Certainly, the massive loans given to the “Build! Build! Build” are starting to cost. As the big infrastructure projects and other loans are taking their toll on the economy. Therefore, the Philippines and President Rodrigo Duterte are trying to collect something. It seems like the Chinese counterparts are getting lots of collateral and salvage the spent funds in Philippines. Because, as the weeks goes by and the ASEAN friends, the one with the upper-hand is China.
This is surely not how Duterte want it too look, as they are having a bargain. There has already been putting into question the control of Benham Rise and the hard-won control of the island there. Still, the Republic haven’t fought with tooth and nail to get it back. This week, it seems like there are more installations on it. The sovereign Philippines are being toyed with by China. They are being fooled and has to accept deals, because of the loans to Beijing. Manila is indebted and has to give concessions. Why else, would this week be filled with new Chinese interference and getting licenses in the Philippines?
Weather Station Controversy:
““It is currently coordinating with concerned government agencies, as well as with the Philippine Embassy in Beijing to verify the existence or non-existence of these alleged facilities,” he said. Panelo earlier addressed this concern on Monday saying Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin jr. will “do his job” once the reports have been verified. China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang announced on November 1 that Beijing has already begun operating weather stations on the artificial islands in South China Sea. “These projects are designed to observe the maritime, hydrological, meteorological conditions and air qualities, and provide such services as maritime warning and forecast, tsunami alert, weather forecast, air quality forecast, and disaster prevention and relief,” Lu Kang said in a press conference” (Janine Peralta – ‘Philippines to take action if Chinese weather stations in South China Sea are verified — Palace’ 06.11.2018 link: http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2018/11/06/ph-china-south-china-sea-panelo.html).
“One of the projects included an exploration between state-owned Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) and Chinese state-owned CNOOC Ltd., located off Calamian in southwestern Palawan province, Cusi told Manila Bulletin in a news briefing. Cusi was referring to Service Contract 57 which covers an oil and gas project awarded to PNOC’s exploration unit, and picked CNOOC as a partner. Cusi did not share details for Service Contract 72, an exploration permit held by the Philippines’ PXP Energy Corp. for Reed Bank, but clarified that the Reed Bank, another disputed South China Sea area, is not of the two” (Meanne Rosales – ‘ PH to seal 2 exploration deals with China’ 09.11.2018, link: https://powerphilippines.com/2018/11/09/ph-seal-2-exploration-deals-china/)
Chinese Telecommunication as the Third Telco:
“Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has lauded the entry of China Telecommunications Corp., or China Telecom, in his country’s telecommunication industry, saying the Philippines stands to benefit from the “good competition” that a Chinese company will bring to the industry” (…) “Duterte said that China “has proved to be of very incredibly high quality of electronics.” “(Xinhuanet – ‘Duterte welcomes China Telecom’s operating in Philippines’ 08.11.2018).
As we see, the sudden Benham Rise in the South China Sea and the will of China to takeover the place, while the Malacañang are preoccupied with sneering at priests, Rappler and who else who hurt their pride. They are not seeing or looking away from the sovereign implications on Benham Rise. As there are talks already of military installations, but now also monitoring equipment and a weather station. Clearly, the Chinese sees it as their land, while the PH are busy trying to find out what is happening there.
Than, you have the oil-fields in the same region, where the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) have gotten licenses to drill oil there. Clearly, this is all intentional, as well as they are the lucky third Telecommunication Company and getting into the Cellphone business too. This is just fitting as a glove. They are both getting territory in the South China Sea, they are getting exploitation opportunities and steady profits through a cell-phone carrier. All this they have gotten for dropping some loans, that is hard for the Philippines to repay in cash.
That is why they are allowed to get these things, as collateral for the debt. This is a game the Chinese plays well. That is why this is all happening. We have seen similar efforts done in Sri Lanka. That will surely happen in the Philippines too. As the Chinese is not forgiving with their loans. They want points on the dollar. Not loose money and certainly not lose face on the investments made. Peace.
“And that question is: ”How old is 15, really?” No, that’s a good question. I’m not saying that a person is as smart as they’re gonna be at 15. That’s not what I’m saying, man. But I am saying, 15 to me… is old enough to decide… whether or not you want to be pissed on. That’s me. If you can’t make a decision like that by the time you’re 15… then just give up, motherfucker, because life is way harder than that” – Dave Chappelle from ‘For What it’s Worth’ (2004)
I know that Dave Chappelle isn’t a politician, but he is a comedian. But I had to start with him, as this here piece will be about age. Because suddenly now Senate President Sotto in the Philippines, wants to make the legal age for prosecution and able to answer for their crimes down to thirteen (13). As of today, it is already fifteen (15). Therefore, the legal age are already low and early to be able to serve time for possible crimes.
