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EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
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FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

WATCH: ASEAN TURNING 50 IN 2017 - WHAT FILIPINOS KNOW ABOUT IT

 
By VERA FILES - Ask average Filipinos what the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is and most would give answers that vary from vague to downright wrong. They confuse ASEAN with “Asia,” even APEC or the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and hardly know its significance. ASEAN is turning 50 next year, but experts interviewed for this video feature say getting Filipinos to understand the regional organization remains a work in progress. The sooner they do, the better, so they can fully appreciate what they stand to gain from the ASEAN integration project, the experts say. https://vimeo.com/160552457 WATCH VIDEO....

ALSO: Aileen San Pablo-Baviera - Presidential elections and the country’s foreign policy


By AILEEN SP BAVIERA
In the run-up to the May presidential elections, candidates will be held to close scrutiny by the thinking members of the electorate. How well have have they thought out the major problems of the country and the potential solutions that can best serve the long-term interests of the Filipino people, instead of the expedient solutions or promises that can merely help get them elected? Among the myriad issues that will demand attention—perhaps not necessarily the one closest to the needs of Juan dela Cruz but nonetheless of vital strategic importance—is the question of how to handle relations with China. China is a major power with still growing regional and global influence, whether on questions of global financial stability, international security, energy, climate change, and more. It also happens to be a key protagonist and our major adversary in the single most challenging external security concern of the country at present—the territorial and maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea. Thus far, the disputes have not led to armed confrontation, but the trends point toward increased militarization, expansion of occupation and presence, and the hardening of positions of the various states concerned. Finding a political solution based on law and diplomacy will be no easy task. The alternative—not finding one—could be tragic. How will the next president deal with this matter? On the other hand, managing our relations with the United States and updating the defense alliance in response to a changing regional environment will be equally challenging. This comes at a sensitive crossroads in US history, when it is economically weak, with its internal politics in disarray, and when it is arguably losing its claim to leadership even over some traditional allies and friends. The US remains the most formidable military force on the planet indeed, and it is still believed to be the most credible guarantor of regional stability in our part of the world. But it is grappling with the right approach to simultaneous challenges—including domestic ones, the Islamic State, a resurgent Russia, and an ambitious and assertive China. What role we want the US to play in our own region and with respect to our own national aspirations, is something the next President would do well to consider. READ MORE...

ALSO: By AYEEN KARUNUNGAN - Dear PNoy, Coal is not cheap, it costs us our lives


By AYEEN KARUNUNGAN Dear President Aquino, I was there when you made a speech at the UNFCCC negotiations in Paris, proudly saying that the Philippines is cutting its emissions by 70%. I was in the same room as you when you made a statement at the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) and said that the government is working hard to diversify our energy resources and increasingly tapping into renewables. I was cheering with the crowd when the Philippines, representing the CVF, got the “Ray of the Day” award for its declaration to achieve full decarbonization and run our countries on 100% renewables by 2050. I was there when the Paris agreement was signed and Climate Change Commissioner Emmanuel de Guzman made a statement saying how much we have fought for a more ambitious target of 1.5 degrees celsius — a goal that will encourage countries to mitigate carbon emissions — and that we will deliver on this goal. I have been following climate issues for quite some time and I know about the government’s approval of new coal power plants. I also know that you are not a fan of renewable energy. I remember your speech in 2013 when you said, “If you put up a wind-powered plant, what do you do when there is no wind? If you put up a solar plant, what do you when the sky is cloudy?” But after the negotiations in Paris, after all the promises we have made as a country, I came back home more hopeful than ever. I gave you and your government the benefit of the doubt, Mr. President. After all, we committed to the United Nations and we have been proud about those commitments. But just a month after the Paris negotiations, you inaugurated a new coal power plant in Davao. I have heard reasons why this must be done: that renewable energy is still expensive and we do not have the capacity or technology, that renewable energy cannot provide for the base load energy needed in Mindanao, that we need this to fuel our economy and to ensure that everyone has access to energy. READ MORE...

