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Improving Our Roads

Malaya (04.26.15)

MAP president Francisco del Rosario stresses the need for Government to raise infrastructure spending from a paltry 2.2% of the gross national product to 5% of GNP.

by Ducky Paredes

Renowned architect and urban planner Felino Palafox Jr. notes that Metro Manilans spend around 1,000 hours on congested roads every year as against an average of 300 hours in other countries with better urban planning. This means 700 hours wasted—or as much as 28,000 hours of the average metro folk’s economic life—as a consequence of daily monster traffic plus poor and inadequate road infrastructure.

So, if you have 40 years of economic life, 40 years times 700 hours a year, (that’s how many hours you waste in traffic),” says Palafox. “You’re like a prisoner inside your car or a prisoner inside jeepneys and buses.”

Businessmen see poor infrastructure and the resulting traffic snafus as one of the reasons investors remain in no mood to park their cash in this country despite our successive credit rating upgrades.

For instance, the Port of Manila’s worsening congestion since last year is estimated to have cost foreign and local businesses over $500 million in combined losses.

ECCP president Michael Raeuber says that port-congestion surcharges at the Manila International Container terminal (MICT) and the South Harbor gridlock reached $166 million while those for trucking was an additional $418 million last year.

If an economist were to compute this and get a more holistic study, it would be much, much more,” Raeuber said.

Record car sales has alsp aggravated the problem . The higher volume has put more cars on Mrto Manilas’ limited roads.

Automotive industry sales hit 62,882 units in the year’s January-March period or 21.6% higher than the 51,722 units sold in the same quarter in 2014.

Short-Term Reforms

The ECCP wants Government to consider short-term reforms before port activity perks up anew in the months ahead, including pushing a master plan for expanding the ports of Subic and Batangas, building an access road system from Cavite to the ports, and offering incentives to businesses to relocate to development areas outside of Luzon as a way to spread out traffic flow.

In a position paper submitted to the PPP Center, the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFCP) wrote: “The private sector is cognizant of the great need for massive infrastructure investments to support and boost the growth of the Philippine economy. We recognize that the government’s PPP provides the framework by which infrastructure development can be accelerated and properly tendered to interested and capable parties.”

MAP president Francisco del Rosario stresses the need for Government to raise infrastructure spending from a paltry 2.2% of the gross national product to 5% of GNP, which is also the recommendation of the World Bank (WB).

For former Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo, “Nearly-standstill traffic day after day is not the best face to present to the world to reflect our coming of age and attractiveness as a headquarters hub for an Asean region on the cusp of closer economic cooperation.”

With the issue of mass transportation obviously dragging P-Noy down to record lows on his watch, there are “surgical operations” that his Cabinet can perform in at least two areas —port congestion and the MRT3 pickle—to prevent his performance and satisfaction scores from further going south in the five remaining quarters of his presidency.

After legislators last year shot down the Department of Transportation and Communication’sP54-billion buy-out proposal by deleting the Equity Value Buyout allocation in the 2015 national budget, the best that DOTC executives can do now is ditch this EBVO plan altogether and consider any of the three separate proposals on rehabilitating the dilapidated MRT3 or taking over the EDSA line’s operations.

NLEX-SLEX Connector Road

Government also needs to get moving on the Metro Pacific Tollway Corp. (MPTC)’s unsolicited proposal to build a 13.4-kilometer expressway linking the North Luzon Expressway and South Luzon Expressway next to the parallel NLEX-SLEX Connector Road now being built by San Miguel Corp. (SMC) through its consortium with the Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp. (Citra).

The SMC-Citra project covers the Skyway Stage 3 of the SLEX, while MPTC’s portion involves the construction of the four-lane elevated expressway, originally over the PNR tracks, with three exits to connect NLEX with SLEX.

What happenned to MPTC’s P11-billion NLEX-SLEX Connector Road proposal is a classic sob story on what goes wrong with the Government’s PPP infrastructure program.

Originally set for partial completion before P-Noy steps aside next year, MPTC’s proposal was conditionally approved by the government three years ago, after getting the thumbs-up separately from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Environment and Naural Resources (DENR), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the local government units (LGUs) of Makati, Manila and Caloocan.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has likewise cited the importance of this road project in terms of its multiplier effects on the Philippine economy.

P-Noy even singled out this project as one of those he wants completed before his term ends in 2016, but delays brought about by official confusion on whether to build this unsolicited proposal via a Swiss Challenge or a joint venture (JV) between MPTC’s subsidiary Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) and the Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC).

PNCC holds the franchise for both NLEX and SLEX, while MPTC has the Supplemental Toll Operations Agreement (STOA) for its road projects under NLEX Segment 10.

MPTC’s connector road or Segment 10.2 is an 8-kilometer mainline road from C-3 Road in Caloocan City to the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Manila’s Sta. Mesa district. It will also have a 2.6-kilometer Port Area spur road from C-2 Road to R10 in Tondo, Manila.

This will be linked to MPTC’s Harbor Link project, which is a 2.4-kilometer road connecting NLEX to the MacArthur Highway and a 5.65-kilometer road connecting Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City to the Manila North Harbor.

MPTC executives were optimistic that once the documentation and approvals could be secured by June 2014, there would be a chance for the firm to immediately connect Harbor Area to Sta. Mesa and PUP, and then connect it to the SMC-Citra component of the NLEX-SLEX connector project.

The SMC-Citra proposal did not have to go through a Swiss challenge, but the MPTC had to because its offer was an unsolicited proposal.

The SMC-Citra portion is the Skyway Stage 3 of the SLEX, while the MPTC portion involves the construction of a 13.4-kilometer four-lane elevated expressway via the PNR tracks, with three exits to connect NLEX with SLEX.

MPTC’s road project was conditionally approved by the government two years ago.

President Aquino gave the go-signal to the project in January 2013, but nothing actually moved because the Chief Executive’s subordinates kept changing the rules.

Everything was all set for a Swiss Challenge at the onset, but the project took a back seat after policy makers said it would be easier and faster for MPTC to build its version of the Connector Road under a JV with PNCC.

When all preparatory work for a JV were wrapped up, there suddenly was a change of heart and Government said it would be best after all to pursue MPTC’s unsolicited proposal via the Swiss Challenge.

Under the Swiss Challenge, any of the interested parties other than the original proponent can win the project by making a better offer than the firm that made the unsolicited proposal. However, the original proponent still gets to keep the project once it matches the best offer from among the rest of the bidders.

With the latest delay, MNTC will have to revise the alignment of its proposed Connector Road to give way to the P171-billion North-South rail project, which was approved by the NEDA Board only recently.

This design revision and the delayed schedule of the Swiss Challenge will increase the cost of the project by 30% to P14 billion from the original estimate of P11 billion, according to MNTC president Rodrigo Franco, and allow MPTC to complete it by late 2017 or early 2018 at the soonest.

MPTC will be able to finish it in two year’s time on condition that Government will stage the Swiss Challenge by the year’s second quarter as now scheduled.

We will now have to revise our design to accommodate the construction of the North-South rail project,” Franco said in an end-March news report. “The cost will really increase and we are expecting it to go up by 30%.”

Franco explained that under the original proposal, this connector road was to cost about P18 billion, but this estimate was pruned to P11 billion after MPIC and SMC agreed to initially shoulder the cost of the five-kilometer common alignment connecting MPTC’s NLEX-SLEX Connector Road to SMC-Citra’s Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 project.

The construction cost for the eight-kilometer main connector road is P11 billion under the old scheme but will increase by 30% or another P3 billion, so it will now be P14 billion,” says Franco.

He explained that the proposed NLEX-SLEX Connector Road and the North-South rail project to be undertaken by the DOTC under the PPP will use the right-of-way of the state-run Philippine National Railways (PNR).

The connector road and the North-South rail project will use the PNR right-of-way,” he said. “Both projects could be side-by-side, but in other parts the connector road might have to go above the North-South rail project.”

The proposed 653-kilometer North-South rail project South Line PPP will stretch from Metro Manila to Legazpi City in Albay, and will cover commuter railway operations between Tutuban and Calamba, Laguna and long haul railway operations between Tutuban and Legazpi, including extended long haul rail operations on the branch line between Calamba and Batangas and extension between Legazpi and Matnog, Sorsogon

The NLEX-SLEX Connector Road will improve transport logistics as a result of the more efficient movement of cargoes, roll-on, roll-off (RORO) vessels, and passengers in and out of the ports located in Manila, and would reduce travel time from NLEX to SLEX to only 15 to 20 minutes.

Investors would start flocking to the country when the projects are completed because it would enhance connectivity between our international airports and seaports, including the Subic freeport by way of the NLEX-Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) route, the Batangas Port via SLEX, and the Clark International Airport to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

This will, in turn, improve linkages between the key growth areas of Metro Manila, Central Luzon, North Luzon and the Clark-Subic corridor.

The NLEX-SLEX Connector Road will decongest EDSA, Circumferential Road 5 (C-5) and other roads in Metro Manila’s inner cities because these choked arteries would be freed of heavy vehicles traveling to and from the Port Area.

In terms of environmental impact, the MPTC project will reduce air pollution and fuel consumption, in support of the government’s climate change agenda.

Experts note that the speedy implementation of the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road and the rehabilitation and/or takeover of MRT3 will not only raise public satisfaction in P-Noy’s performance; it will also boost investor confidence by addressing the concerns of foreign and local businesspeople over undue delays in PPP and other big-ticket projects.

With barely a year left, it is only now that several PPP contracts are being bid out. Out of 57 PPP projects drawn up in 2010, only eight have been awarded so far and all were solicited projects.

