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Sunday, April 13, 2014

QUO VADIS, CHINA?

By REY O. ARCILLA  
MALAYA
(Why can’t China just join us in the International Tribunal if she is so sure of the validity of her claim? After all, she is also a signatory to UNCLOS.)
ITLOS-Philippines-vs-ChinaThe Martilyo Gang struck again last week at the SM Mall of Asia. Unlike last year, though, when the gang hit SM North on EDSA, President Noynoy Aquino and his sidekick, DILG Secretary Mar “Boy Pickup” Roxas, did not rush to the crime scene this time. Bakit kaya?
And what, if I may ask, is Noynoy’s crime czar, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, doing about the unabated rise of criminality in the country?
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Malacanang mouthpiece Edwin Lacierda, the “Boy Pickup” of Pork Barrel Queen Janet Lim-Napoles, said that the Aquino administration never promised a rose garden when it took over the reins of government.
I think we all know that. But neither did Noynoy promise that the straight and narrow path (daang matuwid) will be littered with corruption in various government agencies, e.g., National Food Authority, Bureau of Customs, Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation and Communications, the “kahindik-hindik” pork barrel scam that includes the Abad-inspired Disbursement Acceleration Program, etc., etc., etc.
Noynoy also did not promise to fire inept and/or erring officials he had appointed to his Cabinet, e.g., Jericho Petilla of Energy, Proceso Alcala of Agriculture, Emilio Abaya of Transportation and Communication, Florencio Abad of Budget, Mar Roxas of DILG, Executive Secretary and Crime Czar Paquito Ochoa etc., etc., etc. Of course, he did not promise he will be loathe to firing KKK friends like Rico Puno and Viriginia Torres. Only when the public outcry became so loud that he was constrained to get rid of them.
Neither did Noynoy promise to relieve foreign secretary Albert “Amboy” del Rosario who turned out to be an unabashed pro-American and who is allegedly a US green card holder, or a US citizen or one with dual citizenship (Filipino and American). Of course, Noynoy did not promise either to have the allegation against Del Rosario verified. He also did not promise he would find it embarrassing to have a foreign secretary who evidently does not understand, much less speak, the national language.
Lest we forget, Noynoy also did not promise he will not renege on his avowed support for a Freedom of Information bill, but it sure looks like it now… unless he has a change of heart at the last minute.
No, Noynoy did not promise many of the things that have taken place since he became chief executive almost four years ago. Maybe it’s a good thing he is now in the last two minutes of his term. But then many things can still happen in that time. For instance, the Bangsamoro agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation with the US. Either or both can be a boon or bane to the country. Let’s watch what happens, as Noynoy’s favorite Frank Sinatra song goes.
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When we made public our decision to bring the dispute we have with China over certain isles, shoals and rocks in the West Philippine Sea to the International Tribunal of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), China merely shrugged it off.
Now that we have formally submitted the voluminous memorial prepared by our lawyers on the case to the Tribunal, China has suddenly become shrill over our move. She pointedly accused us of damaging our relations with her.
That is an unfair accusation. We have never done any of the provocative acts that China has in the disputed territories.
“By going to arbitration, the Philippines has signaled its fidelity to international law,” Foreign Secretary del Rosario said. “We reiterate that arbitration is a peaceful, friendly and a durable settlement mechanism under international law.”
And as chief presidential mouthpiece Sonny Coloma said, “adherence to the rule of law and commitment to peaceful settlement of difference among neighboring countries are vital building blocks in achieving regional peace and stability.”
Instead of raising her hackles, why can’t China just join us in the International Tribunal if she is so sure of the validity of her claim? After all, she is also a signatory to UNCLOS. Perhaps it finally dawned on her that virtually the entire international community supports our move. Undoudtedly, she knows the damage to her national reputation and prestige would be tremendous should the tribunal decide in our favor and she refuses to abide by the verdict.
Quo vadis, China?
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Finally, after months of suspense, the Ombudsman will be filing before the Sandiganbayan charges of plunder/malversation against Senators Ponce Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla, Jr., Pork Barrel Queen Janet Lim-Napoles and some 56 others.
The question now being asked by Noynoy’s bosses is what about the other senators, congressmen and individuals who were also earlier suspected of being involved in the pork barrel scam, particularly those from the ruling Liberal Party and others identified with the administration? When are they going to be charged?
Failure to act on their cases within a reasonable period will make a mockery of Noynoy’s much-vaunted daang matuwid.
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An ambassador’s main job is to promote good relations between his country and that to which he is accredited.
What Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar is doing, therefore, is contrary to the basic diplomatic norm. He has accused an official of his host country of wrongdoing, specifically of an alleged $30 million extortion attempt.
As a former diplomat, I can hardly imagine how Rychtar could hurl such a serious accusation against an official of his host government unless he is telling the truth and standing on solid ground and has the approval of his government.
According to Rychtar, general manager of the Metro Rail Transit Al Vitangcol III was involved in the attempt to extort $30 million from officials of the Czech railway firm Inekon sometime in 2011. The amount was later reportedly reduced to $2.5 million.
However, I am puzzled by the DOTC statement that the Czechs have not filed a formal complaint to pursue an administrative case against Vitangcol. Yet, the Czechs have reportedly submitted earlier their statement to the National Bureau of Investigation, which has reportedly completed its probe.
Unless the administration is able to have this case resolved or convince the Czech Government to drop it as soon as possible, it will definitely adversely affect our efforts to attract more foreign direct investments. The NAIA Terminal 3 mess is still fresh in the mind of investors for them to favorably consider investing here.
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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 he received in 2013; and
(b) That, as of ten or eleven 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?
I believe it is time for COA to follow up on what Vergara has done on the above findings so that affected GSIS members would know the status of their contributions!
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Today is the 345th day of the seventh year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.
Five 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?
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From an internet friend:
A crook mistakenly made a counterfeit $8 bill instead of a $10 bill. He decided to try it out anyway.
He went to the teller at the local bank and asked for change.
The teller looked at the $8 bill and gave the crook two $4 bills as change.
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8 April 2014
Email: roacrosshairs@outlook.com https://www.facebook.com/reynaldo.arcilla.9847

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