Thursday, February 24, 2011

When Public Accountability Matters

When Public Accountability Matters
By Erick San Juan

When there’s smoke, there’s fire, so goes the saying. I am referring here of the issue raised by Senator Miriam Santiago that “China may ask a number of things, which include an agreement on their stand on the Spratly Islands, the termination of the US-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement, or a joint program between the Chinese and the Philippine armed forces.” She added that international relations do not just involve wooing another country.

This matter should be taken into consideration in the light of how geostrategy works in dealing with controversial issues like the contested areas in the South China Sea.

But sad to say, another blunder has led to this comment regarding Spratley Islands. To quote : But what if China does not grant the request? Anxious to please the President, DFA sources said Philippine Ambassador to China, Francisco Benedicto indicated in a meeting with Chinese officials that the Philippines is willing to drop the Spratleys in exchange for the freedom of the Filipino drug mules.

A source said it was disaster. Benedicto has been recalled. Malacanang is on the lookout for a new ambassador to China. (Source : )

Truly a disaster. How could anyone give such a tactless comment to such crucial issue? This blunder from a government official, if the said account is true, is a big no no in diplomatic relations especially matters concerning national interest and security for that matter.

This administration has been committing several mistakes lately and the rest of the nation can’t help but to speculate that indeed there’s no one minding the store. And we can’t blame the citizenry for the eventualities. These blunders can drag the whole nation into a mutually assured destruction in the process.

Another point raised by Anti-crime advocate Teresita Ang-See is that the country should have tolerated the execution of 3 Filipinos on death row, out of respect to the laws of China. Because the drug mules (and their families at that) knew that they were dealing with drug syndicates. Ms. Ang-See served as an interpreter for the Chinese authorities
who investigated the cases.

In these cases, our government should act fast and execute the people here who helped them leave the airport. As what Ms. Ang-See reported, that all 3 admitted during the case proceedings that they did not pass through the x-ray machines at the airport.

The above mentioned situations clearly indicate the need for public official’s accountability, from the highest to the lowest positions in government. Unless this administration do something about this, future mistakes might be too great that we will all be sorry soon.

Now that everything has been said and done, PNoy and all the Filipinos here and abroad, are held hostage (as how Ang-See put it) by the mistakes of the few irresponsible people.

Wake up, PNoy! Some people around you should not deceive the country by praise releases, that we are doing well in our diplomatic relations. We are not! The glaring truth is all over the media, here and abroad. The perceived solutions are pure rhetoric and its creating more problems.

Our diplomatic relations with Bejing and Washington must be handled by qualified diplomats and who understand very well the undercurrents that goes with it. There is no room for mistakes here, we had too much already.

This is not like a walk in the park, remember Mr. President, “kapag nalubak ka, buong bansa damay!”

Monday, February 21, 2011

What is Behind the New Peace Talks?

What is Behind the New Peace Talks?
By Erick San Juan

The first formal peace negotiation between the Government of
the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) under the
present administration was held last February 9 – 10 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
It is the 20th formal exploratory talks and the first informal talks
was held last January 13, 2011.

The planned exploratory talks pushed through amidst the MILF
infighting and possibly another breakaway group in the offing through the leadership
of Ameril Umbra Kato. It was earlier cited that Kato is out to form a separate
military which he called Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

The alleged formation of a new armed group by Umbra Kato to
continue the struggle for an independent Islamic state in Mindanao
is somehow designed to disrupt the ongoing formal talks. Such infighting among
the MILF commanders should be taken seriously if the purpose of the government
is to resolve the age-old insurgency in the south.

Any development that the government will implement in Mindanao
would be in vain if groups like that of Kato’s will prevail. Remember that in
2008 Kato is one of the two MILF senior commanders who launched deadly attacks
across mostly Christian communities in Mindanao. The
said attacks happened after the Supreme Court released its decision that the
MOA-AD Bangsamoro Juridical Entity was unconstitutional. The attacks left
nearly 400 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced, and a possibility of a
repeat of such incident is not far-fetched.