ALSO: UST PRESS - 12th USTv seeks for truth in election-related reports


With the Philippine national elections slated in May 2016, the 12th USTV Students’ Choice Awards calls on the youth to champion the Filipino family’s future by being prudent with information presented to them through the various forms of media. Focusing on the sociopolitical dimensions of television programs and social media campaigns, this year’s USTV has for its theme “Veritas in Caritate: The Youth Empowering the Family through Modern Media.” A new category, the “Students’ Choice of Public Announcement for National Elections” was included in this year’s awards as a reflection of the young’s recognition of truthful and fair pre-election coverages. Some 44,000 Thomasian students selected programs, campaigns, and personalities—from February 12 to March 14—that embody Catholic virtues in the 33 other categories of 12th USTV Students’ Choice Awards under the News and Public Affairs, and Entertainment clusters. Acknowledging the influence and impact of social media on the youth’s disposition and decision-making, the USTV has injected since last year categories that encourage the responsible use of the social media—a pioneering effort for any award-giving program; thus, the categories: Students’ Choice of Social Media Personality and Personality for Social Media Development; (Social Media Campaigns) Students’ Choice of Social Media Campaign for Catholic Formation, for Social Action, for Environmental Protection, for Sociocultural Development, and for Sociopolitical Development. Winners were voted for by students of UST through the University’s online portal called e-LeAP or e-Learning Access Program. Awarding ceremonies will be held on April 21, 6 p.m., at the UST Plaza Mayor. Started in 2005, the USTV Students’ Choice Awards is considered the first of its kind in the country. It is organized by the UST Office of the Secretary-General and the Student Organizations Coordinating Council. Press release from University of Sto. Tomas THE FULL COLUMN

ALSO: Earth could become hotter than thought, study warns


CLIMATE CHANGE: PHILIPPINES MUST ACT NOW, NOW!!!! - Global warming could make the planet far hotter than currently projected because today's scientific models do not correctly account for the influence of clouds, researchers said this week. The study in the journal Science was led by researchers at Yale University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. When climate scientists look ahead to how much the planet's surface temperature may warm up in response to a doubling of carbon dioxide -- a byproduct of fossil fuel burning -- they typically predict a rise of between 2.1 and 4.7 degrees Celsius (3.75 to 8.5 degrees Fahrenheit). But these models overestimate the ability of clouds to reflect back sunlight, and counteract warming in Earth's atmosphere, researchers said. "We found that the climate sensitivity increased from four degrees Celsius in the default model to five to 5.3 degrees Celsius in versions that were modified to bring liquid and ice amounts into closer agreement with observations," said lead author Ivy Tan, a researcher at Yale University. The problem is most models assume there is more ice in clouds than there actually is. Icier clouds would gain more liquid in a warming environment, and more liquid in clouds would mean less global warming. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

WATCH ASEAN turning 50 in 2017: What Filipinos know about it

MANILA, APRIL 11, 2016 (GMA NEWS) Published April 5, 2016 10:12am By VERA FILES - Ask average Filipinos what the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is and most would give answers that vary from vague to downright wrong.

They confuse ASEAN with “Asia,” even APEC or the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and hardly know its significance.

ASEAN is turning 50 next year, but experts interviewed for this video feature say getting Filipinos to understand the regional organization remains a work in progress.

The sooner they do, the better, so they can fully appreciate what they stand to gain from the ASEAN integration project, the experts say.

https://vimeo.com/160552457


COMMENTARY Presidential elections and the country’s foreign policy Published February 17, 2016 11:06am By AILEEN SP BAVIERA


By AILEEN SP BAVIERA

In the run-up to the May presidential elections, candidates will be held to close scrutiny by the thinking members of the electorate. How well have have they thought out the major problems of the country and the potential solutions that can best serve the long-term interests of the Filipino people, instead of the expedient solutions or promises that can merely help get them elected?