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Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Nag-imbestiga ang CA/Mary Jane Veloso

Abante (04.25.15)

ni Horacio Paredes

Kapuri-puri ang kinilos nv Kumilos ng Court of Appeals (CA) na iniutos na imbestigahan ang nauna nang isiniwalat ni Senador Antonio Trillanes IV na sangkot sa ‘decision for sale’ ang dalawa sa mga mahistrado nito. Dahil sa kinakailangan ng tatlong hukom upang matuloy ang desisyon ng CA na maaaring 3-0 o 3-2, dapat na ang hinahanap ng CA ay kung sino ang tatlo or mas marami pang hukom na maaaring tumanggap ng salapi upang ipagbili ang kanilang boto.
Sa ipinalabas na memorandum ni CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyesv inatasan nito sina  Justice Mariflor Punzalan Castillo, Chairperson ng CA-Committee on Ethics and Special Concerns na mabusising imbestigahan ang paratang ni Trillanes na nasuhulan umano ng tig-P25M bawat isa sina Associate Justices Jose Reyes Jr., at Francisco Acosta ng CA 6th Division kapalit ng pagpapalabas ng Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) at injunction pabor sa petisyon ni Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay.
Binigyan ni Justice Reyes ang komite ng 30-araw para sa gagawin nitong imbestigasyon kung saan ang findings at rekomendasyon nito ay dadaan din kay Reyes para aprubahan bago ito isumite sa Supreme Court en banc na siyang may pinal na desisyon sa kaso dahil ang Kataas-taasang Hukuman ang siyang may hurisdiksyon sa mga tiwaling mahistrado at miyembro ng hudikatura.
Aminado ang CA na nakaaapekto sa kanilang imahe ang mga ganitong akusasyon kaya naman mahalagang mabigyang-linaw ito. Sa totoo lamang, sa ating sistema ng hudikatura, marami ang nagdududa sa mga hukom mula sa pinakamababa hanggang sa Korte Suprema dahil sa halos lahat ay maaaring gawain ng mga hukom at walang magagawa ang mga biktima ng mga mga nasailalim ng ating justice system. Lalo na sa CA kung saan, agad na payo ng ilang abugado ay ang magipon ng malaking kwarta na baka kakaylanganin.
Samantala, muling kinasahan ni Makati Rep. Abby Binay si Trillanes at hinamong maglabas ng ebidensya para patunayan ang kanyang mga paratang.
“He should come out with hard evidence and unimpeachable witnesses,” hamon nito. Sige, Trillanes. Gulatin mo ang mga naging mga bilyonariong Pamilya Binay na hindi maintindian kung saan nanggaling ang kanlang salapi kahit na wala namang silang maaring pagkikitaang negosyo kundi lamang ang pagiging  halal ng bayan at mga “public servant” kuno.
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Naniniwala pa rin ang Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) na walang mangyayaring pagbitay sa darating na Biyernes sa Pinay drug mule na si Mary Jane Veloso sa bansang Indonesia kasabay ang pagpapasinungaling na walang ginagawang aksyon ang gobyerno para masagip ang akusado.
Sinabi ni DFA spokesman Charles Jose, hangga’t may legal na opsyon pa ang pamahalaan ay walang mangyayaring pagbitay kay Veloso tulad na lamang ng ulat na sa Biyernes na mangyayari ang huling araw ng nasabing ginang.
Samantala, sa kabila ng nahaharap sa hatol na kamatayan, nananatiling matatag ang 30-anyos na si Veloso.
Habang nasa kulungan sa Indonesia, nakausap ni Mary Jane ang kapatid na si Marites sa telepono at mistulang walang lungkot sa boses nito.
“Huwag kayong mag-alala sa akin kasi alam ko may plano ang Panginoong Diyos sa ating lahat. Hindi ako natatakot na mangyari sa akin ito kasi kung ang Panginoong Diyos ito kagustuhan niya, tatanggapin ko ng buong puso,” sabi ni Veloso.
Tugon naman ni Marites na, “Diyos ko naman bunso, hanggang sa huli kami pa rin ‘yung iniisip mo para mapalakas loob namin. E kami nga ‘yung nag-aalala.”
Sinagot pa ito ni Mary Jane na, “Ikaw nga nagsabi ‘yung bunso mo malakas ang loob. Ate, mahal na mahal ko kayong lahat.”
Umaasa na lamang sa himala ang kapatid ni Mary Jane para makaligtas ito sa parusang kamatayan kung saan aminado itong maliit ang tsansang palayain ito.
Una nang pinanindigan ni Indonesian President Joko Widodo ang batas nila laban sa pagpasok ng ilegal na droga.
    Kaugnay nito, sinabi ni Gabriela partylist Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan na pumasok na sa krusyal na oras si Mary Jane, kaya nakatutok ang grupo nito sa resulta ng kumperensya ng non-aligned countries sa Indonesia kung saan ang isa sa mga tinalakay ang kaso ni Mary Jane.
Sa totoo, nangyari na rin sa akin na habang naghihintay ako sa paliparan ng aking flight papuntang Hawaii, ang isa kong kilala na “kaibigan” ay merong inabot na maliit na balot na kukunin raw ng kaniyang kamag-anak pagdating ko sa Honolulu.
Tinanaong ko kung ano ang laman ng nakabalot. Ang sagot ay wala lang, hindi mahalaga. Sinabi ko na bubuksan ko bago ako sumakay at kung hindi ko kayang palusutin sa pasgpasok sa Honolulu ay hindi ko tatanggapin. Wala na siyang sinabi at umalis na siya. Binuksan ko at ang laman palay maputing  pulbos. Dahil hindi ko alam kung ano iyon, t binuhos ko sa inidoro at plinash dahil kahit na hindi matiktikan ng ating Customs at mas kinakatakutan ko kung sa Honolulu makita ng mga awtoridad at hindi ko kayang ipaliwanag kung ano iyon.
Nangyari ito noong panahon pa ng diktadurya noong pamahong “Martial Law” sa Pinas. Dahil sa sumusulat rin naman tayo laban sa diktadurya, baka ang aking “kaibigan” ay ahente nina Ver at Makoy. Huwag dapat na tatanggap ng padala na hindi mo nalalaman kung ano ang laman at dapat na kung anuman ang nakabalot ay nskita mong pasahero kung ano ang laman nito. Baka magaya ka sa nangyari kay Mary Jane.
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Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Time for ASEAN to Prove Itself

Malaya  (04.24.15)

“(H)opes are high that the ASEAN will prove its relevance when it comes to a common challenge for the whole region.

by Ducky Paredes

The 26th ASEAN summit meeting is slated to happen next week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. High on the agenda would very much likely be a discussion on China’s massive “reclamation” activities in the South China Sea (SCS). How the ASEAN leaders will tackle the ongoing disputes in the upcoming meeting will apparently have regional and international implications and will also prove the relevance of the regional grouping.
China’s accelerated construction activities in recent months in the SCS have further intensified the ongoing maritime disputes between China and its Southeast Asian countries, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam. The “reclamation” activities have not only complicated the nature of the ongoing disputes at the expense of other claimant countries, but also signaled China’s growing military assertiveness in order to consolidate its strategic ambitions in the area.
China’s ongoing construction activities will fortify its already expansive presence in the contested areas, fulfilling Beijing’s broader strategy of dominating adjacent waters, particularly vital Sea Lines of Communication such as the South China Sea. More seriously, the construction activities could very well pave the way for the establishment of a Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone in the area which will pose serious consequences for freedom of navigation and flight in the area.
It is evident that China is now faced with a fairly serious challenge of how to deal with international reaction to its massive island reclamation in general and with its impact on the upcoming ASEAN summit in particular. Only a few months ago, Chinese officials dismissed the mounting protests from the Philippines about this island grabbing and said they were simply acting within their sovereignty and were merely improving the living conditions of Chinese personnel stationed the area.     But when top US political and military officials joined the criticism, particularly when President Obama and Defense Secretary Carter made strong statements against China, Chinese officials had no choice but to provide a more detailed explanation in an attempt to defuse the growing international condemnation.
The recent statement from the G7 summit has contributed to the international pressure on China. Though it did not directly mention China by name, the G7 statement mentioned the issue of maritime security in the SCS for the first time and criticized unilateral acts such as island reclamation which seek to change the status quo in disputes. It also supported the use of international dispute settlement mechanism to resolve such issues.
Given the growing international criticism over China’s island grabbing or reclamation, the focus of international attention will now shift to the upcoming ASEAN summit. It is expected that the ASEAN leaders will not only express serious concern over China’s unilateral activities but also come up with a concrete action plan which could mobilize international support for a peaceful solution to the dispute. The ASEAN leaders are also expected to reiterate the need and urgency in forging an agreement on a binding Code of Conduct which has been stalled by China.
There will probably be a fierce diplomatic battle that will ensue at the ASEAN summit and it remains to be seen what the outcome will be. However, hopes are high that the ASEAN will prove its relevance when it comes to a common challenge for the whole region.
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This is something I have always wondered about: Why should reelection effectively absolve an official from administrative liability? Isn’t it about time to abandon a doctrine that gives erring officials a clean slate once they are reelected? After all, why give them a reward when they can fool the voters again and again?
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno gave the lawyers of Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay a lecture during the second round of oral arguments on the power of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to suspend the Makati mayor. She scolded the Binay lawyers for insisting that an official, once reelected, is no longer liable for administrative violations in his past term.
In a lengthy and heated exchange with Binay lawyer Sandra Marie Olaso-Coronel, Sereno confronted her former law student with the possible implications of her argument that the doctrine of condonation covers the Makati mayor.
“This is the kind of legal regime you want us to propagate? We believe that this is wrong and you are telling us to continue along that doctrine?” Sereno told Coronel in an interpellation that lasted for more than an hour.
“You will insist on a rule of procedure that will wreak havoc on our constitutional framework?” Sereno said, as she reminded Coronel that as a professor at the University of the Philippines College of Law, she taught her students the virtue of honesty and integrity.
“It is the duty of this court to promote honesty and integrity in public service, because the Constitution is, first and foremost, our most important document and covenant that we must uphold,” she said.
“Because if we uphold your theory, we are basically going to say, with respect to all those laws, those offenses and those penalties, they cannot apply to reelected officials. That is what you’re asking us to do,” Sereno said.
The principle invoked by the Binay lawyers—which Sereno described as an “unfortunate doctrine … based on bad case law”—effectively extinguishes a reelected official’s administrative liability from alleged wrongdoing during a previous term.
The doctrine emanates from a 1959 case involving the mayor of San Jose, Nueva Ecija province, in which the Supreme Court ruled, based on American jurisprudence, that the mayor was effectively absolved from administrative charges by virtue of his reelection.
Binay’s lawyers invoked the doctrine to challenge a March 11 order from the Ombudsman putting Binay under preventive suspension pending an investigation into his alleged involvement in the irregularities in the construction of the Makati parking building.
The Court of Appeals stopped Morales’ suspension order with a temporary restraining order on March 16, prompting the Ombudsman to raise to the high court her jurisdictional conflict with the appellate court.
Sereno was joined by Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Estela Perlas-Bernabe in raising the possibility of reviewing the condonation doctrine.
The Chief Justice said the Ombudsman-Binay case that is before the court now was “a chance to make up.”
“So if we want to fight corruption, this court will have to make a strong stand for honesty and integrity,” she said.
Carpio said the 1959 doctrine was established under the 1935 Constitution.
But Binay’s lawyers said the high court was barred from even reviewing this doctrine.
“The opportunity to revisit the doctrine of condonation will have to await a proper case filed before this court … when an error of judgment is alleged in an appeal,” Coronel said.
“We should revisit it because the power to pardon in administrative cases is a constitutional power of the President, which we cannot usurp. So it’s a good ground to revisit that doctrine,” he said.
Carpio said the foundation of the doctrine was the 1935 Constitution, but the 1987 Constitution has become much stricter about public accountability.
He cited Article XI of the 1987 Constitution, which stipulates that “public officers and employees must, at all times, be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency; act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.”
“The issue now is, ‘Can this court say to the people of Makati that we are granting [them] the power to pardon? Can we do that?” he asked.
The last to interpellate in the four-hour-long oral arguments on Tuesday, Sereno directed both the lawyers of Binay and the Ombudsman to “measure the condonation doctrine” against “the Filipino soul.”
Sereno showed a 63-page slide show, breaking down all the evidence that the Ombudsman has so far gathered against Binay, laws governing administrative liabilities of local government officials, and jurisprudence on administrative cases against local officials.
In her presentation, Sereno also cited the magnitude of public funds that local officials handle—P389.8 billion for disbursement this year and P341.5 billion in 2014—and the kind of impact that condonation would have if officials were allowed to get off easy by virtue of this doctrine.
“Do you imagine the magnitude of that money? That is nearly 20 times [the budget] of the entire judiciary,” she said.
“We’re talking about the magnitude of the problem we’re facing here. The social impact the message is saying is very important for the life of this country,” Sereno said.
Associate Justice Marvic Leonen questioned Binay’s absence in Tuesday’s proceedings.
“Why is Mayor Binay not here to face the highest court? The Ombudsman was here last week. Is there a reason he doesn’t care to appear?” Leonen asked lawyer Claro Certeza.
“It’s not a matter of him not caring,” replied Certeza.
“Is it not an indication of his interest also as to the results of this case? Or the respect for this court?” Leonen said.
“I’m definitely sure our client respects the court,” Certeza said.
Morales appeared last week during the first round of oral arguments on her petition against Binay’s plea against his suspension before the Court of Appeals, even taking questions from justices.
Leonen also noted how ill-prepared Certeza was to tackle questions about the Ombudsman’s supplemental petition, which was filed on Monday last week to update the petition after the appellate court’s issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction, extending the temporary restraining order (TRO) it earlier issued.
“I’m sorry but I would have expected more from you having heard you speak in the media, seeming to be prepared to argue on all points,” Leonen told Certeza.
The magistrate also cited how Binay’s “refusal” to comply with the suspension order caused confusion in Makati City.
“Then it was your client that caused it all. No, not your client. It was your legal advice,” said Leonen, correcting himself.
Certeza disagreed and said: “We take exception, with due respect, your honor.”
Three more magistrates joined Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta in recusing themselves from the case for undisclosed reasons.
The high court gave the two sides a nonextendable period of 30 days to file their memoranda on the case, their last chance to persuade the magistrates.