We could sense some underlying agenda here when the MILF
announced that they cut down the number of villages it wants to be included in
its proposed autonomous Bangsamoro territory in Mindanao
to 7 to 9 percent of its original
historical claim. Then the government through GRP chief negotiator Marvic Leonen somehow in defense
of the said proposal, said that “it does not seek independence or secession
from the Republic of the Philippines”
after he got back from Kuala Lumpur.

It could be perceived as pure rhetorics again in order to
justify another possible MOA-AD BJE in the offing. The rest of us should be
wary as to what is not being talked about here in the open and I smell
something fishy here.

As of this writing, there are clamors from different NGOs
and the Palace, to postpone the August 2011 election in the Autonomous Region
in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and pushing to
synchronize it with the national and local elections in 2013.

Under the bill drafted by MalacaƱang, the next regular
elections for the regional governor, vice governor, members of the regional
legislative assembly of the ARMM shall be held on the second Monday of May
2013. They will have a three- year term.

It also stated that the incumbent elective officials of the
ARMM shall hold office only until Sep. 30, 2011 when the President appoints officers-in-charge, who will
be in post until the next officials are elected.

Is this move to postpone the ARMM election has something to
do with the MILF’s agenda in the peace talks? There is still so much time given
here until 2013 and ample time to carry out whatever plans they have in mind. The
fear of some Filipinos of a possible balkanization of Mindanao
is not farfetched. Speculations are free as long as there is no transparency.

PNoy’s administration should live up to its promise of
transparency and most of all accountability. These are badly needed when the
sovereignty as one nation united is being threatened again by greedy

Be strong and steadfast, Mr. President or this country will end
up disunited and only a few will benefit in the process.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blunder Strikes Again

Blunder Strikes Again by Erick San Juan

The administration of President Benigno Aquino III is being put to test again when it comes to foreign policy and diplomacy, and so is the rest of the nation. The Filipino people are again divided on their views of the recent event, the deportation of the 14 Taiwanese nationals suspected of fraud to China for crimes against Chinese nationals.

As what most ordinary Filipinos said through the internet, this could be strike three for PNoy’s administration. First, the Manila bus hostage crisis followed by the controversial boycott by our country of the Nobel peace prize awarding. The said events call for the expertise of professionals in the field of foreign policy.

I recall the fear of some critics at the start of PNoy’s governance, that the people around him (including PNoy himself) are not capable of handling situations like this and might end up creating more problems in the process.

The modern global diplomacy coupled with the fast high technology means of communication had to be dealt with caution amongst leaders of the world. Diplomats and government functionaries should see the connection between the weight of public opinion and effective international policy-making. In the situations I mentioned, public opinion was too loud to be discredited, like what happened with Hongkongers and now with the Taiwanese people. The Aquino government should stop releasing statements that might put the country in jeopardy, especially those coming from his cabinet officials.

The undercurrents in this recent episode in Philippines foreign policy is too deep that this administration’s move had to be taken with great caution. Although we uphold the reason of the government that we have to protect our national interests, still there are a lot of factors to be considered especially our overseas Filipino workers (OFW) working there.

As of this writing, an emissary will be sent to Taiwan (with unofficial capacity) and this move will somehow settle the doubts clouding the issue at hand and will explain further the said deportation to China by our government.

And for the part of Taiwan, its government has called for the immediate forging of a mutual legal assistance agreement with the Philippines to shield its nationals against unlawful arrests and deportations to third countries.

In a statement sent to the Daily Tribune by the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (Teco), Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Manila explained that such legal bilateral mechanism would allow the Philippines and Taiwan to assist each other in the investigative, prosecutorial and judicial processes related to criminal matters involving their respective nationals.

“To prevent such undesirable consequences from happening again in the future, an agreement on mutual judicial assistance between Taiwan and the Philippines should be concluded as soon as possible,” the Teco statement said. (Daily Tribune 2/14/2011)

These move signifies that governments can always find ways to solve such problems. Compromises between power centers could remain a matter of calculating interests in the hope of avoiding conflicts and for maintaining peace in this region.

For the sake of this country’s survival through the remittances of our OFWs, the government should do its homework so as not to repeat the same mistake.

There are now several flashpoints in the region like the ongoing clash between the Thai and the Cambodian troops but ours could worsen if our government will not be wary. There's a false flag operation which could lead to attacks especially in Mindanao where our GRP panel insists in dealing with the MILF whose leadership is questioned by the faction of Ameril Umbra Kato. Kumander Kato created his own militia named BIFF-Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, after the the failure of the MOA-AD (memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain).

The arrival of the USS Blue Ridge, the mother ship of the 7th Fleet, make some of our politicians jitter and become suspicious. Pundits believe that aircraft carriers will not deployed unnecessarily if there's no turbulence in the region. When the late president, Ferdinand Marcos was ousted, the 7th Fleet was nearby. Before the ouster of Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, there was a concentration of naval capacity in the middle east region, all in the immediate proximity to Egypt and the middle east theater especially the Red Sea (

The ongoing investigation of corrupt practices in the government and the military could also trigger chaos especially if the corruptors and their hired PR people will be successful in stopping the investigations in respect "kuno" of Gen. Angelo Reyes "sacrifice" by killing himself.

Let's be watchful and vigilant for a possible confluence of events.

Monday, February 7, 2011

State-Sponsored Terrorists Created Corruption

State-Sponsored Terrorists Created Corruption
By Erick A. San Juan

It was seven years and six months when the Magdalo group occupied Oakwood and aired their grievances against the corruption in the military and in the government. With the events unfolding, one can still hear the words of the Magdalo saying :

“A number of soldiers have died, and even more are going to die in a war that they do not plan to end. Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been caught helpless in the crossfire. They do not want the war to end so that it will continue to be a milking cow of greedy and treacherous officials in the AFP and in the government.”

“We have experienced the true situation of our soldiers. We have shared hardships and sacrifices in the face of an armed conflict, but the support we need against the jaws of death have been pocketed by a few leaders looking out only for their selfish interests.”

One year after the Magdalo officers said this, Gen. Carlos Garcia, the AFP comptroller, and other high-ranking officers were found to have diverted to their personal funds money that should have replaced the worn-out boots of soldiers.

It is indeed a vindication for these soldiers who fought long and hard in the field of corruption against an administration then, tainted with so many controversial scandals.

What this present administration must be wary of is this - They do not want the war to end so that it will continue to be a milking cow of greedy and treacherous officials in the AFP and in the government.” If this is the case, it is but logical to ask, who started such war? If it is for the alleged benefit of some few corrupt officials, every administration in the past has tolerated such wrongdoing. Added to that, is the presence of the US troops ever since, may it be against the secessionist, terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, etc. that made the matter worst!

Those who uphold the presence of the US troops in the south via the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) should stop parroting the line that they are helping in the fight against the lawless elements through training and military modernization through “grants” or whatever they want to call it. In effect, with the opening of the Pandora’s box, releasing the hidden hundreds of millions of pesos being pocketed by some corrupt military and government officials, it is now time to seriously consider the fate of this “agreement”.

Uncle Sam’s global war on terror justifies every reason that there is really a threat from the terrorists in our territory and actually benefiting the need for more funds to implement the so called war in the process. Just like in the global context, the superpower wanted this outside enemy in order to justify its preemptive war against sovereign nations. Who wants to kill the goose that lays the golden egg anyway?

This writer will not get tired of reminding people especially those in the Palace that the alleged benefits that we are getting from the VFA are just full of BS and now it’s becoming a war for the convenience and enrichment of the few while the poor soldiers on the ground are the ones suffering. Is it that hard to comprehend? The mortal sins of these few grafters were pocketing the money of the United Nations and the Abu Sayyaf's. This is a no-no to the globalists.

If this administration is sincere for the reason they were put into power, now is the time to make a firm stand or all of us will suffer soon.

The deaths of our best soldiers and a lot of civilians for several years now are enough reasons to put an end to this endless clash that had put a lot of cash into the pockets of the greedy.

I have to remind our leaders on how the globalists operate. They will tolerate greed and corruption but when the day of reckoning comes, they will dump these leaders, dictators or officials like a hot potato like what they did to Marcos,etc. The current ousted leaders in the middle east like Ben Ali of Tunisia and soon Egypt President Hosni Mubarak, an ever loyal ally of the Americans are good example of these crisis by design. Let's watch how the cookie crumbles in North Africa and the Middle East.