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EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
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THE MANILA TIMES

EDITORIAL: LET'S RETHINK AND REBRAND OUR DISASTER MANAGEMENT SYSTEM


OCTOBER 18 -The Philippine islands are often the first major landmass to be hit by storms spawned over the Pacific Ocean. The Southeast Asian archipelago endures about 20 major storms each year, many of them deadly. Typhoon Karen was initially trumpeted by our weather-forecasting bureau, Pagasa, as possibly “the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year.” By the time Karen (international name, Sarika) left the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) yesterday, it seemed thankfully like the mildest and quickest ordeal we ever experienced, and much more so in areas outside northern Luzon. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Efren Danao - DU30 a genius at obfuscation


OCTOBER 22 -EFREN DANAO
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has a knack for keeping his true intentions close to his chest, thus confusing his intended audience. But, must he also confuse his supposedly close advisers like his Cabinet members?  The President’s rabid supporters claim that he always means what he says. So, why is it that often, his Cabinet members interpret his words differently? And why is it that what’s supposed to be a definitive declaration of policy gets another meaning in a subsequent speech or clarification? Now, after Mr. Duterte declared in Beijing the country’s separation from the United States, expect a lot of explanations and clarifications from his Cabinet members on what this really means. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Y. Makabenta - Did Filipinos perform the kowtow in Beijing?


OCTOBER 22 -YEN MAKABENTA
First read Watching and reading snippets of reports on President Duterte‘s official visit to China, it struck me that what was happening before our eyes and before the world – was the execution of the kowtow, an important part of Chinese custom and tradition. Here you had a country, which under President Benigno BS Aquino III, made it a point of challenging China’s aggressive expansion in the South China Sea and even took her to court; and which now under President Rodrigo Duterte is doing its utmost to please China, to the extent of forgetting to mention the hard-won award of the permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague last July, which ruled as illegal China’s map and claims in the SCS and its occupation of Philippine territory under our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as provided by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea ( UNCLOS). As witnesses and props, Mr. Duterte brought along some 150 top Filipino businessmen to bear witness and join in the execution of the kowtow. Dealing with China, a defining issue READ MORE...

ALSO: By M. Samonte - Sizing up Duterte’s foreign policy shift and the Laurel wartime dilemma


OCTOBER 22 -MAURO SAMONTE: -------The announcement was made in Duterte’s speech during the Philippines-China Trade and Investment Forum in Beijing, China. And the forum came right after the Philippine President met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. I shuddered at the Duterte announcement. Immediately, I sensed in it a parallelism with the dilemma Dr. Jose P. Laurel faced during a visit to Japan in 1943. Dr. Laurel had just been elected by the National Assembly President of the Second Republic of the Philippines, and in that capacity he was invited by the Imperial Family of Japan for a visit in that country, which invitation he accepted. Accompanying him in that visit were Benigno Aquino, father of Ninoy and grandfather of the just past president, Noynoy, and Jorge Vargas, Chairman of the Executive Commission that had formulated the constitution for the Second Republic and convened the National Assembly for electing the Republic’s officials. READ THIS COLUMN FROM THE BEGINNING...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Let’s rethink and rebrand our disaster management system

MANILA, 0CT0BER 24, 2016 (MANILA TIMES) BY THE MANILA TIMES ON ON OCTOBER 18, 2016 EDITORIAL- The Philippine islands are often the first major landmass to be hit by storms spawned over the Pacific Ocean. The Southeast Asian archipelago endures about 20 major storms each year, many of them deadly.

Typhoon Karen was initially trumpeted by our weather-forecasting bureau, Pagasa, as possibly “the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year.”

By the time Karen (international name, Sarika) left the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) yesterday, it seemed thankfully like the mildest and quickest ordeal we ever experienced, and much more so in areas outside northern Luzon.

READ MORE...

The overall toll was relatively light compared with that of previous typhoons: one or two deaths from drowning, three persons missing, a score injured, 12,500 evacuated to safer ground, and a scattering of families rendered homeless. Minor landslides and flooding were also reported the day after the cyclone.

The head of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Ricardo Jalad, summed it up this way: “We were told roofs were ripped off houses and there were fallen trees but that’s about the extent of damage that we know of.”

To the credit of the authorities, government crew and utility workers immediately went to work, clearing roads blocked by landslides, toppled trees and posts and other debris. Some towns began sending people from temporary shelters back to their homes as the danger passed.

