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Love’s Labor Found August 4, 2019 Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Luke 12: 13-21 Someone in the crowd said to Je...

Friday, November 30, 2018

Yellow oligarch firm puts words in Duterte’s mouth, falsely claims it has his backing


AS happens to most oligarchs facing their downfall, the owners of Panay Electric Co. (PECO) are in a mad frenzy to hold on to their 95-year monopoly of electricity distribution in Iloilo City, which not only the city’s leaders but also Congress have concluded to be so scandalously inefficient and expensive.
PECO through its lawyer two weeks ago allegedly claimed that electricity distribution in Iloilo City will be stopped if their franchise, which expires in January next year, is not renewed.
The threat was taken seriously since the House of Representatives and the Senate that give such permits had given the franchise to MORE Electric and Power Corp., controlled by port-management and casino billionaire Enrique Razon, and sat on PECO’s request to renew its 25-year-old franchise. Since the electricity-distribution infrastructure is under PECO’s control, MORE’s takeover will require its cooperation, if power disruptions are to be prevented.
(Iloilo City and the entire Panay island has been a bastion of the Yellow Liberal Party, with the PECO’s owners widely known to be very close to Franklin Drilon, the only senator who did not vote to give MECO a franchise.)
PECO — owned by the old-elite Cacho family and the Yellow oligarch Lopez clan — is defying Congress’ will and has even waged a PR campaign reportedly costing P20 million to prevent MORE’s takeover of electricity distribution in Iloilo.
In that PR campaign, PECO has even put words in President Duterte’s mouth, falsely claiming that he is supporting the company and is against MORE.
In the past several days, PECO has taken out full-page ads estimated to cost P5 million in the Yellows’ favorite newspapers The Philippine Daily Inquirer and Philippine Star which claimed that Razon’s “takeover of PECO is high-handed and reminiscent of the era of kings and robber barons.” Three columnists in those newspapers of course echoed PECO’s ads. A package deal?
Time to end
Razon’s MORE did not take over PECO. His firm was given the franchise to operate electricity distribution by the representatives of the people which we call Congress, who concluded that it was time for PECO’s 95-year monopoly to end.

PECO practically claimed in its ads that Congress was under the port-management businessman’s control, alleging, among other things, that its committee hearings “were kept under wraps.” Secret hearings of a congressional hearing? PECO should get better PR men.
The delirium that has taken over PECO’s oligarch-owners, or their stupidity in contracting unintelligent PR men who will just put them in further trouble, was demonstrated in their ads’ claim that President Duterte himself supports PECO and is against MORE.
It claimed in its ads: “President Duterte in his speech in Palawan on Nov. 10, 2018 recognized the issue involving PECO and questioned whether the takeover is justified or just an attempt to steal the business.”
Do they stupidly think that just because of their ad reporting that Duterte supports them, Congress will withdraw its bill that will give MORE the franchise, and give it instead to PECO?
PECO’s Yellow DNA is so obvious here. What it is doing is what Yellow hacks have been doing since Duterte took office, which is to take his words out of context, and even misquote him. (The transcript of the speech can be viewed at https://pcoo.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/20181110-SPEECH-OF-PRRD-DURING-THE-1st-SUBARAW-FESTIVAL.pdf)
Find out
Duterte indeed said: “I’m really trying to find out. Ito lang, is it justified? Because if it is providing good electricity, eh gusto mo lang mag-agaw ng negosyo, sabi ko, ‘Ah huwag naman’.”

But just a few sentences earlier, Duterte said:
“I have nothing against cooperatives. They were the pioneering spirit of the early years of Iloilo, sa inyo dito, and the entire Philippines…
Ngayon, on the extreme, maybe I will just give you guys — walang personalan ‘to, trabaho lang — I’ll give you about towards at the end of the year, a new set-up that would provide energy – enough energy to run a place and so that it can develop and it can operate and it can move.”
I interpret that and the earlier quotes as Duterte saying that “Sorry, this is nothing personal, just work. PECO was among the pioneers in Iloilo. But it has moved to the other extreme, an inefficient monopoly. At the end of the year, there will be a new set-up in Iloilo, which is for a new firm that would distribute electricity in Iloilo. But I’ll make sure that it is justified.”
Duterte had blown his top over the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN Broadcasting, because he’s convinced it has been reporting false news to demonize him, that he said he would block the renewal of its franchise which expires during his term, or in 2020. Yet he is supporting PECO which is partly owned by the Lopezes?
To accurately interpret what a president’s stand on an issue is, watch what his alter ego on the issue — the Cabinet member in charge of it — is saying, or doing. If the secretary is saying something so different from what the President is saying or doing, expect that he won’t stay in that position for long.
Lat week, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the energy department has formed a task force with the National Electrification Administration to take over the PECO facilities and operations in case the company refuses to implement a transition plan envisioned in the franchise bill that will authorize MORE Power to distribute electricity in Iloilo City.

The only Cacho photograph: PECO administrative manager Marcelo Ugarte Cacho (right) at the Senate hearing. (Beside him is corporate communications officer Afzellius.)

“We are prepared to take over in case, to ensure there is no disruption of service — DOE and NEA. We organized a task force to take over in case there will be no settlement in the issue,” Cusi told newsmen.
And PECO pays for full-page ads to put words in Duterte’s mouth, and claims he supports that Yellow oligarch firm in its bid to hold on to its inefficient monopoly? Have they gone mad?
PECO’s secretive owners
For a firm that has operated the electricity-distribution monopoly — a public utility for chrissakes — in Iloilo City for nearly a century, and which I estimate has given its owners P1 billion from 1996 to 2017, its main shareholders, “the Cacho family,” are probably the most secretive of elites.

