at the APEC meeting convey: sincerity and credibility. Aboard the BRP Gregorio del Pilar of the Philippine Navy, Obama said “as a treaty ally, we have a rock solid commitment to the defense of the Philippines.” He said part of the US goal is “to continue to help our treaty partners build up capacity, to ensure that the architecture of both defense work, but also humanitarian work and other important activities in the region are coordinated more effectively, and we think that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement is going to help us do that.” In another speech, Obama described US-Philippine relations as “rock solid.” He also gave meaning to his words through concrete actions, promising to turn over to the government two American vessels for patrol and coastal defense. These are a US Coast Guard cutter and a research vessel to be used to map out local territorial waters. All these talk and walk are intended to drive home the message to China that the United States is firm on its stand to fight the Chinese construction in the reefs in the Spratlys.America is alarmed at the pace of Chinese buildup in the South China Sea and is using the alibi of defending international freedom of navigation to deter the Chinese move. The Obama rhetoric is fine and even outstanding, but the content of his message is the meaty part that Filipinos are interested in. Both Obama and Aquino know that the petitions against EDCA are still under deliberation in the Supreme Court, and the fact that both leaders have endorsed the Agreement, and Obama, in fact, pinned his hopes on its passage in the High Court for the greater success of American pivot in Asia -- isn’t this somehow encroaching on the Philippine judiciary’s turf, and casts a shadow of doubt on its independence? Both Aquino and Obama still have to explain to the Filipino and American peoples the details of the “bold moves” that they discussed (or agreed?) to defuse the tension in the South China Sea. While China and its president, Xi Jinping, only stressed trade connectivity at APEC, the Obama-Aquino partnership have insisted on taking up the sea dispute. This leaves Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei no option but to reiterate his country’s position that no one has the right to questions its sovereign territory, and anyone doing so, including Obama, is acting irresponsibly.Congressman Rufino Biazon is correct in asking for details of the two US vessels being given to the Philippines -- are they free or do we have to pay? The congressman is just careful that a neighbor-ally might just be giving you a gun to use to take up its own fight. President Aquino should have the same sense of security and caring for the nation, not blindly toeing the American line in every opportunity.  THE FULL EDITORIAL


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

THE FAR-REACHING CONSEQUENCES OF CHINA’S ACTIONS


By NESTOR MATA

MANILA, NOVEMBER 30, 2015 (MALAYA) By NESTOR MATA November 26, 2015 - Largely overlooked in denouncements of about China’s dredging and construction activities in the South China Sea is the necessary synthesis between the geopolitical and environmental aspects of the issue.

In recent months, denouncements of these China’s actions brought international attention not only to their security implications of China’s actions, but also the ecological damage this artificial island-building to a large system of coral reefs.

To be clear, these two lines of analysis–security and ecology–on China’s island building actions in the South China Sea constitute a violation of international law, a potential precursor to interference in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, and a catalyst for military confrontation in the region, in the view of Matthew Nichols of the International Environmental Policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in U.S. Here are excerpts from his article for The Diplomat magazine on current Asia-Pacific affairs:

The worst case scenario–wherein the People’s Liberation Army Navy is able to “lock down” the South China Sea and prevent freedom of navigation by, say, a U.S. Navy carrier strike group or liquefied natural gas tankers headed for Japan–is worrisome on multiple levels.

But geopolitical concerns actually go hand-in-hand with ecological concerns. The Spratly Islands’ coral reefs serve as spawning grounds and nurseries for nearly 400 fish species, including various commercially important stocks.

By smothering and destroying these reefs, China’s actions will be detrimental to coastal populations as far away as the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam that depend on these living marine resources as a major source of daily protein and household income.

The government of the Philippines estimates that the Spratly Islands reefs support roughly “$100 million in high value fisheries.” Across the region as a whole, the figure is likely a multiple of that.

Destroying ecosystems and eroding food security is problematic in and of itself. But, as witnessed in conflict zones around the world, depleting natural resources also multiplies the threat of violent extremism, organized crime, and infectious disease.

