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BY JARIUS BONDOC: A US VIEW OF SEPARATION - GOOD BYE, GOOD RIDDANCE


OCTOBER 28 -JARIUS BONDOC:
 There’s two sides to a coin. Aggrieved Filipinos say America never outgrew its colonialist bent. Deceiving the Philippines as an “equal ally,” it demands access to Philippine military bases but denies Filipinos modern weaponry. It doles 15 times more military aid to three authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and South Asia than to democratic treaty-ally Philippines. It even profits from Filipino US-visa applicants, while getting visa-free training in the Philippines for thousands of American GIs each year. On the other hand, the Philippines is an unreliable ally, the US scoffs. It drove away US military bases in 1991. It broke ranks from the US-led Coalition of the Willing against the Axis of Evil in 2004 just for an errant OFW in Iraq. That year it broke ranks from its own ASEAN allies for a joint seabed exploration with China that emboldened the latter to claim the whole South China Sea. So why risk war for a country unwilling to fight for itself? READ MORE...

ALSO: By Carmen Pedrosa - What did Duterte mean?


OCTOBER 29 -By Carmen N. Pedrosa
When in China, President Duterte’s last words to Filipino and Chinese businessmen were “I declare in this venue the Philippines’ separation from the United States.” The words drew wide applause. It was clear and simple. Yet, there were different interpretations of what he had said from some cabinet members and media. Some said it was because he was not fluent in English and that if he had he would have used softer, more diplomatic words to say what he meant. The pro-Americans said he should not make friends with China at the expense of America. The meaning which he meant was separation and not divorce or anything drastic. But I thought the statement was emphatic enough. More revealing was the wide applause from the crowd – it was a spontaneous reaction to what he said. It is the applause which gave it the meaning and that the rest of the world agreed with him and marveled at his courage in daring to say it to be understood by everybody. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Ana Marie Pamintuan - Saving ties
(To make up for the churlish denial of what irreverent journalists call the “Sick Tuna” award, the House of Representatives conferred a special recognition on Goldberg. The private sector also feted the US ambassador in his final weeks here.)


OCTOBER 29 -Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg waits for the ceremony to start for the Philippine Air Force C-130T cargo plane in a formal turnover of the plane, the second to be acquired through the United States Excess Defense Articles(EDA) at Villamor Air Base in suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. SEATTLE – He didn’t get the Order of Sikatuna, but Philip Goldberg leaves his Manila posting today with something better. “I am touched by the heartwarming sendoff I have received from Filipinos,” he told me in a phone call from Manila yesterday. “I’m sad to be leaving at a time of great uncertainty, but I think the relations will endure.” To make up for the churlish denial of what irreverent journalists call the “Sick Tuna” award, the House of Representatives conferred a special recognition on Goldberg. The private sector also feted the US ambassador in his final weeks here. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Federico Pascual - Duterte arrived too early/too late


OCTOBER 27 -FEDERICO PASCUAL
THE FORMER mayor of Davao called by 16.6 million Filipinos to a command performance as President of the Philippines may have been thrust into big power theatrics too early – or too late. Watching Rodrigo Duterte taking on the role, one sometimes pities the 71-year-old probinsyano learning to dress his part, to keep in step and salute honor guards, to combine sense and substance in his speeches, and master a million other details of the presidency. Sometimes one gets the feeling Duterte is not ready for his speaking part so he covers up by throwing expletives, and improvises when interacting with his opposite numbers in the region and other global actors. After a four-day visit to China to make friends and mend fences, Duterte left Tuesday for a three-day trip to Japan. There, he will possibly look at the other side of the coin shown him in Beijing, knowing that Japan is an ally of the United States and nemesis of China. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

A US view of separation: Goodbye, good riddance

MANILA, OCTOBER 31, 2016 (PHILSTAR) GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc October 28, 2016 - There’s two sides to a coin. Aggrieved Filipinos say America never outgrew its colonialist bent. Deceiving the Philippines as an “equal ally,” it demands access to Philippine military bases but denies Filipinos modern weaponry. It doles 15 times more military aid to three authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and South Asia than to democratic treaty-ally Philippines. It even profits from Filipino US-visa applicants, while getting visa-free training in the Philippines for thousands of American GIs each year.