NDRRMC reported that about 12,500 people left their homes shortly before Karen struck, seeking refuge in government-run shelters and relatives’ homes.

Eleven people were rescued after a boat capsized off the eastern island of Samar on Friday, while about 1,000 boats and 6,500 passengers were stranded in ports as the coast guard barred smaller vessels from putting to sea.

The disaster agency said 290 commercial flights, including 63 to international destinations, were canceled.

So all told, we have not been stricken by another catastrophe in the magnitude of Supertyphoon Yolanda.

Yolanda, also known by its international name, Haiyan, the strongest typhoon ever recorded to hit land, smashed into the central Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013, leaving 7,350 people dead or missing.

Of course we hope that should any natural disaster strike us, let it not be like another Yolanda, whose third anniversary we will mark next month.

Considering that there was no foul-up in government’s response to Karen, it may appear unseemly to some that we raise here today a matter which we consider urgent and vital: the rethinking and rebranding of the country‘s disaster management system.

We submit, first, that for a country that is visited by multiple natural disasters every year, we have a very unwieldy and crude system for coping with a natural emergency.

Consider: first, the National disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is conceived as a big tent of virtually all government departments, agencies and non-government organizations in the country. It looks impossible to manage.

To correct this absurdity, we believe that what we really need is a fulltime and full-fledged disaster management agency, not a council. A council is a like a board of directors – which is not designed for quick action and response.

An agency setup would resemble more the operations of the Red Cross, which is by far the most effective and trusted disaster, relief and response organization in the planet today.

Second, for an operation designed to assist people and entire communities during a time of great peril, the name NDRRMC (acronym) is impossible to pronounce. In comparison, our weather forecasting agency, Pagasa, is appropriately and attractively named.

In short, we need a full-fledged disaster management agency designed for quick response and rescue action, as well as emergency medical and food relief operation, and which has an easily identifiable brand – one which all our people can relate to.

The next time disaster strikes – and Pagasa has been warning the public of another big storm coming after Karen, named Lawin – we should have a dependable disaster and emergency management system in place that people can easily remember and trust to come to their aid swiftly.


DU30 a genius at obfuscation 0 BY EFREN L. DANAO ON ON OCTOBER 22, 2016 ANALYSIS Tweet EFREN L. DANAO EFREN L. DANAO


EFREN DANAO

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has a knack for keeping his true intentions close to his chest, thus confusing his intended audience. But, must he also confuse his supposedly close advisers like his Cabinet members?

The President’s rabid supporters claim that he always means what he says. So, why is it that often, his Cabinet members interpret his words differently? And why is it that what’s supposed to be a definitive declaration of policy gets another meaning in a subsequent speech or clarification?

Now, after Mr. Duterte declared in Beijing the country’s separation from the United States, expect a lot of explanations and clarifications from his Cabinet members on what this really means.

READ MORE...

“I announce my separation from the United States, both in military but economics also,” he said Thursday at the Philippine- China Trade and Investment Forum in China.

He gave no details on what this “separation” entails. The Philippines and US have signed many trade and military agreements and treaties. Will these be unilaterally abrogated? If what he meant was not really separation, why did he use that word?

Here’s another Duterte statement—addressed to China–that needs clarification: “So please, you have another problem of economics in my country. I am separated from them (the Americans) so I will be dependent on you for a long time.”

The pivot to China and away from America is meant to herald a more independent foreign policy for the Philippines, so why is he saying that he’ll be dependent on China for a long time? Perhaps, he was only joking that time. That’s the only plausible explanation for the contradiction between words and intent.

This statement of President Duterte needs no further clarification: “I realign myself to your ideological flow and, maybe, I would also go to Russia and talk to Putin and tell him there are three of us against the world — China, Philippines, and Russia.”

Russia and China are both communist countries and while the President is not one, he declared here that he is leaning towards their ideology. However, much more than realigning himself with their ideological flow, it’s his confidence that the Philippines can join China and Russia against the world that takes the cake.

The Philippines, he believes, is now strong and influential enough to take on any other country in the world except China and Russia. The Philippines is among the world’s Big 3? Wow! This should make all Filipinos proud.

While he’s most willing to go to Russia and meet its leader Vladimir Putin, he said he’d never go to the US. Why? “I will just be insulted there,” he explained.

The President is wont to curse and insult but he doesn’t want to be insulted. This is the reason why he likes the Chinese with their Oriental character which does not go around insulting people.

