Wednesday, December 26, 2007

No Visa, A Refund Is A Must

The sad experience of Bernardino L. Flores Jr. of Tarlac City (Letters to the Editor, December 24, 2007, Page 12, PDI) before a consular empress at the US Embassy should be a bitter reminder to our people that diplomacy is missing in that piece of property at Roxas Boulevard.

Flores was made to pay for his visa application and even for the Delbros courier service after he and his wife were interviewed and told that their non-immigrant visa applications were approved.

The US consul even told the visa would be delivered by Delbros quickly, something which made the Floreses practically jump with joy. In common lingo, it was a done deal.

But lo and behold! The Delbros courier brought the couple the sad news as their applications were denied. Only because the other applicant, a relative of the Floreses, had the same contact person in the US.

US consular officials have been condemned so many times for their being boorish, arrogant and gothic in their behavior towards Filipinos. They act haughtily, not thinking that of all the US missions, it is only in the Philippines where thousands of applicants for visas pay through the nose to get that little piece of paper to legitimize their flight to the US. In fact, the consular section makes money, and they will continue to make money by collecting from Filipinos who would be told that their applications are approved, only to be told later that a hitch forced them to reject the application.

Some US staffs in the consular section are a nightmare, a contemptuous lot who still believe that they are overlords here and may as well reject applicants on the basis of their looks.

The US Embassy should reimburse the Floreses and all other Filipinos whom they have mistreated and abused by collecting visa fees for applications that are eventually rejected. In any country, collecting cash for service not rendered is called unjust enrichment.

With the visa fees, denied applicants are suckered to pay without reimbursement, it maintains an embassy which succeeds in getting more revenues, to help support its local operation. It should be a two way relationship. No visa, a refund is a must.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Caught With His Pants Down

By Dr. Erick San Juan

The series of articles run by the International Herald Tribune on the grave faux pas committed by the Bush administration in insisting that it was correct in pursuing its policy of isolating Iran for its supposed nuclear weapons development program in the face of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) which showed Tehran had abandoned the program is proof that the Republican clique in Washington simply wants war.

This should awaken Filipinos about the danger posed not by Iran but by the Bush administration, which believes that its warmaking machine would make the world safe for everyone.

Bush has been caught lying just as the US was proven to have lied when it claimed that Libya was developing nuclear weapons. Libya simply abandoned the program years before Washington said Gaddafi was continuing it.

From May 2005 onwards, Bush had been saber-rattling and demanding all forms of sanctions against Iran, which has uranium deposits and has been using nuclear fuel for energy generation and was supposed to be creating the weapons for attacking its neighbors and the rest of the world.

With the NIE showing the program had been discontinued in 2003, it leaves Bush as a leader who has little need for reason and sober intelligence assessment when he crafts US policy.
Shorn of the usual gobbledygook, the US rhetoric about their assessment of Iran as still "correct" is simply an equivocation.

Bush has been caught with his pants down, yet he has not apologized for his misdeed. With him in charge, one must always worry about war.

The World Will Never Be At Peace

By Dr. Erick San Juan

The recent revelation of the declassified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) which confirmed the halt of Iranian nuclear weapons development as early as 2003 has dashed the warmongering rhetoric of US President George Bush and should teach Washington that the world will never be safe as long as the hawks continue to hold sway at the White House.
For one, it proved Bush's critics right and further diminished the worth of US policy in inveigling the entire world to join a campaign of hate and aggression against Iran.

Second, it made Bush look silly and the caboodle of US officials boosting his tirades as nothing but nattering nabobs of nuclear blackmail.

Third, it shattered the myth of Washington basing its policies and demeanor on good old intelligence and exposed the incredible vice of Bush and company on creating a reality of their own, a solipsism that is dangerous to world peace and the lives of Iranians, Americans and all other peoples on earth.

We are outraged by the insistence of US officials that their May 2005 assessment that Iran was on the verge of creating a nuclear weapon was correct in all essentials, even in the face of incontrovertible evidence that Bush and company had lied.

This is akin to the amentic proclivity of Bush to insist that the executed Saddam Hussein was guilty of harboring Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda when facts showed that Hussein hated Osama and fundamentalism so much that he would hunt them down the way honey badgers hunt down cobras.

Alas, the world will never be at peace if Washington will continue to insist in its version of reality and wrong policies, in utter disregard of its own intelligence.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ugly Americans, No More!

By Dr. Erick San Juan

The recent report about the declassified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of the US on Iran carried in the December 5, 2007 issue of the International Herald Tribune should open the latchdoor to a flurry of criticisms on the very basis for the dangerous warmongering policy pursued by US President George Bush.

This report has shown Bush's threats against Iran to be without any concrete basis. The NIE has concluded that Iran had not developed its nuclear weapons system since 2003 even if it continues work on uranium enrichment.

An unkind cut on Bush's saber-rattling, the report dashes to smithereens the current administration's visceral hatred of Iran, which apparently has pursued work on the peaceful use of nuclear energy from 1985 to 2003, 18 full years of a secret endeavor that has succeeded in arming Tehran with the weapon to produce cheaper electricity and use nuclear power for other purposes, from medical to agricultural applications.

One does not help but heave a sigh of relief at the NIE's conclusion. It also pushes many to believe that Bush has not come clean on his decisions, relying on his fundamentalist beliefs to throw thousands of servicemen into wars he could not leave without losing a lot of taxpayer's money.

The NIE also blasts the previous assessments made by the White House, from the willy-nilly conclusion that Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction and that its leadership had harbored the Al Qaida and Osama bin Laden, whose family had been a partner of the Bush family in cornering large construction projects in Saudi Arabia.

What the NIE says contradicts Bush's very article of faith. It also vindicates the fears of many US officials that their President has been pushing the country to the brink of war against the planet, imagining enemies where there are none. Hail to the American Patriots in the U.S. government!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

No Need for U.S. Bases. Really?

By Dr. Erick San Juan

With the recent expose by a think-tank group based in Thailand that the U.S. has several new bases in the Philippines, it reminds me of what the Angel & Demon operation is all about.
In my own reading, the Americans badly need permanent bases in the Philippines if they had their way, but foreign bases are not allowed under our 1987 Constitution. For all intent and purposes, U.S. defense planners know how strategically the Philippines is located. Besides, the Philippines is endowed with abundant natural resources. And for one which is very important, majority of the Filipino people are friendly to the Americans. There are also “anti-Americans”, who are actually nationalists who understand the “scheming” op of the U.S. military industrial complex.
While there are no more US bases in the Philippines today, the two countries have skirted the abrogation of the RP-US Defense Treaty of 1951, considering it is allegedly for the benefit of both countries in maintaining regional security in Southeast Asia and North Asia. Under this treaty, the US will help defend the Philippines against external aggression.
By its body language, the US considers that Philippines a vital part of its so-called forward defense strategy. It cannot afford to lose the Philippines all because of the country's strategic location as I have expounded earlier. You may have noticed in the past that every time there is a political upheaval in the Philippines such as coup attempts, the US is always there to pronounce its support one way or the other provided it is for the interest of the US as the bottom line. American interest is always above and foremost.
In the global war against terror the US has legally used its presence of its troops in the Philippines to conduct joint training with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Americans have to bring with them their warships, including nuclear-powered vessels and warplanes into the country during the training exercise. The only problem is the U.S. Defense establishment abuse the good relationship by coming in with these nukes without our knowledge. It could endanger us to any external threat and we could be target by U.S. enemies.
Indeed US Ambassador Kristie Kenney was not absolutely right when she said that there are no US bases in the country. The all-year round joint training between American and Filipino forces has enabled US troops to be always present in the Philippines and let their local operators handle their monitoring system. We are not that naïve to observe the circumvention of our Constitution.
Whether we like it or not, Uncle Sam's finger is always dipped into our political system because the Americans have to protect their interest in our beloved country. Such is the reality of geo-politics. Since America is a super power what can we do? We Filipinos are so divided, gullible to manipulation and blackmail.
During the December 1989 coup by the RAM-SFP-YOU, the rebel soldiers led by now Sen. Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan almost toppled Cory Aquino's government until a pair of US Phantom jetfighters made a "persuasion flight" over Metro Manila to show America's "support" to President Cory at that time. The entire coup plot tumbled like match sticks. Of course the "persuasion flight" was only part of the whole scenario. Troops loyal to President Aquino led by then Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos and AFP chief of staff Gen. Renato S. de Villa significantly made the big difference in a well-executed counter attack to neutralize the RAM-SFP-YOU forces.
But to dig deeper, there is that inner sanctum going on my mind about America's double-edge role in Philippine politics. They can't lose either way. Had the RAM-SFP-YOU won, the US would probably support it because any government always looks up to the US for support – militarily and economically.The putchists felt betrayed by the alleged double cross.
With all this power play in our country ever since it acquired “independence”, even during the time of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the first Philippine president, America's role in our political system has been there because US interest is at stake.
In the just-ended Manila Peninsula caper where government forces overpowered the outnumbered Magdalo rebel soldiers led by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, there seems to be some suspicion of support by the US despite denials by Ambassador Kenney.
Consider what transpired during and after the failed Manila Pen rebellion. Pundits have been asking why PFC Alvin Celestino who has a pending case was able to get a working visa from the US Embassy that easy without any hassle. Is it not the duty of the US Embassy to verify the background of Celestino? With its foolproof and vast information at hand, it is next to impossible not to know the background of Celestino. But Celestno was "fortunate" to possess a US visa. But unfortunately, Celestino was arrested by authorities when he tried to board a plane bound for the US last week. Did US authorities tipped Philippine government about the impending travel of Celestino to the United States and escape from being prosecuted in the Philippines? That's another sham example of geo-politics.