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Sinong Tutulong Kung Lususbin Tayo

Abante (04.23.15)

ni Horacio Paredes

Sa totoo lamang, hindi ko maintindihan ang mga maka-kaliwa. Sa buong mundo, ang maaari lamang na kumontra sa Tsina sa kanilang ginagawang pang-aapi sa ating bansa at sa Vietnam kung saan  merong mga isla na hawak ng Pinas at ng Vietnam na kanilang tinatambakan at tinatayuan ng mga gusali, paliparan at taguan ng mga radar, mga kanyon at bomba.
Sa buong mundo, ang America lamang ang merong ganang tumututol sa gawaing ito ng Tsina na pang-aapi ng mga kayang-kaya nilang mga bansa dahil sa kakulangan ng ating puersang militar. Wala tayong eroplano at barko de giyera at iilan lamang ang ating mga sundalo kumpara sa Tsina na ilang milyon ang kaniulang unipormadong mga kawani. At kung magkakaroon man tayo ng mga eroplano. barko, tangke at anupang mga pag-giyerang gamit, umaasa lamang tayo sa matagal na nating ka-akbay na America.
Deretsahang kinontra ni Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap na “booster” o makapagpapalakas sa kapasidad ng mga Pinoy ang US-PH Balikatan Exercises.
Inihayag ng solon na buy-and-sell lamang ito at walang kinalaman sa pagtatanggol sa bansa.
“Ang isang layunin ng US ay sanayin ang mga sundalo sa mga armas na gawa nila upang tayo ay obligadong bumili at sila ay kumita…dahil nga malaki rin ang interes ng US sa China,” ani Hicap.
Wala aniya itong bisa sa pagpapalakas ng kakayahan ng Pilipinas na ipagtanggol ang sariling teritoryo sa panghihimasok ng mga dayuhan gaya ng ginagawang konstruksyon ng China ng mga istraktura sa Panatag Shoal sa probinsya ng Zambales.
Ilusyon lang din umano, ayon pa kay Hicap, ang sinasabing ipagtatanggol ng US ang bansa laban sa China na umaangkin sa mga teritor­yong sakop ng Pilipinas.
Ganito rin ang sentimiyento ni Abakada Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz na nagsabing, “Pero nila­laro lang tayo. Hindi tayo tutulungan ng mga iyan. Gusto lang nila na tayo ang lalaban sa kanilang karibal.”
Sa totoo naman, kahit na ang ating Speaker ng Kongreso ay mukhang na bwisit na sa mga Amerikano dahil sa wala siyang nakikitang pangontra ng Amerika sa Tsina. Kung ako rin nga’ygisto ko rin sanang mas malakas ang pagkundena ng USA sa ginagawang pang-api sa ating ng Tsina,
Ngunit, baka namang ma-aga pa para kalabanin na ng US ang Tsina dahil hindi naman ito kagaya ng dati. Sa ngayon, mukhang halos mas pantay na ang kakayanan ng Tsina at ng Amerika sa lakas ng kanilang militar at galing ng kanilang militar.
Pero, para sa akin, wala naman tayong maaasahang tutulong sa atin kapag nilusob na tayo ng Tsina kundi ang Amerika.

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Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

SC Justices & Binay, Paquiao, HK’s Ip

Malaya (04.23.15)
“Ip said she had learned of “families wrecked because of relationships between Filipina maids and male employers.”

by Ducky Paredes

Supreme Court Spokesperson Theodore Te on Tuesday announced the inhibition of three associate justices from the case of the Court of Appeals’ temporary restraining order on the Ombudsman’s suspension order  against Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay.
Te said Associate Justices Presbitero J. Velasco, Arturo D. Brion, and Francis H Jardeleza  inhibited from the case. Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta had earlier inhibited himself from participating in the case and did not sit during the first session of the oral arguments in the Binay case.
Te did not disclose the reason behind inhibition of the three justice but said the three justices voluntarily inhibited.
When asked why the three justices inhibited on Tuesday, Te said he has no information regarding the matter. Are even  the Supreme Court  justices fearful of the Binays, who even before the elections are already warning politicians not to get on the bad side of the family.
“For those who interpellated, the interpellations are there. It just means that they will not vote because they have inhibited. It is in the records,” Te explained when asked what will happen with the previous interpellations.
The oral arguments in the Binay case resumed in Supreme Court, Baguio City with only 11 associate justices. The court will hear the arguments of the respondents, Ombudsman and Mayor Binay.
* * *
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is so shrewd he would use every trick, including his opponent’s nationality, just to make money.
Mayweather created quite a stir when he appeared wearing a Philippine flag-inspired black shirt during his media day in Las Vegas a few days ago.
The shirt had a full body picture of Mayweather in front which was colored blue and red on each side while a sun is located at the back of the photo’s head.
Reporters noticed the design and instantly thought it was probably Mayweather’s way of trying to upset Pacquiao.
But Mayweather said the shirt and a few more designs are actually on sale through his online store.
“We got Money Team gear for all countries and we support everybody I have American fans, African fans, Japanese fans, Filipino fans. Go to the Money team dot com and get a shirt,” said  Mayweather.
True enough, the shirt, which is labeled as ‘King of the Ring’, is being sold on Mayweather’s website and is priced at $45.
* * *
When Mayweather and Pacquiao had a supposed chance meeting in a Miami Heat home game, the undefeated American wore a hoodie where the country’s tri-colors was emblazoned on his chest.
In 2008, Mayweather wore trunks that was designed like a Mexican flag when he fought and defeated Oscar De La Hoya, an American Olympic gold medal winner who traces his roots in Mexico.
Famed trainer Freddie Roach recently cleared an issue that came up regarding the condition of Manny Pacquiao.
According to Roach, he’s been bugged by reports of a supposed leg cramps that has hounded Pacquiao in their most recently training session.
Roach admits he mistakenly thought that Pacquiao was suffering from cramps when the multi-division champion suddenly held on to his foot during one of their sessions at the Wild Card gym in Hollywood.
“After the workout we go back to the dressing room. And he showed me this big blister on the bottom of his foot. He said, ‘it’s not leg cramps. It’s the blister that hurts.’ So it was the blister and that was all. We had no leg cramps whatsoever,” said Roach.
Roach then went on to insist that Pacquiao is peaking at the right time and that he is happy with the way the power of his punches has been improving about three week before they get to face Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“I can’t believe he’s throwing those strong combinations at me at the mitts and on the chest. I honestly had a new chest protector. It’s a little bit thicker. But you know what? It’s not working that well. He knocked the wind out of me yesterday five times. His power is really looking good,” said Roach.
Meantime team Pacquiao is back to its closed-door policy training a day after their media workout on Los Angeles.
Pacquiao is currently preparing for what is believed to be the biggest fight of his career against Mayweather who has yet to taste  defeat in 47 fights. Manny hopes to teach Mayweather a boxing lesson by beating the braggart..
Pacquiao and Mayweather will both stake their respective welterweight belts when they clash in a 12-round contest on May 3 (Manila Time) at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, Nevada.
* * *
President Benigno Aquino III will not yet convene the National Security Council amid China’s increasing aggression in the disputed South China Sea, Malacañang said Tuesday.
“In the president’s view, at this time none,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said when asked by Palace reporters if Aquino sees the need to convene the council.
“We have dealt with other national security-related issues as well as other matter through the mechanism of the security cluster,” she added.
Valte said from time to time, relevant agencies are also asked to participate in the security cluster meetings when they are needed.
“It is also in this venue wherein the security cluster and other members of the Cabinet discuss matters relative to the West Philippine Sea issue,” she said.
The Palace’s statement came after the Chinese Coast Guard reportedly fired water cannons at Filipino fishermen to drive them away from Bajo de Masinloc.
Valte said the president would direct the Departments of Foreign Affairs and National Defense to come up with a response to the latest maritime incident.
During the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit next week, Aquino is expected to raise China’s aggression, particularly its massive reclamation activities on contested islands and reefs in the South China Sea.
Aquino said last week that the South China Sea dispute is a global problem and that nations outside the region should fear China’s actions.
* * *
There are 300,000 maids in Hong Kong, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia, with concern growing among rights groups over their welfare following a string of abuse cases.
But lawmaker Regina Ip, a close adviser to the city’s leader Leung Chun-ying and tipped as a future chief executive, cast the maids as marriage wreckers. In an op-ed article in Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao last Friday, Ip told how jilted expatriate wives had complained to her that their maids had led their husbands astray.
“I have received complaints from expatriate women… that Filipina domestic helpers seduce their husbands,” Ip wrote.
“I could only tell them that under the current laws it is quite difficult to regulate,” she added.
Ip said she had learned of “families wrecked because of relationships between Filipina maids and male employers.”
“Rather than reporting improper behavior by local employers, should we pay more attention to Filipina maids becoming sexual resources for foreign men in Hong Kong?” she questioned.
In her article, Ip linked her theory to the recent case of a 15-year-old girl, with a British father and Filipina mother, who fell from a luxury apartment block in an apparent suicide earlier this month.
Although police said there were no suspicious circumstances around the fall, the teenager’s mother Herminia Garcia — a former domestic helper — and her British businessman father, Nick Cousins, were arrested.
Garcia was charged with overstaying her visa and “neglect” of an unnamed 14-year-old child. Cousins is on bail for neglect and abetting the overstay, but has not been charged.
Ip cites their case as a “reflection” of what she describes as “abnormal relationships” between maids and employers.
Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo filed a letter to the city’s Equal Opportunities Commission calling the comments “racially discriminatory.”
“Foreign domestic workers are treated as second-class citizens by some politicians who feel no qualms about making offensive statements about them,” Mo said    .
Ip, a member of the government’s Executive Council or cabinet, told AFP her comments had been misinterpreted.
* * *
# # # #