Going back to Cabinet members’ clarifying or explaining the President’s statements, I sometimes wonder if they are qualified to do so. A few months back, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said the President had rejected China’s urgings to ignore the arbitration ruling on the West Philippine Sea and go into bilateral talks instead. Well, we now know that the President really favors bilateral talks.

The President had made pronouncements on defense matters without consulting with his defense secretary, who went on to contradict him.

At a recent budget hearing, the finance secretary could not answer the question of Senate President Pro Tem on why the President wanted to cut economic ties with the US, and what are the ramifications of this new policy.

Secretary Dominguez said he didn’t know as the President made the announcement without consulting with him.

Oh yes, President Duterte is returning with agreements worth $13.5 billion from China. This will go a long way in making Filipinos more independent and survive without foreign aid, like what he has frequently said.

But, what if the President makes another pivot different from his recent pronouncements? Well, that merely means he’s still successful in confusing his audience.

This should pose no problem to his millions of rabid supporters, however. They’ll follow him whether he goes left or right, backward or forward.


Did Filipinos perform the kowtow in Beijing? BY YEN MAKABENTA ON ON OCTOBER 22, 2016 OPINION ON PAGE ONE


YEN MAKABENTA

First read
Watching and reading snippets of reports on President Duterte‘s official visit to China, it struck me that what was happening before our eyes and before the world – was the execution of the kowtow, an important part of Chinese custom and tradition.

Here you had a country, which under President Benigno BS Aquino III, made it a point of challenging China’s aggressive expansion in the South China Sea and even took her to court; and which now under President Rodrigo Duterte is doing its utmost to please China, to the extent of forgetting to mention the hard-won award of the permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague last July, which ruled as illegal China’s map and claims in the SCS and its occupation of Philippine territory under our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as provided by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea ( UNCLOS).

As witnesses and props, Mr. Duterte brought along some 150 top Filipino businessmen to bear witness and join in the execution of the kowtow.

Dealing with China, a defining issue

READ MORE...

Oxford Dictionary defines kowtow as:

Verb, to act in an excessively subservient manner;

2 . historical, to Kneel and touch the ground with the forehead in worship or submission as part of Chinese custom.

Noun, An act of kowtowing as part of Chinese custom.

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong before the handover to China of the crown colony on June 30, 1997, relates in his book, East and West (Macmillan, 1998), how he practiced the ritual and how it impacts on contemporary times.

He wrote: “It takes a long time to kowtow. I have just tried it on the carpet of my study. I may have been a bit fast, but it still took one minute and 15 seconds. I guess it is the sort of gymnastic activity that will take longer as the years take their toll.”

Patten says the kowtow custom goes to the heart of all the most common arguments on how nations should deal with China — and how we deal with China will become one of the defining issues of the next decade. “China is more than one-fifth of humanity, and what happens there – which we can affect only at the margins – will matter to us all.”

The kowtow in history

Wikipedia punctiliously relates in great detail the custom and tradition of the kowtow, from imperial times to its usage in the modern world. Kowtow is borrowed from kautau in Cantonese (koutou in Mandarin Chinese); it denotes the act of deep respect shown by kneeling and bowing so low as to have one’s head touching the ground.

In East Asian culture, the kowtow is the highest sign of reverence. It was widely used to show reverence for one’s elders, superiors, and especially the Emperor, as well as for religious and cultural objects of worship. In modern times, usage of the kowtow has become reduced.

In Imperial Chinese protocol, the kowtow was performed before the Emperor of China. In the most solemn of ceremonies, for example at the coronation of a new Emperor, the Emperor’s subjects would undertake the ceremony of the “three kneelings and nine knockings of the head on the ground.”

Confucian philosophy held that respect was important for a society, making bowing an important ritual.
Today, only vestiges of the traditional usage of the kowtow remain.

Kowtow entered the English language in the early 19th century to describe the bow itself, but its meaning soon shifted to describe any abject submission or groveling. The kowtow was a significant issue for diplomats, since it was required of everyone who came into the presence of the Emperor of China, but it meant submission before him. The British embassies of George Macartney, 1st Earl Macartney (1793) and William Pitt Amherst, 1st Earl Amherst (1816) were unsuccessful, partly because kowtowing would mean acknowledging their King as a subject of the Emperor.

Did we kowtow in Beijing?

Did our proud and brash President Duterte and his 200-strong delegation perform the kowtow during his visit to China?