But examples (PDF) from across Asia illustrate that degraded ecosystems and depleted fish stocks drive some actors to disregard legal or customary frameworks of fisheries management and engage in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Regional analysts note that the IUU business model often goes hand-in-hand with piracy, human trafficking, and smuggling of arms and drugs (paywall).

Unfortunately, last year the U.S. Navy disbanded its nascent Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command, one of the more promising American initiatives to combat organized crime in developing coastal states, citing budget concerns.

While the Navy pledged to redistribute the command’s responsibilities to other forces, the lack of a dedicated unit sends a clear signal that the U.S. does not consider the use of soft-power and capacity-building around these issues a priority.

Western governments and intergovernmental organizations are likely to recycle reactive responses to these complex and multifaceted challenges unless they work to fuse intelligence across knowledge communities and address root causes.

Assessing environmental and security threats as unrelated issues reflects an outdated worldview and leaves the U.S. and its allies in Southeast Asia vulnerable to unforeseen outcomes.

In today’s world, ecological crises are security threats. This is doubly true in the South China Sea.

***

Have you ever wondered why one of the group of islands in the South China Sea is called the Spratlys?

READ MORE...

The Spratlys were named after Richard Spratly, the master of the British whaler, “Cyrus South Seaman”, between 1836 and 1844. But Filipinos called the island group “Freedomland,” or Kalayaan, the name given to these atolls and other features by Filipino fishing magnate Tomas Cloma in 1956, after he and several dozen his men took possession of them.

Today, Kalayaan has a mayor, Eugenio Bitoonon, whose office is in Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan island that juts out into the South China Sea, close to the Spratlys. His office provides provisions needed for inhabitants of Pagasa, the largest feature in the Spratlys.

Recently, the Chinese placed the Spratlys, along with the Paracels and Macclesfield Bank, under a new civilian jurisdiction, called Sansha, with its own mayor. So, now there are two mayors for the Spratlys, or Kalayaan.

Ulugan Bay, a massive and sheltered body of water on the South China Sea within thirty-six hours sail to the Spratlys, almost half the distance from Subic Bay, is the home port of the “Gregorio del Pilar,” a 1960s cutter that was the flagship of the Philippine Navy.

For environmental reason, dredging was not allowed so that this magnificent coast would remain exactly as it is. But, as one geopolitical analyst put it, so much depended on China’s military expansion in the South China Sea which could lead the United States Navy, in particular, into a closer embrace of the Philippines!

***

The 21 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders, who held their annual summit at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City, Metro Manila, last Wednesday and Thursday, collectively made nine commitments in their Manila Declaration.

These commitments were to support comprehensive and ambitious structural reforms, achieve positive economic, social and environmental outcomes; •to deepen financial markets and mitigate risks; •to foster an enabling trading environment that is responsive to new ways in which goods and services are produced and delivered and that promotes inclusiveness, especially for micro, small and medium enterprises; •to build sustainable and disaster-resilient communities; •to make urbanization work for growth; •to redouble our efforts to empower our people with the tools to benefit from and participate in economic growth; •to achieve our vision for an integrated community in a comprehensive and systematic manner; to develop the services sector as an enabler of economic growth and inclusion; • and to work with stakeholders to address common challenges.

These commitments, however, are not legally binding as decisions made in APEC meetings are voluntary. The commitments also face the challenge of APEC’S economic and geographic diversity. And its 21 members range from developing to developed economies spanning four different continents.

After hosting the APEC summit in Manila, President Aquino flew to Kuala Lumpur where he attended the 27th ASEAN summit, his last participation in the annual event. His six-year term in the presidency ends in June 2016.

***

Thought of the Day: “Conflicts arise not over small things but from small things!” – Aristotle

------------------------------------------------------

RELATED BY NESTOR MATA, MALAYA COLUMN

NO WIN-WIN SOLUTION FOR CHINA, US By NESTOR MATA November 24, 2015

When the United States demonstrated its non-compliance with China’s demands in the South China Sea by sending a surface combatant to sail within the 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands, the move could have potentially serious consequences for security and stability in the Southeast Asian region.

