Saturday, November 30, 2013

China ‘observes’ US B-52s

By Sun Xiaobo
Global Times 
Air-defense-identifcation-zone-B-52-flyoverChina said Wednesday that it has observed the US B-52 bombers flying in its newly established Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea, asserting that it is capable of exercising effective control over the airspace.
The unarmed bombers flew from Guam to China’s ADIZ on a scheduled training mission and didn’t encounter any Chinese planes, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren told reporters Tuesday.
“We have continued to follow our normal procedures, which include not filing flight plans, not radioing ahead and not registering our frequencies,” Warren said, according to Reuters.
In a statement posted on the website of China’s defense ministry on Wednesday, the ministry’s spokesperson Geng Yansheng said the US aircraft flew south and north along the eastern border of the zone from 11 am to 1:22 pm on Tuesday, about 200 kilometers to the east of the Diaoyu Islands, which are at the center of a territorial dispute between China and Japan.
The Chinese army has monitored the whole process, conducted identification in a timely manner and ascertained the aircraft’s type, Geng said.
“China is capable of exercising effective control over this airspace,” Geng added.
The defiant move from the US came after its opposition against China’s establishment of the zone over the past weekend, which demands any aircraft flying in the zone to provide its flight plan to the Chinese side.
With the timing of this flight, the US has made very clear its defiance to not accept the ADIZ established by China, an air force expert, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
The move also symbolizes US support for Japan, with which Washington has a security pact, said analysts.
The US Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, said Wednesday, “The Japanese can see every day that America is here for them as a partner in the defense of Japan.”
However, the air force expert noted the US wouldn’t go too far in contesting China, given the fact that the B-52s were on an unarmed training mission. “It sends a signal to Japan that it doesn’t want to see the conflict escalate and hence Japan should not step too much across the line,” he added.
The US defiance aroused anger among Chinese Web users on Sina Weibo, with many of them calling for the government to act more aggressively.
“We need to take a rational attitude as the ADIZ emphasizes identification and is not an operational zone,” the expert said, noting that it won’t be the last time that US aircraft enter the zone.
China has warned that those who do not comply with its rules about the ADIZ can face “defensive emergency measures,” but didn’t specify what the measures would be.
Asked whether Tuesday’s reaction toward the US bombers would be the same for other foreign planes entering the ADIZ without notification, foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang told a press briefing Wednesday that for any similar cases in the future, China would “make an appropriate response” that depended on the “situation and degree of threat.”
China needs to deliver a more explicit message regarding its position on the zone to the US and the current conflict is better addressed through diplomatic negotiations rather than any other means, said Jia Qingguo, an associate dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University.
Following China’s establishment of the ADIZ, the Japanese defense ministry proposed expanding its similar zone to the Ogasawara Islands, some 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo, and the proposal has entered discussions about its implementation, Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun paper reported on Wednesday.
“Japan wants to take the opportunity to expand its military presence and assert its control of the islands,” the military expert said.
At the request of the Japanese government, Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings said they stopped giving flight plans and other information to Chinese authorities on Wednesday.
Also on Wednesday, Qin, the foreign ministry spokesperson, refuted Australia’s criticism of the zone after Australia summoned the Chinese ambassador to ask for an explanation.
“Australia’s irresponsible statements on the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone are completely mistaken, China cannot accept them,” he said in a statement.
Qin said that China had “expressed its strong dissatisfaction” and called on Australia to “immediately correct its mistake, so as to avoid damaging China-Australia relations.”