For a public utility, PECO doesn’t even make available to the public its annual reports, going by the fact that it isn’t posted in its official website. I was able to extrapolate its dividends only because the Lopez-owned First Philippine Holdings, which has 30 percent of its shares, is a listed firm and therefore was required to report is earnings from PECO.
What I found extremely extraordinary though is that I could find no photograph at all in the internet, not even in its website nor in Iloilo newspapers, of any of its biggest shareholders, led by PECO Chairman Mariano Cacho and its President Luis Miguel Cacho. Why, they are not even identified as the bosses of PECO in the firm’s full paged ads, claiming its franchise must be renewed.
Even in the Senate hearings, only a “millennial” low-ranking Cacho, Marcelo Ugarte Cacho, the firm’s “administrative manager” and his cousin, Corporate Communications Officer Mikel Afzelius were present. I’m surprised that the usually feisty Sen. Grace Poe, who heads the committee that decided not to give PECO a new franchise, did not demand the Cacho patriarchs Mariano and Luis Miguel to appear at its hearings.
Name any billionaire — the late George Ty, Henry Sy, Lucio Tan, or Enrique Razon, Jr. —and one can find his or her photo somewhere in the worldwide web. You can’t find any of the Cachos.
Other than the few references to Luis Miguel Cacho as PECO president, the only significant one was that he is a member of that very elite group of Filipinos listed in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ (ICIJ) database of massive leaked information from law firms that handled the setting up, or maintenance, of offshore accounts.
He is identified there as an “intermediary” in an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands named Costa Group Investments Ltd. That it wasn’t a case of mistaken identity is proven by the fact that the ICIJ reported Costa Group’s or Camacho’s address as “3rd Floor, Manfred’s Building, General Luna St., Iloilo City, Philippines, 5000.” That’s the address of PECO’s principal office.
His firm’s rival, Razon, is many times wealthier than all the Cacho family members combined. But he isn’t reported as having an offshore account.
Isn’t that so strange? Shouldn’t Congress summon him to explain these mysteries? How can a firm be a lucrative public utility when its owners are practically in the shadows, with its CEO even having an offshore firm in the British Virgin Islands tax haven?
Email: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
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DoJ files tax raps vs Rappler, Ressa

The Department of Justice (DoJ) has filed cases before the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) against Rappler Holdings Corp. (RHC) and journalist Maria Ressa.

Ressa is listed as the chief executive officer of RHC.

Maria Ressa

According to the CTA’s website, a case was filed on November 26 for alleged violation of Section 255 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997 as amended.
Two other cases were filed on November 28 also for alleged violation of Section 255 of the NIRC of 1997 as amended.
Also on November 28, a case was filed against RHC/Maria Ressa for alleged violation of Section 254 of the NIRC of 1997 as amended.
Earlier, in a resolution dated October 20 that stemmed from a complaint filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, state prosecutors found basis to file cases against RHC and Ressa.
“It is undisputed that respondent RHC purchased RI (Rappler Inc.) common shares at P1.00 per share and used them as underlying security for the PDRs (Philippine Depositary Receipts) that it sold at a mark-up price,” state prosecutors said in part in the resolution.
“Verily, the foregoing PDR transactions triggered taxable events. For failing to recognize the profit it derived totaling P162,412,783.67, [which represents the difference between the aggregate book value of the underlying stocks [P19,245,975.00] and the total consideration paid for the PDRs [P181,658,758.67], respondent RHC resultantly committed substantial under-declaration in the pertinent tax returns, tantamount to ‘Willful Attempt to Evade and Defeat Tax’ and ‘Willful Failure to Supply Correct and Accurate Information’… “
The state prosecutors recommended the filing of five informations for four counts of alleged “Willful Failure to Supply Correct and Accurate Information in Tax Returns” under Section 255 of the Tax Code, as amended, “relative to the income tax return and three value-added tax returns (2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters) for tax year 2015” and for one count of alleged “Willful Attempt to Evade and Defeat Tax” under Section 254 of the Tax Code, as amended, against RHC and Ressa.
Section 254 of the NIRC punishes “Attempt to Evade or Defeat Tax” with a fine not less than P30,000 but not over P100,000 with imprisonment of not less than two years, but not over four years.
Section 255 punishes “Failure to File Return, Supply Correct and Accurate Information, Pay Tax Withhold and Remit Tax and Refund Excess Taxes Withheld as Compensation” with a fine of not less than P10,000 and imprisonment of not less than a year, but not over 10 years.