It could create a situation where there is no win-win solution for either the United States or China, in the viewpoint of two geopolitical analysts, Bernard Fook Weng Loo and Koh Swee Lean Collin, of the Institute of Defense Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Here are some excerpts from their article for The Diplomat magazine:

At least two possible scenarios eventuate from this policy position:

One, China is forced to back down and lose any credibility as a great power that has overcome its Century of Humiliation; or two, the U.S. ultimately gives way on future freedom of navigation patrols, undermining at best the credibility of its security guarantees to its allies and security partners in the Asia-Pacific.

The problem of the artificial islands is complicated. One, its legal status is contested. The U.S. holds the position that there is no 12-nautical mile limit that China can claim around these artificial islands, as the original features are not islands as defined by UNCLOS. On the other hand, as Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his recent visit to the U.S., China’s claim of sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea dates back to “ancient times.”

Two, these artificial islands are geo-strategically very important. Sitting in the center of the South China Sea, whoever controls the waters around these artificial islands potentially controls the entire South China Sea.

It is true that Xi, however, also pledged that China will not “militarize” the artificial islands. However, his statement is unclear what exactly “militarization” means.

The U.S. move may be an attempt to weaken China’s position in its various territorial disputes with other regional states, according to the two geopolitical analysts. The U.S. holds to the position that in the case of China’s territorial dispute with Japan, Chinese coastguard vessels routinely sail within 12 nautical miles of the disputed islands. This U.S. announcement is therefore a reflection of these Chinese actions, and may undermine the legality of the artificial islands as a sovereign part of China. There is therefore a symbolism inherent in this U.S. decision, to demonstrate the bankruptcy of China’s claims.

The U.S. decision, together with China’s unwillingness to compromise on its South China Sea claims, has created a potential winner-take-all situation. It is difficult to see how a win-win situation could eventuate. The reality is that neither China nor the U.S. can back down without losing credibility and face.

If the U.S. ultimately gives way, it risks losing credibility in the eyes of its allies and security partners in the Asia-Pacific region. It would undermine the U.S. role as the principal security guarantor – something that most states in the Asia-Pacific are at least tacitly comfortable with. For allies like Japan and South Korea, this may force them to subsequently choose between continuing to rely on a patently unreliable security guarantor, moving towards a more conciliatory or positive stance with regards to China, or seeking to enhance their existing military capabilities. For Japan, the nuclear weapons option will be tempting – and quickly achievable, by most assessments. At the very least, the third option will likely bring about a Sino-Japanese arms race, a prospect that surely few states in the region would welcome.

Likewise, China cannot afford to back down from its South China Sea claims. Doing so would undermine China’s great power status and would force China to revisit its so-called Century of Humiliation. It is difficult to see how China could accept such an eventuality.

Of course, neither scenario has to end in a great power war. Proper diplomatic management, together with crisis management mechanisms if a crisis erupts, can prevent a Sino-American war from breaking out.

But it does raise the possibility that incidents and close encounters between the two armed forces, something that has become commonplace, might also spark conflict. And while both countries have managed their bilateral relationship well thus far, this does not provide any guarantees against the worst-case scenario.

What this therefore means, Loo and Collin concluded, is that it becomes all the more important that a solution – one that is not winner-takes-all in nature – needs to be found. Both China and the United States need to find a way in which both can walk away without making too many sacrifices on their respective core interests. Whether or not such a win-win solution can be found remains to be seen.

***

The Asean foreign ministers, who meet in Kuala Lumpur last Friday, expressed their “serious concern” about China’s construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea, an issue that was skirted by the 21 Asia-Pacific leaders during their annual summit in Manila last Wednesday and Thursday.

It was talked about by US President Barack Obama and President Noynoy Aquino on the sidelines, although they carefully avoided naming China and its leader, President Xi Jinping, who attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

However, the following day, Asean heads of state and world leaders, including Obama, discussed not only the disputes over parts of the South China Sea between China and some Southeast Asian countries, but also trade issues and terrorism, especially the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut and elsewhere in the world.

