Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Enhanced Defense Cooperation

(The proposed Increased Rotational Presence of US troops here has been re-named Enhanced Defense Cooperation in an obvious and vain attempt to pull the wool over our eyes.)
Subic Bay
Subic Bay
So now Malacanang calls the proposed Increased Rotational Presence (IRP) of US troops and the establishment of military structures/facilities in the country Enhanced Defense Cooperation (EDC).
I don’t know who the government is trying to fool but no matter how the proposal is called, it is still the same dog with a different collar. The change in name is nothing but an obvious and vain attempt to pull the wool over our eyes.
I suspect the change was resorted to to help justify the government’s contention that any agreement reached concerning the increased presence of US troops and the setting up of military facilities on our soil would not need Senate ratification. The Philippine negotiating panel insists that the agreement will be anchored on the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement. The former was ratified by both parties, but the latter was ratified only by the Philippines which, in the view of many, renders it null and void ab initio because of Section 25, Article XVIII of the Philippine Constitution which states:
“Section 25. After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America concerning military bases, foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”
It is quite clear from the above provision that “foreign military bases, troops, or facilities” are prohibited in the country except under a treaty ratified by both parties.
The operative word here is “or”. The agreement that is now being worked out with the US is about troops and the setting up of their facilities here, not military bases. Plain and simple.
Although the US will not be putting up military bases here, the fact remains that US troops will again be based on our land, albeit on a rotational basis, permanently. The US troops based here before Clark and Subic were dismantled in 1991 were in fact being rotated in accordance with their tours of duty. Same difference!
Ambassador Eduardo Malaya of the Philippine negotiating panel said that it would not be possible for American troops to reject access of Filipinos to US facilities to be set up here, except for “operational safety and security requirements”. Duh?!
In other words, access can be denied anytime! And if that happens, what recourse do we have? Nothing. Nada. Zilch!
Huwag na tayong maglokohan, pwede ba?!
What our people would also be most interested to know is what exactly are we getting in return for allowing increased US troop presence and military facilities here. To be more precise, are we getting any, or all, of the following:
1) Rental of $2 to $3 billion annually, in cash, for using our military bases;
2) Immediate settlement of what is rightfully due to all our WWII veterans commissioned by the US government;
3) The agreement must be for a maximum of five years only, with either party having the right to terminate it before the end of that period;
4) Everything that is brought in by the US and still in place at the expiration of the agreement must be left behind and become ours, just as they did in Iraq and will be doing in Afghanistan;
5) No nuclear weapons or materiel should be brought into the country (no more of that “neither confirm nor deny” bullshit); and
6) Clean up their toxic wastes when they leave.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said the so-called Comprehensive Peace Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will be signed on March 27.
“After 17 long years of arduous negotiations, we are finally arriving at a political settlement that will seal enduring peace and progress in Mindanao,” Deles said.
I wish I could share her optimism, but my gut feel tells me that with the advent of the CAB, we would simply see a repetition of what happened when the government signed a similar peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996. We know that the MILF was a mere breakaway faction of the MNLF that continued to wage armed rebellion against the government after the 1996 peace accord was signed.
This time, the MNLF, after being marginalized in the peace negotiations on CAB, has vowed to do the same thing the MILF did in 1996 – wage a secessionist war. The recent MNLF attack in Zamboanga City that led to the death of many and the destruction of property presaged what we might expect from the MNLF. No less than MNLF head Nur Misuari said so.
Even before the details of the agreement are made public, a lot of people are already raring to challenge before the Supreme Court the constitutionality of the agreement or some of its provisions. The government, therefore, may wish to consider revealing its contents before signing it to gauge the reaction of the people.
We do not want a repeat of what happened with the US-engineered Bangsamoro Juridical Entity during the time of Ms. Gloria Arroyo when the Supreme Court unanimously declared it unconstitutional on at least 30 counts. And to think that the high court at the time even had nearly all Arroyo appointees!
We know only too well what happened after the Supreme Court declaration – the MILF resorted to fighting once again with hundreds of lives lost and thousands displaced. An MILF faction also decided to split from the group to form what is now called the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Noynoy advised his bosses not to vote for an “ampaw” as his successor in 2016. Dapat lang.
“Ampaw” in our language could mean a person who is shallow, without depth, with low IQ or insincere.
Such a person could also be one who is an awful manager, doesn’t listen to advice, could not stand criticism both from friend or foe, a poor judge of character, pigheaded or just plain stubborn.
Reminders (for Noynoy)
1) Filing of charges against officials of the National Food Authority (NFA) during Arroyo’s illegitimate regime. Noynoy himself said on several occasions that there is documentary evidence to prove the venalities in the past in that agency;
2) Investigation of reported anomalies in the GSIS during the watch of Winston Garcia and order his successor, Robert “Pretty Boy” Vergara, to file the proper charges, if warranted, against the former;
Noynoy should also order Vergara to report to him on COA’s findings that:
(a) He received the obscenely excessive compensation of P16.36 million in 2012 making him the highest paid government servant then, as well as how much received in 2013; and
(b) That, as of eight or nine months ago, at least P4.13 billion in contributions and loan payments made by 12 government offices to the GSIS had not been credited to the offices as of Dec. 31, 2011.
COA also said at the time that the amount of unrecorded remittances could go much higher because only 36 agencies have so far responded out of the 186 that were sent confirmation requests by government auditors. Of the 36, 27 confirmed “discrepancies” in their premium and loan payments ledgers when compared with those of the GSIS.
There are three questions being raised when remittances, or parts thereof, of government agencies are not recorded by the GSIS on time: a) Where are these huge sums “parked” in the meantime?; b) Do they earn interest?; and c) To where (whom?) does the interest, if any, go?
Pray tell, Mr. Vergara, what is the present status of these funds, including those that may have been remitted since and not yet recorded by the GSIS?
Incidentally, employees of various GOCCs/GFIs, including GSIS, have decided to wear red shirt nationwide for 4 consecutive Fridays starting last March 7 in protest against Noynoy’s alleged inaction on the Compensation and Position Classification System (CPCS). They claim that the delay in the approval of the CPCS “is prolonging the agony of the employees whose compensation and benefits were put on hold with the creation of the Governance Commission for GOCCs”.
Today is the 324th day of the seventh year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.
Two weeks ago, during a mass officiated by him, Manila Archbishop Jose Antonio Cardinal Tagle had this to say:
“I call on those who still have Jonas and the many others who are missing and are still being sought by their mothers, fathers, siblings… face God. Those who have been committing evil acts might elude justice now but would definitely be answerable to God.”
Jonas’ mother, Edita, who was at the mass, acknowledged Noynoy’s ordering a “focused, dedicated and exhaustive” probe on her son’s case.
“Yes, he has done something but he could do more. Remember he is the commander in chief. He has already ordered the investigation, but maybe he could ask the Armed Forces of the Philippines to surface Jonas. He should order them. Isn’t he the commander in chief? If he orders it, they would follow,” she said.
President Noynoy, Sir?
From an internet friend:
A man and a woman were having a quiet, romantic dinner in a fine restaurant. They were gazing lovingly at each other and holding hands.
The waitress, taking another order at a table a few steps away, suddenly noticed the man slowly sliding down his chair and under the table, but the woman stared straight ahead.
The waitress watched as the man slid all the way down his chair and out of sight under the table. Still, the woman stared straight ahead.
The waitress, thinking this behavior a bit risqué and that it might offend other diners, went over to the table and, tactfully, began by saying to the woman “Pardon me, ma’am, but I think your husband just slid under the table.”
The woman calmly looked up at her and said, “No, he didn’t. He just walked in the door.”

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