On the other hand, the Philippines is an unreliable ally, the US scoffs. It drove away US military bases in 1991. It broke ranks from the US-led Coalition of the Willing against the Axis of Evil in 2004 just for an errant OFW in Iraq. That year it broke ranks from its own ASEAN allies for a joint seabed exploration with China that emboldened the latter to claim the whole South China Sea. So why risk war for a country unwilling to fight for itself?

READ MORE...

If mutual defense is unworkable for the Philippines and US, then mutual disengagement is next. US think tanks propose that, in light of President Duterte’s pivot away from America. Example is the analysis, “America Should Drop Philippines Alliance: Thank Rodrigo Duterte for Encouraging Divorce,” by Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute, published in Forbes, Oct. 20, 2016. Excerpts:

“Philippine President Duterte is making a state visit to what until recently had been his nation’s ‘Great Satan’: China. As the Obama administration pivoted to Asia, the Duterte administration is pivoting from the US. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi greeted Duterte in Beijing: ‘This is a historic visit and presents an opportunity for relations between China and the Philippines to restart on a fresh, positive footing.’

“The prospect of a changed relationship worries Washington, but actually would be to America’s advantage. The ‘mutual’ defense pact between the US and Manila is a bad deal for Washington, which should use the Duterte shock as an opportunity to replace the alliance with much looser cooperation on shared interests. In particular, the US should leave confrontation with Beijing over contested territorial claims to Manila.

“The US collects allies like most people accumulate Facebook friends. The Philippines is a good example...

“Washington [i]s heavily involved in Filipino affairs, providing Special Forces to help battle Islamic insurgents, materiel to augment the Philippine military, and foreign aid to alleviate poverty. But the relationship [i]s an alliance in name only.

“The Philippines is a military nullity. The country brings to mind the Imperial German officer who after viewing maneuvers by the Austro-Hungarian army exclaimed: ‘My God, we are allied with a corpse.’

“The Philippine armed forces long focused on internal security. Eight years ago Gen. Alexander B. Yano, Philippine army chief of staff, complained about ‘deficient’ capability and an inability to ‘really defend all these areas because of a lack of equipment.’ Yet even today the Philippines devotes less than one percent of its GDP to the armed forces, which is a tiny fraction of what the People’s Republic of China spends. The International Institute for Strategic Studies explained that for decades ‘perennially low defense budgets have thwarted efforts to develop any significant capacity for conventional war fighting or deterrence.’

“For a country determined to confront Beijing at sea, the Filipino navy is a particular disappointment. Explained journalist Joseph Trevithick: ‘The archipelago’s sailing force is made up of half-century-old-antiques – and is falling apart.’ In fact, the navy’s three finest ships are retired US Coast Guard cutters. The flagship Gregorio del Pilar will be a half century old next year. No wonder IISS warned that ‘it remains unlikely that the Philippines will be able to provide more than a token national capability to defend its maritime claims.’

“Washington should emphasize that it has decided to update the relationship to reflect current realities, not punish Duterte.

“Under the circumstances Philippine officials continue to do what comes naturally: seek to borrow America’s military.

“The alliance was negotiated shortly after World War II, when many Asians still feared a Japanese military revival, and the US and Soviet Union were locked in a global struggle for dominance. Today no one threatens Philippine independence. And the unlikely conquest of the Philippines, while a humanitarian travesty, would not threaten American security. Washington has no reason to defend the Philippines proper, let alone distant and contested pieces of rock such as Scarborough Shoal.

Yet Pentagon bureaucrats are attracted to bases like moths to a flame. “The military never lost its desire to regain facilities in the Philippines. In 2014 the two governments signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, set to run for a decade, which authorized joint training missions, offered multiple base access for US forces, and prepositioned American military equipment.

“Although emergency basing rights have value, they are modest: Washington should be intervening much less in other nations’ disputes. The price for such a benefit should be equally modest, and certainly should not include a promise to go to war.