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Buti pa ang Tarlac, Merong ECF

Abante 04.21.15

ni Horacio Paredes

Ang Eduardo Cojuangco Foundation (ECF) ay sinulong ang  Project Hope kasama ang Department of Education, TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority),  Department of Labor and Employment, La Salle Greenhills ang gobu]iyerno ng lalawigan ng  Tarlac sa pagsimula ng  technical-vocational skills training sa  1,000 out-of-school na  18 to 30 ang gulag.
Ang ECF chairman mismo,  Ambassador Eduardo (Danding) Cojuangco ang nakaisip na matulungan ang mga out-of-school at unemployed sa Tarlac upang makahanap ng mas magandang kxinabukasan at makahanap ng trabaho and mga ito.
Ang Project Hope ay pangalawang proyekto ng ECF’s sa kanilang P42 Million Project Free kung saan 2,000 na public school teacher ang binigyan ng scholarship upang makakuha ang mga ito ng Master’s at doctorate degrees in education sa Tarlac State University sa ilalim ng pagtuturo ng  La Salle kung kaya ang  natanggap nila ay diploma ng  La Salle.  Project Free ay ginawa noong  2010 bilang  25th anniversary ng EC.  Ang Project Hope ay handog sa  30th anniversary ng ECF.
Ayon sa pahayag: “The budget for Project Hope is P10 Million for the first seven-month cycle.  Once the cycle is completed, ECF will start the second cycle of 1,000 out-of-school 18 to 30 year-olds until the target of 5,000 is achieved.  Project Hope is envisioned to be a model for replication in other provinces of the country as a self-reliant public and private collaboration.”
Naroon si Danding Cojuangco sa MOA signing program chasama si Rep. Enrique Cojuangco ng Unang Distrito ng  Tarlac at Department of Education Region III assistant regional director Rizalino Rosales.
Any mga nagklagda sa  MOA ays sina Gov. Victor Yap, Department of Education (Tarlac) schools division superintendent Dr. May Eclar, TESDA Tarlac director Ben Hur Baniqued, DOLE Tarlac director Efren Reyes, Lasallian Ministry Office director Br. Emmanuel Hilado, FSC, De La Salle Philippines Alternative Education Commission chairman Br. Vincent H. Fernandez, FSC at ECF managing director Joaquin Henson.
Any layunin ng Project Hope (Hone Out-of-school youth to be Productive and Empowered) ay ang ma-develop ang technical-vocational and entrepreneurial skills ng mga  out-of-school sa komunidad at bogyman sila ng livelihood skills pang making productive citizens mabigyan in sila ng trabaho pagkatspos ng kanilang pag-aaral. provide job opportunities for them upon completion of their courses.
Ayon sa  ECF, merong  15,330 na out-of-school 18 to 30 year-old sa Tarlac.  AngDepartment of Education ay merlongh  pondo para sa  5,199 ngunit walling plano para sa 10,131 66 percent noon wala pang  Project Hope.
* * *

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Binay and Mar, an ASEAN Solution

Malaya (04.21.15)
“I think more than ever ASEAN should come up with a consensus on how to deal with the China problem. ASEAN should come out united on the problem without any discordant position from countries like Cambodia.”

Binay and Mar, an ASEAN Solution
by Ducky Paredes

Clearly, Vice President Jejomar Binary is lying when he blames Secretary Mar Roxas for his troubles: “Mar Roxas is behind the investigations at the Senate and the Ombudsman,” he says, again and again. Then he also says: “I thought politics was clean, but it isn’t.”
I cannot imagine how long ago he could’ve thought that “politics” was “clean”and how many years ago he decided that “it isn’t.”
Senator Grace Poe could say something like that and be believed but a Jejomar Binary sounds hollow and dumb when he tries to be cute.
He denies all accusations against him but gives no explanations, only flat denials. Thus, if people believe that he is being less than truthful or tht=at the accusations have bit of truth in them, he can’t blame anyone but himself.
Pero, ka-awa-awa naman si Mar dahil wala naman itong ginagawa sa kaniya but Binday still keeps on blaming the DILG Secretary for his troubles. He has gone on record as saying that Roxas is behind the government’s persecution of his family. His wife, at one time a mayor of Makati has graft cases filed against her and so has his son, the present mayor of Makati,
Considering that Mar Roxas is rating very low nationally, I cannot see how jumping on him is helping Binary in any way. In fact, Binary actually offered an olive branch when he asked Roxas to be vice president in Binary’s ticket but Roxas declined. Why wouldn’t he when Binary has never said even one good thing about the DILG secretary?
* * *
Senator Grace Poe will not be anybody’s running mate in 2016. According to a source that does not want to be identified since the source is not authorized tho speak for the Senator –   for her, it’s the presidency or nothing.
Grace Poe is not considering running for vice president. Thee senator believes that running second fiddle to any presidential candidate would not bode well for her political career since she would just be used  to boost somebody’s chances.
“She doesn’t want to run for vice president. If she will run in 2016, it would be for president. She could be a lock for vice president, but in the long run, she is thinking, how would that work out for her? If she wins as vice president, she will occupy that post until 2022. By that time, she can’t be so sure that she will still enjoy the same high level of popularity and trust of the people, and she knows it,” the source, who has confirmed that some political parties are convincing Poe to be in their team as the vice presidential bet, said.
“Hindi tatanggapin ni Grace yang offer to run as vice president. Ayaw niya.” the source added .
“She wants to run while she has good chances, and she knows that 2016 is the best time for her to run for president,” says the source.
Poe, daughter of the late actor Fernando Poe, Jr. surprisingly topped the 2013 senatorial race with 20 million votes.
In last week’s  survey, the senator trailed Vice President Jejomar Binay by only five percentage points. Binay, who had consistently topped presidential surveys, got 36 percent, down from his 37 percent rating in December last year.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte ranked third, surging to 15 percent from five percent in December. Duterte tied with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd of the ruling Liberal Party, whose rating fell to 15 percent from 19 percent in December.
Sen. Miriam Santiago and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada were tied at 11 percent.
A word of warning to Grace Poe and the other wannabes. I understand that what was asked in that survey was for those surveyed to give three names that they could vote for as President. Thus, if one’s name came up as number 1, 2 or 3, one got one vote, regardless. Thus, everyone had higher numbers than in a survey where one had to choose only one name.
* * *
This is something that should have been done some years ago. Finally our lawmakers have started to act. Our congressmen, including the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs,  called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to start crafting a binding Code of Conduct (COC) in a bid to peacefully resolve the territorial conflict in the disputed South China Sea.
Albay Rep. Francis Bichara, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said Filpino lawmakers are counting on the 10-nation Southeast Asian bloc to come up with a rules-based and binding COC in the region.
“That was agreed upon already. We hope that in time, it will be crafted soon,” he said in a text message.
The call was made as President Aquino and nine other ASEAN leaders are expected to meet next week in Malaysia for the ASEAN Summit. The President had vowed to call on his fellow Southeast Asian leaders to resume the formal talks on the crafting of the COC in the disputed territory.
AKO Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, called on the Philippine government to come up with options to firmly deal with China’s intrusions, particularly its large-scale land reclamation, which threaten regional peace and security.
“We should exhaust diplomatic channels to possibly stop these constructions, which to my mind, is asking for the moon. But we have to prevent further incursions through diplomatic means,” he said.
“We have to put forward these violations again in the ASEAN agenda in order to come up with a Code of Conduct that is enforceable,” he pointed out.
Batocabe said the government should continue seeking assistance from its allies, including the United States to address China’s bullying. “We should be in close contact with our allies, especially the US to prevent further spread of Chinese intrusions in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
“Lastly, we should make our presence felt militarily through the occupation of our islands and constant patrolling of our territorial waters,” he added.
He maintained that the ASEAN should stick to its “one for all, all for one” principle in handling the issue.
“I think more than ever ASEAN should come up with a consensus on how to deal with the China problem. ASEAN should come out united on the problem without any discordant position from countries like Cambodia,” he said.
Cambodia is an ally of China and it was during its ASEAN chairmanship in 2012 when the calls for ASEAN to sign a regional Code of Conduct snowballed with the Philippines as the lead advocate of the COC.
The Philippines, which was part of the drafting of the new regional conduct on the West Philippine Sea, insisted that a “zone of peace, friendship, freedom, and cooperation (ZoPFFC)” will be established in the disputed islands.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo said China’s supposed growing assertiveness over the resources-rich South China Sea should be addressed by the ASEAN as a regional bloc, even as he noted that China has taken for granted the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) which it signed with ASEAN in Phnom Penh in 2002.
“The pace of China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea requires that ASEAN claimants define their clear positions already – seeing that the Declaration on the Code of Conduct (DOC) in the South China Sea (to which China is a party to) is apparently a worthless piece of paper for China,” he said in a separate interview.
The ASEAN was established on August 8, 1967, with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration by the five founding members, including Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.
Apart from Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have overlapping claims to parts of the potentially resources-rich disputed islands, while China and Taiwan fully claim the South China Sea
Meanwhile, Sen. Loren Legarda prodded yesterday the country’s Southeast Asian neighbors to join the Philippine position that coral reefs, home of fishes in the seas and oceans, must be protected as part of a country’s food security.
Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Climate Change Committee, made the call following reports that over a hundred million dollars worth of corals within the Philippine territory had been destroyed by the reclamation activities of t China at the West Philippine Sea.
“That should not be the case because here we are protecting our coral reefs which is home of the fish that we eat,” Legarda said.
“Eighty percent of the source of our protein comes from our marine environment… from the seas. If we lose the corals, which are the home of our fish, we will go hungry. So that is an issue of food security,” she added.
While the Philippines want to engage the international community on what is happening at the West Philippine Sea, “we have to perhaps create more awareness and create more noise,” she points out.
* * *
I will be hosting the Kapihan at the Luneta Hotel tomorrow. Our guests will be Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian and Commissioner Siegfried Mison of the BID. We will be talking about huge sums of money. This is a temporary assignment since Marichu Villanueva is out of the country. I am just pinch-hitting for a friend.
* * *
Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.
# # # #