Among the myriad issues that will demand attention—perhaps not necessarily the one closest to the needs of Juan dela Cruz but nonetheless of vital strategic importance—is the question of how to handle relations with China. China is a major power with still growing regional and global influence, whether on questions of global financial stability, international security, energy, climate change, and more. It also happens to be a key protagonist and our major adversary in the single most challenging external security concern of the country at present—the territorial and maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

Thus far, the disputes have not led to armed confrontation, but the trends point toward increased militarization, expansion of occupation and presence, and the hardening of positions of the various states concerned. Finding a political solution based on law and diplomacy will be no easy task. The alternative—not finding one—could be tragic. How will the next president deal with this matter?

On the other hand, managing our relations with the United States and updating the defense alliance in response to a changing regional environment will be equally challenging. This comes at a sensitive crossroads in US history, when it is economically weak, with its internal politics in disarray, and when it is arguably losing its claim to leadership even over some traditional allies and friends.

The US remains the most formidable military force on the planet indeed, and it is still believed to be the most credible guarantor of regional stability in our part of the world. But it is grappling with the right approach to simultaneous challenges—including domestic ones, the Islamic State, a resurgent Russia, and an ambitious and assertive China. What role we want the US to play in our own region and with respect to our own national aspirations, is something the next President would do well to consider.

READ MORE...

The Philippines is a developing country that now finds itself sandwiched between these two big powers. Having the twelfth largest population in the world and situated in its most dynamic region, we are by no means a small country. Yet in our foreign policy, we have tended to behave as if we were, looking inward or only a short distance beyond our shores, or where our migrant communities and overseas workers seem to need government help. We have also tended to rely too much on partners and allies to do the heavy lifting for us.


SOURCE: KOREANNEWSONLINE.COM

The Philippine Presidency in fact has a very powerful role in shaping the contours of Philippine diplomacy. Often referred to as the Chief Architect of foreign relations, a Philippine president can redefine priorities, dictate the tone and posture, and even personally manage diplomacy with selected countries if he so wishes, subject to some structural constraints. Such constraints include the Constitution, treaties that our previous governments have committed to, and obligations under international law. The biggest constraint of all, however, is the lack of power and wealth the Philippines is faced with relative to other members of the international community, as these can determine how much influence we can actually wield, or not.

Even if we have faith in international norms, principles, and legal institutions, or in being on the side of “right” against “might,” and even if there are allies and other countries with whom some of our interests may converge, ultimately the Filipino nation—like any other—is left to fend for itself. It must defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, mitigate threats from outside our borders, and ensure an external environment that allows us to prosper and our best values and beliefs (i.e. our identity as a people) to thrive. And the highest responsibilty for that sits with the President.

Moreover, the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces holds that most hallowed and grave authority (albeit needing concurrence by the Congress) to determine when and why Filipinos must go to war. This is notwithstanding the fact that in our Constitution, the people have renounced the use of war as an instrument of national policy.

Both by law and tradition and because of our political culture, the Philippine President enjoys much leeway to put his or her personal stamp on the nation’s foreign policy. We can speak, for instance, of a Marcos foreign policy, a Ramos foreign policy, a Macapagal-Arroyo foreign policy, and even an Aquino III foreign policy.

However, when one tries to conceptualize and explain “Philippine foreign policy” (other than in the broadest generalities such as the much-touted “three pillars” of national security, economic diplomacy and assistance to nationals), many of us will draw a blank. In fact, one feature of our foreign policy across presidencies has been lack of consistency and continuity, which does not help build confidence in government whether among our own people, our allies or adversaries.

In practice, we have also seen the downside of having presidents who lacked an understanding of statecraft, and we have been in situations where the institutions or individuals tasked with foreign policy management (the Cabinet, DFA, DND, among others) lacked the capability, the courage or the élan to step up and provide vision or leadership when presidents failed to do so. In such instances, we end up with a foreign policy of “muddling through”.

This is something we can no longer afford to do.