Herbs To Keep Each Organ Of The Body Healthy

November 30, 2018 – A Decisive Response

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

Father Edward Hopkins, LC

Matthew 4:18-22
As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.
Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe that you have called me to follow you more closely today. I trust that in this prayer, you will help me see the concrete implications of following your will. I love you and want to respond to all that you ask of me, today and always. Thank you for watching over me and guiding me home to heaven.
Petition: Make me a fisher of men, here and now, Lord!
  1. As Jesus Walked By: One summer afternoon a priest just happened to be in the area and visited my home. Within three years, two of my brothers and I were following Christ on the road to the priesthood. Jesus didn’t just happen to walk by these two pairs of brothers! He had every intention of inviting those brothers to become “fishers of men.” How much happens in my life, prepared and intended by God, to help me follow him more closely? And all I see is an accident, a coincidence? Ask him when was the last time he just happened by.
  1. At Once They Followed Him: Jesus never calls someone when it’s perfectly convenient, when that person has nothing better to do. No, he calls precisely when we are in the middle of living our life, doing what we do best, what we do most, “casting or mending our nets.” “What a losing formula!” we are tempted to conclude. Yet what is it he really wants of us when he calls? He wants a response — a reply of love. Love is all about preference and priority. If I love him more than myself, I can follow him “at once.” If I prefer him over my own activities and life, I can follow him “immediately.” What is the response of love I am giving or want to give Jesus today in my life?
  1. They Left Something Behind: “Pro-choice:” That’s what God is! He wants us to choose. But he is not indifferent about what we choose. Every choice implies the rejection of other options. We cannot follow someone somewhere without leaving something and someone else behind. Peter and Andrew left their nets behind. James and John left their boat and their father behind. This was possible only with Jesus before them. Yet we, too, often try to follow Christ without leaving things and others behind: the world, comforts, my preferences… We think that we can have it all. We can’t. We are in danger of “taming our faith,” bending to the demands of our passions and the world’s insistence. Love requires a choice, a choice for the real, complete Jesus. It asks me to reject everything in me that is not him. How wholehearted is my following of Christ?
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you have called me and continue to call me throughout this day. Help me to respond with love, a love that trumps all my other loves, likes and desires. I don’t want you to have to wait for me, Lord. Just show me what you want and give me the courage and generosity to give it to you, no matter the cost.
Resolution: I will give up something today that diminishes the attention that I give to my spouse, family or friends.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Burying The Truth

5 Dairy-Free Desserts

Full Recipes: https://tasty.co/compilation/5-dairy-free-desserts

Here are 8 surprising ways to use fruit and veggie peels!

Learn how to reduce food waste while fighting hunger: http://bit.ly/2GRqmBX

‘Brown skin, yellow masks’ (apologies to Franz Fanon’s ‘black skin, white masks’)


IF President Duterte is only playing games with China, appearing to be obsequious as a strategy to disarm and put up a pliant façade, but eventually will spring a surprise, armed with the arbitral tribunal ruling, he has to devise a mechanism to tell his political base what he is up to without showing his hand – truly a challenge in itself. This is simply because the images he evokes, from joking about the Philippines being a province of China, to his audacious admission that China is already in possession of the West Philippine Sea, are leading his followers to acquire a consciousness that has located China at the center of their political imaginations.

Unquestioning loyalty appears to pervade a substantial majority of the political base of the President, particularly those who inhabit social media. This has turned many ordinary people, and even those who should know better, into China apologists even to the point of attacking anyone who questions its agenda.

If the President plans to spring a surprise, which he hinted when he said that he will just put aside the arbitral tribunal ruling for now, and will use it at the right time, he may just face a confused base of support with a radically pro-China neo-colonial mentality.

Franz Fanon, the Algerian post-colonial writer, referred to Africans who are possessed by a fixation towards the culture of their white colonialists as having “black skin, white masks” not as a racial slur but a self-deprecating label to lament their colonial mentality. At the rate President Duterte’s avid supporters are going, and without China firing a single shot to subdue us, we can also lament their having “brown skin, yellow masks,” with yellow referring not to the color of the political opposition, but to the racial category to which China belongs. Indeed, that would be ironic, since being referred to as yellow would definitely offend a cohort whose be-all and end-all is its feeling of dislike, if not hatred, for this color.

It is simply unnerving to watch people who wanted to wage war against Kuwait when one of our own was murdered there, and cheered as our diplomats mounted a clandestine operation to rescue Filipinos trapped in hostile working environments there, contrary to every norm of international law and diplomatic practice. Yet, these are the very same people who would prefer capitulation in the face of a formidable country, to just accept the fact that we have a weaker army, and an even weaker economy. This, even if our own fisherfolk were denied access to fish within our own exclusive economic zone (EEZ) over which we have sovereign rights under the terms of international law through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Uniclos).

It is bizarre that these people are the very first to highlight and label the arbitral tribunal ruling as an alleged defeat of the Philippines simply because Panatag Shoal was referred to as a rock and was declared as historically a common fishing ground for many countries. This single finding is used to diminish the larger victories which the Philippines had won, when the arbitral Tribunal ruled that China has no historic rights over the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and that its nine-dash line has no basis in history or in international law, and that China has violated on many occasions the sovereign rights of the Philippines. One can even interpret that while the tribunal did not rule over which country has sovereignty over Panatag, our sovereign rights over it can be inferred from the fact that the tribunal gave credence to Uniclos as a basis for making claims, thereby implying that our claim to Panatag as within our EEZ is legally more superior to China’s historic claim, which in fact was negated by the findings of the tribunal.

It is most unfortunate that the Duterte administration has practically labeled the arbitral tribunal ruling as useless because it is unenforceable, which when we come to think about it is a fundamental slap not only on our case in the WPS, but to all rulings made by international bodies. The thought of counting on the world community, many of whom would run to these international bodies to seek remedy for future conflicts to avoid war, appears to have simply never crossed the mind of the administration, and this is what is now reproduced in the minds of its most avid followers. It did not enter their minds that enforcing a ruling that is favorable to our country has a constituency that goes beyond the Philippines and China because it would turn the WPS into either international waters to which every country in the world should have open and free access, or EEZs of other countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and Brunei.

Yet, anyone who is critical of the position taken by the President on the WPS is targeted for vilification by his political base. Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, one who has a robust historical and legal knowledge of the issue, is incessantly demonized as a thorn on the side of the President, and not as an enabler of wisdom and understanding, simply because his views are fundamentally different.

It is indeed surreal to witness Filipinos turning into China apologists, celebrating surrender over critical engagement, diminishing an important victory, and slandering those who cross their paths by simply expressing a different opinion.