“However, the latter is what Manila desperately desires, at least until Duterte’s election. Barely six years after Clark and Subic closed, the Philippines agreed to a visiting forces agreement for U.S. military personnel. American advisers arrived shortly thereafter. The last government was particularly enthusiastic about promoting joint exercises.

“Beijing recognized Manila’s objective. Chinese state media concluded of EDCA: ‘The Aquino administration has made its intention clear: to confront China with US backing.’ In April Philippine Defense Secretary Gazmin declared that Americans ‘with their presence here, will deter uncalled for actions by the Chinese...’

“But why would US officials be so mad as to go to war with Beijing over Philippine fishing rights?” (For the complete text, see http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/america-should-drop-philippines-alliance-thank-rodrigo-duterte-encouraging)


What did Duterte mean? FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 29, 2016 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus1 0


By Carmen N. Pedrosa

When in China, President Duterte’s last words to Filipino and Chinese businessmen were “I declare in this venue the Philippines’ separation from the United States.” The words drew wide applause. It was clear and simple. Yet, there were different interpretations of what he had said from some cabinet members and media. Some said it was because he was not fluent in English and that if he had he would have used softer, more diplomatic words to say what he meant. The pro-Americans said he should not make friends with China at the expense of America. The meaning which he meant was separation and not divorce or anything drastic. But I thought the statement was emphatic enough.

More revealing was the wide applause from the crowd – it was a spontaneous reaction to what he said. It is the applause which gave it the meaning and that the rest of the world agreed with him and marveled at his courage in daring to say it to be understood by everybody.

READ MORE...

Think of how many interpretations could be made with a few words. But said in Duterte style, it was effective. If it was said in anything it would have fallen flat, but the truth came shining through because it was said so plainly that I will concede that his style of speaking best illustrates his meaning. What he says and what he means are one. It addressed the most important issue of relations between the Philippines and America and that it needed to be made during his state visit to China.

It reversed the policy pursued by the Aquino administration on the South China Sea conflict between the two superpowers. The Philippines was caught in the middle. The Americans did not hesitate to use its neocolonial dominance over the Philippines and as I now suspect was the real reason why former President Noynoy Aquino was put in power to implement a part of the pivot to the region. I am not the first to say that the Philippines, once again was used for America’s drive for geopolitical supremacy in the region.

* * *

A fisheries agreement may be only a small part of easing the conflict, but it will be a good test of how the new relations between the Philippines and China under President Duterte will be implemented. After all, that is how the animosity began.

Then again the incident had different interpretations on just who started the fight for the fishing grounds. I had tried to meet with Filipino fishermen when I was told that Filipino fishermen could not understand why they should be fighting. They were friends and shared the fishing grounds. Filipino fishermen said they even had meals together when they met at sea. China has nine maritime neighbors (including Taiwan) but no settled maritime boundaries.

According Isaac B. Kardon who has studied the problem it was in part because of China’s unwillingness to specify its maritime claims.

“Only one partial exception to this imprecision exists: a boundary agreement with Vietnam to delimit the northern part of the Gulf of Tonkin and a fishery agreement establishing a joint fishing regime in that area, both reached in 2000.”

Karadon says “the agreements between China and Vietnam have both positive and negative lessons.

The Philippines has to look at how the two countries came to agree. We also have a scholar, Ambassador Alberto Encomienda who wrote important articles. Therefor there are precedents and these can help us as important precedents. This was not done at all by the Aquino government or the Department of Foreign Affairs Indeed, it was used as the cause of hostilities.

With the new stance of President Duterte towards China this issue of fishing grounds should be revisited. It shows it is possible for China to come to the bargaining table on maritime disputes.

Called the Tonkin agreements it enabled future deals among countries with claims and disputes on fishing agreements.

“Leaders in both China and Vietnam authorized their diplomats to negotiate formal boundaries governing about 36,000 square nautical miles of productive fisheries and potentially lucrative hydrocarbons. The deal emerged from three separate rounds of negotiation (1974, 1978-1979, and 1992-2000), with the last being a whole-of-government effort featuring input from senior party leaders, provincial governments, stakeholder agencies, and technical and scientific experts.”