I want to ask the politician, if he could change the legal age for other things, as they should not only have possibility to fine, detain and prosecute the youth, but also other things. Because, why is it just the negative aspect and the positive aspect of life that is given to the thirteen year old. Since, if your opening the gates to make them liable, shouldn’t they be able to do more other things too, without concern of the state?
“MANILA — Alarmed by the rise in the number of crimes now being committed by minors, Senate President Vicente Sotto III is pushing for the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility to 13 years old. In filing Senate Bill 2026, Sotto noted that criminal syndicates are exploiting the provisions of Republic Act 9344 of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 by using minors in the commission of crimes” (…) “In his explanatory note for Senate Bill 2026, Sotto said, “Due to the continuing challenge in the implementation of RA 9344, as amended, the aforesaid law must be further amended to lower the minimum age of criminal liability in order to adapt to the changing times.” “This bill will finally give clarity to the true intention of the law. The amendment to the law will institutionalize the criminal liability of teenagers who committed serious criminal offense,” Sotto said. He added that not only was the law abused by criminals but the innocence of these youngsters were deliberately taken from them” (Philippines News Agency – ‘ Sotto wants to lower age of criminal liability to 13’ 25.09.2018 link: http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1049043).
With this Senate President Sotto, shouldn’t they be allowed to run for any public office in an election? Why cannot even a thirteen year old vote in the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections? In the recent election the youngest ones to vote in the SK in 2018 was 15 years old. Therefore, they cannot elect anyone or be eligible to get public office. But behind bars is fine and dandy. They have to wait to be 18 to be a candidate for Municipal Councilor, 21 years to be a candidate either for ARMM Regional Assemblyman or Mayor/Vice Mayor of City. To get into House of Representatives, you have to be 25 years old or in the Senate being 35 years old. If you considering to run for the two highest offices you have to be 40 years old, this being Vice-President and President. Therefore, the youths of age thirteen can be criminal liable, but cannot ever consider to run for office, not even in their local SK Election.
That is why Sotto, should consider his approach, as he can criminalize these youths, but they have no initial power. While it coming to work, the DOLE Guidelines of 1st January 2018 of work for minors states: “Under Republic Act No. 9231, children below the age of 15 are not allowed to be employed in any public or private establishment except when they work directly under the sole responsibility of their parents or guardian or when their participation in public entertainment or public information is essential. In any of the exceptions, the employer, parent or guardian should first secure working child permit from DOLE before engaging the services of the child” (Philippines Information Agency – ‘DOLE issues new guidelines on employment of minors in public entertainment’ 09.11.2017 link: https://pia.gov.ph/news/articles/1001624).
The DOLE has such strict rules about a minor, which is a thirteen years old individual, as they cannot work without guardians approval or the DOLE too as well. Therefore, when they need this to work together with parents or their approval for work, why can the same individual be criminal liable? Shouldn’t it be automatic to be working too?
So, we have quickly figured out they cannot vote, not be eligible to elected or work unless DOLE gives them permit. Should they still be able to become outlaws and get a criminal record? Really?
Just to put it further to prove the dire need to question it, is that a person between 18 to 21 needs consent of marriage from either father, mother or legal guardian to be allowed to married in the Philippines. So a person, cannot without consent of their parents get married, but they can get legal ramifications for their actions? Have Sotto even thought of all of this?
That is why I am writing this, because it is natural as a youth, a teen starting life, not fully matured or even considering of the implications of your acts. Shouldn’t be able to do all adulting first, before you get cost of being grown. However, the Senate President thinks otherwise.
Therefore, Mr. Sotto, should you allow them to work, married or even be eligible to get elected into office? Since you propose them to be criminal liable. If they can get punished by the state, shouldn’t they get all the opportunities of the state as well. Peace.
“If you owe your bank a hundred pounds, you have a problem. But if you owe a million, it has.” – John Maynard Keynes
There are worries about the rising levels of debt the Philippines has to China. That should worry all Filipino. Since, this will be repaid, even as the infrastructure projects under the President is served now. The time for repaying these debts will come. This might be the next one after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte might have to answer for that. But he should be worry himself of the levels he is putting the Republic in, unless he wants important parts of the infrastructure be “given” to the Chinese as a way of repaying the debt like Sri Lanka did.
“The conclusion of an agreement with China to manage the Hambantota port was seen as inevitable after the government buckled under Chinese pressure when the China Communication and Construction Co Ltd, which was building the port city, demanded USD 143 million as compensation for the stalling of the work. The Sri Lankan government was also compelled to renegotiate the Colombo Port city project last year, which had been suspended due to criticism about the Chinese ownership of 20 hectares of freehold land as well as controversy over the project’s possible negative environmental impact” (Smruti S. Pattanaik – ‘New Hambantota Port Deal: China Consolidates its Stakes in Sri Lanka’ 17.08.2017).