GMA7 journalist Jun Veneracion, for example, is now being painted as having maliciously sailed to the WPS precisely to create a documentary whose release was timed to shame President Xi Jinping. People are questioning why his encounter with the Chinese Coast Guard, which effectively prevented him from performing his job as a journalist in Panatag, which at the very least was common fishing ground, and at most was part of our EEZ, was in November 8 but was only aired on November 22 right after President Xi’s visit. The idiocy of this allegation is simply mind-boggling, considering that Veneracion went there to shoot for a weekly TV show that airs every Thursday, and not for the evening news. Aside from the fact that Veneracion could not have anticipated the actions of the Chinese Coast Guard, or directed them in a way to fit his alleged agenda, it was even more prudent that the episode should have been aired the Thursday after Xi left instead of the Thursday before his arrival which could have even been more embarrassing for both Xi and President Duterte.

But the main bottom line of Veneracion’s critics is that he should have simply practiced self-censorship, and just killed the story so as not to throw a monkey wrench on Xi’s visit. In fact, some even questioned why Veneracion was even there knowing that the Chinese were already positioned there.

The obsequiousness is simply appalling, to say the least, that one should even demand that we censor our own media so as not to offend China.

There is one thing that these brown-skinned but yellow-masked Filipinos must bear in mind. It appears they are not the majority. Whether they believe it or not, 84 percent of the Filipinos disagree with them.


November 29, 2018 – Scary Times

Thursday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Father Edward McIlmail, LC

Luke 21:20-28
Jesus said to his disciples: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know that its desolation is at hand. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. Let those within the city escape from it and let those in the countryside not enter the city, for these days are the time of punishment when all the scriptures are fulfilled. Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for a terrible calamity will come upon the earth and a wrathful judgment upon this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken as captives to all the Gentiles; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”
Introductory Prayer: Jesus my Savior, thank you for another day and another chance to grow in holiness with your grace. I love you and wish to make you the true center of my thoughts, desires and actions.
Petition: Lord, give me a healthy but realistic Christian optimism.
  1. Desolation at Hand: What a grim Gospel passage! Lots of talk of armies and calamity and roaring seas. Jesus is speaking of the coming destruction of Jerusalem (in A.D. 70) as well as images of the end times In our day we can think of wars, terrorism, floods and wonder why the world is such a nasty place sometimes. Why can’t life be easier? Why do so many innocent people suffer? Alas, Our Lord asked the same questions. All the evil we see springs from original sin, from the fall of Adam. It wasn’t God’s plan to have all this suffering–but he allows it. He allows it because he respects our freedom. He allows it too because he knows he can bring good out of it. How do I use my freedom? Do I have enough faith in Christ to be optimistic?
  1. Trampled Underfoot: The fall of Jerusalem didn’t mean that God abandoned the world. True, the focus of religion would no longer be the Temple; rather, it would be a new focus: Christ, truly present in the Eucharist. The tabernacle would be the new center of attention. How few souls grasp that truth! After 2,000 years, Jesus is still humble, allowing himself to be kept in a tabernacle. Does that fact influence the way I act in a church? Does it affect the way I dress when going to church? Do I try to enter church with the proper state of heart and mind?
  1. Redemption at Hand: Faithful following of Christ gives us the best assurance that our lives have meaning. Christ will make sense of everything at the end of our lives. All our struggles to live the Gospel will be worth it. On the last day we might regret many things, but we will never regret the things we did for Christ. Does that truth guide our lives each day? Do we live each day as if it were our last? What is there in my life that I would be ashamed of on the last day? Why not weed it out of my life now?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me to judge the things of my daily life against eternity. Let me see things with your eyes. Let me see what is really valuable and what is fleeting. And help me to act accordingly.
Resolution: I will make a fresh effort to get rid of the biggest vice in my life.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

7 Easy Chicken Dinners

FULL RECIPES: http://bzfd.it/2gZJXmv

Is Carpio General Almonte’s mouthpiece?


NOT a few people have been wondering why Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has suddenly emerged just in the past few years as the de facto spokesman — and even ideologue — of the vociferous anti-China group over our territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea.
Indeed, Carpio had never before demonstrated any interest in geopolitics. His field was corporate law, having been the founder of what had been the most powerful and lucrative law firm for big businesses during the Fidel Ramos administration, and during part of Gloria Arroyo’s term.
Yet now he has shown so much passion against China’s claims in the South China Sea that he warns that one day, Chinese warships will be patrolling the region. Why, he even melodramatically says — and stretches his imagination so much — that fighting China for our claims in the area “is the 21st century equivalent of the battles that our forebears waged against Western and Eastern colonizers from the 16th to the 20th century.”
Carpio has never written a book, nor even a single article in legal journals. Yet in 2016 he wrote a 247-page e-book against the Chinese claims, profusely illustrated and with over 100 old maps. I can’t remember Carpio being quoted by the press or giving public speeches before. Since 2015 though, he has given 140 lectures, even to Filipinos in 15 countries, battering China’s claims in the South China Sea and commenting on the latest news on the territorial dispute.
About a year ago, a colleague of Carpio — who has been in the inner circles of past administrations — told me that “it was a fact” for him that it was retired general Jose Almonte, the national security adviser of Fidel Ramos, that was behind the senior associate justice’s “crusade” against Chinese claims in the West Philippine Sea. “He can’t say no to Joal,” the source said. He then related to me the details of why, which I cannot report, though, as it would be libelous and, unless I get documentary proof, hearsay.
I didn’t make this the topic of a column as this would be at the edge of an ad hominem argument, so I instead presented logical and information-based reasons to show that Carpio’s disputations versus China’s territorial claims were erroneous. (See for example my columns “Intellectual dishonesty the likes of Justice Carpio’s will keep us as US proxy in Asia,” May 25, 2018 and “Carpio continues to mislead us on South China Sea issue,” May 30, 2018. )

Guru and disciple? Almonte and Carpio

However. I have decided that it is an important allegation that Carpio could be simply Almonte’s mouthpiece. This should warn us to take Carpio’s claims on the South China Sea issue not just with a grain of salt but with extreme skepticism since Almonte’s own motives in this issue are suspect.
Views from Almonte

For starters, perhaps to send some kind of message to Almonte, Carpio in his e-book even admits that his views on the South China Sea territorial dispute were from Almonte.