“The negotiations and friendly relations “helped establish organizational and individual connections that were indispensable to the final settlement. Wang Yi, the current PRC foreign minister, was China’s lead negotiator and presumably knows what is required, politically and organizationally, to achieve future settlements. Comparable, substantial investment of official time and political energy is possible and necessary for future deals.

So too with the Philippines, It must sit down and discuss particular agreements and a management committee which can be called on when there are fishing disputes.

The Sino-Vietnamese boundary and fishery agreements showed that China is capable of substantial compromise in maritime disputes.

“The agreements established several precedents that ought to be remembered and publicized. Modesty about the agreements’ wider applicability is also necessary. Still, Chinese leaders and experts, in particular, should be encouraged to review the diligent process and salutary outcome of that earlier era of diplomatic compromise as they set out to stabilize China’s troubled maritime frontier and secure a peaceful rise.”

Ambassador Alberto Encomienda proposed the same kind of of approach to fishing grounds conflict and went as far as to say that all coastal areas bounded by the sea should come together for mutual cooperation.

He even started a blog which he called “Balik Balangay” on the management of the sea. Not surprisingly he was completely ignored by DFA officials as being “pro-China.” I remember we met with Vietnam’s political attache to study how to put together the studies.


Saving ties SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 28, 2016 - 12:00am 0 32 googleplus0 0


OCTOBER 24 -Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg waits for the ceremony to start for the Philippine Air Force C-130T cargo plane in a formal turnover of the plane, the second to be acquired through the United States Excess Defense Articles(EDA) at Villamor Air Base in suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAILY MAIL, UK


By ANA MARIE PAMINTUAN

SEATTLE – He didn’t get the Order of Sikatuna, but Philip Goldberg leaves his Manila posting today with something better. “I am touched by the heartwarming sendoff I have received from Filipinos,” he told me in a phone call from Manila yesterday. “I’m sad to be leaving at a time of great uncertainty, but I think the relations will endure.”

To make up for the churlish denial of what irreverent journalists call the “Sick Tuna” award, the House of Representatives conferred a special recognition on Goldberg. The private sector also feted the US ambassador in his final weeks here.

READ MORE...

The warm sendoff is testament not only to Goldberg’s character and efficiency in his posting, but also to the strong bonds between the two countries that one president alone cannot break. If the surveys are any indication, in sending Rodrigo Duterte to Malacañang by a landslide, the majority of Filipinos (except for the communists and Islamic extremists) did not bargain for a “separation” from the US.

If Manila and Washington want to salvage their alliance, both sides should pause, take a deep breath, assess the cause and impact of the damage, and then move to prevent the wound from becoming deeper.

* * *

President Duterte knows exactly what is making the US agitated: executing drug personalities without bothering to even put up a pretense of according them due process. And executing 3,700 drug suspects in four months could constitute a crime against humanity.

Du30 has made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t give a s**t (his words) about human rights bleeding hearts in the US, the EU or wherever they may be found. The killings will continue until the last drug suspect is dead, Du30 has vowed.

The US, for its part, should understand what brings out the worst in Rude Rody. Du30 was simmering down after that incoherent announcement in Beijing of his “separation” from Uncle Sam, when here comes the top US diplomat in the East Asia-Pacific, openly criticizing the Philippine President in his own land.

Du30’s comments, Daniel Russel told the press, were creating uncertainty in the business community. Russel, of course, was just being candid, honest and American – their officials do it everywhere. But it may be useful for Washington to learn some lessons in dealing with this President – that is, if the US wants to save the alliance.

Even before Duterte was persuaded by Fidel Ramos to run for president last year, the Americans were already aware that Du30 was no fan of Uncle Sam.

When a US State Department official told the Washington press that President Barack Obama would not pull any punches in raising the human rights situation during his meeting with Duterte on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit, Du30 promptly scrapped the meeting (which Manila had requested). The last thing this President wants is a lecture from an American counterpart.