Quick US response tones down China rhetoric in air defense row

By Erik Slavin
Stars and Stripes
Senior Airman John Myer fixes a tire on a B-52H Stratofortress at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. in January. On Tuesday, the United States sent two B-52s on a previously planned mission into China's newly created East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. The U.S. and Japan have both said they will not recognize the zone, which includes airspace over the Japan-administered Senkaku islands. (Vernon Young Jr./Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force)
Senior Airman John Myer fixes a tire on a B-52H Stratofortress at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. in January. On Tuesday, the United States sent two B-52s on a previously planned mission into China’s newly created East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. The U.S. and Japan have both said they will not recognize the zone, which includes airspace over the Japan-administered Senkaku islands. (Vernon Young Jr./Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force)
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — An unarmed B-52 bomber mission Tuesday into China’s three-day-old Air Defense Identification Zone may well have been planned far in advance, but there was nothing routine about it.
The two-bomber flight sent a message to China: You will not drive a wedge between close allies Japan and the U.S. over the sovereignty of the Senkaku islands, regional analysts said Wednesday. The dramatic response by the United States served as a deterrent to China’s designs on Japanese-administered Senkaku, claimed by China as the Diaoyutai islands, they said.
China claims the islands — and their resource-rich waters — by right of historical discovery. Senkaku was claimed by Japan in 1895 and restored to its possession by the United States in 1972, along with Okinawa.
The East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, created unilaterally by Beijing, includes airspace over Senkaku and runs for roughly 600 miles from north to south.
“The United States has a long tradition of upholding international law in the seas and air,” said Carlyle Thayer, an American author and professor emeritus at Australia’s University of New South Wales. “It doesn’t allow a creeping change of the status quo in international law by individual countries.”
For now, it appears the United States’ unequivocal rejection of the air defense zone has been strategically successful. It gave Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cover to talk tough about defense of Senkaku and freedom of the skies in a televised parliamentary session.
“We demand China revoke any measures that could infringe upon the freedom of flight in international airspace,” Abe said Monday.
South Korea, a key U.S. ally, which has been warming to China under its new presidential administration, also chastised Beijing. Australia called in China’s ambassador for an explanation of the move.
It was China’s move Wednesday.
Three days earlier, China’s Defense Ministry spokesman called Japan’s rejection of the zone “groundless and totally unacceptable,” while accusing the U.S. of “inappropriate remarks” in support of Japan.
China’s Wednesday afternoon statement was far more muted. It noted that U.S. aircraft had spent more than two hours in the newly created air defense zone.
“China has the capability to exercise effective control over the relevant airspace,” the brief statement said.
The statement said nothing about demands for flight plans, active transponders or any of the rules that, if broken, China said Sunday might justify “emergency defensive measures.”
From the Chinese point of view, the United States is being hypocritical. The U.S. set up its own air defense identification zone in 1950, following the outbreak of the Korean War.
The zone stretches for hundreds of miles on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, as well as along the Canadian and Alaskan borders, and along the Gulf of Mexico coast.
However, there are two key differences. First, China wants to apply its zone to any non-commercial traffic in a wide swath of the East China Sea, no matter where the planes are headed.
The United States “does not apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not intending to enter U.S. national airspace,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement Saturday.
Second, the U.S. zone doesn’t include land claimed or administered by another country, as the new Chinese zone does with Senkaku.
Chinese officials told reporters earlier this week that the air defense zone isn’t aimed at one particular country, but most analysts see it squarely aimed at Japan and its ownership of Senkaku.
Both Japan and China call the uninhabited islands an “inherent part” of their countries, though their interests lie less in the vegetation-covered rocks than in the projected energy reserves surrounding their nearshore waters.
“I just see this as the latest attempt to get Japan back into talks … to gain an admission that there is a dispute,” Thayer said.
China hopes it can use Senkaku to create a wedge between the U.S. and Japan, said Thayer — the thinking being that the U.S. will back down to avoid a war over a pile of rocks.
Instead, China’s actions are probably strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance and may ultimately support the U.S. rebalance strategy toward Asia, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan think tank.
“Support for Japanese views may grow in Southeast Asia as states bordering the South China Sea worry about a similar Chinese move to place a South China Sea ADIZ over their disputed islands,” CSIS stated in a report released Tuesday.
A Chinese air defense zone in the South China Sea would be extremely difficult to enforce, Thayer said, because there are so many multinational military exercises there. But it is not out of the realm of possibility.
China claims most of the islands and reefs in the South China Sea, some of which it guards with coast guard cutters. Six other nations also claim some of those territories.
Several of those countries’ leaders would love to make demands of China the way Japanese Prime Minister Abe did, but wouldn’t risk it.
“Japan can sort of make those comments because they have the military capability to do so, and they have assurance of the United States coming to their aid in case those incidents happen,” said Lauro Baja, the Philippines’ former ambassador to the United Nations.
At the same time, Southeast Asia is growing more dependent on China’s economic might. The U.S. is also keen to maintain economic relations with Beijing, and well aware of its fear of the United States “encircling China” with bases and troop rotations in allied nations.
In its 2013 Defense White Paper, China noted that it has entered a “period of strategic opportunity,” but that the U.S. rebalance toward Asia is the source of “unprecedented stress” on that opportunity.
“Against that backdrop, [Chinese Premier Xi Jinping’s] frequent admonitions to the People’s Liberation Army to be prepared to ‘fight and win wars’ take on added significance,” the CSIS report noted.

