• PART 3--WRITING ON THE WALL IN RETROSPECT

    The 7th and 8th factor in the Corona impeachment

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    Maceda regarded the seventh factor as a most critical one, contending that both sides in the controversy would resort to it vigorously as, he said, Erap did in his own impeachment where he talked to all 24 senators and convinced 12, thus winning on the Senate floor but losing out in the streets.

    Still speaking from his own experience, Maceda recalled the Senate vote on whether or not to retain the US military bases, for which, he informed, then President Cory led a march to Congress to pressure the senators to vote for retaining the bases. Cory, he said with a tinge of rage, got a terrible backlash from half of the senators who just didn’t like the idea of being bullied. And thus, we learn from the former Senate President’s story, did the US bases in the Philippines got ended with their rejection by the so-called Magnificent 12 of the Philippine Senate.

    Maceda admitted that on the seventh factor, President Aquino has the great edge, considering that he has got “pork barrels to offer, appointments to offer, contracts to give,” but he observed that PNoy is doing it in a fashion similar to that of his mother and could end up getting a similar backlash.

    The eighth factor
    It never occurred to Maceda that as he reminisced on the Senate rejection of the US bases, he was already inching into an issue that if pursued exhaustively could end up rearing the head of what could be the overriding Eighth Factor in the Corona impeachment. It was just ironic that the former Senate President was limiting himself to what were immediately perceivable scenarios in the impeachment trial.

    But we retrace the Corona chronology to November 15, the day the Supreme Court issued the TRO on the BI watch list order.

    That same day, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived for a two-day visit to the Philippines.

    That same day, President Barack Obama arrived in Australia for talks with the Australian government for the basing of some 2,500 American soldiers in the continent.

    Both Clinton and Obama came directly from the just-concluded APEC meeting in Hawaii, to join each other again, after each respective visits, at the East Asia Summit opening in Bali, Indonesia November 16.

    November 15, PNoy postpones his trip to Indonesia, apparently to manage hands-on the GMA travel imbroglio. Actually he had to be on hand for talks with State Secretary Clinton on matters which though never made public were nonetheless hinted at by developments the next day.

    November 16, Clinton leads the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the RP-US Mutual Defense Agreement which despite the dismantling of American bases in the Philippines remained intact; the lifetime of the pact is indefinite and may be terminated only one year after notice from either side.

    The event took place on the deck of the American warship USS Fitzgerald, docked at the Manila Bay.

    Observers said her appearance on the deck of the warship was highly symbolic of the maritime conflict the US has with China over the latter’s perceived naval expansionist thrust in the South China Sea. On the occasion, Clinton signed a joint declaration with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario renewing American commitment to the defense pact and serving notice of Washington’s continuing position that territorial disputes in the South China Sea should be settled peacefully. Significant in her declaration was her reference to the disputed area by its Philippine name: the West Philippine Sea.

    “We are strongly of the opinion that disputes that exist primarily in the West Philippine Sea between the Philippines and China should be resolved peacefully,” Clinton said in a televised news conference with Secretary Del Rosario. “Any nation with a claim has a right to exert it, but they do not have a right to pursue it through intimidation or coercion.”

    The statement betrayed the critical level to which, from the US perception, China has been advancing its assertiveness over the South China Sea. In an article in the November issue of Foreign Policy Magazine, Clinton outlines US long-range strategy in this regard as “America’s Pacific Century.” The article recognizes, among other things, that the Obama administration intends to increase the United States presence in the Asia-Pacific as it withdraws from the Middle East; that America’s prosperity is intertwined with events in Asia; and that to the question of whether America “can make — and keep — credible economic and strategic commitments…” and whether America “can back those commitments with action,” the answer is “We can, and we will.”

    On the last day of the November East Asia Summit, US President Barack Obama echoed Clinton’s contentions in his verbal tussle with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao: “…while we are not a claimant in the South China Sea dispute, and while we do not take sides, we have a powerful stake in maritime security in general, and in the resolution of the South China Sea issue specifically — as a resident Pacific power, as a maritime nation, as a trading nation and as a guarantor of security in the Asia Pacific region.”

    Premier Wen Jiabao countered with the declaration that, as quoted by the Xinshua News Agency, “…any attempt by outside forces to internationalize the issue will only make it more complicated and undermine peace and stability in the region.”

    Obviously in pursuit of its “America’s Pacific Century” strategy, the US has acquired basing rights for its troops in Australia, docking privileges for its naval vessels in Singapore, established growing alliance with erstwhile enemy Vietnam while strengthening even more alliances already established with Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines, and exacerbating the disputes claimants to the Spratly group of islands like the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei have with China – moves rightly seen by China as encircling maneuvers by the US aimed at containing it right in its own frontyard.

    End of Part 3 of this series. Part 4 will appear on Saturday February 27 and Part 5 on Sunday February 28.

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