Unable or unwilling to learn a lesson, here comes Russel doing exactly what Du30 detests – to be openly criticized, and not even by his US counterpart, but by an assistant secretary.

Not surprisingly, Du30’s Pavlovian reaction was, Yankee go home.

* * *

Some 1.2 million Filipinos stand to lose their jobs if American business process outsourcing operators call President Duterte’s bluff and leave the Philippines.

The BPOs are apart from the American companies providing Filipino jobs in semiconductors, food processing, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and a wide range of other areas.

And this is also apart from the hundreds of thousands of Filipino passport holders working in the United States who may see their jobs threatened by a falling-out between the long-term allies.

Rude Rody must remember that the Philippines is competing in a tough neighborhood for foreign direct investment. Even before he came along, the Philippines already had the lowest level of FDI among the five founding members of ASEAN.

For three decades FDI was soaked up by the top destination in Asia: China. Now that labor and other costs have gone up, countries such as Japan have adopted a “China-plus-one” investment strategy in the region. Japan picked the Philippines as an alternative investment destination. But several other countries have picked Vietnam and are finding Cambodia and even Myanmar attractive.

The Philippines is still more competitive than Cambodia and Myanmar, thanks mainly to skilled workers. Du30’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda also buoyed business confidence at the start.

Now everything is in danger of coming undone.

* * *

The Americans may also find it useful to understand the mindset of Du30. Obama’s pivot to Asia is also coming undone due to Du30’s pique.

European officials have visited Manila in recent weeks, to assess the human rights situation, and see if Rude Rody means what he says when he tells the European Union to “go to hell.” They are concerned, sure, but the Europeans keep their heads down and their mouths shut, avoiding the press and reporting quietly to their home offices.

Several other Asian countries are also concerned about recent developments in the Philippines, mainly about the potential for instability, which is always bad for business. But they also know enough to course their concerns through back channels, away from the controversy-seeking press.

* * *

Du30, for his part, may want to remember the roots of American “interference” in Philippine internal affairs. He can attribute it to force of habit, on both sides.

Until fairly recently, Filipinos were the ones who asked Washington to intervene directly in Philippine affairs. Ferdinand Marcos held on to power with the support of Washington, which let go of its durable ally only when people power made his ouster inevitable.

Corazon Aquino repeatedly asked Washington for help during all the coup attempts in her presidency. And the coup plotters also sounded out the Americans for support. The US embassy was always among the first to know when a coup plot was seriously brewing in Manila. This went on through the presidency of GMA.

Noynoy Aquino’s administration was clearly pro-American so it’s hard to tell if Uncle Sam was interfering under his watch or merely engaging actively with a treaty ally.

Now Du30 says he is recalibrating ties. Fortunately, while American businessmen are concerned about Du30, they are even more concerned about who might become their next president. And there seems to be a prevailing sentiment at this point that bilateral ties will endure and survive Duterte.

But in the next six years, millions of Filipinos could lose their jobs if foreign businesses pack up and relocate to where they are welcome.

We’re hurtling toward a lose-lose situation for both the Philippines and the US, but it can still be reversed. Thinking before talking can be a good start.


Duterte arrived too early/too late POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 27, 2016 - 12:00am 3 221 googleplus1 0


FEDERICO PASCUAL

THE FORMER mayor of Davao called by 16.6 million Filipinos to a command performance as President of the Philippines may have been thrust into big power theatrics too early – or too late.

Watching Rodrigo Duterte taking on the role, one sometimes pities the 71-year-old probinsyano learning to dress his part, to keep in step and salute honor guards, to combine sense and substance in his speeches, and master a million other details of the presidency.

Sometimes one gets the feeling Duterte is not ready for his speaking part so he covers up by throwing expletives, and improvises when interacting with his opposite numbers in the region and other global actors.

After a four-day visit to China to make friends and mend fences, Duterte left Tuesday for a three-day trip to Japan. There, he will possibly look at the other side of the coin shown him in Beijing, knowing that Japan is an ally of the United States and nemesis of China.