U.S. B-52s flew over China’s new air defense zone

By Barbara Starr and Greg Botelho
Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt Jeff Walston)
Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt Jeff Walston)
(CNN) — Two U.S. military aircraft flew into China’s newly claimed and challenged air defense zone over the East China Sea, a U.S. official said, an action that could inflame tensions between the world powers.
The U.S. Air Force B-52 planes — which were not armed because they were on a training mission — set off Monday from Guam and returned there without incident. The mission lasted for several hours, and the aircraft were in China’s newly declared air zone for about an hour, according to the U.S. official.
The planes’ pilots did not identify themselves upon entering the disputed airspace, as China would have wanted, according to the official.
The official declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the situation.
The flights came two days after China unilaterally announced the creation of a “Air Defense Identification Zone” over several islands it and Japan have both claimed. The two countries have been sharply at odds over those isles, which are believed to be near large reserves of natural resources.
Air-defense-identifcation-zone-B-52-flyoverWashington responded negatively to what Secretary of State John Kerry characterized as an “escalatory action (that) will only increase tensions in the region and create risks of an incident.” The U.S. government has rallied around its ally Japan, where thousands of its troops are stationed as part of a security treaty.
And specifically regarding China’s new air defense zone, the United States has said it won’t recognize it — nor China’s call that aircraft entering it identify themselves and file flight plans.
Beijing, though, has dismissed the American position as unjustified and urged Washington to butt out of the territorial dispute.
Chinese defense ministry spokesman Col. Yang Yujun on Sunday called such criticism “completely unreasonable,” “irresponsible” and “inappropriate,” telling the United States to stop taking sides and not send more “wrong signals” that could lead to a “risky move by Japan.”
And China’s foreign ministry lodged a formal complaint with U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke asking Washington “to correct its mistakes immediately.”
On Tuesday, China’s U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi sidestepped a question about American warplanes violating his nation’s new air defense zone. At the same time, he defended the zone’s creation, calling it a “normal arrangement” that “doesn’t really change anything.”
“It’s natural, it’s indeed the right of every country to defend its airspace and also to make sure that its territorial integrity, its sovereignty are safeguarded,” Liu said at the United Nations.
Japan’s two main commercial airlines said Wednesday that following a request from the Japanese government, they and other members of the Scheduled Airlines Association of Japan will not submit flight plans to Chinese authorities for flights through the zone claimed by Beijing.
The two carriers, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, said the association had concluded that there would be “no impact” on the safety of passengers on board flights through the zone without the submission of flight plans to China.
Long-running dispute over islands
The disagreement centers around what’s known as the Senkaku Islands by Japan and the Diaoyu Islands by China, which are close to strategically important shipping lanes and surrounded by waters full of rich marine life.
China says its claim to these islands extends back hundreds of years. Japan, on the other hand, says it saw no trace of Chinese control of the islands in an 1885 survey, so formally recognized them as Japanese sovereign territory in 1895. Japan then sold the islands in 1932 to descendants of the original settlers.
The dispute intensified in the second half of 2012.
Protests erupted in China after Japan announced it had bought several of the disputed islands from private Japanese owners. The deal was struck in part to prevent the islands from being bought by the controversial Tokyo governor, Shintaro Ishihara, who had called for donations for a public fund to buy them.
This sale outraged China’s government, and groups of its citizens protested violently in several Chinese cities, calling for boycotts of Japanese products and urging the government to give the islands back.
In December 2012, the dispute escalated further when Japan scrambled fighter jets after a Chinese plane was seen near the islands. That situation has recurred repeatedly since, and China’s latest announcement makes it likely it will keep happening.
At sea, Chinese ships have frequently entered contested waters despite warnings from the Japanese Coast Guard.
How does the new air defense zone factor into these disputes?
Some in Japan, for one, have viewed the Chinese move as provocative, as does the United States.
“This … appears to be an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea, and thus will raise regional tensions and increase the risk of miscalculation, confrontation and accidents,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
A story in China’s state-run Xinhua news agency plays down its significance, with naval expert Zhang Junshe insisting “other nations do not need to be alarmed.”
He noted that Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam all have their own air defense zones. Given these nations’ close proximity to each other, it’s inevitable some such zones will overlap, another expert, Chai Lidan, said in the same report.
Psaki said Washington is bothered by China — or, for that matter, any country — asking foreign planes entering what it calls its airspace to identify themselves.
“The United States does not apply that procedure to foreign aircraft,” she added, “so it certainly is one we don’t think others should apply.”
Chinese aircraft carrier group on the move
China’s military, meanwhile, announced on its website early Wednesday that its navy’s sole aircraft carrier was heading toward the South China Sea.
That’s where China has had territorial disputes with other Asian nations including the Philippines and Vietnam. At the same time, the East China Sea — where it recently declared an “air defense zone” causing a stir with Japan and its ally the United States — is not far away.
The carrier, named Liaoning, set out from a shipyard in eastern China’s Qingdao city on Tuesday morning, the military said on its website. China’s state-run CCTV also reported the news, showing the carrier — which was commissioned in September 2012 and first had aircraft leaving and landing on it two months later, according to the U.S. Defense Department — heading out to sea.
As with U.S. aircraft carriers, it doesn’t travel alone: Two guided missile destroyers and two guided missile frigates are accompanying the massive ship as part of its group.
The Chinese military makes no mention of the dispute with Japan and its ally, the United States. Rather, its website post notes that the carrier group’s mission is to conduct scientific experiments and military training.
That said, it is noteworthy that — in order to get from Qingdao to the South China Sea — the aircraft carrier group has to first go through the East China Sea.
CNN’s Kevin Wang and Junko Ogura contributed to this report.