In his book’s “Acknowledgments” section, Carpio wrote:
“Almonte gave me a comprehensive overview of the geopolitics in the Asia-Pacific region in the two decades since China seized Mischief Reef from the Philippines in 1995. Almonte has enlightened me, over monthly or bi-monthly dinners at his house, on the national security issues facing the Philippines from the time of the Vietnam War until the present and in the near future.”
It was president Aquino — as I have written extensively in several columns — who triggered the Scarborough Shoal crisis in April 2012 (when he sent a warship to the area, which put the Chinese on the high moral ground to move to physically possess it) and it was his foreign secretary, Albert del Rosario, who dropped the ball by ordering our coast guard ships out of the shoal.
Yet it is astonishing for Carpio to write that the wise Almonte had predicted seven years ago our loss of Scarborough to the Chinese:
“In mid-2011, I asked Almonte which shoal or reef would China seize from the Philippines next. He immediately answered without any hesitation: Scarborough Shoal. I completely agreed with him for two reasons. First, Scarborough Shoal is essential for China to complete a triangle of airbases to impose an Air Defense Identification Zone in the South China Sea. Second, an air and naval base in Scarborough Shoal will allow China to protect the Bashi Channel, which is China’s outlet to the Pacific for its nuclear-armed submarines. Such an air and naval base is a dagger pointed at Manila.
“My long-running conversations with General Almonte made me decide to embark on an advocacy — to convince the Philippine government to question the validity of China’s nine-dash line before an Unclos tribunal.”
Why should we care that Carpio could be merely Almonte’s mouthpiece?

For starters, Almonte has been so pro-American and close to US intelligence services — especially in his role as national security adviser during Ramos’ time — that many believe he has been in turn the mouthpiece of the American Deep State, which has been in near panic over China’s rise as a world power and its merging military hegemony in Asia.

In fact, Almonte himself in his autobiography Endless Journey: A Memoir, inadvertently reported the long-running rumor about his links with the Central Intelligence Agency, which apparently Marcos himself had heard.
Almonte in his book had narrated that during his three-year tour of duty with the Philippine Civic Action Group Vietnam during the civil war there – in which one of his duties was as liaison to US forces – he had befriended the Viet Cong and got them to commit not to harm Filipinos with the PhilcagV. He even wrote, astonishingly: “ I became embedded with the Viet Cong, even visiting their headquarters, what the Americans called the Central Office for South Vietnam.”
Almonte narrated that Marcos sent for him. “We spoke for about six hours…just the two of us. He interrogated me…He was brilliant. His thesis initially was that the group I was talking to were not true Viet Cong. They were CIA Viet Cong.” (My emphasis).
Almonte obviously didn’t get it. Marcos was telling him he suspects he’s with the CIA.
But the most important of Almonte’s past, which we should keep in mind when reading or listening to Carpio’s disputations over the South China sea issue, is his indignation against and personal frustrations over China’s moves in the area.
Almonte’s prestige as Ramos’ brilliant ideologue and spy chief was battered when China in 1994 and 1995 built structures on Mischief Reef, which the Philippines also claimed as part of its exclusive economic zone. Almonte was criticized for not being able to discover — or report to the country — that China had built the structures on the reef.
Satellite photos

That China had done so was publicly revealed only when the late congressman Roilo Golez gave the press satellite photos of the structures. (Golez claimed he got the photos from his intelligence contracts abroad. I would discover that he got it from an open internet site.)

With criticisms that the Ramos government was helpless over China’s “intrusion,” Almonte organized in May 1995 an operation by which local and foreign press were ferried on a Navy ship of World War 2 vintage. When the ship got close to Mischief Reef, Huey helicopters brought on the ship flew the press over the dispute area to take photos.
It would have been a spectacular media operation, if not for the fact that the Western press highlighted the interpretation that the Philippines provoked a military encounter with Chinese ships that had raced to intercept the Navy ship.
But it was not only the Mischief Reef crisis that made Almonte hate the Chinese.
Almonte proposed and for a time got Ramos’ approval for the construction of lighthouses on Scarborough Shoal. “Putting lighthouses was a legitimate way to establish our presence and it was the least costly. We allocated about P74 million for this project. They were ready to be installed by the Department of Transportation and Communication and the military,“ Almonte wrote in his autobiography.
“However, the plan did not materialize,” Almonte narrated. “Apparently, new foreign affairs secretary Domingo (‘Jun’) Siazon convinced Ramos to discontinue it because it would anger China… Jun was nurturing plans to vie for the post of secretary general of the UN (United Nations) and China would be an important endorser.”
It was a painful episode for Almonte. (One chapter in his book was titled “Making Ramos President” and another, “The Baby-Sitter,” a reference to himself in his role as “taking care” of Rosemarie Arenas, the President’s mistress.)
He wrote: “This was the only time that Ramos didn’t follow our recommendation – and on a very critical issue.”
Almonte described in his book written in 2014 his intellectual paradigm with regard to China and the South China Sea: “If China controls the South China Sea, it will lead to its control of all the countries in the area: the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and adjacent countries in the mainland of Southeast Asia — Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.“
An accurate analysis or not, that is exactly the thinking of the superpower that had been hegemonic in Asia since World War 2 — the US. Is Almonte’s continuing anti-China crusade over the South China Sea territorial disputes his own, or that of superpower’s?
Almonte in the book, though, was rueful, saying: “I’ve said this often but it seems that only a few in the Philippine media and policy circles have picked it up.”
That’s no longer the case obviously, what with no other than a senior associate justice, who is even vying for the chief justice post, disseminating Almonte’s framework quite effectively, with his views even hogging newspapers’ banner-story headlines.
Almonte was indeed admired for his strategic brilliance.
Email: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
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Benefits Of Baking Soda For Your Skin