READ MORE...

He had his baptism of regional politics at the recent summit in Laos of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, at the side of which he nearly tangled with US President Barack Obama after exchanging fire with United Nations and European Union leaders over human rights.

He is hypersensitive to criticisms of his bloody (4,000 killed in nearly four months) campaign against narcotic traders and users.

Did Duterte arrive on the national scene rather late? Assessing the pagbabago, the Herculean reformation, he now has to work on, one wonders how easier – and less wrenching – would solving the problems be had he arrived sooner.

• Japan guessing Duterte intentions DUTERTE’S reputation has preceded him to Japan – as indicated by the silly but valid question “Will he chew gum in front of the emperor?”

Other questions – mostly about his dressing and demeanor – are minor compared to speculations about Duterte’s diplomatic inclinations. Such questions are fair, considering how he has dragged his nation of 101 million toward Communist China and away from its old ally the US.

Japan is naturally curious, if not anxious, to know how Duterte regards its neighbor, a vital part of the strategic arc facing China that goes down the South China Sea to the Philippines whose leanings now seem to be cloudy.

Or will Tokyo attempt to mend the worn-out fabric of Phl-US relations? With his anti-US utterances being met by critical reactions and reports of a possible politico-economic backlash, will Duterte soften up?

There are no indications that he would. Before leaving Manila, Duterte even took time to again hit Americans, calling them “gago” (fools). If US businessmen are not happy, he said, all they have to do is pack up.

Instead of speculating, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters he would ask Duterte what his intentions are. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will also ask, he added.

Arriving in Tokyo on Tuesday, Duterte disparaged the US and the European Union during a packed reception at a hotel, where he received a rousing welcome by Filipino residents.

The AP reported: “In Japan, where formality and politeness are highly valued, some are worried about Duterte’s rough side, particularly when he meets Emperor Akihito on Friday. Japanese TV has shown him apparently chewing gum at public occasions.

“In footage of a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Duterte walked in with his hands in his pockets and chewed gum during the handshake and a signing ceremony.

“When he makes a courtesy visit to the emperor, his behavior could have a major impact,” senior lawmaker Itsunori Onodera said Sunday on TV. Duterte often doesn’t button the top of his shirt, wears jeans and has been seen without socks.”

• Marcos set legal basis before moving WE continue our occasional Q&A on the Permanent Court of Arbitration award on a case filed by the Philippines against China. It is based on our exchange with Mario E. Valderrama, founder and first president of the Philippine Institute of Arbitrators. His answers were edited to fit space.

Q: Does the Philippines own the reefs in the West Philippine Sea?

A: Another misconception is that Phl owns the reefs in WPS. Reefs are part of the seabed and are not capable of ownership by anybody. And, contrary to popular belief, another state (China in this case) may make use of reefs if doing so would not unduly interfere with Phl’s exercise of its economic rights.

China’s development of Mischief Reef, however, is of such magnitude that it interferes with Phl’s exercise of its economic rights. Even then, such development is not necessarily unlawful. China can do it if Phl gives consent. This is why the Tribunal faulted China not because it developed Mischief Reef, but rather because China did not get the prior consent of Phl.

When we talk about Phl’s territorial waters (also its EEZ) as provided by UNCLOS, note that Phl should first establish its baseline, provide the measurements and have it approved by the UNCLOS authority. As far as I know Phl has yet to establish its baseline.

Q: Does proximity translate to ownership?

A: No. It is said, on the point, that President Marcos knew the law. When he claimed the Kalayaan group for the Philippines he put people on them. Then, he annexed the islands to Palawan. Thereafter he issued a decree claiming them. The premises: there were no claimants (which was wrong -- the claimants were China, Vietnam and Taiwan), plus proximity and for defense.

Most lawyers are familiar with the Isla de Palmas (Miangas) arbitration case which the United States (Philippines) lost in 1928. Miangas is nearer to Mindanao than to the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia), the occupier. The arbitrator held that mere proximity was not an adequate basis for a claim to land.


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