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ELLEN TORDESILLAS - WHO IS THE MURDERER, WHO IS THE CODDLER?


MARCH 1 -By E. Tordesillas - The "perya barker" act, in the words of Sen. Grace Poe, of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre at the government-organized Luneta rally last Saturday triggered responses from different personalities which make for amusing exchanges. Afternoon of Feb. 25 at Luneta , Aguirre, feeling triumphant with the arrest and incarceration of Sen. Leila de Lima on illegal drug charges, he agitated the crowd , "Sino ang gusto n'yo isunod? (Who do you want next?)" The crowd shouted back, "Trillanes! "Trillanes!" Buoyed by the mob’s response, Duterte’s justice secretary asked for their help: "Oh tulungan ninyo ako ha. (You have to help me)." Such scene we usually witness during Holy week prior to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the re-enactment of the Lord’s agony. Pontious Pilate asked the crowd, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” The crowd shouted, “Barabbas!” And thus, Barabbas, the thief, was freed and Jesus Christ was crucified. This is not to say that Trillanes is Jesus Christ. But he is the only one who has been consistent in his opposition to Duterte even before the former Davao mayor got to Malacañang . READ MORE...

ALSO: How Vietnam has changed over the past 80 years


MARCH 4 -A labourer seen outside the Tham Loi steel facility in Da Hoi district.Karim Raslan "I have lived through two wars – against the French and the Americans. The fighting started when I was only eight years old so I never went to school.” “We suffered more with the French: they killed men and raped women. The Americans were different. We never saw them. They just dropped bombs.” "But the French burnt down our family home. Thirty-two people were killed by the cannons they fired into the village. Kids don't really know anger but they know fear and I was very afraid." Now, 82-years old, Tran Van Quy speaks haltingly as he reminisces about the past. Born into a well-to-do, land-owning family, he remembers his pre-war childhood as an idyllic time: running through his family's large home, looking after the water buffaloes and eating rice every day. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Tin Bartolome - Safety and security


MARCH 3 -Our Constitution’s Bill of Rights protects us from warrantless searches and seizures—but not from violence within our homes, perpetrated by loved ones and others we look up to. Laws protecting women and children against domestic violence have already been passed. Indeed, times have changed and we now hear from many victims. But more insidious than physical violence is the kind that destroys the person’s spirit. Aside from physical abuse, there is verbal or non-verbal abuse- which includes psychological, mental or emotional and there is economic or financial abuse as well. And yes, there is such a thing as spiritual abuse. No one sees telltale signs, no marks or welts on the body of the victim until the person can no longer take it.READ MORE...


ALSO: ANALYSIS - A closer look at Chinese foreign aid and investment


MARCH 3 -By Jose Galang -
For developing economies like the Philippines, development aid and investment flows from China are an attractive proposition that could energize a range of productive sectors. Studies made in recent years on the experience of developing countries that have received Chinese official development assistance and capital investment showed gains made in such sectors as infrastructure, agriculture, energy and mining. Some of the aid money also goes to technical cooperation, human resource development, medical assistance, and debt relief. China proclaims that the aid that it dispenses takes into account the beneficiary country’s economic growth and poverty alleviation goals. Over the years, Chinese aid projects in developing nations have also ushered in the flow of Chinese investors through commercial contracts tied to state-funded projects. The economic sectors that get most attention in extending funding assistance and investment — particularly food production, mining and other resource extraction projects — which raises analysts’ questions whether the real beneficiaries are the poor countries receiving the Chinese funding or the Chinese economy itself.READ MORE...


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OPINION: Who’s the murderer, who’s the coddler?

MANILA, MARCH 6, 2017 (ABS-CBN) Posted at Mar 01 2017 10:57 AM - The "perya barker" act, in the words of Sen. Grace Poe, of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre at the government-organized Luneta rally last Saturday triggered responses from different personalities which make for amusing exchanges.