By no means do we expect our presidents to be great statesmen in the likes of Zhou Enlai, Gandhi and Mandela. However, we do deserve leaders who will know how to interact with other leaders and governments in order to serve the best interests of the nation, without getting us deeper into conflict or injecting major uncertainties into already complex regional relations. Who among the candidates for the highest office can best understand how challenging this is?

This brief commentary was written by the author for the Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation, Inc. and the UP sa Halalan Project. It was published earlier on the APPFI website.

Prof. Aileen San Pablo-Baviera, PhD is a Professor at the Asian Center, University of the Philippines, where she also served as Dean from 2003-2009. She also has a visiting professor appointment at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. Since July 2010, she has served as editor-in-chief of the refereed academic journal Asian Politics & Policy (Wiley-Blackwell).

This article is reposted here with permission.


Dear PNoy, Coal is not cheap — it costs us our lives Published January 11, 2016 5:59pm By AYEEN KARUNUNGAN

Dear President Aquino,

I was there when you made a speech at the UNFCCC negotiations in Paris, proudly saying that the Philippines is cutting its emissions by 70%.

I was in the same room as you when you made a statement at the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) and said that the government is working hard to diversify our energy resources and increasingly tapping into renewables.

I was cheering with the crowd when the Philippines, representing the CVF, got the “Ray of the Day” award for its declaration to achieve full decarbonization and run our countries on 100% renewables by 2050.

I was there when the Paris agreement was signed and Climate Change Commissioner Emmanuel de Guzman made a statement saying how much we have fought for a more ambitious target of 1.5 degrees celsius — a goal that will encourage countries to mitigate carbon emissions — and that we will deliver on this goal.

I have been following climate issues for quite some time and I know about the government’s approval of new coal power plants. I also know that you are not a fan of renewable energy. I remember your speech in 2013 when you said, “If you put up a wind-powered plant, what do you do when there is no wind? If you put up a solar plant, what do you when the sky is cloudy?”

But after the negotiations in Paris, after all the promises we have made as a country, I came back home more hopeful than ever. I gave you and your government the benefit of the doubt, Mr. President. After all, we committed to the United Nations and we have been proud about those commitments.

But just a month after the Paris negotiations, you inaugurated a new coal power plant in Davao. I have heard reasons why this must be done: that renewable energy is still expensive and we do not have the capacity or technology, that renewable energy cannot provide for the base load energy needed in Mindanao, that we need this to fuel our economy and to ensure that everyone has access to energy.

READ MORE...

I understand, Mr. President, that energy transitions will take a lot of time and that it will not happen overnight. However, I do not feel that the government is sincere in investing in renewable energy. How can you be sincere and approve more than 50 coal power plants? A sincere government would have started investing more aggressively in renewable energy, with or without help from foreign aid.

Ethiopia, a country in Africa, has committed to become carbon negative. But not only that, they have started investing more in renewable energy. They did not use the fact that 77% of their population still has no access to electricity as an excuse. Or the fact that they are considered as a least developed country who also needs finance and technology for renewable energy. But as early as 2012, Ethiopia made it clear that renewable energy will be their key economic driver. Ethiopia, like many other countries today, know that sustainability, environment, and economics are not separate from each other.

But what about the Philippines, Mr. President? When will we begin our transition? When it’s too late? When we have become a big carbon emitter? Do we really want to continue dirty energy like coal when the world has shifted to renewables? All I hear are excuses.

During your speech at the UNFCCC, you have reiterated the vulnerability of our country, that we are first to experience climate change impacts. Unless you are a climate skeptic, you would know that climate change has been caused by carbon emissions, mostly by burning fossil fuels like coal. Using this logic, shouldn’t the Philippines be one of the first countries to stop investing in coal?

But I have also heard you say that the Philippines is not a big carbon emitter, and I am afraid you have used this as an excuse to continue investing in dirty energy. We have seen the mistakes of the rich countries whose economies have been carbon based. Do we really want to take the same path?

Mr. President, coal is not cheap. You disregard that people get sick because of coal. You disregard that water and land get contaminated by coal. You disregard the environmental hazards that come with it.

