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Tribune Editorial

Edsa gets a paint job

Thursday, 01 March 2018 00:00 Published in Editorial

The sparsely-attended People Power event had its most significant moment when the confetti rained reminiscent of the same event when the military shifted allegiance 32 years ago but this time instead of yellow, the sky rained red, white and blue, the color of the Philippine flag.
Of course yellow is also found in the flag but it is not the only hue that should dominate, the event of colors would like to show.
For a long time, the 1986 event at Edsa was branded as the Yellow Revolt that ousted former President Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the nation from 1972 to 1986.
The events have been commemorated by political leaders in the Philippines since the 1986 coup d’etat especially by the Aquino family which was the main beneficiary of the People Power revolt but President Duterte has skipped the event twice since he came to power in 2016.
The incumbent President not being at the highway that was the site of the yellow uprising should not be taken as being in any way diminishing the significance of the historical event, Malacañang said as it noted that Feb. 25 remains a national holiday and public funds are still spent to commemorate it.
The spirit of Edsa was about unity but the yellow mob had made the event and the site as its possessions.
The Palace said Rody will always recognize Edsa not only as an important historical event but it was the first bloodless People Power Revolt in the entire world and it remains significant.
Duterte is a known friend to the Marcos family and approved the late president’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in 2016. Rody was in his hometown city, Davao, which he regularly visits on weekends during the People Power celebration.
Duterte also skipped the Edsa anniversary rites last year at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City to attend the relaunch of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in Davao City.
The message of the Edsa celebration was, however, clear to Rody as he said it should enrich the state’s democracy as he believed that “a people’s courage and resolve can alter the course of our nation’s history.”
He said the key to enriching democracy is empowering the citizenry, defending their rights and strengthening the institutions that safeguard their freedom.
For Rody, the event also became a symbol of the determination to fight for what is right.
The People Power Revolt has become the enduring symbol of Filipinos determination to fight for what is right and, during the country’s most crucial and trying times, defend and uphold cherished democratic values, he said.
Rody’s goal was always for the improvement of life as Filipinos knew it and he had focused on peace, unity and public order while his economic managers were given the free hand to craft measures to reduce the poverty level.
The goal of unity was the main concept in the removal of the yellow hue of Edsa and replace it with the colors of the flag.
At the same time, the symbolic People Power Monument was turned over from the Spirit of Edsa Foundation (SOEF) to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) which was another symbol of the reimaging of the important event as a celebration of Filipino traits and not a yellow victory.
The critics of Rody cry revisionism in the face of all the changes being instituted but the reality is that the yellow mob is merely being given their right place in the social milieu as being just one of the many political forces in the 1986 revolt.

When giants collide

Thursday, 22 February 2018 00:00 Published in Editorial

The threat of an actual armed conflict igniting betweeen the United States and China over passage in the South China Sea remains low but it has been elevated a few notches as a result of the Chinese buildup of structures believed to be military in nature in some of the formations in the contested seas.
The recent developments merely confirmed the tack followed by President Duterte on China, which is to engage the Asian giant which is a huge departure from the previous policy of confrontation, is correct.
Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana admitted in a forum the risk of “miscalculation” and armed conflict in the South China Sea has risen as China starts to challenge US dominance in the disputed waters.
Lately, China has been suspected to have expanded its communications links and other facilities on artificial islands in the area, despite Beijing’s denial saying that it is building only civilian facilities.
Sta. Romana said the balance of power in the region is shifting as the two global powers compete for control of the waters.
From the start, Rody has taken an independent foreign policy to disentangle the country from being labeled as a hopeless American lackey in the region.
The position taken by the administration is that the maritime friction is more between the United States and China rather than between China and the Philippines.
His administration also took a diplomatic approach on the territorial conflict. China and the Philippines, for instance, have an ongoing Bilateral Consultative Mechanism (BCM) in which both countries periodically consult which was not even imaginable two years ago amid a tense maritime standoff between both countries.
While relations improve between the Philippines and China, the US seems to have raised its presence in the South China Sea while also wooing Rody whom it wants to consider still a solid ally.
Sta. Romana said that which is under dispute is the dominance in the Asian waters which Sta. Romana predicted “a shift in the balance of power.”
He compared the two powers to bull elephants engaged in a heated battle for dominance that the Philippines should keep off unless it wants to be trampled on.
The Carl Vinson, with a fleet of about 40 fighter jets and roughly 5,000 American sailors, arrived in Manila this week in a display of American presence in the disputed region. A US aircraft carrier is also expected to dock in Vietnam in March, the first time in more than four decades.
But the presence of the warship would not change China’s established advantage in the region.
“The aircraft carriers’ visits are only symbolic – to show that America still has a military presence in the region and that it is still a hegemon,” Xu Liping, a researcher on Asian-Pacific studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said.
“With the military construction program on the three major islands in the South China Sea, China has built an effective network of intelligence gathering and defense abilities,” he said.
Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, had told a congressional hearing that China had unilaterally built seven new military bases in the South China Sea, with new facilities including “aircraft hangers, barracks facilities, radar facilities, weapon emplacements and 10,000-foot runways”.
Sta. Romana said China gave the Philippines an assurance that the military assets it is deploying on disputed islands in the South China Sea are not aimed at the Philippines and other neighboring countries.
“It is part of the rivalry between a rising China and the US over the South China Sea,” Sta. Romana said.
Sta Romana underlined the independent foreign policy of Rody: “We want to remain friends with both, and to gain the maximum benefit.”
The Philippines, with its strategic location in the Asian region and its strongly Western-influenced culture, can only hope in vain of assuming a neutral role in the conflict.
The independent foreign policy of Rody, however, offers the country a wider latitude in maneuvering away from sustaining a major impact from the struggle among the superpowers.