Ruling against PDAF also removes DAP

By Jarius Bondoc 
The Philippine Star 
Peace-Ark-hospital-shipTrying to live down world ridicule of China’s “miserly” $100,000-aid to Typhoon Haiyan-razed Philippines, its embassy in Manila is trumpeting the donations of Chinese companies to the victims. One firm was mentioned thus in a press release:
“Yinyi Inc., a mining company based in Eastern Samar, where the typhoon severely devastated, also helped. It generously granted its storage of food, water and other supplies to the victims, and used all its equipment, such as pay-loaders, to clear roads, and donated its diesel stockpile to support the relief work.”
Needing all help it can get, the Philippines amiably thanks Yinyi.
Still, what it and subsidiary Yinshu Co. are doing in Eastern Samar must be exposed. They are illegally mining nickel and chromite in Salcedo town.
Farmers and environmentalists say the two firms have no permits. For years “small-scale miners” have been used as fronts to ship out tons of ore to China. Forests, rivers and farms despoiled as mountainsides are excavated. Processed for steel and telecoms equipment, the chromite is fashioned into weapons and surveillance equipment with which China grabs Philippine shoals and reefs.
Provincial and municipal officials abet the crime. The same is true with other illegal nickel, chromium and magnetite mines in Guiuan, Eastern Samar; Macarthur, Leyte; San Felipe, Masinloc and Sta, Cruz, Zambales; Pangasinan; Ilocos; and Cagayan (see Gotcha, 20 Nov. 2013).
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Police raided last Thursday the call center of, the world’s biggest illegal online gambling operation. Owned by fugitive billionaire Calvin Edward Ayre, the Bodog unit was in plush Enterprise Tower, Ayala Avenue, Makati City. Canadian Ayre has other offices in Makati and Quezon City. He also faces charges of raping a housemaid.
It is uncertain if Ayre is in the Philippines. He is wanted in the U.S. for illegal gambling. In a Forbes magazine cover story in 2006, Bodog’s revenues were estimated to have tripled to $7.3 billion from 2004.
Ayre operates in Manila by virtue of a sublicense from a gaming firm that operates at the Cagayan Special Economic Zone.
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The Supreme Court abolition of the hated Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) is multilayered. Its ruling not only slams the congressional pork barrel for being hidden lump sums. It also takes the logical next step of prescribing line-item budgeting from now on.
This should hearten petitioners against the equally hated presidential “pork,” or Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The DAP are lump sums too. Under the SC ruling, it too must go.
The ruling (see tackles the many unconstitutionalities cited by the anti-PDAF petitioners. Cited is the “collective lump sum” of P24.79-billion PDAF in the 2013 General Appropriations Act. It consists of “personal lump sums” of P200 million per senator and P70 million per congressman.
As lump sums, the congressional “pork” negates the constitutional power of the Executive to implement projects. Too, it trumps the power of the President to veto whatever objectionable spending the lawmakers would do with the lump sums.
Page 49 expounds: “In these cases, petitioners claim that, ‘In the current system where the PDAF is a lump-sum appropriation, the legislator’s identification of the projects after the passage of the GAA denies the President the chance to veto that item later on.’ Accordingly, they submit that the ‘item veto power of the President mandates that appropriations bills adopt line-item budgeting’ and that ‘Congress cannot choose a mode of budgeting which effectively renders the constitutionally-given powers of the President useless’ … The Court agrees with petitioners.”
What’s good for the PDAF goose is good for the DAP gander.
The DAP reached P142 billion in 2011-2012. Impounded from Executive agencies, it consisted of funds unspent midyear by some and yearend savings of others. Malacañang then unconstitutionally realigned the money to projects that were not in the Congress-approved GAAs for 2012 and 2013. Moreover, Malacañang unconstitutionally transferred P13 billion of the P142 billion to a separate government branch, Congress. Re-allotted were lump sums of P50 million to P100 million to 20 senators, and P10 million to P15 million to selected congressmen, for them to spend as they please.
The SC has yet to rule on the DAP itself. In doing so, will some justices break ranks from the unanimous 14-0 that purged the PDAF?
The Executive must look for a graceful exit from the DAP. It can state that, “We now know that what we did is unconstitutional; we won’t do it again.” It must not fear impeachment by a Congress that also now knows that it has been breaking the Constitution all these years, but most stop from hereon.
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As three Broadway musicals currently run in Manila, theater buffs can be confused which one to watch. Best to imagine vacationing in New York, and stretching their budgets to watch the most plays that they can.
First in line: Grease, only till this weekend, at the Romulo Theater, RCBC Plaza, Ayala Avenue, Makati. Then, The Addams Family, running till next weekend, at the Meralco Theater, Ortigas Avenue, Pasig. Last but not least, The Producers, till weekend after next, at Onstage, Greenbelt-1, Makati.
Grease brings back the hit songs from the loves and lives of the Rydell high school graduation class, 1959-60. Like, “You’re the One that I Want,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” “Grease Lightning,” “Summer Nights,” and more.
Starring: Gian Magdangal, Frencheska Farr, Rafa Siguion-Reyna, Jennifer Blair Bianco, and Ciarra Sotto. With special, one-show-only appearances by: Bimbo Cerrudo, Tirso Cruz III, Michael de Mesa, Boboy Garrovillo, Audie Gemora, Jay-R, Franco Laurel, Kris Lawrence, Jake Macapagal, OJ Mariano, JM Rodriguez, and Tom Rodriguez. Director: Robbie Guevara. Produced by 9Works Theatrical’s Santi Santamaria.
Reminder: bring your dancing shoes. Thick pomade and pigtails optional.
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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).
Gotcha archives on Facebook:, or The STAR website

Inside the Secret Interior of the Navy’s First Stealth Destroyer

By Kevin Baron
Defense One
USS-Zumwalt-stealth-destroyer.21BATH, Maine — It doesn’t look like a ship. It doesn’t even feel like a ship.
The hallways are too wide. The ceilings are incredibly high. There’s barely an outdoor deck. No bridge tower. No lookout crow’s nests. Flat-screen TV mounts are everywhere. In fact, the only sign that this is a ship are the steep deck ladders and “knee-knocker” air lock doorways sailors and ironworkers duck through from bow to stern.
There’s also the relatively cavernous mission control room, which looks more like something from Houston than Groton, with large flat-screen displays at the front of the room, five rows of 18 work stations with even more flat screens at each station, and a rear loft for flag officers to oversee the entire operation.
Welcome aboard the Zumwalt, the Navy’s first DDG-1000 stealth destroyer.
Launched just last month, she is an impossibly spaceship-looking trapezoid tower jutting from the still water. The incredibly automated, totally electrical vessel will hold a smaller crew than any destroyer before her. She can house two helicopters that can land in higher seas than ever and then be automatically pulled inside a concealed hanger. There’s room for several drone aircraft. It can power a small city. And her two advanced guns on the forward deck can hit a basketball with a 155mm Howitzer-sized artillery shell from 63 miles away.
Eventually. For now, much of her interior has been bolted down, entire consoles and window panes are covered in plywood as the work continues to piece together the world’s most advanced naval destroyer ever built.
The menacing grey wedge of destruction that is sleeping eerily and dormant in a tranquil sliver of coastal Maine water is not scheduled for sea trials until 2015, and won’t be fully operational until at least 2016 — in the Pacific, of course, where the Pentagon has sent the bulk the fleet’s most advanced naval power. There, if ever needed, the Navy says the Zumwalt will be able to launch 600 shells from 63 miles away to an accuracy of within 30 inches.
Lest there be no doubt, she is a destroyer.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited the ship and the team of sailors and contractors working on her at Maine’s Bath Iron Works on Thursday. Shipyard workers took Hagel’s staff and reporters through the vessels insides, where no photography was permitted (Hagel’s official photographer’s shots had to be cleared for security leaks.) But here’s what it’s like inside.
There is industrial construction equipment everywhere, making it difficult to judge the size of open space. But even with the clutter of welding tanks, electrical lines, and scaffolding, it’s clear this is a ship built with room to move inside – especially on the hangar deck. Right up the middle is a track, where helicopters – two Sea Hawks, for example can land and then attach to a hook that pulls the aircraft inside. No need for sailors there. In fact, everywhere, from firefighting to lookouts, sailors are being replaced by technology.
Walking alongside the outer passageway on the hanger deck feels like walking along the inside wall of a giant tent, and is wide enough for a small fork truck to drive through. The ship has an external skin that shoots from the hull right up past what would be the top deck. So instead of chrome railings and a seaside view, a wall of grey protects the sailors inside.
At the mission control room, complete with new paint smell, one can still see the giant rivets where the 900 ton composite deck house — that top trapezoid thing — was bolted to the steel hull.
“That happened in December,” said Todd Estes, DDG-1000 program office manager, who proudly showed off the build. “It was very cold – a very cold night,” he said, wistfully.
In fact about the only design element of the ship that resembles a battleship are her forward guns. But these are not your grandfather’s guns. In tests they have proven incredibly accurate, ship workers boasted. “If we missed by 30 to 40 inches, that was a bad shot,” said one industry official overseeing the ship, who asked to remain anonymous.
Hagel praised the workforce that gathered dockside in the chilly Maine wind and said the ship reflected the diversity of future threats the United States will face, as it heads to the Pacific. “Assigning this new ship to that rebalance is an important signal to the commitment that we are making to a part of the world.”
He didn’t say specifically which rival navies, or adversaries, she will face when she finally reaches the Pacific. But silently the Zumwalt held firm behind Hagel, the chop picked up across the water, and as the secretary left the shipyard workers scurried back to the ship, and the work still to be done.
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Defense chief: Big new destroyer important for Asia-Pacific

By David Sharp
Associated Press
 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, center, tours the Zumwalt destroyer at Bath Iron Works during his first visit to Maine since being confirmed, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, in Bath, Maine. The group is standing beneath the barrel of a 155MM advanced gun system. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) ( Robert F. Bukaty )
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, center, tours the Zumwalt destroyer at Bath Iron Works during his first visit to Maine since being confirmed, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, in Bath, Maine. The group is standing beneath the barrel of a 155MM advanced gun system. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) ( Robert F. Bukaty )
BATH, Maine — The biggest destroyer ever built for the U.S. Navy will play an important role in the Pacific Ocean as the U.S. refocuses attention on the region, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told shipbuilders and sailors on Thursday.
With the stealthy-shaped Zumwalt serving as a backdrop, Hagel said the ship’s assignment to San Diego after it joins the fleet in 2016 “sends an important sign” about U.S. commitment to the Pacific region as the military bolsters its presence in response to Asia’s growing economic importance and China’s rise as a military power.
“It represents an important shift in our balance and assets and focus and America’s interest in the Asia-Pacific,” Hagel said. “We’re not retreating from any part of the world.”
Hagel spoke to crew members, shipbuilders and other naval personnel after touring the 610-foot-long Zumwalt, which is due to be christened in the spring at Bath Iron Works.
Afterward, he traveled to Canada’s Nova Scotia for a security conference.
The Zumwalt, which is far larger and heavier than current destroyers, was designed for shore bombardment and features two 155mm guns that fire rocket-propelled warheads, along with missiles and other weapons.
Originally envisioned as a “stealth destroyer,” the ship features a composite deckhouse that hides radar and antennas along with sharp angles that deflect radar signals. Its unusual wave-piercing hull was designed to minimize the ship’s wake.
Despite its larger size, the high-tech ship has so much automation that the crew size will be nearly halved from existing destroyers. Its gas turbine generators will produce 78 megawatts of electricity, enough to light up a small city — and to provide a platform for future weapons.
The Zumwalt’s big price tag — more than $3.5 billion — nearly caused the Navy to scuttle the program before reducing the number of ships to just three.
Despite its cost, the program seems to be on time and on budget for the time being, a rarity in an era of routine cost overruns and delays in new military programs.
On Thursday, Hagel praised the shipbuilders at Bath Iron Works, a General Dynamics subsidiary, and addressed budget uncertainties created by sequestration that have left many of the 5,500 shipbuilders worrying about shipbuilding cuts and job security.
“We’re going through a difficult time but we’ll get through it,” he said.
Capt. James A. Kirk, the ship’s skipper, said afterward that the ship’s big guns and missiles provide a powerful strike capability. He said he’s looking forward to sailing down the Kennebec River and out to sea.
Asked about its ship’s unusual look, Kirk said it’s a “magnificent-looking” vessel.
“It’s unlike anything we’ve ever done,” he said.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Fact Sheet: China’s Air Defense Zone

Defense News
Senkaku-Diaoyu-Islands.2TAIPEI — What appears to be a crisis in the making, China’s Ministry of National Defense (MOD) has established the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) effective as of 10 a.m. on Nov. 23.
The zone covers the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islets claimed by China, Japan, and Taiwan. The islets are under the administrative control of Japan. China has been flying unmanned aerial vehicles into the area of the islets and Japan has threatened to shoot them down.
China launched two aerial patrols, one Tu-154 and one Y-8, over the area the day of the announcement and Japan deployed two F-15 fighters to intercept.
China’s ADIZ overlaps Japan ADIZ by approximately half, causing concern the overlap could start a war.
The Chinese ADIZ also overlaps Taiwan (Republic of China/ROC). According to a Nov. 24 statement by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan will “adhere to the principles set forth in the East China Sea Peace Initiative [set forth by President Ma Ying-jeou on Aug 5), with the aim of resolving disputes peacefully, while taking appropriate measures to ensure the safety of ROC airspace.” Ma’s five-point peace initiative urges all “parties to refrain from antagonistic actions; not abandon dialogue; observe international law; resolve disputes through peaceful means; and form a mechanism for exploring and developing resources on a cooperative basis.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement on Nov. 23 urging China not to impose a “unilateral action” that “constitutes an attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea.” Further, the US is “deeply concerned” about the announcement and “escalatory action will only increase tensions in the region and create risks of an incident.”
Below is a collection of Chinese MOD press releases since the announcement:
MOD Press Release:
The Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China, in accordance with the Statement by the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Establishing the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, now announces the Aircraft Identification Rules for the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone as follows:
First, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must abide by these rules.
Second, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must provide the following means of identification:
1. Flight plan identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone should report the flight plans to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China or the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
2. Radio identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must maintain the two-way radio communications, and respond in a timely and accurate manner to the identification inquiries from the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone or the unit authorized by the organ.
3. Transponder identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, if equipped with the secondary radar transponder, should keep the transponder working throughout the entire course.
4. Logo identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must clearly mark their nationalities and the logo of their registration identification in accordance with related international treaties.
Third, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone should follow the instructions of the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone or the unit authorized by the organ. China’s armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions.
Fourth, the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China is the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone.
Fifth, the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China is responsible for the explanation of these rules.
Sixth, these rules will come into force at 10 a.m. Nov. 23, 2013.
MOD Press Release:
The zone is being established in accordance with the Law of the People’s Republic of China on National Defense (March 14, 1997), the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Civil Aviation (October 30, 1995) and the Basic Rules on Flight of the People’s Republic of China (July 27, 2001).
The zone includes the airspace within the area enclosed by China’s outer limit of the territorial sea and the following six points: 33º11’N and 121º47’E, 33º11’N and 125º00’E, 31º00’N and 128º20’E, 25º38’N and 125º00’E, 24º45’N and 123º00’E, 26º44’N and 120º58’E.
On Nov. 23, China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun took questions from the media on the issue:
Following is the full text released by the MOD:
Q: Why does the Chinese government decide to establish the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone? Is it related to the current situation in the region?
A: Air Defense Identification Zone is an area of air space established by a coastal state beyond its territorial airspace to timely identify, monitor, control and react to aircraft entering this zone with potential air threats. It allows early-warning time and provides air security.
Following the international practice, the Chinese government sets up the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone with the aim of safeguarding state sovereignty, territorial land and air security, and maintaining flight order. This is a necessary measure taken by China in exercising its self-defense right. It is not directed against any specific country or target. It does not affect the freedom of over-flight in the related airspace.
Q: What is the basis for China to establish the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone?
A: The setup of East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone by the Chinese government is not only based on adequate legitimate reference, but also in accordance with current international practice. Since the 1950s, more than 20 countries including some major countries and China’s neighboring countries have successively established Air Defense Identification Zones. Chinese government’s relevant behavior is in line with the UN Charter and other international laws and customs. China’s domestic laws and regulations such as the Law of the PRC on National Defense, the Law of PRC on Civil Aviation and Basic Rules on Flight have also clearly stipulated on the maintenance of territorial land and air security and flight order.
Q: How is the coverage of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone defined? Why is the boundary of the Zone only 130 km away from some country’ territory?
A: The coverage of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone is defined by China’s need for air defense and maintaining flight order.
Actually the easternmost point of the Zone is so close to China that combat aircraft can soon reach China’s territorial airspace from the point. Therefore it is necessary for China to identify any aircraft from this point to assess its intentions and examine its identities so as to allow enough early-warning time for responsive measures in maintaining air security. In addition, some country established Air Defense Identification Zone as early as in 1969. The shortest distance from their zone to the Chinese mainland is also 130 km.
Q: What responding measures will the Chinese side take when foreign aircraft enter the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone?
A: Announcement of the Aircraft Identification Rules for the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone of the People’s Republic of China has made specific rules on the identification of aircraft in related airspace. In the face of air threats and unidentified flying objects coming from the sea, the Chinese side will identify, monitor, control and react depending on different situations. We hope that all parties concerned work actively with the Chinese side to jointly maintain flight safety.
What needs to be specified is that the Chinese side has always respected the freedom of over-flight in accordance with international law. The establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone does not change the legal nature of related airspace. Normal flights by international airliners in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone will not be affected in any way.
Q: Will China establish other Air Defense Identification Zones?
A: China will establish other Air Defense Identification Zones at the right moment after necessary preparations are completed.

Yolanda and the PDAF

By Jose Ma. Montelibano
Supreme-Court-CJ-SerenoThere are special times when serious topics become hot subjects at the same time, like now. It is almost impossible not to mention Typhoon Yolanda. I am now two weeks working online 20 hours a day, taking short breaks for some meals with my family and mass on Sundays. The intense participation of my favorite non-government organization, Gawad Kalinga (GK), in relief efforts has stretched the capacity of workers and regular volunteers, and my assignment is to be one of a few connecting global GK advocates to current realities on the ground.
I may not have the power and the speed of physical movement as a senior citizen, but I have the key relationships with GK people in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. And our brave workers and volunteers in the Visayas update our headquarters and me with photos, videos and short stories. The main theme always is heroism, the heroism of people who are battered but refuse to surrender, and the heroism of GK workers and volunteers who refuse to leave the victims by themselves.
Relief and rehabilitation work is nothing new to GK. The landslides of Pinut-an Island in Southern Leyte, followed by the horrific Guinsaugon landslide a few years later – both destructive to lives and property. In late 2004, a series of typhoons hit Bicol, Mindoro, Quezon and Central Luzon and the Northern provinces of Luzon, four of them in a three-week period. Then, we had Ondoy, Sendong and Pablo, the earthquake in Negros Oriental, and the earthquake in Bohol where GK held relief activities for two weeks. Then, super typhoon Yolanda, the monster who broke all records.
If people had seen Infanta, Guisaugon, CDO, Iligan, Cateel, New Bataan, there would not have been much difference with Tacloban. All these experienced unusually high death tolls, all these changed the landscape of the towns and cities they battered. The main difference is the massiveness of the areas that Yolanda inflicted great losses in lives and property. Yolanda had five landfalls. That is equivalent to having five typhoons, all deadly.
The post-Yolanda scenario is proving to be its sixth landfall. The instant focus of global attention on the Philippines, especially Tacloban, generated sympathy and generosity from the community of nations and Filipinos all over the world. But it also became a battleground of perception, mostly from people who cannot still imagine what the reality was on the ground in the first few days. Much negative news flowed despite the awesome support of the world and relief groups courageously helping on the ground. Thankfully, the sentiments of the majority were to set aside animosity and work on achieving something.
Then, the PDAF gets a fatal wallop from the Supreme Court. It is declared unconstitutional despite two previous Supreme Court decisions affirming it. It is another great topic to write about, not its demise, but how the spirit that gave birth to the PDAF and those that came before it will express itself in the years to come. The Supreme Court can kill a form but it cannot kill a spirit. Only the people can do that – if the people know what precisely to kill.
Those who were against the PDAF are now jubilant, believing they won a great battle. In truth, the people did. But greater battles are ahead; make no mistake about it. The PDAF represented only about 1% and everyone’s attention feasted on it. What about the 99%?
The power of the purse of Congress is the check and balance of the Executive. In my understanding, it is the greater power than the law-making responsibility of Congress. Approving or rejecting the national budget, or parts thereof, is where the rubber hits the ground, is where hard ball is played. The Executive needs a budget that can make it achieve its goals. The Legislative needs to review programs and projects that are rolled out in designated districts where its members are its representatives. No matter what, and place your bets, ladies and gentlemen, discussions and debate will end up with each side finally agreeing to a compromise.
Yes, there are measures that can be taken to ensure greater transparency – if the people are interested enough to monitor or participate. And if majority blocs in the House of Representatives and the Senate have a meeting of the minds with the President, Congress will approve what the Executive proposes, with some compromise reached, of course. And the Supreme Court will run out of reasons to call Executive-Legislative agreements as unconstitutional.
In the end, the final and sustainable answer to what citizens fear – that elected and appointive officials will steal the people’s money – is to elect and appoint honest public servants. In a democracy, governance is by representation, the few who are elected govern the many who elected them. But the people retain its superior power when it represents itself.
What connects Typhoon Yolanda and the PDAF? The poor, the poor who always die when there is a natural calamity, the poor who elect our public officials and then are used by them. Our poor, in the tens of millions, are the common denominator of political typhoons or Yolanda hurricanes.
A representative government follows the majority., and the poor comprise the majority in our nation. If we want change, the good change, we have to raise the poor out of poverty and their vulnerability to manipulation. It is not about giving them lectures about voting wisely, or good governance. It is about giving them back dignity, it is about giving them security, it is about giving them opportunity.
We cannot keep feeding our poor to calamities, just as we cannot keep feeding our poor to corrupt politicians. But that is what will continue to happen unless we give our poor the value we give to ourselves and our families.
That is the story of Typhoon Yolanda, that is the story of the PDAF, that at its core is the story of poverty. If we do not know that, and if we do not break that, then tens of thousands more will die as climate change disturbs the earth, and the PDAF will persist with a new name, or with no name.