These were previously discussed, except the South China Sea disputes, by Asia-Pacific leaders during their summit in Manila. In their Joint Declaration, they vowed to prevent terrorism from undermining free and open economies and emphasized the need for increased international cooperation. And they called for the “full implementation of the APEC Consolidated Counter Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy to prevent terror attacks.”

***

Quote of the Day: “The South China Sea reflects a state of nature in that legal claims are in contradiction with each other...This does not mean that war will break out in the South China Sea, or even that it is likely to breakout. But it is does mean that war there remains a possibility against which all regional powers must always be on guard.” --- Robert D. Kaplan, author of “Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific.”


DUTERTE AND AESOP’S FABLE ABOUT THE FROGS WHO DESIRED A KING By Ellen Tordesillas November 27, 2015


By Ellen Tordesillas

The frustrations of the people over the ineptness of the Aquino government has made the “kamay na bakal” brand of leadership of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte appealing to many.

Former Human Rights Commission Chair Etta Rosales warned about the dangers of a leader who wants to play God.

Rosales said, “These people who say we need a Duterte, they don’t think of the law. They don’t realize that if you don’t respect the law, it would affect also you and your family.”

She adds: “The moment you take the law in your hands and you think you can get away with it, then you become part of the problem, and that has been the way of all authoritarian rulers.”

This situation reminds of Aesop’s fable about the frogs who desired a king.

“A long time ago, when the frogs lead a free and easy life in the lakes and ponds, they became disgruntled because everyone lived according to his own whim and chaos reigned.

“They gathered and petitioned the god Jupiter to let them have a king who would bring order into their lives and make them more responsible.

“Knowing how foolish the frogs were, Jupiter smiled at their request and threw down a log into the lake. ‘There’s your king, ‘he declared.

“The log made such a splash that it terrified the poor frogs, who dived under water and into the mud. No one dared to come within ten leaps of the spot where it lay in stillness. Eventually, one frog, who was bolder than the rest, ventured to pop his head above the water and watch their new king at a respectful distance.

“When some others soon perceived that the log was lying stock-still, they began to swim up to it and around it. At last they grew so bold that they leaped upon it and treated it with the greatest contempt.

“Dissatisfied with such a tame ruler they immediately petitioned Jupiter a second time to grant them a more active king.

“This time Jupiter sent them a stork and no sooner did the bird arrive than he began seizing and devouring them one by one as fast as he could.”

Moral of the story: When you desire change, make sure it’s an improvement. Don’t make the mistake of jumping from the frying pan to the fire.

***

Blog: www.ellentordesillas.com

E-mail:ellentordesillas@gmail.com

----------------------------------------------------------

RELATED BY ELLEN TORDESILLAS, MALAYA COLUMN

THE LATEST FROM DUTERTE By Ellen Tordesillas November 25, 2015 The May 2016 elections is now more fun with the entry of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in the race.

Last Monday, Duterte, after months of flip flopping – even writing an open letter last Oct. 12 saying, “After all, there was no ambition for me to aspire for the presidency. The country does not need me” – he declared last weekend in a birthday party in Cavite, that he is after all running for president in the May 2016 elections.

But, in the first place, can he join the presidential race? Although a member of the PDP-Laban ((Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan), he filed his certificate of candidacy for Davao City Mayor as candidate of Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod.

The slot that he is supposed to take for the presidency is the one filed by former Quezon City Barangay captain Martin B. Diño, who has already withdrawn his candidacy after it was reported that he would be declared a nuisance candidate by the Commission on Elections.

But wait, didn’t Duterte said on Oct. 16, “Hindi ako pang-substitute. Pang-original ako.”

Sen. Aquilino “Koko”Pimentel III, PDP-Laban president, said the issue about whether Duterte can substitute Diño is “a non-issue.”

Diño’s filing of a certificate of candidacy for president a few minutes before the 5 p.m. Oct. 16, 2015 deadline was a comedy of errors. In the rush, the form that Diño filled up was not for president but for “Pasay mayor.” The Comelec is in Manila.