Afternoon of Feb. 25 at Luneta , Aguirre, feeling triumphant with the arrest and incarceration of Sen. Leila de Lima on illegal drug charges, he agitated the crowd , "Sino ang gusto n'yo isunod? (Who do you want next?)"

The crowd shouted back, "Trillanes! "Trillanes!"

Buoyed by the mob’s response, Duterte’s justice secretary asked for their help: "Oh tulungan ninyo ako ha. (You have to help me)."

Such scene we usually witness during Holy week prior to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the re-enactment of the Lord’s agony. Pontious Pilate asked the crowd, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”

The crowd shouted, “Barabbas!”

And thus, Barabbas, the thief, was freed and Jesus Christ was crucified.

This is not to say that Trillanes is Jesus Christ. But he is the only one who has been consistent in his opposition to Duterte even before the former Davao mayor got to Malacañang .

READ MORE...

He has supported his accusations against Duterte with documents (records of Duterte’s bank account which has been a recipient of more than P2 billion deposits) and testimonies of the latter’s involvement in the Davao Death Squad.

Aguirre’s Luneta spiel elicited criticisms from Trillanes’ colleagues, the strongest of which came from Poe.

“This is a gentle reminder to the Justice Secretary: You are expected to administer justice fairly and not to moonlight as a perya barker who agitates the crowds. That high office entails prudent decision-making which is not served by tasteless stunts that incite the mob,” she said.

Aguirre got support from Solicitor General Jose Calida who said he is planning to file charges against Trillanes for allegedly coddling self-confessed members of the Davao Death Squad, retired policeman Arturo Lascañas and Edgar Matobato.

"That person (Lascañas) confessed to have killed his two brothers. Even this Matobato, why is he coddling, hiding and providing security for this confessed criminal? Is this the job of the senator?" Calida said.

But he said, not soon because he needs time to think what charges to file. "Give me more time and I will have the proper case to be filed against him," he said.

This should be fun because Malacanang denied the existence of the Davao Death Squad. If DDS never existed, how can Lascañas and Matobato be criminals?

Trillanes turned the table on Calida: “Ang murderer ay yung boss nya kaya sya ang coddler (His boss is a murderer so he’s the coddler).

Trillanes, who had spent seven years in detention for leading an attempted coup d’etat against President Gloria Arroyo is undaunted by the threat of Calida.

“They can threaten me all they want but I will continue to fulfill my mandate to expose the truth about President Duterte and stand up against the blatant misuse and abuse of power by his administration,” he said.

He even dared the solicitor general: “ So, Mr. Calida, shut up and just do it.”

Malacañang reportedly asked Sen. Cythia Villar, wife of Nationalista Party head Manny Villar to talk to Trillanes (who is a party member) about his hounding of Duterte.

Villar’s reply is classic common sense: "Eh yung sarili ko ngang anak di ko mapagsabihan, yung iba pa? (I can’t even reprimand my own children, how can I do it to others?"
Oo nga naman.


How Vietnam has changed over the past 80 years Karim Raslan - Ceritalah ASEAN Posted at Mar 04 2017 05:33 PM | Updated as of Mar 04 2017 05:39 PM


A labourer seen outside the Tham Loi steel facility in Da Hoi district.Karim Raslan


A photo of Trần Văn Qụy, 82, with his wife, Phạm Thị Mạc, in their home in Da Hoi. They have lived through two wars -- against the French and the Americans.


Trần Thị Lợi in her steel production facility which produces construction materials from iron ingots. The machine beside her cost USD350,000. Karim Raslan


Yeen, Mrs Loi’s daughter, studies Spanish at Hanoi University and is the first in her family to attend university.Karim Raslan


The archway of Da Hoi village located in the old town.Karim Raslan


Trần Thị Lợi took on the family business of steel production and trade. She runs her own production facility and warehouse.Karim Raslan
The village of Da Hoi has a tradition of metalworking. Steel facilities and products are seen across the small town. Karim Raslan
Three generations of Trần Văn Qụy's family at his traditional Vietnamese longevity ceremony. Karim Raslan

"I have lived through two wars – against the French and the Americans. The fighting started when I was only eight years old so I never went to school.”