SC ruling a win for democracy

By Val G. Abelgas
(Credit: UNTV)
(Credit: UNTV)
The 14-0-1 voting by the Supreme Court declaring as unconstitutional the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the use of Malampaya Fund for purposes other than energy-related projects gives us a hopeful sign that democracy is alive and well in the Philippines.
The unanimous vote showed that the Judiciary is not subservient to the Executive Branch and is ready to intervene when the balance of power among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government is being manipulated in favor of one over the others.
It’s noteworthy that even the four justices appointed by President Aquino – Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Justices Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Perlas Bernabe and Marvic Leonen – voted against the illegal disbursement of government funds by Malacanang and the illegal participation of senators and congressmen in the implementation of the budget after they have passed them. It is also worthwhile to note that one of Aquino’s appointees, Bernabe, wrote the landmark decision.
Lawyer Oscar Franklin Tan, who co-chairs the Philippine Bar Association’s committee on constitutional law, explained in very plain language in an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer the reasons set forth by the Supreme Court in junking the PDAF.
“First, our Grade 6 social studies classes taught us that Congress drafts the budget and the executive branch spends the money. Giving lawmakers authority over project implementation thus blatantly violates the separation of powers. Second, Congress is supposed to oversee implementation, and lawmakers’ participation distorts this oversight role. Third, there is Carpio’s inspired argument that because the Constitution gives the president a veto over line items, the budget must thus contain line items. Fourth, the high court also argued that lawmakers are “national officers” and their pork allows them to intervene in local governments, subverting the local autonomy also emphasized in the Constitution.”
The Supreme Court also restricted the so-called presidential pork. The court struck down, the phrase in the Malampaya Fund that allows its use for “such other purposes as may hereafter be directed by the President” in addition to energy-related uses, and the phrase “to finance the priority infrastructure development projects” from the President’s Social Fund as unrelated to socio-civic uses.
The tribunal also nullified the laws that provided lawmakers lump-sum allocations to fund their chosen projects. “All informal practices of similar import and effect, which the Court similarly deems to be acts of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of discretion,” are also declared void. Accordingly the Court’s temporary injunction dated Sept. 10, 2013 is hereby declared to be permanent. Thus, the disbursement/release of the remaining PDAF funds allocated for the year 2013, as well as for all previous years…are hereby enjoined,” the high court said.
For years, the Office of the President had used pork barrel funds (previously known as Community Development Fund) as carrot and stick to make Congress follow its dictates, which made the President very powerful and tilted the balance of power towards the Executive Branch. The lawmakers did not give a hoot because they benefited from them. It is a clear case of conspiracy between Malacanang and Congress.
Because the Supreme Court previously upheld the legality of the pork barrel twice, President Aquino was obviously emboldened to increase the PDAF allocation to P25 billion a year, from an average of just P4 billion yearly during the terms of Presidents Ramos and Estrada and P7 billion during the term of President Arroyo.
Malacanang and the lawmakers would have gotten away with misusing the people’s money and would have continued misappropriating the funds. Revelations that P10 billion in pork barrel funds went to ghost projects and non-existing NGOs, most of them formed by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, awakened the people to the reality that they were being deceived and robbed by the leaders they had elected into office, the same persons who were supposed to promote and protect their interests.
We would have expected Aquino, who rose to the presidency on a promise to curb corruption, to eliminate this greatest source of corruption in the country, but instead he opted to increase it nearly four-fold to solidify his control of Congress.
Not content with giving away P200 million annually to each senator and P70 million to each congressman, Aquino even tapped a fund he had established without the benefit of a law passed by Congress called Disbursement Acceleration Program to ensure compliance of Congress reportedly in his successful mission to impeach and convict Chief Justice Renato Corona and to pass the Reproductive Health Law.
The DAP funds came from accumulated savings of government agencies, which under the law, according to legal experts, cannot be transferred to other departments nor used without the express authority of Congress.
The Supreme Court is expected to start deliberations on the DAP, whose constitutionality has also been questioned by various group. We cannot find any reason why the DAP would escape the censure of the Supreme Court after it effectively killed the PDAF.
The Court cannot rule otherwise because any ruling that upholds the DAP and other presidential pork would defeat the very reason they rejected the PDAF. A ruling that would allow the continued use by Malacanang of government savings to control Congress would create an even stronger presidency, which would negate the principles of balance of power, checks and balances and separation of powers, and deal a severe blow to democracy.