Pimentel said the “minor clerical error” won’t nullify the certificate of nomination and acceptance from the PDP” that he was running for president.

What the PDP-Laban did just to keep alive Duterte’s candidacy for president even past the deadline smacks of trivializing the election process.

In the afternoon of the last day of the filing of certificates of candidacy set by the Comelec, Duterte was reported to be aboard the plane sent to Davao by businessman Manuel Pangilinan bound for Manila . It turned out to be false. True, there was a private plane sent to fetch him but he said he declined and decided to stay home.

Lito Banayo, Duterte’s political adviser, said the Davao mayor will be withdrawing the certificate of candidacy that he filed for Davao City mayor. His daughter Sarah will be the substitute candidate.

Duterte has up to Dec. 10 to file his certificate of candidacy as substitute for Diño. That means eating his own words about not wanting to be just a substitute and always keeping his word. “Isang salita lang ako,” he had told those who wanted him to run for president.

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal seriously doubts if Duterte can substitute for Diño.

One, Diño’s COC was defective.

Also, as quoted by the Inquirer, Macalintal said, “If [the] Comelec later determines that Diño is a nuisance candidate for president then the more reason Duterte cannot sub for Diño. When a candidate is declared a nuisance, his COC is denied due course, or canceled, the effect of which is that it is as if no COC was filed.”

After telling those who were with him in his campaign for federalism “… there was no ambition for me to aspire for the presidency. The country does not need me. I find no need for it… my destiny is to end years and years of public life in the service of Davao City and every Dabawenyo,” Duterte is saying now that he decided to run for president after the Senate Electoral Tribunal dismissed the disqualification case against Grace Poe, the candidate leading in the presidential race according to surveys.

That’s from the man who sells himself to the public as “decisive” and “isang salita lang.”


‘DISTORTIONS’ By DODY LACUNA November 27, 2015


By DODY LACUNA

As the ISIS butchers stole the limelight from the APEC Summit here in Manila, CNN and FOX News International virtually demolished the global impact of the sudden and untold grief of the families of the victims in the Paris attacks. Personal pain and anguish have been left out from the sumptuous hourly fare of police raids and bombings and replaced with rage and derision from the United States and Europe for the merciless marauders.

A handful of jihadists slipping into Greece along with Syrian refugees and into France to slaughter non-combatants has not deterred Barack Obama from being misunderstood for his sense of compassion towards thousands of Syrian families and their children in a world where new boundaries have been put up in the name of fear, intolerance and Islamic extremism.

Except for some photos of the blood-soaked Bataclan concert hall, of a hospital emergency room tending to shooting and bombing victims, and a feature on a spirited American girl killed at a street bar, the coverage of the massacre aftermath has been nonetheless comprehensive but tepid and cautious without lending itself to actual blood, gore and grief.

The message seems to be clear: France will not bow to the nearly universal consequence of misery, despair and brokenness wrought by this profound tragedy for the whole world to see and which the blood-thirsty terrorists had hoped to achieve grandly. Unlike our broadcast news media that shamelessly craves to be part of the news headlines by breaking various ethical and physical restrictions on coverage of crime, CNN, FOX and especially the BBC knew their part so well in blocking the venomous messages from the afflicting and searing images of terrorist mayhem to millions of viewers.

In the midst of the brutal chaos, CNN came out with a unique and interesting story of Maggie, an Egyptian and formerly an executive of a multinational company in Cairo. After witnessing first-hand the plight of some distraught and neglected children whom she washed, fed and clothed, she ultimately resigned her lucrative job and put up an orphanage. She said she was able to raise them well and taught them how to live for God first, above all.

Five of them were among the twelve Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS four months ago. The families of the slain did not shrink from what to them was the grand opportunity to tell the world that their children were not afraid to die, and that was because, as Maggie would say, they knew of the eternal life and had been sure they were going to spend it with Jesus Christ.