I don‘t mean the act of kneeling and touching the head to the ground, which disappeared with the last Chinese empress or emperor. I mean rather the analogous act of placing and reshaping our country’s foreign policy in the service of china’s interests or subordinating our own interests in the SCS to China’s own.

On the eve of Duterte’s visit, I wrote a column (“DU 30’s visit to Beijing like Chambelain’s visit to Munich in 1958,” Manila Times, Oct. 15, 2016), wherein I suggested that the visit was showing signs of being a journey of appeasement of China.

I raised the following points:

“1. DU30 will not mention the Hague arbitral award, at any point during his visit, let alone raise the issue directly with President Xi Jinping.

He is betting that for abandoning the Aquino strategy, and for pivoting away from America, China will shower him with money and respect. The visit will be evaluated in transactional terms, such as the total amount of loans and investments it generates.

Declaration of separation from America

The performance of a kowtow was sealed and delivered by Mr. Duterte with his loud Declaration of his “separation” from the United States, on Thursday, as he rebalances the country’s relationship with China.

“I announce my separation from the United States,” he said to applause at a business forum in the Chinese capital. The audience consisted of members of his own delegation and a smattering of Chinese officials.

“America does not control our lives. Enough bullshit,” he added in a rambling speech that flipped between English and Filipino.

“How can you be the most powerful industrial country when you owe China and you are not paying it?”

Our president made the comments after he met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square. The meeting ended with the two leaders pledging to enhance trust and friendship, while playing down the maritime dispute on the South China Sea.

Xi called the two countries “neighbours across the sea” with “no reason for hostility or confrontation,” the official Xinhua news agency reported.

For his part, DU 30 said the Philippines had gained little from its long alliance with the US, its former colonial ruler.

China, he said, was “good.” “It has never invaded a piece of my country all these generations.”

Duterte must consult

As if to underscore the discussions that will now follow the Beijing visit, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that Duterte’s statements are not policy until official action is taken.

In declaring separation from America, DU30 spoke of “my separation,” not the separation of the Philippines.

The President needs reminding that he is only the president (the head of one branch), not the entire Philippine Republic.

Extravagant though he often is in his speeches, his authority is limited.

The problems will come when the debates over his declarations in Beijing take place. Congress must be consulted. The Supreme Court will also have its say.

The kowtow must wait a while before collecting its rewards.


Sizing up Duterte’s foreign policy shift and the Laurel wartime dilemma BY MAURO GIA SAMONTE ON ON OCTOBER 22, 2016 OPINION ON PAGE ONE


MAURO GIA SAMONTE

A propos my last column, I had intended to take up the issue of the shift in foreign policy of the country under the Duterte administration. This was the agenda of the Wilson Lee Flores-hosted breakfast forum in the Kamuning Bakery which I attended early last week. But most of the panelists on the occasion, in ventilating their views on the issue at hand, sounded like apologists of Duterte, particularly as pertaining to extra judicial killings and to the President’s propensity for foul language. As a consequence, I ended up tackling Duterte’s unbridled binge of killing supposed drug addicts and drug pushers for the umpteenth time.

Most of the panelists in the forum, whether wittingly or unwittingly, pursued the issue of foreign policy from their respective social perspectives. For instance, Gabby Bonifacio, whom I met before the start of the forum and who, at my gesture of mutual introduction between us, said he was “an ordinary mamamayan,” but who soon joined the group pressed to one another at the rather constricted table of panelists and got introduced as a descendant of Andres Bonifacio (something that baffled me since, as far as I could recall from readings I had made, the Katipunan Supremo had had no offspring with Gregoria de Jesus up to his execution by Aguinaldo; Gregoria did have descendants of her own but with the famous architect Julio Nakpil, whom she eventually married after Bonifacio’s death). Expectedly from his avowed revolutionary lineage, Gaby proposed the rooting of the country’s foreign policy on history. Are we to take that as a proposal for a combative foreign policy, as Andres Bonifacio’s stance was against Spanish colonialism?

The same historical approach was taken by Eugenio Daza who claimed descent from a revolutionary forebear who, it was alleged, took part in the infamous Balanggiga Massacre during the Filipino-American War in 1900. That incident which resulted in the worst casualties suffered by America until that time caused Gen. Jacob Smith of the invading American forces in Samar to issue his order to turn Samar into a “howling wilderness,” fiercely enjoining his men: “I don’t want no prisoners. I want you to kill. The more you kill, the better it will please me.” Thus were the folks of Balanggiga from age 10 upward subjected to one of the most gruesome summary executions in our country’s history.