This story should be worrying for the Philippines as the rising debt to China will come to roost one day. Duterte has accepted and taken it for his projects, but will it be sustainable. That is something he himself should ask himself and also if they can repay this debt without paying a high price.
Jovito Jose P. Katigbak reported in June 2018 this: “Another issue worth noting is debt sustainability. There are concerns that borrowing heavily from China will lead the country into a debt trap. A 2017 Forbes article contends that the Philippine government debt could swell up to USD 452 billion by 2027, which translates to a debt-to-GDP ratio of 197 percent. The estimated figure is based on an annual 10 percent interest rate on loans levied by the Chinese government, hence tying the Philippines into a “virtual debt bondage”” (CIRSS Commentaries – ‘BRIDGING THE INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT GAP THROUGH FOREIGN AID: A BRIEFER ON CHINESE ODA’ June 2018).
If the Filipino doesn’t get to worried about the amount they are borrowing from China. It isn’t only Sri Lanka who has eaten over more debt than they can swallow and has to repay with other means. There are worry in the Pacific island of Tonga.
As reported from Tonga: “Chinese aid in the Pacific region has increased dramatically in recent years and the country has become the region’s second-largest donor. Tonga’s debt to China has been estimated to be more than $100m by Australia’s Lowy Institute think-tank. The prime minister told local media last week that countries would get together to ask the Chinese government to “forgive their debts”. “To me, that is the only way we can all move forward, if we just can’t pay off our debts,” he added. Beijing has refused to write off loans in the past but has given Tonga an amnesty on repayments” (Simone Rench – ‘Tonga premier to ask China to ‘forgive’ Pacific debts’ 21.08.2018 link: https://www.publicfinanceinternational.org/news/2018/08/tonga-premier-ask-china-forgive-pacific-debts).
We have seen what the Chinese done to the Sri Lankan and Tongan counterparts. Both of instances could be happening to the Philippines. Not that you wish that, but the repayments of the growing debt will happen at one point. Even if there is long grace-period of lower rates on the interests as promised to Manila. You can wonder when the Beijing want to recoup the funds and the debt.
Right now, Duterte has a good relationship with Beijing, but when do they feel they have invested enough in the Build! Build! Build! (BBB) projects and wants profits and returns on the investments?
Because the Chinese will not do this forever. They might act nice at first and investing in infrastructure projects as a part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), but when time goes by and lack of repayment hits the fan. The familiar faces of Beijing will get their value for the money and the sovereignty will be taken away. As a port, a piece of mines or exploration of some sort of industrial output will go directly to Beijing and a state owned company. Since they will get their repayment for all the offered debt to the nation.
That is what Duterte is risking, if it is oil exploration and extraction, mineral resources or even ports that is vital to the business done in the Philippines. Does he wants to risk that for the signature building of the BBB?
“I’m just doing my job, even though we encounter critics — but if I need to make certain changes, I’ll do it.” – Mocha Uson
If you would think the Rodrigo Duterte administration ever would sway away from controversy, they have to continue to find ways to do so. Now, they are working and have worked on a new constitution that introduce federalism. This piece will not be about that, but about someone they plan to tap into promotion of that cause. That is Duterte using a Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Margaux Mocha Uson to be a spokesperson for it, but how and what?
Does Uson even have the basic knowledge of what Federalism means compared to the democratic republic today and the constitutional democracy it is today, which simple definition is: “DEMOCRACY is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. Constitutional democracy can be defined as a system of government in which there are clear limits of political authorities, and the electorate has the power to remove poor performing governments. Constitutional democracy is the type of democracy where powers of the majority are exercised within a frame work of the constitution designed to guarantee the majority right” (School Mattazz – ‘CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY: MEANING, TYPES AND CHARACTERISTICS’).
While what she will promote is this: “Legal Definition of federalism: distribution of power in a federation between the central authority and the constituent units (as states) involving especially the allocation of significant lawmaking powers to those constituent units” (Merriam-Webster – Federalism, 21,07.2018 link: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/federalism).
I have a feeling the Assistant Secretary would have a hard time explaining the difference, only speaking the points that the administration delivers her. Her past is no good either, so I don’t understand how she will be speaking on behalf of the administration in this complex case and with the changes of the possible constitution.