Mr. President, I would like to remind you of your promises you made to the United Nations. But more importantly, I would like to remind you of your promises to Filipinos. You promised us a path to sustainability. You promised us that you will work hard for renewable energy. You only have a few months left in office. Maybe it’s time to deliver your promises. Or will it just be another one of your “pangakong napako?”

Sincerely,

Renee Karunungan Climate Activist-Planeteer

Renee Juliene Karunungan is the Communications Director and climate justice campaigner of Dakila. She is also a Climate Tracker following climate issues and negotiations both locally and internationally.


Press release from University of Sto. Tomas

12th USTv seeks for truth in election-related reports Published April 4, 2016 4:00pm

With the Philippine national elections slated in May 2016, the 12th USTV Students’ Choice Awards calls on the youth to champion the Filipino family’s future by being prudent with information presented to them through the various forms of media.

Focusing on the sociopolitical dimensions of television programs and social media campaigns, this year’s USTV has for its theme “Veritas in Caritate: The Youth Empowering the Family through Modern Media.”

A new category, the “Students’ Choice of Public Announcement for National Elections” was included in this year’s awards as a reflection of the young’s recognition of truthful and fair pre-election coverages.

Some 44,000 Thomasian students selected programs, campaigns, and personalities—from February 12 to March 14—that embody Catholic virtues in the 33 other categories of 12th USTV Students’ Choice Awards under the News and Public Affairs, and Entertainment clusters.

Acknowledging the influence and impact of social media on the youth’s disposition and decision-making, the USTV has injected since last year categories that encourage the responsible use of the social media—a pioneering effort for any award-giving program; thus, the categories: Students’ Choice of Social Media Personality and Personality for Social Media Development; (Social Media Campaigns) Students’ Choice of Social Media Campaign for Catholic Formation, for Social Action, for Environmental Protection, for Sociocultural Development, and for Sociopolitical Development.

Winners were voted for by students of UST through the University’s online portal called e-LeAP or e-Learning Access Program.

Awarding ceremonies will be held on April 21, 6 p.m., at the UST Plaza Mayor.

Started in 2005, the USTV Students’ Choice Awards is considered the first of its kind in the country. It is organized by the UST Office of the Secretary-General and the Student Organizations Coordinating Council.

Press release from University of Sto. Tomas


Earth could become hotter than thought, study warns Published April 10, 2016 12:29am

WASHINGTON, United States - Global warming could make the planet far hotter than currently projected because today's scientific models do not correctly account for the influence of clouds, researchers said this week.

The study in the journal Science was led by researchers at Yale University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

When climate scientists look ahead to how much the planet's surface temperature may warm up in response to a doubling of carbon dioxide -- a byproduct of fossil fuel burning -- they typically predict a rise of between 2.1 and 4.7 degrees Celsius (3.75 to 8.5 degrees Fahrenheit).

But these models overestimate the ability of clouds to reflect back sunlight, and counteract warming in Earth's atmosphere, researchers said.

"We found that the climate sensitivity increased from four degrees Celsius in the default model to five to 5.3 degrees Celsius in versions that were modified to bring liquid and ice amounts into closer agreement with observations," said lead author Ivy Tan, a researcher at Yale University.

The problem is most models assume there is more ice in clouds than there actually is.

Icier clouds would gain more liquid in a warming environment, and more liquid in clouds would mean less global warming.

READ MORE...

"Most climate models are a little too eager to glaciate below freezing, so they are likely exaggerating the increase in cloud reflectivity as the atmosphere warms," said co-author Mark Zelinka.

"This means they may be systematically underestimating how much warming will occur in response to carbon dioxide."

Researchers said their findings add to previous studies that have suggested clouds may make warming worse, rather than lessen it.

"The evidence is piling up against an overall stabilizing cloud feedback," said Zelinka.

"Clouds do not seem to want to do us any favors when it comes to limiting global warming."

The study was funded by NASA and the Department of Energy's Office of Science. — Agence France-Presse -


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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