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Thursday, April 16, 2015

SABAH


By REY O. ARCILLA  
MALAYA
(A simple denial of the Vera Files’s report on Sabah won’t do.)
Sabah-map.2By the time this weekly column sees print, Lent will be over. But I just could not resist commenting on President Noynoy Aquino’s Lenten message.
Noynoy said in his message last week that the Filipino people should “be truthful not only with their words but with their works”.
Hindi na nangilabot! Nalimutan na yata ‘yung mga pagsisinungaling niya tungkol sa Mamasapano Massacre at ang kanyang “Tuwid na Daan” na balu-baluktot na dahil sa mga katiwalian sa kanyang pamahalaan. Ano ba ‘yan?!
He also said he would pray not only for those threatened by Typhoon Chedeng but also for those who hate him.
Nobody hates him, except probably those who have been victims of his hatred. What people hate are the things he has done and hasn’t done that smack of dishonesty, incompetence and plain pigheadedness.
******
I still could not make heads or tails of Noynoy’s planned peace summit and its supposed terms of reference, i.e., by “helping improve” and “drum up support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)”.
The first, “helping improve” the BBL, that’s what Congress has already vowed to do.
And there’s no need for the second, “drum up support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law”, simply because nobody is really against the BBL per se.
I believe only a degenerate is against peace. All that every right thinking Filipino wants is a BBL that is constitutional, that is just, that will bring about lasting peace, one that will ensure that it does not lead to the dismemberment of the Republic and one that will not serve in any manner the interest of a foreign power, only the national interest.
******
Someone quite rightly pointed out that when China infringes on our sovereignty like occupying and doing reclamation work on areas that belong to us under international law in the West Philippine Sea and conducting aerial drills over our territorial waters, you hardly hear a whimper from so-called leftists and nationalists in our midst. Many of our politicians too!
On the other hand, whenever it is the US that messes up with our domestic affairs, these so-called leftist/nationalist groups are so quick in denouncing the US and staging lightning demonstrations in front of the American Embassy. Why the different reaction? As some suggest, is it because these leftists get funding from China?
Here, I would like to re-print what I wrote nearly a year ago:
“The sooner China realizes that the international community no longer looks kindly at bully countries, the better for her image and stature as the second biggest world economy.
“What she is doing right now – claiming virtually the whole of South China Sea that includes the West Philippine Sea sans basis in international law – only makes her appear like a person whose success has gone to her head and thinks that she can now throw her weight around like a… well, a bully.
“I’m sure she knows that bullies get their comeuppance sooner or later. The United States may appear to be reticent at this time to have a direct military confrontation with China but should push comes to shove, she is still far more superior militarily than China. That’s the reality that China should ponder.
“As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, she also has the primary responsibility, together with France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States, to promote, not to endanger, international peace and security.”
*****
Malacanang and the DFA shouldn’t have simply dismissed the report that we have offered Malaysia to tone down our claim to Sabah in exchange for Kuala Lumpur’s support in our territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea.
A simple denial just doesn’t wash on such a hugely important issue as our claim to Sabah. The government should have at least replied in a more detailed manner to the report to enlighten the public on a very crucial matter that affects the national interest.
VERA Files said that the Philippines, thru Note Verbale No. 000819 dated 4 August 2009, took issue with an earlier joint submission of 6 May 2009 to the United Nations by Malaysia and Vietnam on their extended continental shelf because it “lays claims on areas that are disputed not only because they overlap with that of the Philippines, but also because of the controversy arising from the territorial claims on some of the islands in the area including North Borneo.” (This directly contradicts the DFA spokesman’s assertion that “Sabah is not in any way part of the note.”)
In Note Verbale No. 15-0979 recently sent to Malaysia, the basis of VERA Files’ story, the DFA stated that it is “reviewing” the 4 August 2009 protest (No. 000819) it filed with the United Nations, contained in two pages, that singles out North Borneo, otherwise known as Sabah.
In return for “reviewing” its 2009 protest, the Philippines made two requests to Malaysia: 1) for Malaysia to “confirm” that its claim to an extended continental shelf is “entirely from the mainland coast of Malaysia, not from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands” and 2) Malaysia to “confirm” that it “does not claim entitlement to maritime areas beyond 12 nautical miles from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands it claims”.
As I said, an outright denial won’t do. The government must come up with a more definitive clarification of the issue. Transparency is called for.
******
Of the twenty questions submitted by a House bloc for Noynoy to answer when they convene this week for the resumed hearing on the Mamasapano Massacre, there are three that stand out, namely:
• Did you give any order to stand down? Did you not give orders to Catapang or Pangilinan not to fire artillery in Mamasapano, where the 55th SAF was engaged with the MILF and other armed locals in consideration of the peace talks?
• Why did you allow US intervention – from the planning, funding, training, ISR, and during the operation and the subsequent evacuation? Why did you find it necessary to work with the US, but not with DILG Secretary Roxas, PNP OIC Espina or AFP Chief Catapang?
• What was the extent of the participation of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines in Mamasapano?
The bigger question, of course, is will Noynoy even deign to answer them? I doubt it.
******
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. That was more than four and a half years ago.
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. He was also the highest paid in 2013 with P12.09 million. I wouldn’t be surprised if he again tops the list in 2014; and
(b) That over a year ago, at least P4.13 billion in contributions and loan payments made by 12 government offices, maybe more by now, to the GSIS had not been credited to the offices as of Dec. 31, 2011.
COA also said that the amount of unrecorded remittances could go much higher because only 36 agencies have at that time 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? How long do you think you can “dedma” these questions?
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!
In this connection, I would like to address this question to new COA Chief Michael Aguinaldo: “Is Vergara one of the sacred cows in Noynoy’s coterie whom you may be afraid to investigate?”
******
Today is the 342nd day of the eighth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.
I dread to think of how many more years it will take before Jonas’ disappearance is finally resolved. Or, for that matter, the items in the Reminders above. It is beginning to look like it will not be during Noynoy’s daang matuwid watch.
******
From an internet friend:
A wife, after being sedated to have an MRI taken on her head, was brought to her hospital room.
Half awake, she groggily asks her husband, “Where am I?”
The husband replied, “We are in heaven!”
Then, she asks, “Why are you here?”

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