Biblical teachers and scholars along with moderate Muslim leaders have refused to be taken by the lure of paradise of 70 to 1000(!) waiting virgins and feasting galore for Islamic suicide bombers in exchange for blowing themselves up and their hapless targets. Scores of jihadists have come from moderate Muslim families and one wonders how much of the Western world’s decadence, hostility, abundant wealth, and economic power have broken the distinction between moderation and extremism even for young people who did not think this world was good enough for them.

READ MORE...

There seems to be what many Christians could only explain away as the patent denial of God of the Bible that has turned the extremists’ deep resentments for the established order and its people into a relentless self- sacrifice and bloodbath of the innocents which seem unrivaled in history.

Sam Soloman, head of the Islamics department at Elam Ministries in the Middle East, writes, “that through the distorted view that Christians are committing extreme blasphemy and idolatry, they see a Jesus who is a prophet only to the Jews, who came for the purpose of confirming the Torah and to announce the coming of one greater than he - Muhammad. To Muslims, Jesus’ mission is not universal, as Muhammad’s is said to be, and he is alleged to be a Muslim himself… who is said to bow to Allah in Islam.

To realize this is to develop a compassionate outlook and to begin to comprehend even the most heinous permutation of Islam - the growing number of suicide bombers.” With their minds occupied with a different Jesus, Soloman says “one begins to understand the desperate state into which Muslims are born through no fault of their own.”

But, Soloman also writes that a special doctrine of Islam called “fitrah” as referenced in Sura 30 in the Koran “teaches that not only were Jesus and the Major Prophets created as Muslims, but that all mankind - without exception - is created Muslim. It is only one’s parents, community, environment, or other influences that make one a non-Muslim. As such, people who are of another faith - such as a Christian, Jew, pagan, or other belief system - are in a state of rebellion against Allah.”


ENVIRONMENT AND MINING By Amado P. Macasaet November 27, 2015


By Amado P. Macasaet

Before they could even start operations, new mines are already pronounced guilty of poisoning the environment. It is this baseless fear planted in the head of President Aquino by non-government organizations that probably never even visited surface mining least of all a winding tunnel deep in the bowels of the earth that prevents him from granting permits to new mines.

By his refusal, the President admits the law on environment protection does not and cannot work. Thus his government is not known to have ordered the closure of a mine even if it may not be compliant with the law. One way to look at this matter is the people tasked to implement the law are not doing their jobs.

The other is a stupid presumption there have been no violations at all. All is quiet on the Western front. Or as an American mother said when she was busy in the kitchen and her kids are all quiet watching Western movies on TV “all Western on the quiet front.” The common-sense interpretation is there could well be violations committed under the noses of government people whose duty is to prevent it. The presumption or fear of environment harm by the new mines as the potential “offender” is baseless because they are held at bay by the denial of a permit to operate. Therefore, the new mines are denied possibility of violating environment laws or complying with it.

The President is scared that allowing new mines to operate will poison the environment. Until they get a permit to operate, there should be no fear they will violate the laws. If the operating mines are “clean as a whistle” so to speak what ground should the President have suspecting, in fact declaring, the new mines will violate the laws? Why doesn’t he give them a chance to comply or violate?

Not even the President may presume that new mines will violate environmental laws. Psychologists and law enforcers with sharp minds on the possible commission of a crime by somebody prone to do it cannot arrest a potential criminal. They have to wait for the commission of the crime.

In the same light, it is wrong for President Aquino to deny permits to new mines on baseless suspicions they will poison the environment. It is morally and legally wrong for any one, President Aquino included, to presume the guilt of any owners of new mines they will violate the laws on environmental protection. That presumption cannot be held valid even in the mind of a nitwit.

READ MORE...

I am personal witness to how this country can earn foreign exchange, pay taxes and provide jobs in a mine that is fully aware of its duties to protect the environment. Visiting a nephew who has been promoted to assistant mining superintendent in Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp in Bataraza, Palawan, I saw with my own eyes large tracts of land green with plants.

I was told the stockholders of Rio Tuba ordered the “mined-over areas” to be “greened” again, precisely to protect the environment although there are no clear cases that surface mining harms the environment. The harm that can happen is making some areas bald and looking like a dessert after the ores are extracted.