“We suffered more with the French: they killed men and raped women. The Americans were different. We never saw them. They just dropped bombs.”

"But the French burnt down our family home. Thirty-two people were killed by the cannons they fired into the village. Kids don't really know anger but they know fear and I was very afraid."

Now, 82-years old, Tran Van Quy speaks haltingly as he reminisces about the past. Born into a well-to-do, land-owning family, he remembers his pre-war childhood as an idyllic time: running through his family's large home, looking after the water buffaloes and eating rice every day.

READ MORE...

"However, when the revolution came, our lands were seized. I was very angry at that time. I wrote letters to officials but they never responded – so I became determined to buy back our properties. The first was in 1968, a piece of land close to where our workshop is now.”

Poorly-implemented land reform in the mid-1950s was to bring terrible suffering to much of Vietnam's fertile Red River valley: depressing harvests, wiping out granaries as farmers cut back on planting rice.

Tran shakes his head and his voice almost cracks: "There were no jobs and we were very poor. But at least our village, Da Hoi, had a tradition of metalworking even though the production was slow and laborious. “That's why I decided to study metallic engineering."

Located some 20 kilometres from Hanoi, Da Hoi has long been famous for its iron workshops – interspersed between rice-fields and vegetable farms.

However, over the years and especially after the arrival of the mammoth Samsung manufacturing plant in nearby Bắc Ninh, the entire community has boomed. Indeed, the expansion had been so rapid that the village now seems ragged, perpetually cloaked in dust and dirt. Da Hoi's transformation has come at a steep cost.

Tran barely acknowledges the pollution as he talks about his business: "We used to ship the final product to Hanoi. We made window bars, steel for construction and bicycle parts. We also made metal grilles for shop-houses. Now, because there is so much construction, we're all very busy."

Though frail he remains a determined man: as tough as the steel bars he's been producing for the past four decades. Tran is extremely proud of his family's journey back to prosperity, saying: "I have fourteen children. They're all rich and CEOs. The 'merits' have been returned to us." Pausing, he adds: "Yes, the good has come back."

His daughter, Mrs Loi, lacks the raw confidence of the father. With a slightly anxious expression (and now 45 years old), she came of age amidst the deprivations of the 1980s - as Vietnam struggled with the inefficiencies of a command economy. Mere survival was already a triumph. Having completed her secondary school education – still a rarity in those days – she quickly returned to the family business. "I've never had big dreams. I'm used to a tough life. All I've ever wanted to do is to put food on the table.”

Electrification in the 1991s was a game-changer. Still, competition with Taiwan and China remain fierce for small Vietnamese businesses like the Tran family’s. Taiwanese and Chinese products are good but their prices are high - and this is where the Southeast Asian challenger seeks to undercut them.

In contrast, Loi's daughter, Yeen - who is eighteen years old and studies Spanish at Hanoi University - is as ebullient and determined as her mother is cautious.

Speaking at a trendy coffee-shop just outside the campus, Yeen is brimming with barely-contained energy. She also has a smile so broad and infectious it's almost heart-stopping: "I'm the first in my family to go to university. I'm very privileged and I've received a lot of support from my parents. My mother would like me to go home every weekend but I have other dreams. I want to complete my degree and travel. I have an opportunity to spend nine months in Valladoid or Santiago de Chile. "But I love going to the workshop and watching my mother managing everything – talking to her clients and the staff. And then there's way the metal is cast and recast into shapes. But best of all is when they pour water onto the hot iron and it pops!"

When asked about what she felt about all the suffering that her mother and grandfather had endured: "We really feel the melancholy of those generations. Compared to us, they had it much tougher." "But I think now is a good time to be in Vietnam – much better than before. I can pursue my dreams and improve myself."


OPINION: Safety and security Tin Bartolome Posted at Mar 03 2017 01:24 PM



Our Constitution’s Bill of Rights protects us from warrantless searches and seizures—but not from violence within our homes, perpetrated by loved ones and others we look up to. Laws protecting women and children against domestic violence have already been passed. Indeed, times have changed and we now hear from many victims. But more insidious than physical violence is the kind that destroys the person’s spirit.

Aside from physical abuse, there is verbal or non-verbal abuse- which includes psychological, mental or emotional and there is economic or financial abuse as well. And yes, there is such a thing as spiritual abuse. No one sees telltale signs, no marks or welts on the body of the victim until the person can no longer take it.

READ MORE...

Often, women and children are the victims, not only because they are unable to protect themselves physically, but also because of miseducation and tradition. To break off from this, the woman has to want to be liberated. This means that no one else can save her from her predicament: she has to want to step out of it before she actually can! Otherwise, depending on a savior would only mean finding a replacement for the perpetrator.

Growing old alone (as in remaining single) or separating from one’s husband are some examples of situations that make many women feel bad because of traditional views or social pressure. This is slowly disappearing, although it’s sad that as women become more independent, their families have also been changing.

My own experience has shown me that going against tradition is swimming against the current—and if it is not to spawn or bear fruit, it is not really worth the effort. Tradition is rarely taken in context. Certain practices are developed and later institutionalized to cope with specific situations.

I say that it is worthless because I honor the reasons for the institutionalization of such practices. However, if they no longer apply, then I stand a good chance of making change happen. So, on a personal level, what I’m saying is that what the heart says is key—and that not all logical choices are beneficial.

As regards the Bill of Rights, I do not see any changes that warrant the curtailment of the the right to be safe against warrantless searches and seizures as well as the right to life. And I really do not understand how high-profile people—including politicians and lawmakers—do not seem to think before they speak!


ANALYSIS: A closer look at Chinese foreign aid and investment Jose Galang Posted at Mar 01 2017 02:46 PM | Updated as of Mar 02 2017 04:47 PM

For developing economies like the Philippines, development aid and investment flows from China are an attractive proposition that could energize a range of productive sectors.

Studies made in recent years on the experience of developing countries that have received Chinese official development assistance and capital investment showed gains made in such sectors as infrastructure, agriculture, energy and mining. Some of the aid money also goes to technical cooperation, human resource development, medical assistance, and debt relief.

China proclaims that the aid that it dispenses takes into account the beneficiary country’s economic growth and poverty alleviation goals. Over the years, Chinese aid projects in developing nations have also ushered in the flow of Chinese investors through commercial contracts tied to state-funded projects.

The economic sectors that get most attention in extending funding assistance and investment — particularly food production, mining and other resource extraction projects — which raises analysts’ questions whether the real beneficiaries are the poor countries receiving the Chinese funding or the Chinese economy itself.

READ MORE...

Some observers have also noted that most of the infrastructure projects funded with Chinese official aid improve access to locations where Chinese companies can produce agricultural products as well as undertake mining activities. If the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources sustains its clampdown on destructive mining operations, will China just discontinue aid for that sector or will it exert pressure to overturn the strict policy?

These concerns deserve to be studied by Philippine economic officials before they commit this nation’s resources in formal agreements that will be signed with visiting China Ministry of Commerce officials this month. There will be conditions attached to these China-funded undertakings—one of them requiring that up to 60 percent of the manpower for projects should come from China—and these conditions should be carefully scrutinized.

Boom in China aid

More than half of China’s concessional loans for large-scale infrastructure projects accounted for more than half (nearly 56 percent) of all foreign aid dispensed from 2010 to 2012, indicating the benefits that have gone to Chinese contractors. Even in China, this result has been criticized by analysts such as Xu Weizhong of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations who has called for channeling more financing for other priority needs of developing economies.

“Despite Chinese leaders’ claim that China’s assistance to Africa is totally selfless and altruistic, the reality is far more complex,” said public-policy think tank Brookings Institution nonresident fellow Yun Sun in a 2014 analysis paper. Africa has been a big recipient of Chinese financing, with a sovereign risk officer at the Export-Import Bank of China projecting that by 2025 China will have provided Africa with US$1 trillion in direct investment, soft loans and commercial loans.

Africa enjoys rich natural resources and market potential, and urgently needs infrastructure and development finance to stimulate economic growth, Sun noted. Much of the Chinese financing that had gone to Africa, she said, is “associated with securing the continent’s natural resources.”

“China frequently provides low-interest loans to nations who rely on commodities such as oil or mineral resources, as collateral. In these cases, the recipient nations usually suffer from low credit ratings and have great difficulty obtaining funding from the international capital market; China makes financing relatively available — with certain conditions,” said Yun Sun, who is also now senior associate with the East Asia Program at the Washington DC-based public policy institute Stimson Center.

Influence on government policy

In Southeast Asia, the influence of China’s financial aid on the recipient country’s government policy stance is best reflected in the position taken by Cambodia when in July 2016 it blocked an ASEAN foreign ministers’ move to include in a joint statement a reference to the United Nations-backed ruling that rejected Beijing’s claim to the South China Sea.

A political analyst at the University of New South Wales in Canberra, Veasna Var, wrote in an article published by the East Asia Forum days before the ASEAN foreign ministers’ gathering that “excessive dependence on China [financial aid] has also placed Cambodian foreign policy firmly under China’s influence.”

“Chinese aid provides an opportunity for Cambodia to dodge the efforts of the international community, in particular the United States, to get Cambodia on the right track for democracy, good governance and human rights, since Cambodia can ultimately turn to China when it disagrees with these initiatives,” explained Var, a PhD student in the UNSW Program in Political and International Studies.

China on July 15, 2016 announced the grant of US$600 million in aid to support Cambodia infrastructure, education and health projects. “China, a key ally of Cambodia in the region and the Southeast Asian nation’s largest donor, in return expects support in international forums, including in discussions over the future of the South China Sea,” the US-funded Voice of America Khmer said in reporting the signing of the aid agreement.

Government-to-government deals

The largest deals involving infrastructure and natural resource development projects “tend to be government-to-government”, noted a public policy paper produced at the end of a Wharton Africa Business Forum in January 2016. The forum was staged just a month after China announced a $60 billion loan and aid package for Africa intended to develop infrastructure, improve agriculture and reduce poverty on the continent.

Some of the experts who spoke at the forum pointed to alleged misconceptions about China’s aid and investment flows to Africa. For instance, aid recipient countries were said to also include commodity-poor nations and not just nations with rich mineral and agricultural production.

One expert, Aubrey Hruby, a co-founder of the Africa Expert Network, noted that Chinese companies usually deploy representatives to a developing country and look for potential infrastructure projects. They arrange high-level meetings with government ministers or the president of the country to pitch the idea.

Once a government signs a memorandum of understanding, the Chinese firm proceeds to work on a feasibility study. The Chinese can be “on the ground in a week” doing the feasibility study, which is itself is “not comprehensive” but merely an analysis of the cost — a stark contrast with the long time Western companies or even the World Bank spend on feasibility studies, Hruby noted.

A partner in the international law firm Dentons, Thomas Laryea, confirmed that Chinese “facilitators” are constantly monitoring countries for potential projects that their companies can undertake. This activity, Laryea said, has given rise to “a cadre of professional facilitators” on such deals.

During the negotiation and decision making on funded projects, Laryea said that deals that go through as government-to-government tend to be “very high-level negotiations, sometimes between presidents.” There can be “a gap between a leader’s political decision and how the deal can be structured in a way that makes financial, legal and economic sense,” he added.

As far as the Philippines is concerned, there is an overflow of exuberance in the government and certain sectors of the business community in anticipation of large aid and investment inflows from China.

There must also be a close scrutiny of the terms that will govern these expected deals—those terms need not be skewed unfairly in favor of the financing sources.


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