Butch Valdes, former DepEd Undersecretary and Convenor of the Save the Nation Movement, expressed views many of which I agree with, particularly the very probable outbreak of a Third World War, given that the world is experiencing today its worst economic crisis, which creates a state of affairs in the global economy similar to that preceding the outbreak of the Second World War. On the question of our country, under the Duterte administration, striking up a radical shift in foreign policy, i.e., from alliance with US to one with China, Valdes forcefully intoned: “Yes, it’s true that we have to take sides. But there is only one side, the side of the Filipino people.” I could almost hear Dr. Jose P. Laurel, in proclaiming his innocence on charges of treason before the People’s Court, intoning: “I am neither Pro-American nor Pro-Japanese. I am Pro-Filipino.”

All told, all the panelists delivered a lengthy dissertation each on the subject of the Philippines doing a pivot in foreign relations under the Duterte administration. But whether or not their uniform contentions on the matter were of any value at all so as to influence government policy has by now become water under the bridge.
In last Wednesday’s top story of the Manila Times, Duterte is reported as making a pronouncement for all the world to hear, “I announce my separation from the United States, both in military and economics.”

The announcement was made in Duterte’s speech during the Philippines-China Trade and Investment Forum in Beijing, China. And the forum came right after the Philippine President met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

I shuddered at the Duterte announcement. Immediately, I sensed in it a parallelism with the dilemma Dr. Jose P. Laurel faced during a visit to Japan in 1943. Dr. Laurel had just been elected by the National Assembly President of the Second Republic of the Philippines, and in that capacity he was invited by the Imperial Family of Japan for a visit in that country, which invitation he accepted. Accompanying him in that visit were Benigno Aquino, father of Ninoy and grandfather of the just past president, Noynoy, and Jorge Vargas, Chairman of the Executive Commission that had formulated the constitution for the Second Republic and convened the National Assembly for electing the Republic’s officials.

After the banquet held in their honor by the Japanese Imperial Family at the royal palace, Dr. Laurel, SpeakerAquino and Chairman Vargas were conducted to a room where then Japanese Premier Tojo, in the presence of top ministers of his government, read the instruction, in Japanese but translated in English by an interpreter, for Dr. Laurel to declare war on the United States and Great Britain.

Here is an entry from Dr. Laurel’s Memoirs detailing his reaction to the Tojo instruction: “It was a shock to all three of us; we did not expect this instruction and we were not prepared to meet it on the spot. I silently prayed and said the Pater Noster. After the translation by Hamamoto of the speech, I got up to say as politely as I could that I could not comply with the request. I said that my people would not approve of it; that I could not carry them; that I have never been a popular leader, the three powerful leaders of the country being Messrs. Quezon,
Osmena and Roxas; that even if I should be willing to do what they wanted me to do, I would be a leader without any following because the Filipinos were opposed to such a step; and that it would not be “decent” for the Filipinos to declare war against the United States that was their benefactor and ally and that only unworthy people could be expected to do that.”

In contrast to the Laurel instant seizure of anguish at the Japanese demand is the now reported virtual delight of Duterte in announcing his separation from the United States.

“…Time to say goodbye, my friend,” the Manila Times report quoted Duterte as saying, as if addressing the United States.

It must be noted that the establishment of the Second Philippine Republic was in fulfillment of a Japanese pledge to grant independence to the Philippines. In that incident with Tojo, Laurel realized he was being made to pay the prize for such pledge.

Dr. Laurel writes on in his Memoirs: “I realized I was in a most difficult situation. The atrocities reported to us, the Japanese feudal and cruel methods has created a deep hatred against the Japanese and I wished I had not
been in this predicament of leadership…”

“In the words of Tojo, our choice was between extermination and freedom,” says Dr. Laurel in his memoirs.
But defying this threat, Dr. Laurel maintained his position: to the end he did not declare war on the United States.

What concessions did Duterte have to give in making his declaration of separation from the United States, we may not know in the immediate sense. But as Butch Valdes, in the

Kamuning Bakery Breakfast Forum, had advised, we are not to take Duterte’s words at their face value. His statements are the form; the substance is subject to investigation.

So we take this Duterte plea to the Chinese: “So please, you have another problem of economics in my country. I have separated from them (US) so I will be dependent on you for a long time…”.

Compared to Laurel’s position in the incident with Tojo, how does this Duterte stance stand?


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