November 28, 2018 – Costly Catholicism

Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Father Edward McIlmail, LC

Luke 21:12-19
Jesus said to his disciples: “Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” 
Introductory Prayer: Jesus my Savior, thank you for another day and another chance to grow in holiness with your grace. I love you and wish to make you the true center of my thoughts, desires and actions.
Petition: Lord, help me face the difficulties of practicing my faith day-to-day.
  1. Persecution: Opposition from the world is the price we pay for following Christ. No pain, no gain. Why should that surprise us? If living the Gospel were easy, all the world would be saints. But the Gospel is demanding. It rubs against our fallen human nature. It demands of us — and even makes us unpopular. Why? Because people who do good are a thorny reminder to those who don’t. It shouldn’t surprise us that the neighbors look down on us for having so many kids. Or that the guys in the dorm snicker at us for living chastely. Or that the boss overlooks us for a promotion because we wouldn’t donate to that pro-abortion group last Christmas during the company fund drive. Do I realize that to be a Christian is to be persecuted?
  1. No Defense: When Christ tells us not to prepare our defense, he’s not telling us to sit back and do nothing. Rather, he wants us to use our talents for the Kingdom. Christ is inviting us to trust that ultimately the victory of good over evil belongs to him. God has his time and place for everything. In the meantime, we are called to build the Kingdom wherever we can—in our families, our offices, our schools, our communities. How am I building the Kingdom in the areas around me?
  1. Wisdom from Above: “I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking…” When we stay close to Christ in prayer and deed, he takes over our lives little by little. And that’s good. Our selfishness fades. Our heart grows. We die to ourselves. “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30). But we have to ask ourselves: Do we really believe in the Gospel? Do we believe in it enough to use Christ’s words when we have to respond to the nonbelievers around us? How often do we identify ourselves as Catholic in public?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, you know it’s not easy to be seen as your friend. People laugh at us — if they don’t feel sorry for us. They don’t understand where we are coming from. Help me understand some of the loneliness you must have felt when you went against the world’s standards. Help me be faithful to you regardless of the cost.
Resolution: In conversation or in an e-mail I will use a line of Christ’s wisdom from the Gospel.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The South China Sea Issue; A Proxy War embraced by the Anti Dutertards which Duterte wants Philippines to avoid

By Jun Avelino

With the current visit of China’s Xi JinPing in the country, anti Dutertards took it like a golden opportunity to launch their attacks against the administration for bringing the country closer to China for economic gains. Their narratives revolve around two main assertions – Duterte sold the country to China and that China’s assistance to the country’s various development programs under Duterte is a debt trap. And there goes such massive disinformation perpetrated by the yellows and reds and their cabal of corrupt media practitioners, cohort experts and analysts flooding the front pages of paid mainstream broadsheets and TV stations with all the spin, slant on the news, trying to destroy the newly born Philippine-China relations.

I puked with disgust reading VP Robredo’s twerk on Duterte’s statement about China’s being “in possession” of the South China Sea which only exposes how shallow is her understanding on such an important issue viz-a-viz the government’s strategy in handling it. And you have the SC Chief Justice Carpio’s idiotic assertion of sticking it out with the Arbitral Tribunal’s decision and even suggesting to bring China again to the same Court for not complying with its judgment on the Scarborough Shoal issue notwithstanding the fact that China never recognized such court’s jurisdiction and proceedings. And all other antagonists of the story are in chorus parroting the same line of moronic narrative.

It is a public knowledge that The Hague’s ruling on our case does not provide any enforcement mechanism and as Malacanang said, which remained unrebutted, “there is no power on earth that can enforce it”. Simply put, we have it on paper, and that’s all there is to it. It’s useless! We have been asking these Anti Dutertards to suggest any concrete action on how to enforce the ruling based on their game plan when they filed the case but until now, we hear nothing from them. This only reinforces the belief that the previous administration didn’t have any idea of the end game and repercussions of the case they filed against China which in the process, actually drowned this country in the depths of the SCS conflict. Hilbay suggested to perpetually protest China’s continued incursion within the terms of the Arbitral ruling. But my golly, you have been protesting since 2012 and it produced no concrete positive results for the country. On the contrary, it emboldened China on its fortification activities in the West Philippine Sea. Carpio once suggested to send our gray ships in the contested areas and when they get bombed by China, we turn to the US for help as well as tap other mechanisms within the UN system for relief and even go back to the same Arbitral Tribunal for violations committed by China on the ruling. Now, can someone tell me, how is this not idiotic?