Canard in one, canard in all

Friday, 16 February 2018 00:00 Published in Editorial

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who is accused of being the gatekeeper of the previous administration’s selective justice, was recently proven to be also into releasing and withholding selective information.
Solicitor General Jose Calida’s discovery of the termination of the Ombudsman’s probe on the case filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes in May 2016 accusing then presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of maintaining 11,000 ghost employees exposed the level of political bias guiding Morales.
Morales’ motive in withholding the outcome of the case was also evident since it has a huge bearing on another Trillanes allegations of plunder against Rody which the senator had revived on unexplained wealth and undeclared bank accounts on the President and members of the First Family.
During the 2016 campaign period, Trillanes and Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas accused Duterte and his family of maintaining secret bank accounts.
Trillanes then and now had brandished supposed documents of over P2 billion that purportedly flowed into Duterte’s bank accounts, which he claimed was not declared in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN). He also made similar accusations on members of Rody’s family which Rody has repeatedly denied.
Trillanes during the presidential campaigns when he fared miserably in his vice presidential bid termed his ghost employee allegations on Rody as the “smoking gun” since he claimed it could prove to be one of his sources of unexplained wealth.
Calida said he inquired from the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB), through a letter dated Feb. 8, the status of the criminal complaint filed by Trillanes on Rody to which Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang stated that the investigation has already been closed and terminated.
Since Trillanes’ allegations turned out to be a dud, it will unmask his other bogus charges.
Instead of protecting Trillanes and his yellow principals in their pursuit to malign Rody, Morales, Calida said, must be the protector of the people and has the constitutional duty to publicize matters covered by investigations “when the circumstances so warrant and with due prudence.”
Morales is doing a great disservice to the public with the omission since the case involved the President of the Republic of the Philippines.
Morales’ complete silence on the result of the probe of the anti-graft body on the Trillanes complaint was in stark contrast to its filing when Calida said a press conference was even conducted.
“Three months after the termination of the case, the public has still no knowledge that the evidence supporting the allegations of Trillanes is without merit,” Calida said.
Calida did not need to state the obvious when he said that Morales’ act may prove that she is coddling the complainant, Senator Trillanes.
Also, Rody had termed all the charges that Trillanes hurled against him as garbage which was only buttressed by the dismissal of the ghost employee allegations.
“His evidence was junked, and because it is junked, it is another word for garbage,” Calida noted.
The most obvious reason for Morales’ silence was that it would pave the way for the termination of the unexplained wealth and undeclared bank accounts probe since Trillanes claimed that keeping the ghost employees was the source of the supposed hidden wealth.
Only Trillanes may have known that the anti-graft probe on his allegations was already terminated since he is now rushing the conduct of a Senate probe on the same canard.
The proving of the tall story that the chief critic of Rody had peddled regarding the ghost employees also necessarily has implications on his other charges including the spectacle of submission of the “crimes against humanity” complaint into which the International Criminal Court (ICC) said it is looking.
The ICC may also have to reassess its move unless it wants to be seen as another victim of con artist Trillanes.






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