‘Malaya (04.21.15)
“I think more than ever ASEAN should come up with a consensus on how to deal with the China problem. ASEAN should come out united on the problem without any discordant position from countries like Cambodia.”

by Ducky Paredes

Clearly, Vice President Jejomar Binary is lying when he blames Secretary Mar Roxas for his troubles: “Mar Roxas is behind the investigations at the Senate and the Ombudsman,” he says, again and again. Then he also says: “I thought politics was clean, but it isn’t.”
I cannot imagine how long ago he could’ve thought that “politics” was “clean”and how many years ago he decided that “it isn’t.”
Senator Grace Poe could say something like that and be believed but a Jejomar Binary sounds hollow and dumb when he tries to be cute.
He denies all accusations against him but gives no explanations, only flat denials. Thus, if people believe that he is being less than truthful or tht=at the accusations have bit of truth in them, he can’t blame anyone but himself.
Pero, ka-awa-awa naman si Mar dahil wala naman itong ginagawa sa kaniya but Binday still keeps on blaming the DILG Secretary for his troubles. He has gone on record as saying that Roxas is behind the government’s persecution of his family. His wife, at one time a mayor of Makati has graft cases filed against her and so has his son, the present mayor of Makati,
Considering that Mar Roxas is rating very low nationally, I cannot see how jumping on him is helping Binary in any way. In fact, Binary actually offered an olive branch when he asked Roxas to be vice president in Binary’s ticket but Roxas declined. Why wouldn’t he when Binary has never said even one good thing about the DILG secretary?
* * *
Senator Grace Poe will not be anybody’s running mate in 2016. According to a source that does not want to be identified since the source is not authorized tho speak for the Senator –   for her, it’s the presidency or nothing.
Grace Poe is not considering running for vice president. Thee senator believes that running second fiddle to any presidential candidate would not bode well for her political career since she would just be used  to boost somebody’s chances.
“She doesn’t want to run for vice president. If she will run in 2016, it would be for president. She could be a lock for vice president, but in the long run, she is thinking, how would that work out for her? If she wins as vice president, she will occupy that post until 2022. By that time, she can’t be so sure that she will still enjoy the same high level of popularity and trust of the people, and she knows it,” the source, who has confirmed that some political parties are convincing Poe to be in their team as the vice presidential bet, said.
“Hindi tatanggapin ni Grace yang offer to run as vice president. Ayaw niya.” the source added .
“She wants to run while she has good chances, and she knows that 2016 is the best time for her to run for president,” says the source.
Poe, daughter of the late actor Fernando Poe, Jr. surprisingly topped the 2013 senatorial race with 20 million votes.
In last week’s  survey, the senator trailed Vice President Jejomar Binay by only five percentage points. Binay, who had consistently topped presidential surveys, got 36 percent, down from his 37 percent rating in December last year.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte ranked third, surging to 15 percent from five percent in December. Duterte tied with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd of the ruling Liberal Party, whose rating fell to 15 percent from 19 percent in December.
Sen. Miriam Santiago and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada were tied at 11 percent.
A word of warning to Grace Poe and the other wannabes. I understand that what was asked in that survey was for those surveyed to give three names that they could vote for as President. Thus, if one’s name came up as number 1, 2 or 3, one got one vote, regardless. Thus, everyone had higher numbers than in a survey where one had to choose only one name.
* * *
This is something that should have been done some years ago. Finally our lawmakers have started to act. Our congressmen, including the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs,  called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to start crafting a binding Code of Conduct (COC) in a bid to peacefully resolve the territorial conflict in the disputed South China Sea.
Albay Rep. Francis Bichara, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said Filpino lawmakers are counting on the 10-nation Southeast Asian bloc to come up with a rules-based and binding COC in the region.
“That was agreed upon already. We hope that in time, it will be crafted soon,” he said in a text message.
The call was made as President Aquino and nine other ASEAN leaders are expected to meet next week in Malaysia for the ASEAN Summit. The President had vowed to call on his fellow Southeast Asian leaders to resume the formal talks on the crafting of the COC in the disputed territory.
AKO Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, called on the Philippine government to come up with options to firmly deal with China’s intrusions, particularly its large-scale land reclamation, which threaten regional peace and security.
“We should exhaust diplomatic channels to possibly stop these constructions, which to my mind, is asking for the moon. But we have to prevent further incursions through diplomatic means,” he said.
“We have to put forward these violations again in the ASEAN agenda in order to come up with a Code of Conduct that is enforceable,” he pointed out.
Batocabe said the government should continue seeking assistance from its allies, including the United States to address China’s bullying. “We should be in close contact with our allies, especially the US to prevent further spread of Chinese intrusions in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
“Lastly, we should make our presence felt militarily through the occupation of our islands and constant patrolling of our territorial waters,” he added.
He maintained that the ASEAN should stick to its “one for all, all for one” principle in handling the issue.
“I think more than ever ASEAN should come up with a consensus on how to deal with the China problem. ASEAN should come out united on the problem without any discordant position from countries like Cambodia,” he said.
Cambodia is an ally of China and it was during its ASEAN chairmanship in 2012 when the calls for ASEAN to sign a regional Code of Conduct snowballed with the Philippines as the lead advocate of the COC.
The Philippines, which was part of the drafting of the new regional conduct on the West Philippine Sea, insisted that a “zone of peace, friendship, freedom, and cooperation (ZoPFFC)” will be established in the disputed islands.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo said China’s supposed growing assertiveness over the resources-rich South China Sea should be addressed by the ASEAN as a regional bloc, even as he noted that China has taken for granted the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) which it signed with ASEAN in Phnom Penh in 2002.
“The pace of China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea requires that ASEAN claimants define their clear positions already – seeing that the Declaration on the Code of Conduct (DOC) in the South China Sea (to which China is a party to) is apparently a worthless piece of paper for China,” he said in a separate interview.
The ASEAN was established on August 8, 1967, with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration by the five founding members, including Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.
Apart from Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have overlapping claims to parts of the potentially resources-rich disputed islands, while China and Taiwan fully claim the South China Sea
Meanwhile, Sen. Loren Legarda prodded yesterday the country’s Southeast Asian neighbors to join the Philippine position that coral reefs, home of fishes in the seas and oceans, must be protected as part of a country’s food security.
Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Climate Change Committee, made the call following reports that over a hundred million dollars worth of corals within the Philippine territory had been destroyed by the reclamation activities of t China at the West Philippine Sea.
“That should not be the case because here we are protecting our coral reefs which is home of the fish that we eat,” Legarda said.
“Eighty percent of the source of our protein comes from our marine environment… from the seas. If we lose the corals, which are the home of our fish, we will go hungry. So that is an issue of food security,” she added.
While the Philippines want to engage the international community on what is happening at the West Philippine Sea, “we have to perhaps create more awareness and create more noise,” she points out.
* * *
I will be hosting the Kapihan at the Luneta Hotel tomorrow. Our guests will be Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian and Commissioner Siegfried Mison of the BID. We will be talking about huge sums of money. This is a temporary assignment since Marichu Villanueva is out of the country. I am just pinch-hitting for a friend.
* * *
Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.
# # # #

Malaya (04.21.15)
“I think more than ever ASEAN should come up with a consensus on how to deal with the China problem. ASEAN should come out united on the problem without any discordant position from countries like Cambodia.”