Rio Tuba and its sister company Nickel Asia made the Philippines the fifth largest nickel source of the world. Communities complete with health centers and schools were set up in the area with the revenues from the nickel mines.

I am not familiar with the kind of ore the new mines will explore. Whatever they are, they can contribute to expanding the economy with foreign exchange earnings, taxes and jobs.

I have also seen gold-copper mines in the Mountain Province where copper and gold embedded in hard rocks are mined in long tunnels with picks and shovels. It is in recognition of the possibility some tunnels may collapse or cave in that the industry itself, supported by government annually observes “mine safety week.”

I will say again the denial of a permit to Sagittarius Mines in Tampakan, South Cotabato left this country missing the $5.9 billion investments offered by the company’s foreign joint venture partners.

They have left and may never come back unless the next administration tells them they will be treated fairly or at least in the same light as the mines in operations for many decades but have not been found violating the laws on environment protection.

The fallacy, in fact, stupidity here is the government sends investment missions to attract foreign investors to risk capital in this country.

The foreign investors in Sagittarius Mines did not need an invitation. It convinced itself Tampakan copper-gold deposits are probably the largest in Southeast Asia but local capital is inadequate to put the mine to production. So they came over with almost $6 billion.

The investors of the huge mineral deposits were practically shown the door when, after waiting for more than five years, they could not get a permit to operate. In the President’s mind said investors are guilty of violating the laws on environment protection before they could even be allowed to operate.

This is the darkest spot in the Aquino government.


EDITORIAL: ROCK SOLID AND IRON CLAD November 20, 2015


COURTESY OF THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

AMERICAN President Barack Obama may be considered one of the better speakers of English among world leaders, and his facility with the language, use of range and nuances of meaning, invariably add a measure of sincerity in what he says.

Such is the impression that his speeches at the APEC meeting convey: sincerity and credibility. Aboard the BRP Gregorio del Pilar of the Philippine Navy, Obama said “as a treaty ally, we have a rock solid commitment to the defense of the Philippines.”

He said part of the US goal is “to continue to help our treaty partners build up capacity, to ensure that the architecture of both defense work, but also humanitarian work and other important activities in the region are coordinated more effectively, and we think that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement is going to help us do that.”

In another speech, Obama described US-Philippine relations as “rock solid.” He also gave meaning to his words through concrete actions, promising to turn over to the government two American vessels for patrol and coastal defense. These are a US Coast Guard cutter and a research vessel to be used to map out local territorial waters.

All these talk and walk are intended to drive home the message to China that the United States is firm on its stand to fight the Chinese construction in the reefs in the Spratlys.

America is alarmed at the pace of Chinese buildup in the South China Sea and is using the alibi of defending international freedom of navigation to deter the Chinese move.

The Obama rhetoric is fine and even outstanding, but the content of his message is the meaty part that Filipinos are interested in.

Both Obama and Aquino know that the petitions against EDCA are still under deliberation in the Supreme Court, and the fact that both leaders have endorsed the Agreement, and Obama, in fact, pinned his hopes on its passage in the High Court for the greater success of American pivot in Asia -- isn’t this somehow encroaching on the Philippine judiciary’s turf, and casts a shadow of doubt on its independence?

Both Aquino and Obama still have to explain to the Filipino and American peoples the details of the “bold moves” that they discussed (or agreed?) to defuse the tension in the South China Sea.

While China and its president, Xi Jinping, only stressed trade connectivity at APEC, the Obama-Aquino partnership have insisted on taking up the sea dispute. This leaves Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei no option but to reiterate his country’s position that no one has the right to questions its sovereign territory, and anyone doing so, including Obama, is acting irresponsibly.

Congressman Rufino Biazon is correct in asking for details of the two US vessels being given to the Philippines -- are they free or do we have to pay? The congressman is just careful that a neighbor-ally might just be giving you a gun to use to take up its own fight.

President Aquino should have the same sense of security and caring for the nation, not blindly toeing the American line in every opportunity.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2015 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE