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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

‘I like Rodrigo, he’s a good guy’

 (The Philippine Star)
US President Donald Trump waves goodbye at the NAIA as he enters Air Force One yesterday.
MANILA, Philippines — Before boarding Air Force One that would take him back to Washington, US President Donald Trump yesterday made sure his words would reach the ears of President Duterte.
Sent off by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Trump said, “Tell Rodrigo I like him very much. He’s a good guy. I had a great time here.”
Medialdea, along with US Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez and US Ambassador Sung Kim, led the send-off party at NAIA.
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“I think it’s a very successful trip and the Philippines and the US relations are back on track,” Romualdez said. He will fly to Washington on Monday to officially start his tour of duty.
“I told (Trump to) have a safe trip. I’ll see you in Washington,” Romualdez said, referring to his presentation of credentials at the White House.
Trump reportedly answered: “We look forward to it.” 
From the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City where he was billeted during his two-day stay in the country for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Meetings, Trump took the Marine One helicopter to NAIA.
Air Force One took off from the NAIA’s Balagbag ramp at 3:26 p.m.
Before he left, Trump delivered his speech at the East Asia Summit (EAS) at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
The EAS is chaired by Duterte, who is also this year’s host of the Leaders’ Summit.
Trump, however, did not stay to join the traditional “family photo” with fellow EAS leaders.
Trump attended the just-concluded ASEAN-US Summit and had bilateral talks with Duterte last Monday night on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit held.
At the gala dinner at the SMX Convention Center last Sunday, Duterte said Trump prompted him to join “Asia’s Queen of Songs” Pilita Corrales in singing “Ikaw.”
“Tremendous talent. Musical talent, dance talent, and we really had a tremendous time, all of the leaders,” Trump said.
“The Filipino performers were great. But the greatest performer was him,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, referring to Duterte, quoted Trump as having told him while the latter pointed his finger to where Duterte was seated with partner Honeylet Avanceña.
Dureza said that he took a chance to engage Trump in a brief chat when the US President passed by and shook hands with him after the gala dinner.
“I told him: you should practice singing, too, so you could do a duet together next time,” Dureza said.
To which Trump replied: “Great idea. I’ll do that.”
Dureza later joined the bilateral talks with Trump and his official delegation along with Medialdea and other Cabinet officials, including Romualdez and Kim.
“The whole bilateral meeting showed clear good vibes between the two leaders,” Dureza said.

‘Many good friends’

Over his two-day stay in the country, Trump said he made “many good friends.”
In his Twitter post yesterday, Trump said he also looks forward to forging “fair trade deals” with ASEAN countries and dialogue partners.
“Just arrived at #ASEAN50 in the Philippines for my final stop with world leaders. Will lead to fair trade deals unlike the horror shows from past administrations,” he said.
Trump was apparently referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that his predecessor Barack Obama had pushed for in the region.
One of Trump’s first actions as president was to quit TPP, a broad trade agreement with 11 other nations.
In their first bilateral meeting, Trump and Duterte discussed illegal drugs, free trade and aid for the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City.
They also briefly talked about human rights in the country, according to Romualdez. 
The US leader earlier hailed his “great relationship” with the Philippine president.

‘Making America great again’

For Trump, his Asian trip was all about making America great again.
Yesterday, he declared the success of his five-country trip in the region, saying all countries dealing with the US know that the “rules have changed.”
“Will be leaving the Philippines (on Tuesday) after many days of constant meetings and work in order to #MAGA (Make America Great Again)! My promises are rapidly being fulfilled,” Trump tweeted.
“After my tour of Asia, all countries dealing with us on trade know that the rules have changed. The United States has to be treated fairly and in a reciprocal fashion. The massive trade deficits must go down quickly!” he added.
The US president campaigned on a platform of bringing back jobs in the US, criticizing various deals made by his predecessor.
Details of the deals made by Trump during his trip to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines have yet to be released.
But in the joint statement issued by the Philippines and the US after the bilateral meeting of Trump and President Duterte, it was mentioned that the two leaders agreed to deepen the economic relationship of the long-time allies.
“The two leaders pledged to nurture economic ties, including private sector cooperation, to create jobs and opportunities for people in both countries. To this end, both sides will explore strengthening dialogues for innovation and sharing of best practices in technology to optimize the position of the Philippines as a preferred destination for American investments in the Asia-Pacific region,” the joint statement read.
The statement said the US welcomed the Philippines’ interest in a bilateral free trade agreement and that both sides agreed to discuss the matter further through the US-Philippines Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
Trump also held meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the Philippines. – With Helen Flores, Janvic Mateo

ASEAN won’t interfere in drug war

The regional bloc welcomed the assistance of dialogue partners and other external parties in addressing this problem through capacity-building, intelligence information sharing and other forms of cooperation consistent with relevant international laws “all the while preserving the sovereign right of countries in deciding the most appropriate approaches to address their national drug situations.” King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo
MANILA, Philippines — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) recognizes the sovereign right of countries in deciding the “most appropriate approaches” to address their national drug problems, in an acknowledgement of President Duterte’s war on drugs.
In a draft chairman’s statement of the 31st ASEAN Summit, the group also recognizes that the illegal drug problem is affecting not only some member-states but also other countries outside the region.
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The regional bloc welcomed the assistance of dialogue partners and other external parties in addressing this problem through capacity-building, intelligence information sharing and other forms of cooperation consistent with relevant international laws “all the while preserving the sovereign right of countries in deciding the most appropriate approaches to address their national drug situations.”
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“We reaffirmed our commitment to a Drug-Free ASEAN,” the statement said.
The bloc also welcomed the progress in the implementation of the ASEAN Work Plan on Securing Communities Against Illicit Drugs 2016-2025 and the adoption of the ASEAN Cooperation Plan to Tackle Illicit Drug Production and Trafficking in the Golden Triangle 2017-2019, charting the region’s actions for the next two years in tackling the drug problem.
It commended the good work of the ASEAN Narcotics Cooperation Center in publishing the second installment of the region’s drug report – the ASEAN Drug Monitoring Report 2016 – incorporating the drug trends and drug problem in the region in 2016. 
It also acknowledged the continuing efforts of the ASEAN bodies – Narcotics Cooperation Center, Airport Interdiction Task Force and Seaport Interdiction Task Force – in strengthening ASEAN cooperation, especially on information sharing and intelligence exchange as well as capacity building among drug control and law enforcement agencies at border checkpoints in the region.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

SEC files criminal complaint vs. Calata Corp.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 9) — The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed at the Justice Department on Wednesday a criminal complaint against agribusiness firm Calata Corporation.
The SEC slapped the Calata Corp., its officers, and its directors with the violation of the Securities Regulation Code for alleged market manipulation and "false and misleading" statements about their partnership to build and operate the ₱65-billion Mactan Leisure City Resort and Casino in Cebu.
According to SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection director Jose Aquino, Calata Corp. had filed a disclosure at the SEC and Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) regarding the establishment of the resort, even as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) had denied the company's licensing application for the project when the statements were made.
Aquino said the company made it appear as if they would receive a license for the project, which would be fully operational by 2020.
"There was no disclose. So when the disclosure came they made it appear as if there was still that plan. In fact the disclose was in 2017 they would be able to receive license, and by 2020 it would be fully operationalize. That is why we are filing a case," Aquino said.
Following news of the partnership, the price of CALATA shares rose roughly 28 percent to ₱3.55 per share compared to ₱2.77 the day before.
"The evidence shows that investors traded CALATA shares in reaction to the disclosure concerning the establishment of the ₱64 billion Mactan Leisure Cty Project," the complaint said.
The SEC is accusing the company of market manipulation under section 24 (d) and making false statements in a SEC report under section 54.1 (c) in relation to sections 17 and 54.2 of the Securities Regulation Code.
The SEC's complaint comes after the Philippine Stock Exchange announced in a November 7 memo it had decided to delist Calata Corp. for violation of its disclosure rules.
Trading for the company, which has been suspended since June 30, 2017, will remain on hold until the effective date of delisting, PSE added.
Calata Corporation is one of the country's biggest agricultural conglomerates.
According to its website, it is the "largest retailer and distributor of top agrochemical brands, feeds, fertilizers, veterinary medicines and seeds throughout the country."

Isolating itself from the people

Backbencher by Rod Kapunan

The rally on Edsa called by Catholic Archbishop Socrates Villegas was greeted with sharp reaction from an increasing number of anti-cleric and anti-oligarch elements in our society because the organizers sought to highlight the issue of “extrajudicial killings” and human rights violation. The rally headed by known reactionary and conservative elements in the Church has lost much of its appeal because 1986 and 2017 belong to two different political condition and situation with the people more conscious of the issues being presented.
The organizers cannot deny their motive nor can they segregate the issue as non-political because the issue of extrajudicial killings is now being exploited by elements opposed to President Duterte which the government has vigorously pursued to eradicate the more debilitating problem of illegal drugs. The issues of EJK and human rights violation are bound to collapse not because the majority favor the slaughter of their own kind but of the fact that the yellow opposition and their traditional ally from the extreme left have already prejudged the Duterte administration as responsible for the extrajudicial killings of drug lords, couriers and pushers.
Everybody knows that the clerics and their not-so-religious allies representing the oligarchy and the communists attended to emasculate the number to give credibility to their prejudgement of the government as behind these killings. Undeniably, their motive was political. In fact, for one to express his objection against the so-called extrajudicial killings, he cannot escape the indictment that he supports the continued spread of dangerous drugs. It is political because it leaves no room for the person to explain why he opted to take that stand.
This explains why the so-called healing rally was attended by prominent anti-Duterte personalities coming from the same political spectrum led by the hallucinating yellow opposition, corrupt Liberal Party and the ever opportunistic Left. Even the not-so-politicized public was able to readily identify them as anti-Duterte for the fact that they all raise the same issue. The presence of political personalities as Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Neri Colmenares, Teddy Casiño and former presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda was more than enough to tell who they are.
The crux about the position taken by these hapless hypocrites in castigating the administration is it contravenes the very problem which the society wants to eradicate. Nobody wants to commit extrajudicial killings or violate human rights, but the use of illegal drugs which has become pervasive that those engaged in the manufacture, importation, sale and distribution of illegal drugs have become punitive that imposing higher penalties has become illusory. Paradoxically, for anyone to take a soft stand against this menace that is ripping apart the rubrics of our society is to condone the spread of illegal drugs. One cannot make himself an objective observer on the issue, for even if he is not directly affected, it is his society that is being destroyed.
Human rights violation is a political issue, no doubt. It comes in various forms, and violation of human rights happens when the government allows the perpetuation of an extremely unequal society resulting in poverty, hunger, malnutrition, disease, ignorance and deprivation in the basic needs for human survival. It is this depressing situation where the Church has consistently and systematically violated because God created men not to be deprived of their basic needs which He himself created.
Poverty is man-made just as human rights violation. But as we see it today, the Church has opted to side itself with the oligarchs, the elite, the landlords and with a foreign power that continue to meddle in our internal affairs under the pretext of protecting human rights. It is this fact about the stand of the Church that gained for it the notoriety as a class that thrives on poverty. The Church knows that where there is poverty, there is ignorance. Without poverty created by society, people would see less value for priests like Archbishop Villegas.
With the advent of computer technology where the social media was subsequently invented, people managed to express their sentiment directly through that network which is sometimes called alternative media. The advent of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. now pose as the greatest threat to the corporate monopoly of the mass media. People are now able to effectively present their suggestions which inextricably led to the gradual death of the tri-media: radio, television and newspapers. The social or alternative media is not only a competition in business, as capitalists eating their own kind, but one that is engaged in a different way to disseminate information with the people themselves moulding and shaping their own opinion on every given issue.
We mention this because it is in this remaining bunker where the oligarchs, the elite, the landlords, and the Church thought would allow them to continue in promoting their bogus democracy touted as freedom of the press and of expression. The Church and its allies from the oligarchy and the Left believe that through their controlled mainstream media, they can still project that phantom of representing the majority. The people, no matter how discordant their views on issues, remain credible because of their endorsement of this pro-poor administration vis-a-vis in condemning the extravagance of the rich.
The Church cannot set itself apart from this reality. The issue about extrajudicial killings and human rights violation are issues they never raised when its allies were in power. They waited until after the Duterte administration came to power. Unfortunately, President Duterte’s appointed Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque immediately lectured his subordinate about the so-called “value of mainstream media to government and society.” Roque is completely ignorant of what is going on. He forgot that the mainstream media despite losing much of its steam has long been appropriated by the oligarchy and the moneyed class.
There is no way Roque can convince the mainstream media to side with Duterte because the issue is not about the idealism of justice or about that self-serving claim that they represent the majority which is a falsity, but a war fighting for their own class interest. It may sound a bit Marxist, but the mainstream media is defending their class interest, of their corporate owners which succeeded in reducing Left as their barking mascot. The Church, sadly enough, chose to float in the heavens of hallucination. 
(rpkapunan@gmail.com)

Monday, November 13, 2017

"The Filipino Spirit is Rising"

Dear everyone,

This is not only inspiring but a must read for every Filipino and for all who would want to change the world. This is true today as the day it was given in 2007 - 10 years ago.
Please pass it on!

God bless!

Tony Meloto, the visionary and driving force behind the Gawad Kalinga movement, is gifted with a Doctorate of Humanities, Honoris Causa, by the Ateneo de Davao. He then delivers a speech to the graduates of the university, a challenge actually, for patriotism and heroism. The same message will be given to eight other colleges and universities who have asked Tony Meloto to be their commencement speaker for 2007.

"The Filipino Spirit is Rising"
Antonio Meloto
2007 Commencement Exercises
Ateneo de Davao University

Today, I feel intelligent. Not only am I addressing some of the brightest minds in Mindanao, but I am also being honored by this prestigious university with a Doctorate in Humanities, Honoris Causa. This is the first doctorate that I have received and I am accepting it in all humility and pride as a recognition of the nobility of the cause and the heroism of the thousands of Gawad Kalinga workers that I represent. Thank you Fr. Ting Samson and Ateneo de Davao for bestowing the highest academic degree on a man who was born without a pedigree- the "askal" (asong kalye) who went to Ateneo and came back to the slums to help those he left behind.

To a person like myself who did not excel in Ateneo in my pursuit of a college degree, receiving this Ph. D. is extremely flattering being fully conscious that my principal role in this movement is to be the storyteller of the many who put in the sacrifice and the hard work and yet have remained mostly unrecognized. It is also exhilarating because it builds on the growing global awareness, triggered by Gawad Kalinga and other movements that have not given up on our country, that the Filipinos can and will build a squatter-free, slum- free and hunger- free Philippines by committing their collective genius, passion and strength towards restoring the dignity and the potential for excellence of the poor, the weak and the powerless.

The Filipino spirit today is rising wherever he is in the world. He is starting to discover that he has the power to liberate himself from being a slave of the past... that he can remove the label stuck to his soul as a second class people from a third world country... that he can correct the scandal of history of being the most corrupt in Asia despite being the only Christian nation, until East Timor, in the region.

In the right setting the Filipino has proven that he can be law- abiding, hardworking, honest and excellent.

Over the years, I have not met a Filipino beggar in my travel to the US, Canada and Australia...not a single beggar that I have seen or have heard of out of more than 2 million Filipinos in the US; many Caucasians, Afro- Americans and Latinos- yes- but no Filipinos. Clearly, it is not the nature of Filipinos to beg if he is in the right home and community environment. The mendicant culture in his native land is man- made and artificial and can therefore be unmade and corrected if we give him back his dignity which is his birthright as a son of God.

In the same vein, we know that the Filipino is not lazy. Time Magazine in its 2006 article on Happiness identifies the Filipino as one of the ethnic groups in America least likely to go on welfare. How many of us know of friends and relatives who would take on two or even three jobs in pursuit of their dreams for a better life. Hardworking when motivated, resilient when tested- that is the Filipino...that is us. It is no surprise therefore that the average income of the Filipino- Americans is higher that the US national average; the former slave is now richer than the master in his master's home country.

We must believe that we were designed for excellence. World- class Filipino doctors and nurses are healing the sick of America and Europe. Our sailors dominate the seas in every mode of marine transport for commerce and pleasure providing every imaginable form of service- and often always, they are the best navigators, the best chefs, the best entertainers. Thriving economies in Asia carry the mark of Filipino managerial expertise in their start-up stage. Filipino CEOs, CFOs, COOs captain top multinational corporations carrying on the proud expat tradition of SGV's Washington Sycip, PLDT-SMART's Manny Pagnilinan, P&G's Manny Pacis and many others.

Sadly, we are top of the line, crème de la crème, the best of the best elsewhere in the world except in our homeland. While the Jews and the Arabs were busy building abundance out of their desert, we were busy creating a desert out of our abundance.

Let us put a stop to our inanity and hypocrisy. Let us stop cracking jokes about our shame and misery. Instead let us celebrate with our hard work and integrity the return of our honor and pride as a gifted people, blessed by God with this beautiful land. Let us honor every great deed, every sacrifice, and every kindness that we extend to our disadvantaged and needy countrymen.

Let us put an end to our lamentation. We have suffered long enough. For 400 years, we have been gnashing our teeth, blaming one another, stepping on each other and yet have the temerity at the end of the day to ask God why this is happening as if it was His fault. It is now time to hope, to care, to work together and to rejoice.

Yes, we will rise as a nation if we nurture this emerging beautiful spirit of the Filipino and cultivate an intelligent heart. How? When we show our love for God by being our brother's keeper- giving land to the landless, homes to the homeless and food to the hungry. This is about love and justice in a country where the majority of our people are landless, millions of them living in shanties and slums and 17% of them experiencing hunger in a rich and fertile land. This is not about charity but about authentic Christian stewardship and nation- building.

We will rise as a nation when rich Filipinos will consider the poor as an heir, like our youngest child, equal in worth and dignity with our own children, deserving an equal share in our children's inheritance. A beautiful spirit and an intelligent heart consider the poor as family, see the face of Christ in them, and see the paradise that every slum community can become. That is why every GK home is beautifully painted and the standard of landscaping of every GK village is Ayala Alabang or Ladislawa in the case of Davao.

When we build first world communities for the poorest Filipino, we give them dignity and first world aspirations that will motivate them to dream bigger and work harder with support and nurturing. A recent study of GK Brookside, Payatas conducted by the UP Diliman College of Economics revealed an amazing result - the confidence and self- respect of the residents, many of them former scavengers, rose from 17% before GK to 99% after GK; 93% consider themselves better off in terms of quality of life and 96% believe that their economic situation will improve in the future. Clearly the spirit of the poor is rising because those with the most share their best with the least.

This nation will rise if her sons and daughters abroad will see wisdom in helping not just their relatives, which is an admirable Filipino trait, but also the poor they do not know who need help the most.

Last night, I arrived from a 1- week trip to the U.S. for the world premiere in Chicago of "Paraiso", the Gawad Kalinga movie, and to attend GK events in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The movie was a big hit but the bigger hit for me was the phenomenal response of our patriots in America to help the motherland by building self-reliant and sustainable GK communities. The UST Medical Alumni Association of America Board was planning not just building more houses but also hospitals and community health programs through Gawad Kalusugan. USTMAA president Dr. Primo Andres is building a beautiful GK Village for his wife, Sylvia in Panabo, Davao where she comes from as an expression of his deep affection for her. Another Davaoeno, former Cabinet Secretary Cito Lorenzo, joined me in booming Las Vegas to honor Filipino entertainers and realtors who are investing in the rebuilding of their home country.

Passion for the Philippines was evident everywhere I went. From successful young San Diego businessman Tony Olaes who spoke about sleepless nights in his excitement to help fund 20 new GK villages with his Filipino business partners to the SouthCal Ancop Sikad Bikers pedaling to build Sibol Schools and the Bayanihan Builders who are retired professionals in Los Angeles repairing homes of neighbors to raise resources to build homes in Bicol, to the 8 nurses in NorCal working extra shifts to fund their individual GK villages. The Filipino exile is waking up and starting to unleash a stream of Patriot Funds that will augment the OFW flow in fuelling the Philippine economy.

Today, I am here to salute the beautiful spirit and the intelligent heart of the people of Mindanao. Many of our volunteers here, like many in other parts of the country, build homes for the poor when they themselves do not own land or home. Christians here starting with caretakers from Couples for Christ set aside fear and comfort to serve our fellow Filipinos in Camp Abubakar and other Moslem GK communities. Your students are going out of the classrooms to learn about life and love of God and country by serving in poor communities. The LGU of Davao led by Mayor Duterte and many throughout Mindanao are doing massive land banking in solidarity with our conviction that no Filipino deserves to be a squatter in his own country. And many families here are starting to understand that giving a part of their land to give dignity and security to the landless and homeless poor is not only right with God but also builds peace, triggers economic activity, improves land values- creates a win- win situation for all.

And to you my dear graduates, what can I say? Congratulations of course for finishing what you began and for joining the ranks of the elite few of the Filipinos with a college degree. I thank your parents for their sacrifice and for giving us sons and daughters who will steward this country better than us.

You are entering adult life equipped with a degree from a respected university at an auspicious time in the life of our country. It is your destiny to reach maturity during this great season of hope, this exciting time of awakening, this period of great challenge and heroism.

You have the choice and the opportunity to correct the mistakes of our generation and build a future full of hope in this country. You can be the new breed of political leaders who will gain your mandate through visible and quantifiable performance, rather than mastery of the art of winning elections through cheating and corruption. You can be the new captains of business and industry who will work for profit with a conscience, expanding the market base by wisely investing in developing the potential of the poor for productivity. You can be the new elite of this country who will not be happy to send your children to exclusive schools and live in exclusive subdivisions if out of school street children are ignored and Lazarus continues to live as a squatter outside your gates.

Who can stop us from claiming our Promised Land? Spain is not our master anymore. America is not our master anymore. Japan is not our master anymore. Our enemies are not the corrupt politicians, the greedy rich, the lazy poor, the religious hypocrites and other convenient scapegoats. Our enemies are not out there anymore. Our enemies are now within us.

We have compromised our values and tolerated corruption. We have lowered our standard and tolerated poverty. We have sacrificed the truth for hypocrisy. We have chosen convenience for vision, popularity for leadership...and have chosen despair over hope.

Do we fight or do we run? Is there a King Leonides among you who will fight for honor and freedom? Are there 300 Spartans among you who will confront our enemies with extraordinary courage and love? Can you be the army who will lead our people to victory following the path of peace? Are you the generation of patriots who can shout to the world that no Filipino will remain poor because you will not allow it; that no Filipino will remain a squatter because you will not allow it; that no politician will remain corrupt because you will not allow it?

If you are, then join us in Gawad Kalinga. Together, we can build a great nation, first world in the eyes of God and respected by other great nations.

Godspeed to you our patriots and heroes. God bless our beloved Philippines.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

‘Moron-in-Chief’

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz
Trump-moron.2It’s not everyday that someone would call the most powerful leader in the world a “moron” or anything close to that. But that’s what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did. And for those who don’t know what it means, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “moron” as a “very stupid person” or “a person affected with mild mental retardation,” which then begs the question: Is Donald J. Trump a moron?
But whatever you might think about it, the real reason Tillerson called Trump a moron is actually “terrifying” as the Daily Beast reported the incident on October 4, 2017. It reported that the insult came one day after “a meeting about Afghanistan in which Trump compared the process of reviewing strategy in the country to the renovation of a high-end New York restaurant.” It then said that NBC News reported that “Tillerson called Trump a ‘moron’ after a meeting concerning the US’ nuclear arsenal in which Trump asked for 10 times more nuclear weapons.”
According to NBC News, the meeting was in July and Trump’s “insane request” was apparently in response to information Trump was given about the US’ steady decrease in nuclear weapons since the late 60’s. The officials at the meeting were said to be surprised by his request, and had to explain to Trump “the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup.”
The NBC News reported further that Trump said several times that he also wanted more troops and military equipment. But officials told NBC News that no increase in the nuclear arsenal is planned. Soon after the meeting ended, the officials who stayed behind overheard Tillerson say that Trump was a “moron.” When a reporter asked Tillerson to confirm if he called Trump a “moron,” he didn’t dispute it.
But what might sound “petty” is a serious problem… a very serious problem, considering that the person referred to as a “moron” is the most powerful man on earth who has at his disposal more than 5,000 nuclear warheads. And he wanted to increase that number tenfold? This man is not only a “moron,” he is the “Moron-in-Chief.” And he must be crazy, too!
Dr. Strangelove
Dr-Strangelove-TrumpWhich reminds me of the 1964 movie, “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” It is a political satire black comedy film that satirizes the Cold War fears of a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States.
Although the Cold War is now over, the specter of a nuclear war is still very real. With North Korea threatening to attack the U.S. with a barrage of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, it has driven Trump closer to the brink of madness and self-destruction. The sad part of it is that the whole humankind would suffer, nay perish.
In less than a year in the presidency, Trump has reduced the world’s only superpower to an impotent eunuch denigrated by rogue states like North Korea and Iran.
When Trump addressed the U.N. General Assembly with a threat to “totally destroy North Korea” if the U.S. is forced to defend itself or its allies, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un responded: “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.” Kim’s personal response marked an escalation of the word war between Trump and Kim. North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA then released the following statement: “The mentally deranged behavior of the U.S. president openly expressing on the UN arena the unethical will to ‘totally destroy’ a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking faculty think about discretion and composure.”
So, where is all this hyperbole leading? With North Korea conducting 19 missile tests and one nuclear test in 2017, North Korea is getting closer to its goal of developing a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile that could target the U.S. North Korea is now believed to possess 60 nuclear weapons.
Trump’s miscalculations
TPP-MAP.6But North Korea’s nuclear blackmail is only the tip of the iceberg. While the threat can be neutralized at a very high cost in lives and resources, there are a number of Trump miscalculations that could change the world order.
In my column, “Trump’s geopolitical miscalculations,” (May 12, 2017), I wrote: “But the worst in Trump’s miscalculations in Asia was his decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a security and economic agreement between 12 countries led by the U.S. Seven of the member-countries hail from the Asia-Pacific: Australia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam, of which four are ASEAN members (Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam). Collectively, the TPP member-countries account for 40% of world trade. Ironically, it was the U.S. under the presidency of Obama who started the negotiations among the 12 countries. Unfortunately, while 11 countries ratified TPP in 2016, the U.S. Congress under Republican control failed – or refused – to ratify it in the last few months of Obama’s presidency. When Trump took over, withdrawal from TPP was one of his first acts – victims of his vindictive assault on policies and programs that Obama implemented.”
China fills the void
Trump-TPP-withdrawal-cartoonWith the U.S. out of the “big picture,” it is anticipated that China would step in to take the place of the U.S. in the TPP. It’s ironic that TPP, which the U.S. was instrumental in forming as a counterbalance China’s dominance in world trade, would end up circling in China’s orbit.
But while the TPP might hurt the U.S.’s trade relations, there is nothing more destructive than Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement last June. The agreement was adopted by consensus by representatives of 196 parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of UNFCCC in Paris on December 12, 2015. To date, 195 members have signed the agreement, 168 of which have ratified it. By Trump’s withdrawal, the U.S. will join two other U.N. member countries – Syria and Nicaragua — that haven’t signed on.
On October12, 2017, Trump brought his war to the home front, launching an assault on Obamacare. He issued an executive order that stopped payments worth billions of dollars to health insurers to subsidize low-income Americans. It was a move health insurers have warned will cause chaos in insurance markets and a spike in premiums.
The following day, Trump did what he’d been threatening to do and that is: pull out of a deal freezing and reversing Iran’s nuclear program if Congress and U.S. allies do not agree to strengthen it. In trying to justify his decision, Trump said: “As I have said many times, the Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”
Sad to say, what Obama put together in the eight years he was president, Trump dismantled them in eight months. And it would probably take another eight years –maybe more — to put them back together. As someone once said, “Rome wasn’t built in one day, but they were laying bricks every hour.” In the case of the U.S., Trump is burning it, day after day. And he fiddled while doing it.
(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The True Confession

Reflections
Fr. Shay Cullen
PREDA Foundation
Drug-pusher-killed-and-wifeImagine Juan, a barangay official in the Philippines as he sat in the church alone. He was waiting for the priest and when Father Pepito came into the sanctuary, he noticed Juan looking distressed and he went to him and he asked in Tagalog, “Can I help you?”
“Yes, Father, I want to confess but I am ashamed of what I have done, not even God can forgive me,” he answered speaking in Tagalog.
“You don’t know the mercy of a loving, caring Jesus. If you are truly repentant and willing to make amends for what you have done, forgiveness is possible.”
“Father, forgive me, my conscience will not let me sleep at night, I am deeply troubled by what I have done.”
“What is it you have done?”
Then he opened up and his story, poured out seeking relief and expiation of past deeds.
“Father, I joined a police squad. I became a vigilante, we wore bonnets and we just selected anyone in the barangay. It was a young suspect, a teenager, tagged as a suspect but we had no evidence on him doing anything illegal and the group said we will get him.”
He fell silent his head sunk into his hands and he wept.
“What happened, what did it mean to “get him?” Father Pepito asked him fearing the worst. Wiping his eyes and in a low whisper Juan confessed, “We killed him, at night, we took him out of his house and shot him, we made it make look like he fired a gun at us, but he didn’t and then we wrapped him in a plastic bag and taped him and put a sign, “Drug addict ito.” It was to be a warning to others.”
Father Pepito was shocked hearing this story. He prayed to God to give him the moral strength to hear it out and to know the right thing to do. He was silent for a while and then asked Juan.
“Why did you and the others do it?”
“For money, we were offered a payment, a bounty for every one killed and we were told we could save the nation.”
“Was that all?” Father Pepito asked.
“No,” Juan answered. “That was just the beginning, there were many others,” he said and he sobbed again.
Father Pepito was listening to a contract killer, a serial assassin and he had to think if this was a real confession, a real change of heart and mind, a turning to God or just a man with a troubled conscience seeking psychological relief and counseling.
“Juan, if this is to be a true confession,” he replied after a while, “you will turn to God and follow his way and change your life. You have to believe and live out the Gospel and repent, do penance and make restitution first, then you will be truly forgiven ”.
“What is the penance and restitution?” Juan asked looking up at Father Pepito.
“You have to turn yourself into the custody of a trusted authority under the protection of the Bishop and testify in the Senate about the death squad. That will be a true confession and your penance and restitution to the victims of the death squad. Then you will truly be forgiven. True faith must be seen in action for good.”
There is a good change coming in some Filipino communities where the conscience of the people is emerging from a dark night of unknowing. They are realizing that they have been led astray and mesmerized by the shrill rhetoric of the voices of violence. They were convinced that killing suspects was the best way to bring peace and create a drug-free society. Many Filipinos these days are slowly awaking to the truth that the extrajudicial killing (EJK) of the poor is really murders and that to remain silent before evil is to give support to the evil. One report says that forces unknown have killed 12,000 already. No one has been held responsible. But the day of reckoning is approaching.
The people are now listening to the voices proclaiming the truth and protesting the killings such as outspoken Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Caloocan City. He calls on the killers to repent and they need to be prayed for as they are the “living dead.” If he will continue with his proclamation of the Gospel message that every person has the right to life of dignity, he too might be charged as a drug lord to silence his voice.
That is what conscience is: an inner knowledge of what is true and false, good and evil, right and wrong. Conscience can be manipulated and weakened and can be corrupted to believe that what is evil is good. This is achieved by fake media hype, the example of leaders making false promises and lies repeated many times over and hyperbole. Proclaiming the Gospel with a prophetic voice is to bring people to accept and live by the truth.
www.preda.org