Binay and Mar, an ASEAN Solution
by Ducky Paredes

Clearly, Vice President Jejomar Binary is lying when he blames Secretary Mar Roxas for his troubles: “Mar Roxas is behind the investigations at the Senate and the Ombudsman,” he says, again and again. Then he also says: “I thought politics was clean, but it isn’t.”
I cannot imagine how long ago he could’ve thought that “politics” was “clean”and how many years ago he decided that “it isn’t.”
Senator Grace Poe could say something like that and be believed but a Jejomar Binary sounds hollow and dumb when he tries to be cute.
He denies all accusations against him but gives no explanations, only flat denials. Thus, if people believe that he is being less than truthful or tht=at the accusations have bit of truth in them, he can’t blame anyone but himself.
Pero, ka-awa-awa naman si Mar dahil wala naman itong ginagawa sa kaniya but Binday still keeps on blaming the DILG Secretary for his troubles. He has gone on record as saying that Roxas is behind the government’s persecution of his family. His wife, at one time a mayor of Makati has graft cases filed against her and so has his son, the present mayor of Makati,
Considering that Mar Roxas is rating very low nationally, I cannot see how jumping on him is helping Binary in any way. In fact, Binary actually offered an olive branch when he asked Roxas to be vice president in Binary’s ticket but Roxas declined. Why wouldn’t he when Binary has never said even one good thing about the DILG secretary?
* * *
Senator Grace Poe will not be anybody’s running mate in 2016. According to a source that does not want to be identified since the source is not authorized tho speak for the Senator –   for her, it’s the presidency or nothing.
Grace Poe is not considering running for vice president. Thee senator believes that running second fiddle to any presidential candidate would not bode well for her political career since she would just be used  to boost somebody’s chances.
“She doesn’t want to run for vice president. If she will run in 2016, it would be for president. She could be a lock for vice president, but in the long run, she is thinking, how would that work out for her? If she wins as vice president, she will occupy that post until 2022. By that time, she can’t be so sure that she will still enjoy the same high level of popularity and trust of the people, and she knows it,” the source, who has confirmed that some political parties are convincing Poe to be in their team as the vice presidential bet, said.
“Hindi tatanggapin ni Grace yang offer to run as vice president. Ayaw niya.” the source added .
“She wants to run while she has good chances, and she knows that 2016 is the best time for her to run for president,” says the source.
Poe, daughter of the late actor Fernando Poe, Jr. surprisingly topped the 2013 senatorial race with 20 million votes.
In last week’s  survey, the senator trailed Vice President Jejomar Binay by only five percentage points. Binay, who had consistently topped presidential surveys, got 36 percent, down from his 37 percent rating in December last year.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte ranked third, surging to 15 percent from five percent in December. Duterte tied with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd of the ruling Liberal Party, whose rating fell to 15 percent from 19 percent in December.
Sen. Miriam Santiago and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada were tied at 11 percent.
A word of warning to Grace Poe and the other wannabes. I understand that what was asked in that survey was for those surveyed to give three names that they could vote for as President. Thus, if one’s name came up as number 1, 2 or 3, one got one vote, regardless. Thus, everyone had higher numbers than in a survey where one had to choose only one name.
* * *
This is something that should have been done some years ago. Finally our lawmakers have started to act. Our congressmen, including the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs,  called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to start crafting a binding Code of Conduct (COC) in a bid to peacefully resolve the territorial conflict in the disputed South China Sea.
Albay Rep. Francis Bichara, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said Filpino lawmakers are counting on the 10-nation Southeast Asian bloc to come up with a rules-based and binding COC in the region.
“That was agreed upon already. We hope that in time, it will be crafted soon,” he said in a text message.
The call was made as President Aquino and nine other ASEAN leaders are expected to meet next week in Malaysia for the ASEAN Summit. The President had vowed to call on his fellow Southeast Asian leaders to resume the formal talks on the crafting of the COC in the disputed territory.
AKO Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, called on the Philippine government to come up with options to firmly deal with China’s intrusions, particularly its large-scale land reclamation, which threaten regional peace and security.
“We should exhaust diplomatic channels to possibly stop these constructions, which to my mind, is asking for the moon. But we have to prevent further incursions through diplomatic means,” he said.
“We have to put forward these violations again in the ASEAN agenda in order to come up with a Code of Conduct that is enforceable,” he pointed out.
Batocabe said the government should continue seeking assistance from its allies, including the United States to address China’s bullying. “We should be in close contact with our allies, especially the US to prevent further spread of Chinese intrusions in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
“Lastly, we should make our presence felt militarily through the occupation of our islands and constant patrolling of our territorial waters,” he added.
He maintained that the ASEAN should stick to its “one for all, all for one” principle in handling the issue.
“I think more than ever ASEAN should come up with a consensus on how to deal with the China problem. ASEAN should come out united on the problem without any discordant position from countries like Cambodia,” he said.
Cambodia is an ally of China and it was during its ASEAN chairmanship in 2012 when the calls for ASEAN to sign a regional Code of Conduct snowballed with the Philippines as the lead advocate of the COC.
The Philippines, which was part of the drafting of the new regional conduct on the West Philippine Sea, insisted that a “zone of peace, friendship, freedom, and cooperation (ZoPFFC)” will be established in the disputed islands.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo said China’s supposed growing assertiveness over the resources-rich South China Sea should be addressed by the ASEAN as a regional bloc, even as he noted that China has taken for granted the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) which it signed with ASEAN in Phnom Penh in 2002.
“The pace of China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea requires that ASEAN claimants define their clear positions already – seeing that the Declaration on the Code of Conduct (DOC) in the South China Sea (to which China is a party to) is apparently a worthless piece of paper for China,” he said in a separate interview.
The ASEAN was established on August 8, 1967, with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration by the five founding members, including Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.
Apart from Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have overlapping claims to parts of the potentially resources-rich disputed islands, while China and Taiwan fully claim the South China Sea
Meanwhile, Sen. Loren Legarda prodded yesterday the country’s Southeast Asian neighbors to join the Philippine position that coral reefs, home of fishes in the seas and oceans, must be protected as part of a country’s food security.
Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Climate Change Committee, made the call following reports that over a hundred million dollars worth of corals within the Philippine territory had been destroyed by the reclamation activities of t China at the West Philippine Sea.
“That should not be the case because here we are protecting our coral reefs which is home of the fish that we eat,” Legarda said.
“Eighty percent of the source of our protein comes from our marine environment… from the seas. If we lose the corals, which are the home of our fish, we will go hungry. So that is an issue of food security,” she added.
While the Philippines want to engage the international community on what is happening at the West Philippine Sea, “we have to perhaps create more awareness and create more noise,” she points out.
* * *
I will be hosting the Kapihan at the Luneta Hotel tomorrow. Our guests will be Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian and Commissioner Siegfried Mison of the BID. We will be talking about huge sums of money. This is a temporary assignment since Marichu Villanueva is out of the country. I am just pinch-hitting for a friend.
* * *
Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.
# # # #

‘Malaya (04.21.15)
“I think more than ever ASEAN should come up with a consensus on how to deal with the China problem. ASEAN should come out united on the problem without any discordant position from countries like Cambodia.”

Binay and Mar, an ASEAN Solution
by Ducky Paredes

Clearly, Vice President Jejomar Binary is lying when he blames Secretary Mar Roxas for his troubles: “Mar Roxas is behind the investigations at the Senate and the Ombudsman,” he says, again and again. Then he also says: “I thought politics was clean, but it isn’t.”
I cannot imagine how long ago he could’ve thought that “politics” was “clean”and how many years ago he decided that “it isn’t.”
Senator Grace Poe could say something like that and be believed but a Jejomar Binary sounds hollow and dumb when he tries to be cute.
He denies all accusations against him but gives no explanations, only flat denials. Thus, if people believe that he is being less than truthful or tht=at the accusations have bit of truth in them, he can’t blame anyone but himself.
Pero, ka-awa-awa naman si Mar dahil wala naman itong ginagawa sa kaniya but Binday still keeps on blaming the DILG Secretary for his troubles. He has gone on record as saying that Roxas is behind the government’s persecution of his family. His wife, at one time a mayor of Makati has graft cases filed against her and so has his son, the present mayor of Makati,
Considering that Mar Roxas is rating very low nationally, I cannot see how jumping on him is helping Binary in any way. In fact, Binary actually offered an olive branch when he asked Roxas to be vice president in Binary’s ticket but Roxas declined. Why wouldn’t he when Binary has never said even one good thing about the DILG secretary?
* * *
Senator Grace Poe will not be anybody’s running mate in 2016. According to a source that does not want to be identified since the source is not authorized tho speak for the Senator –   for her, it’s the presidency or nothing.
Grace Poe is not considering running for vice president. Thee senator believes that running second fiddle to any presidential candidate would not bode well for her political career since she would just be used  to boost somebody’s chances.
“She doesn’t want to run for vice president. If she will run in 2016, it would be for president. She could be a lock for vice president, but in the long run, she is thinking, how would that work out for her? If she wins as vice president, she will occupy that post until 2022. By that time, she can’t be so sure that she will still enjoy the same high level of popularity and trust of the people, and she knows it,” the source, who has confirmed that some political parties are convincing Poe to be in their team as the vice presidential bet, said.
“Hindi tatanggapin ni Grace yang offer to run as vice president. Ayaw niya.” the source added .
“She wants to run while she has good chances, and she knows that 2016 is the best time for her to run for president,” says the source.
Poe, daughter of the late actor Fernando Poe, Jr. surprisingly topped the 2013 senatorial race with 20 million votes.
In last week’s  survey, the senator trailed Vice President Jejomar Binay by only five percentage points. Binay, who had consistently topped presidential surveys, got 36 percent, down from his 37 percent rating in December last year.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte ranked third, surging to 15 percent from five percent in December. Duterte tied with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd of the ruling Liberal Party, whose rating fell to 15 percent from 19 percent in December.
Sen. Miriam Santiago and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada were tied at 11 percent.
A word of warning to Grace Poe and the other wannabes. I understand that what was asked in that survey was for those surveyed to give three names that they could vote for as President. Thus, if one’s name came up as number 1, 2 or 3, one got one vote, regardless. Thus, everyone had higher numbers than in a survey where one had to choose only one name.
* * *
This is something that should have been done some years ago. Finally our lawmakers have started to act. Our congressmen, including the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs,  called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to start crafting a binding Code of Conduct (COC) in a bid to peacefully resolve the territorial conflict in the disputed South China Sea.
Albay Rep. Francis Bichara, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said Filpino lawmakers are counting on the 10-nation Southeast Asian bloc to come up with a rules-based and binding COC in the region.
“That was agreed upon already. We hope that in time, it will be crafted soon,” he said in a text message.
The call was made as President Aquino and nine other ASEAN leaders are expected to meet next week in Malaysia for the ASEAN Summit. The President had vowed to call on his fellow Southeast Asian leaders to resume the formal talks on the crafting of the COC in the disputed territory.
AKO Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, called on the Philippine government to come up with options to firmly deal with China’s intrusions, particularly its large-scale land reclamation, which threaten regional peace and security.
“We should exhaust diplomatic channels to possibly stop these constructions, which to my mind, is asking for the moon. But we have to prevent further incursions through diplomatic means,” he said.
“We have to put forward these violations again in the ASEAN agenda in order to come up with a Code of Conduct that is enforceable,” he pointed out.
Batocabe said the government should continue seeking assistance from its allies, including the United States to address China’s bullying. “We should be in close contact with our allies, especially the US to prevent further spread of Chinese intrusions in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
“Lastly, we should make our presence felt militarily through the occupation of our islands and constant patrolling of our territorial waters,” he added.
He maintained that the ASEAN should stick to its “one for all, all for one” principle in handling the issue.
“I think more than ever ASEAN should come up with a consensus on how to deal with the China problem. ASEAN should come out united on the problem without any discordant position from countries like Cambodia,” he said.
Cambodia is an ally of China and it was during its ASEAN chairmanship in 2012 when the calls for ASEAN to sign a regional Code of Conduct snowballed with the Philippines as the lead advocate of the COC.
The Philippines, which was part of the drafting of the new regional conduct on the West Philippine Sea, insisted that a “zone of peace, friendship, freedom, and cooperation (ZoPFFC)” will be established in the disputed islands.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo said China’s supposed growing assertiveness over the resources-rich South China Sea should be addressed by the ASEAN as a regional bloc, even as he noted that China has taken for granted the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) which it signed with ASEAN in Phnom Penh in 2002.
“The pace of China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea requires that ASEAN claimants define their clear positions already – seeing that the Declaration on the Code of Conduct (DOC) in the South China Sea (to which China is a party to) is apparently a worthless piece of paper for China,” he said in a separate interview.
The ASEAN was established on August 8, 1967, with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration by the five founding members, including Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.
Apart from Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have overlapping claims to parts of the potentially resources-rich disputed islands, while China and Taiwan fully claim the South China Sea
Meanwhile, Sen. Loren Legarda prodded yesterday the country’s Southeast Asian neighbors to join the Philippine position that coral reefs, home of fishes in the seas and oceans, must be protected as part of a country’s food security.
Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Climate Change Committee, made the call following reports that over a hundred million dollars worth of corals within the Philippine territory had been destroyed by the reclamation activities of t China at the West Philippine Sea.
“That should not be the case because here we are protecting our coral reefs which is home of the fish that we eat,” Legarda said.
“Eighty percent of the source of our protein comes from our marine environment… from the seas. If we lose the corals, which are the home of our fish, we will go hungry. So that is an issue of food security,” she added.
While the Philippines want to engage the international community on what is happening at the West Philippine Sea, “we have to perhaps create more awareness and create more noise,” she points out.
* * *
I will be hosting the Kapihan at the Luneta Hotel tomorrow. Our guests will be Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian and Commissioner Siegfried Mison of the BID. We will be talking about huge sums of money. This is a temporary assignment since Marichu Villanueva is out of the country. I am just pinch-hitting for a friend.
* * *
Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.
# # # #