Using Uson to campaign for federalism:
“Concom spokesman Ding Generoso told The STAR that Uson would be a big help in their campaign to promote federalism and for their proposed Constitution through her social media following. “I really wanted to tap her. If she can write and interview the Concom members about the proposed constitution and federalism, that would be a big help for our campaign,” Generoso said. “We will talk to her and see how she can help,” he added. Comparing his appearances on television interviews with that of Uson’s blog, Generoso said that he is getting fewer views than Uson, whose videos are reaching millions of netizens” (Robertzon Ramirez – ‘Concom to tap Mocha for pro-federalism campaign’ 29.07.2018, link:https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/07/29/1837706/concom-tap-mocha-pro-federalism-campaign#cey37RrlmvLZw56Q.99
Senate Defense of Appointment:
“For one, I hope that she will be a purveyor of truth, rather than propaganda; of responsibly gathered and vetted facts and news, rather than so-called “alternative facts” and fake news. She is no longer just a private blogger or social media personality; she is now a civil servant. For another, it matters, not just what she says, but also how she delivers it. I implore her to be more circumspect about her choice of words and way of saying them. I do not mean that she ought to use sophisticated words. In fact, I do encourage her to speak plainly. Plain but cleanly. Be aware that our children are listening to us. Our future generations are taking their cue from us on how to express and carry themselves. I hope that Ms. Uson will prove herself a model of dignity – the dignity of a woman, a public servant – for our people, especially the youth of today” (On the appointment of Mocha Uson as Asec. of the PCOO, Dispatch from Crame No. 85, 16.05.2017, link: http://www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2017/0516_delima4.asp).
PCOO allowed Uson to work in Casino, countering the law of public official:
“PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement that “Mocha asked permission to honor her entertainment contracts when she joined government.” However, while Uson is not prohibited from performing, Andanar added that she is advised to avoid such places. This comes after videos circulated on social media allegedly showing Uson performing with her girl group “Mocha Girls” at Bar 60 located at the ground floor of Resorts World Manila. Uson supposedly also has gigs at places like Punchline Comedy Bar and Cowboy Grill, aside from Resorts World Manila. Meanwhile, Resorts World Manila management said in a statement that it asks those who performs to comply with all government regulations. Memorandum Circular Number 6 states that “the mere entry or presence of government officials and employees in a gambling casino shall be considered as conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, unless the same was in the performance of official duties and functions.” (Reporter.ph – ‘PCOO probes the issue of Mocha Uson’s performance at a casino hotel’ 08.09.2017, link: http://reporter.ph/pcoo-probes-the-issue-of-mocha-usons-performance-at-a-casino-hotel/).
PCOO disown Uson’s blog:
“PRESIDENTIAL Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar said Wednesday Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson’s blog was not an official page of the PCOO and was not representing government views. He cleared the PCOO from the controversies involving Uson’s weird and comical blogs. But he said Uson was not a source of fake news in the country as she was only expressing her views. He said the PCOO could not influence or control Uson since she was engaged in a personal activity. Should he order bloggers like Uson to stop airing their views, he would be accused of “suppressing freedom of expression.” He said when Uson became part of the PCOO, “I told her that all the news coming out from government media platforms are real news.” (Vito Barcelo – ‘PCOO disowns Mocha’s blogs’ 01.02.2018 link: http://thestandard.com.ph/news/top-stories/257655/pcoo-disowns-mocha-s-blogs.html).
Therefore, with all this mess of hers, the administration are still keeping her on board. That is just weird, because she is not that bright and misuse her public space. Not to inform, but keeping herself popular. That is evident, even as an appointed public official, she keeps peddling questionable articles, also even break codes of conduct like performing in a casino last year. That is why it is weird that she still has a place in the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) of the Duterte Administration.
That is just strange, for me awful idea to put her into the campaign, unless the Duterte Administration are going for squad goals and making sure they make scandalous headlines by her and her words? Is that what they need to be able to get the Constitutional Change or the Federalism enacted?
Do they need Mocha Uson, is she that unique and special that the President needs her skills and ability to create controversy to bring the game, set and go? Seriously? Is the change to federalism that lack-luster, that the Presidency see the need to bring her in? Is there nobody else that can campaign and bring the message out, not even demoted Alvarez?
Because we know she is not that wise, she has moved mountains and a volcano in the past. If she cannot even the basic geography of the Philippines, how can she explain and have the ability to grasp the difference between a constitutional democracy and federalism?
I have lack of faith, if she was like Maine Mendoza selling MAC products, I would get that, but she is trying to be spokesperson for a government, which plans to change of how the government works. That is not an easy task for anyone, but for someone like her. I lack faith, trust and ability to pull it off. Unless, she will push empty slogans and try to gain popularity because of her face. When it comes to a question like this, when it comes to the balances of power, the limits of the citizenship and what matters for all the branches of government, these questions are not a quick fix. However, a big question and need a lot of relief, this isn’t something changed in a day.
If the Duterte administration is serious and want people to believe in the change, maybe, just maybe, pull some better cards out of the stack. There got to be someone else with more craft and capacity to bring the message of federalism, than Uson. Peace.