In a desperate attempt to cover up for the treasonous blunder they have committed in mishandling the SCS issue, they are now moving heaven and earth to put the blame on Duterte for China’s incursion on our waters. Of course, this is maliciously false and a grievous lie which the Filipino people should outrightly reject with disdain. The public and the world for that matter should be reminded that the incursion started in 2012 during the time of PNOY. Our sovereignty over Scarborough shoal was given up by PNoy via Senator Trillanes who was deputized as the back channel negotiator with China during the Scarborough stand-off. It should be recalled that prior to the stand-off, we had control over the Scarborough shoal but when Trillanes was sent to negotiate and convince China to leave the shoal, the opposite happened. Our ships were ordered by PNOY to leave the shoal thereby leaving the contested waters under the control of China since then. That act of the government through PNoy and Trillanes was either a sell off on our sovereignty for monetary consideration (only God knows) or giving up that part of our national territory out of cowardice. Now they have the gall to call the government to go to war with China! Sanamagan.

What actually irked China was the fact that Philippines was taking the cue from Uncle Sam in dealing with the Scarborough Stand-off. Hence, instead of reducing the tension, it was in fact heightened because it appeared that China was dealing with the US on the conflict and not with the Philippines. Such that when we lost control over Scarborough, Uncle Sam prodded PNoy to initiate the filing of a case against China before the Court of Arbitral Tribunal for which he willingly did instead of heeding to the call of China for a dialogue sans the shadow of Uncle Sam in settling the dispute. Since Philippines closed the door for negotiations by filing the case with support of the US, China proceeded with the fortification activities in the contested areas. So, we had a situation where for almost 4 years, Philippines was busy presenting and defending its case ex parte (without the opposing party) at The Hague with batteries of international lawyers and experts paid for by our taxes, Hilbay and Carpio included, while China was busy constructing islands and military facilities in the areas where we have claims. The people should know that China’s activities in the West Philippine Sea were all done within the eyes and nose of the US and the PNoy government but they did nothing to physically stop China from the incursions. Such that when the ruling was handed down in 2016, we already lost part of our territory in the WPS as China has completed the construction of the islands. So, how can you feel victorious over a case when in the process, you already lost physical possession of the property which is the subject of the litigation and worst, the other party refused to be bound by the ruling on the case you filed? Isn’t this a case of an idiotic assertion?

Carpio and Hilbay inisted that the ruling is not useless. If indeed it is useful, how come ASEAN did not use the arbitral ruling to slap China with our victory and tell her to back off from the contested areas? Why is it that instead of gloating on The Hague ruling, the ASEAN forged with China a Framework for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea designed to help diffuse tensions in the disputed maritime territory? Why are the other claimants on the contested waters e.g. Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan never used the Arbitral ruling to kick China’s ass off and tell her to leave the areas they have overlapping claims with? The only argument you cited on the usefulness of the ruling is the fact that US patrol boats along with other countries in Europe can now traverse in these international waterways with the Arbitral ruling. WTF! Is this an admission therefore that you filed that case against China to serve the interests of US and Europe and not to protect our claims in the WPS?

These anti Dutertard experts further argued that because Duterte did not do anything to stop China on its activities in the WPS, he in effect surrendered our claims in the contested areas which is an act of treason. But for fuck sake idiots, using your own deranged argument, China constructed all these islands and military fortifications for 4 years right within your noses and you never lift a finger to physically stop China and you do no not want your cowardice to be considered an act of surrender on our territorial claims which by your book, a treasonous act? Sanamagan!

The public should not be misled by the malicious lies which the Anti Dutertards want to ram through the throats of the Filipino people. It was PNoy and his minions who gave up our claims to China. When Duterte assumed the Presidency in 2016, China is already in physical possession of the contested areas with the construction of the islands and military fortifications thereon. We lost them all during the time of PNoy and this is a fact that should be written in our country’s history. So, if there is any group who should be held liable for treason, for being stupid, idiot, morons and all the curses in heaven, it is PNoy and all the members of his idiotic legal team who filed our case against China which brought us in the face of this huge blank wall on our territorial claims.

Duterte’s main task is how to get back our lost territories as there is nothing to protect anymore, and much less, give up, since we are not in physical control over the contested areas. Will Digong take off from where PNoy brought us to such a miserable state? Obviously, this administration detests even the thought of following through what PNoy has chartered for us, being such a grave disaster. We should realize that arguing our claims from points of international law will bring us nowhere as we cannot force the other party to go for arbitration in a tribunal of our choice. We may have succeeded in doing it unilaterally at The Hague but look at the results! Useless! China has the options as well to bring the case to other fora or courts within the UN system including the Security Council where it is a member along with its ally Russia and we are not. You can imagine the disaster it will bring about to our claims in a fora where China has the advantage. With his foresight on the issues and comprehensive grasp on the adverse ramifications of being too legalistic about the case, Duterte has decided to use diplomacy in working for our claims over the WPS, thus avoiding a confrontational approach in dealing with China. It takes a little effort of reading and some amount of common sense to understand where Duterte is heading and why are we inching closer successfully on our claims over WPS with him as our top diplomat.

For those familiar with world politics and international relations, the whole gamut of the SCS issue should be looked at from the geopolitical perspective where the balance of power in the region is at play. It is a fact that there is rivalry between US and China not only in the world trade aspect but also on their global influence, particularly in Asia which China considers as its turf. Clearly, China wants to diminish, if not abrogate, the US military grip and imperialistic influence over the countries in the ASEAN and East Asian Regions. One way of doing this is to shut off US access in the SCS waters which is something US is not ready to give in considering the existence of its allies in the EA region, e.g. Japan, south Korea, Taiwan, etc. So, in a broader perspective, the main issue here is actually the conflict between US and China as to who will control this part of the globe militarily and US is asserting its position being the world’s military power with China trying to Challenge such assertion.