Malaya (04.21.15)
“I think more than ever ASEAN should come up with a consensus on how to deal with the China problem. ASEAN should come out united on the problem without any discordant position from countries like Cambodia.”

Binay and Mar, an ASEAN Solution
by Ducky Paredes

Clearly, Vice President Jejomar Binary is lying when he blames Secretary Mar Roxas for his troubles: “Mar Roxas is behind the investigations at the Senate and the Ombudsman,” he says, again and again. Then he also says: “I thought politics was clean, but it isn’t.”
I cannot imagine how long ago he could’ve thought that “politics” was “clean”and how many years ago he decided that “it isn’t.”
Senator Grace Poe could say something like that and be believed but a Jejomar Binary sounds hollow and dumb when he tries to be cute.
He denies all accusations against him but gives no explanations, only flat denials. Thus, if people believe that he is being less than truthful or tht=at the accusations have bit of truth in them, he can’t blame anyone but himself.
Pero, ka-awa-awa naman si Mar dahil wala naman itong ginagawa sa kaniya but Binday still keeps on blaming the DILG Secretary for his troubles. He has gone on record as saying that Roxas is behind the government’s persecution of his family. His wife, at one time a mayor of Makati has graft cases filed against her and so has his son, the present mayor of Makati,
Considering that Mar Roxas is rating very low nationally, I cannot see how jumping on him is helping Binary in any way. In fact, Binary actually offered an olive branch when he asked Roxas to be vice president in Binary’s ticket but Roxas declined. Why wouldn’t he when Binary has never said even one good thing about the DILG secretary?
* * *
Senator Grace Poe will not be anybody’s running mate in 2016. According to a source that does not want to be identified since the source is not authorized tho speak for the Senator –   for her, it’s the presidency or nothing.
Grace Poe is not considering running for vice president. Thee senator believes that running second fiddle to any presidential candidate would not bode well for her political career since she would just be used  to boost somebody’s chances.
“She doesn’t want to run for vice president. If she will run in 2016, it would be for president. She could be a lock for vice president, but in the long run, she is thinking, how would that work out for her? If she wins as vice president, she will occupy that post until 2022. By that time, she can’t be so sure that she will still enjoy the same high level of popularity and trust of the people, and she knows it,” the source, who has confirmed that some political parties are convincing Poe to be in their team as the vice presidential bet, said.
“Hindi tatanggapin ni Grace yang offer to run as vice president. Ayaw niya.” the source added .
“She wants to run while she has good chances, and she knows that 2016 is the best time for her to run for president,” says the source.
Poe, daughter of the late actor Fernando Poe, Jr. surprisingly topped the 2013 senatorial race with 20 million votes.
In last week’s  survey, the senator trailed Vice President Jejomar Binay by only five percentage points. Binay, who had consistently topped presidential surveys, got 36 percent, down from his 37 percent rating in December last year.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte ranked third, surging to 15 percent from five percent in December. Duterte tied with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd of the ruling Liberal Party, whose rating fell to 15 percent from 19 percent in December.
Sen. Miriam Santiago and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada were tied at 11 percent.
A word of warning to Grace Poe and the other wannabes. I understand that what was asked in that survey was for those surveyed to give three names that they could vote for as President. Thus, if one’s name came up as number 1, 2 or 3, one got one vote, regardless. Thus, everyone had higher numbers than in a survey where one had to choose only one name.
* * *
This is something that should have been done some years ago. Finally our lawmakers have started to act. Our congressmen, including the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs,  called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to start crafting a binding Code of Conduct (COC) in a bid to peacefully resolve the territorial conflict in the disputed South China Sea.
Albay Rep. Francis Bichara, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said Filpino lawmakers are counting on the 10-nation Southeast Asian bloc to come up with a rules-based and binding COC in the region.
“That was agreed upon already. We hope that in time, it will be crafted soon,” he said in a text message.
The call was made as President Aquino and nine other ASEAN leaders are expected to meet next week in Malaysia for the ASEAN Summit. The President had vowed to call on his fellow Southeast Asian leaders to resume the formal talks on the crafting of the COC in the disputed territory.
AKO Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, called on the Philippine government to come up with options to firmly deal with China’s intrusions, particularly its large-scale land reclamation, which threaten regional peace and security.
“We should exhaust diplomatic channels to possibly stop these constructions, which to my mind, is asking for the moon. But we have to prevent further incursions through diplomatic means,” he said.
“We have to put forward these violations again in the ASEAN agenda in order to come up with a Code of Conduct that is enforceable,” he pointed out.
Batocabe said the government should continue seeking assistance from its allies, including the United States to address China’s bullying. “We should be in close contact with our allies, especially the US to prevent further spread of Chinese intrusions in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
“Lastly, we should make our presence felt militarily through the occupation of our islands and constant patrolling of our territorial waters,” he added.
He maintained that the ASEAN should stick to its “one for all, all for one” principle in handling the issue.
“I think more than ever ASEAN should come up with a consensus on how to deal with the China problem. ASEAN should come out united on the problem without any discordant position from countries like Cambodia,” he said.
Cambodia is an ally of China and it was during its ASEAN chairmanship in 2012 when the calls for ASEAN to sign a regional Code of Conduct snowballed with the Philippines as the lead advocate of the COC.
The Philippines, which was part of the drafting of the new regional conduct on the West Philippine Sea, insisted that a “zone of peace, friendship, freedom, and cooperation (ZoPFFC)” will be established in the disputed islands.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo said China’s supposed growing assertiveness over the resources-rich South China Sea should be addressed by the ASEAN as a regional bloc, even as he noted that China has taken for granted the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) which it signed with ASEAN in Phnom Penh in 2002.
“The pace of China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea requires that ASEAN claimants define their clear positions already – seeing that the Declaration on the Code of Conduct (DOC) in the South China Sea (to which China is a party to) is apparently a worthless piece of paper for China,” he said in a separate interview.
The ASEAN was established on August 8, 1967, with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration by the five founding members, including Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.
Apart from Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have overlapping claims to parts of the potentially resources-rich disputed islands, while China and Taiwan fully claim the South China Sea
Meanwhile, Sen. Loren Legarda prodded yesterday the country’s Southeast Asian neighbors to join the Philippine position that coral reefs, home of fishes in the seas and oceans, must be protected as part of a country’s food security.
Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Climate Change Committee, made the call following reports that over a hundred million dollars worth of corals within the Philippine territory had been destroyed by the reclamation activities of t China at the West Philippine Sea.
“That should not be the case because here we are protecting our coral reefs which is home of the fish that we eat,” Legarda said.
“Eighty percent of the source of our protein comes from our marine environment… from the seas. If we lose the corals, which are the home of our fish, we will go hungry. So that is an issue of food security,” she added.
While the Philippines want to engage the international community on what is happening at the West Philippine Sea, “we have to perhaps create more awareness and create more noise,” she points out.
* * *
I will be hosting the Kapihan at the Luneta Hotel tomorrow. Our guests will be Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian and Commissioner Siegfried Mison of the BID. We will be talking about huge sums of money. This is a temporary assignment since Marichu Villanueva is out of the country. I am just pinch-hitting for a friend.
# # # #

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Buti pa ang Tarlac, Merong ECF

 
Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Saan patungo ang Pinas?

Abante (04.21.15)

 

ni Horacio Paredes

Labing-limang Muslim ang inaresto ng Italian police na itinuturong responsable sa pagtatapon sa dagat ng 12-kataong sakay ng isang bangka na tumatakas mula sa Libya. Ang tanging kasalanan ng mga biktima: Sila’y mga Kristiyano.

Sa ulat ng CNN, aabot sa may 105 indibidwal ang lumisan ng Libya noong Martes lulan ng rubber boat. Habang nasa kalagitnaan ng Mediterranean Sea ay isa-isang tinanong ng mga suspek na mula sa Ivory Coast, Mali at Senegal ang mga sakay kung sino ang mga hindi Muslim.

Maswerte namang nakaligtas ang iba pang Kristiyano nang magkapit-bisig ang mga ito upang hindi maitapon sa dagat.

Ang mga nasawi ay nagmula umano sa mga bansang Nigeria at Ghana na lumikas patungong Europe.

Ang bangka ay na­harang ng Italian Navy at agad na inilipat ang mga pasahero sa Panamanian-Flagged Ship.

Umaabot ng 10,000-katao kada linggo ang dumarating sa Italya dahil sa kaguluhan mula sa bansang Libya.

Ito ang pinakahuling insidente ng atake sa mga Kristiyano dahil magugunitang 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian workers ang pinugutan ng ulo ng tero­ristang Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) sa bansang Libya noong Pebrero.

Mauti pa rito sa atin na nag-uusap ang mga Kristiyano’t Muslim ng tungkol sa kapayapaan.

* * *

Wala pang itinatakdang convention ang Liberal Party (LP), pero si Local Government Sec. Mar Roxas, nagpahayag na ng interes na maging standard bearer ng administration party sa 2016 presidential elections.

Mismong si Senate President Franklin Drilon na tumatayong vise president ng LP ang nagsiwalat sa umano’y deklarasyon ni Roxas na gusto nitong sumabak sa pampanguluhang halalan.

“Si Mar Roxas has expressed his interest internal­ly na ibig niyang iharap, I mean to offer his candidacy to the public at iyon po ay e-endorse po siguro ng ating partido,” pagbubunyag ni Drilon na may halong walang kasiguruhan kung ang kalihim na nga ang magiging pambato.

Ayon naman sa dalawang obispo, nasa kamay nating mga botante ang pagpili kung saan patungo ang bansa – sa Langit o sa impiyerrno?

Tinutulak ni Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president na si Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas tayong mga botante na pagisipang mabuti bago tato pumili kung sino ang dapat na ating bibigyan ng ating boto

“Make your vote a product of your prayer and discernment…Remember, your vote can bring heaven to the Philippines. Your vote can also bring hell to the Philippines,” ‘ika ni Villegas simula ng l“One Good Vote,” na kampaniya ng tParish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).

“Think of what Jesus would do…If Jesus will vote, how will he vote? Make sure your vote comes from God, a product of your prayer and discernment,” ‘ika ni Villegas..

“Let us stop the culture of vote-buying. But it’s not enough that we avoid or stop vote-buying. Let’s also make one good vote. One good vote means one intelligent vote, one discerned vote,” dagdag pa ni Bishop Soc.

 

* * *

Sumulat kayo sa akin sa duckyp1939@gmail.com.

# # #

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Malaya (04.21.15

by Ducky Paredes

Foreign ministers of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan, as well as the European Union (EU) High Representative have jointly expressed their concern on “unilateral actions, such as large-scale land reclamation, which change the status quo and increase tensions” in the South China Sea.

In their first ever Declaration on Maritime Security, the Group of (G7) ministers of foreign affairs, without pointing any accusing fingers but obviously alluding to China, also expressed their strong opposition to “any attempt to assert territorial or maritime claims through the use of intimidation, coercion or force.”

“We call on all states to pursue the peaceful management or settlement of maritime disputes in accordance with international law, including through internationally recognized legal dispute settlement mechanisms, and to fully implement any decisions rendered by the relevant courts and tribunals which are binding on them,”

The foreign ministers of the seven wealthiest developed nations and the EU High Representative emphasized further the need for claimant states to avoid unilateral actions “that cause permanent physical change to the marine environment in areas pending final delimitation.”

In the same Declaration, which was adopted earlier this week in the Hanseatic City of Lübeck in northern Germany, the G7 foreign ministers likewise called for the acceleration of work on a comprehensive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (CoC). In the meantime, as a stopgap measure, they emphasized their support for the 2002 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

“We highlight the constructive role of practical confidence-building measures, such as the establishment of direct links of communication in cases of crisis and efforts to establish guiding principles and rules to govern activities, such as the ASEAN–China talks on a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea,” the foreign ministers declared. “We are committed to maintaining a maritime order based upon the principles of international law, in particular as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”

Satellite images published this week show China has made rapid progress in building an airstrip suitable for military use in contested territory in the South China Sea and may be planning another.

It said images from earlier in March showed reclamation work on Subi (Zamora) Reef creating landmasses that, if joined together, could create space for another 3,000-meter airstrip.

The report said other images suggested China was working to extend another airstrip to that length in the Paracel Islands further north in the South China Sea.

In a statement issued Thursday night, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) welcomed the G7 Foreign Ministers Declaration on Maritime Security, saying it “underlines the international community’s commitment to uphold the principles of international law, in particular the 1982 UNCLOS which underpin the stable maritime code that serves our common interests.”

“The Philippines reiterates its call for a stop to unilateral actions that violate the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and international law. Such actions undermine efforts to pursue the peaceful, rules-based resolution of the disputes in the South China Sea and to promote regional stability,” the DFA said.

The G7 is a group consisting of the finance ministers and central bank governors of seven major advanced economies as reported by the International Monetary Fund. It represents more than 64 percent of the net global wealth ($263 trillion) according to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report. The People’s Republic of China, according to its data, would be 3rd (8.1 percent of the world net wealth) in the world, but is excluded because it is not a developed country.

In Washington, US, Japanese, and South Korean diplomats renewed concerns about moves by China to stake its claim to disputed seas and urged Beijing to preserve freedom of navigation in the key waterways.

Deputy US Secretary Tony Blinken repeated America’s position that all competing claims in the South and East China Seas should be dealt with according to the rule of law.

Countries should “not take unilateral actions,” he stressed, after Beijing’s efforts to stake its claim to most of the South China Sea were high on the agenda for trilateral and bilateral talks with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts.

“We have consensus among us that the peaceful and harmonious rise of China we all welcome,” said Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki.

“At the same time, China, as a major power, not only in this region but globally, has a responsibility to… abide by international law.”

He added “China has a responsibility to address properly the concerns which are being shared by the members of the region, in Asia.”

China claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, including areas just off the coasts of other nations, using an assertive demarcation line that first appeared on Chinese maps in the 1940s.

Following a tense standoff between Chinese maritime patrol vessels and the Philippine navy in 2012, China took control of a rich fishing ground called Scarborough Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc) that is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Satellite images have now shown China recently embarking on major construction activities to expand Chinese-controlled reefs and islets in the Spratly Islands, one of the biggest archipelagos in the sea.

South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-Yong called for the implementation of existing frameworks “so that we can preserve the freedom of navigation, stability in that body of water.”

But he also urged the swift conclusion of talks between China and Southeast Asian nations on a code of conduct in the South China and East China seas.

That would allow nations like South Korea to “enjoy this body of water for the purpose of trading, shipping our goods back and forth,” he said.

During their meeting in Lübeck, the G7 ministers of foreign affairs adopted a total of four papers. In addition to the closing statement, they issued a joint statement on non-proliferation and disarmament.

Essentially the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Declaration on Maritime Security aims to prevent lawlessness in the field of international shipping as far as possible.

The Declaration looks not only at the safety and security of international shipping but also at “sustainability, protecting the marine environment, conflict resolution and combating illegal activities including piracy and trafficking in people”. Japan, which will take over the G7 Presidency from Germany in 2016, is very much interested in this matter, and will continue work on the basis of the Lübeck Declaration.

In Manila, human rights activists and party-list members picketed the Chinese consulate as they denounced Beijng’s 62-hectare reclamation project in the disputed Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef) in the West Philippine Sea.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri J. Colmenares, who led the protesting group, said the area lies squarely within the EEZ of the Philippines which should be respected by China and all other countries that have laid claims on atolls, reefs and sandbars in the South China Sea.

“China should stop its reclamation activities now and instead just engage us in the international tribunal if indeed they have the legal basis and evidence to do so. As it is China’s expansionist policy based on its 9-dash line theory is without legal, historical, and moral basis. Every Filipino should defend our territory and exclusive economic zones and President Aquino should fortify our positions in the area to counter China’s aggressive acts,” Colmenares said.

Bayan Muna has been critical of China’s moves in the area and explained that its 1947 map, crafted by the Kuomintang government, was not accepted by the Beijing government led by Chairman Mao Zedong of the Communist Party of China (CPC) but is now regarded by President Xi Jinping as a “historical document” that has become the basis for his staking a claim on 80 percent of the South China Sea.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said that “President Barack Obama’s statement on China’s expansion is a calculated response but the US would not risk a war with China because its economy would collapse without China.

“The US owes China at least $1.28 trillion and has a total of $579 billion in annual trade with China, compared to only $17.6 billion in its trade with the Philippines,” Zarate said.

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China is building an airstrip on an artificially created island in a disputed section of the South China Sea, according to independent analysts, a move the US has warned could raise tensions in the area.

Defense group IHS Jane’s said satellite images of Fiery Cross Reef (Kagitingan Reef) taken March 23 show a runway more than 500 meters (about 550 yards) long as well as paved sections of apron. The US says China is carrying out eight such land reclamation projects in the area.

Kagitingan Reef lies west of Spratly Islands in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

Jane’s said the island is already big enough for a runway 3,000 meters (9,500 feet) long that would be able to accommodate air force planes. China already operates a runway on Woody Island to the west of Fiery Cross Reef, which is also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan, and another island it is creating could also be big enough to accommodate a runway.

The airfield construction also was mentioned by the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific at a congressional hearing on Wednesday. Adm. Samuel Locklear said the reclamation work would allow China to exert more influence in the contested region and possibly deploy military assets such as long-range radar and advanced missile systems.

China claims virtually all of the South China Sea and its island chains. Malaysia and Brunei also claim waters and islands in the area.

At a Friday briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei defended the island reclamation work, which China says is largely to improve living conditions for people in the area and help with weather forecasting and search and rescue work.

Such work is “lawful, justifiable and reasonable. It does not target or impact on any other country and we hope that relevant parties can have a correct understanding on that,” Hong said.

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