Philippines, with its strategic location and alliance with the US, is right in the forefront of that conflict because the US government is using our country as its pawn in its proxy war with China. Why did US ask Philippines to file a case against China to invalidate its 9-Dash Line Map when the Philippines’ overlapping claims with China constitute only about 8 percent of the entire SCS area? Other claimants did not consent much less participate to the proceedings save for Vietnam who was present as an observer. When we got the favorable ruling, did the other claimants invoke the results of the proceedings in driving away China from their respective contested areas? They never felt as victorious as the Anti Dutertards because they know it was an exercise of futility.

If US government was indeed sincere in helping us, it could have deployed its aircraft carriers, and patrol boats in the WPS along with our gray ships in 2012 to prevent China from taking physical possession of the contested areas and the construction of the islands and other military fortifications. The contested areas are within our EEZ and with the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty and EDCA, no country can stop us from doing military exercises in these areas as deterrent activities to prevent China from moving in. Moreover, that could have forced China to agree to the arbitration proceedings at The Hague or constrained it to bring a separate arbitration case in a different forum in which case the country has the best chance of winning with the results being binding to both parties. But that is all now water under the bridge. US got what it wanted which is the invalidation of the 9-Dash Line Map Claim of China in the SCS while Philippines got hit by losing to China part of its territory in the WPS and sadly, US government never gave a damn with what we lost from such useless exercise. Sanamagan!

To add salt to our injury, US and European countries are now proposing joint military patrols and exercises in SCS. Digong’s statement declaring that such activities will just create a friction knowing that China is already in possession of the SCS not sit well with VP Robredo who criticized Duterte for such pronouncement implying that Digong surrendered already our territory. Can someone please help the VP find where her brains are? She seems to have lost her ability for critical thinking with her head devoid of any place for at least a minute grasp of what is really going on in the SCS! When Digong suggested that China is already in possession of the SCS, he is challenging US, Europe, UN and the entire world to deal with China head on and if necessary, bomb its military installations in the WPS to rid its control in the SCS.

This administration is aware that by the design, the west, particularly the US government intentionally did not stop China from occupying the contested areas because such will create a huge tension between China and claimant countries who are mostly ASEAN members. And if there is that tension, the presence of America and its military might is needed by the smaller countries. Hence, the proposal for these patrol and military exercises in the SCS which Digong has expressed reservations with. This is the marketing strategy of the US government’s imperialistic design to keep the balance of power in the region in their favor with the help of the Philippines and the other claimants. Its narrative is simple. China is a bully and we need the US to protect the bullied countries like the Philippines. And you will hear this narrative from the anti-China rants of the Anti Dutertards who took the American deceitful narrative hook line and sinker. Sanamagan!

But ASEAN rejected the idea of being exploited by the US as a pawn on its rivalry with China. ASEAN’s position on the issue is that the only way to solve the conflict is through negotiation. In fact, it has engaged China in a dialogue to settle the dispute as neighbor. It has never tapped the help of the manipulative arm of the US government.

If one only cares to analyze Duterte’s diplomatic strategy on the WPS, it is but simple. He is focused only on the 8 percent of the SCS issue which is the WPS where our claim lies. He doesn’t give a damn with the International waterways which should be the problem of the US and Europe and the 92 percent of the issues being incumbent with other claimants to settle and which is being resolved under the ASEAN mechanisms. With our new friendship with China after declaring our independent foreign policy, and China’s sincere reciprocal gesture of friendship, all indicators point to the fact that indeed, Duterte is in the right track on our foreign diplomacy and eventually, we can have back our territories given up by the Aquino administration out of sheer stupidity.

Our main challenge these days is the effort exerted by the Anti Dutertards in sabotaging Duterte’s china pivot policy and the amount of resources poured in by the US government in projecting in the public’s mind set that China is our enemy and should not be trusted on the SCS issue. It is appalling to note that while this administration is doing its best to get out of the mayhem America has put us in, the yellows, the reds and the anti Dutertards for that matter are trying to pull this country down and bring it back to Uncle Sam’s lap as its pawn in perpetually engaging China in its proxy war. What a shame!

In our country’s history, China neither invaded the Philippines nor killed Filipinos out of any conflict. But America did occupy this country and killed Filipinos by the hundreds of thousands with some being massacred helplessly during the American occupation. That is fact on record. But in our country’s love for democracy as propagated by the imperialist America, Filipino’s fought for the American flag against Japanese occupation where this country sacrificed hundreds of thousand Filipino lives. The US government helped Japan recovered after the war and it is today an economic power with its own military capable of defending itself from any external aggression. Has America done the same to our country? Our naval capability is a big joke in the whole of ASEAN and we can barely send naval ships to the contested areas to protect our claims. This “big joke” reflects the kind of treatment America gave us post World War 2 era notwithstanding the existence of then RP-US Military Bases Agreement, to the current RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty and EDCA. Our naval and military capabilities remain under miserable state. Is it by design so this country will be forever dependent on the security provided by the US government out of its token military assistance and the carrot-and-stick approach on development assistance embedded with preposterously onerous terms? To be used perpetually as its pawn in fighting its rivals in this part of the region? Yes folks. After losing hundreds of thousands of lives fighting for America during the WW2, this is what we are getting from them – a “big joke”! So, under this narrative, who should be treated as our enemy then?

This is not to encourage anti-US sentiment for American people will always be friends of the Filipinos. But when Duterte declared our independent foreign policy, US government should just respect it if it treats this country as truly sovereign and no longer its vassal. As an independent state, this country should be free to choose who will be its friends and which ones to declare as its enemy and certainly, not the ones according to the dictate of the US government. Philippines does not have any enemy – not the US nor China, and those idiotic Anti Dutertards who continue to parrot the American narrative should learn to suck it up! – Jun Avelino

(Please share if you wish – Jun Avelino)