• What should we do if the Chinese strike at the Spratlys?


    The second debate
    IT was punishing from start to finish. What the Commission on Elections spokesman has called “more engaging”, and an earlier front-page story in the Philippine Star described as “well worth the wait,” referring to the one-and-a-half hours the public had to wait before the second presidential debate in Cebu City on Palm Sunday got started, I found as disappointing, although for different reasons, as the first one held in Cagayan de Oro on February 21.

    In my book, only the vulgar and the shallow could have taken delight in the nasty bar-room brawl which the Comelec, TV-5 and Philippine Star tried to present as a presidential debate. Truth, civility and fairness quickly went out the window as the candidates verbally abused each other with no thought of the children and minors who were watching their show.

    The only genuinely welcome thing I learned from the execrable two hours was from the reputed roughneck among the candidates, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who surprisingly turned out to be more gentlemanly and statesmanly than he had tried to portray himself in his earlier incarnations, and who asked the only worthwhile question of any of his fellow candidates. This deserves a full treatment later.

    Unexplained delay
    For starters, the public waited patiently for the show to get started at 5 pm as previously announced. There was a delay, but no one was saying the reason for the delay and how long it would take. Prof. Dindo Manhit, who used to work for the Senate and who now carries the title of political analyst, plus three other unnamed and unidentified talking heads on TV 5 tried to keep the viewers glued to their TV sets by talking about the candidates’ standing in the current propaganda “surveys” and the Comelec’s forced compliance with the Supreme Court ruling to furnish the Vote Counting Machine with a voter verification paper audit trail (PPVAT), as required by law, to assure the voter that the machine has read his vote right.

    The talking heads were all genuinely supportive of the Comelec’s effort to circumvent the law and the Court ruling by offering to provide a voter’s receipt that contains no useful information about the precinct where the vote has been cast. Only Manhit was making any sense. The only female among the talking heads was also the least bearable of the lot: her facial expression and hand gestures editorialized every inanity she said, an absolute no-no in the trade. I had to wonder how she ever got the job.

    Misusing children for politics
    This babbling of the talking heads was twice interrupted by the political ad of Congressman Martin Romualdez, who is running for Senator under the banner of “malasakit,” and an unsigned political commercial, using very young children as talking heads. The children were asking: Is it true there is a candidate who likes to steal, another candidate who likes to kill? These were toddlers who were too young to have any political opinion of their own, and yet were being used to mouth the most rabid partisan campaign lines. The whole thing was obviously a political production intended to sway public opinion against Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has been rapped by his enemies for alleged corruption, and Duterte, who has not denied terminating criminals.

    This particular commercial was unsigned by any sponsor, in violation of the Omnibus Election Code, and the fundamental rights of children. And yet it was repeatedly aired prior to the Comelec-sponsored debate without any corrective intervention or apology from the commissioners. Can Comelec Chairman Bautista explain why he should not be held accountable for this particular violation? Now,has this commercial been taken off the air?

    Why FOI?
    Finally, the long-awaited debate began. TV-5’s Luchi Valdez Cruz introduced herself as the program moderator, without explaining why the public had to wait for one-and-a-half hours. The first question came from a certain Ed Lingao of the Visayan media, addressed to Mrs. Llamanzares; after whom, the other candidates joined in. What would she do with the proposed Freedom of Information Act, which has failed to pass under Aquino, should become president?

    Mrs. Llamanzares tried to explain that the Senate actually passed its version of the FOI bill, but that “the Congress” failed to pass its own. This was an unforgivable slip for someone who wants to become the president. As a sitting senator, she was expected to know that the “Senate” and the “Congress” are not two separate institutions; the Congress is made up of two Houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives, (Kamara ng mga Representante, as Roxas put it, without necessarily correcting Mary Grace). She made the same slip twice during the debate, which to me revealed her lack of understanding of government.

    The others joined the discussion. But it did not occur to anyone to point out that the FOI bill cannot be the most important business on the agenda of the next government, and that in any case, it would be the task of Congress to enact it under a system where the separation of powers and the system of checks and balance shall have been restored. The most that the Executive can do is to include the FOI bill in its legislative agenda, which it submits to Congress for implementation.

    Basic citizen right
    Whether there is an FOI Act or not, the citizen has a right under our Constitution to access all public documents, except those involving national security and covered by the appropriate security classifications. As a newspaper reporter, when newspapermen still pounded the beat to produce their news stories, I used to expose the most sensitive government secrets without the help of anything remotely related to an FOI Act.

    At the Interim Batasang Pambansa, where I sat from 1978 to 1984, I authored the proposed FOI Act, similar to the US FOIA, but this failed to prosper because the Committee on Finance could not accurately ascertain the financial costs of having to reproduce every public document that interested parties would like to access. This was before the digital age; the cost estimates may have drastically changed by now.

    But it seems to me a patent error to presume that giving the public full access to mountains of official documents would automatically restore strict adherence to the Constitution, the rule of law and the sound administration of justice. It will not; only a moral revolution will. This requires the restoration of our sense of right and wrong, good and bad, legal and illegal, etc, nothing less.

    Where Binay failed
    Binay’s statement that he would, if necessary, sign an executive order making the FOI bill enforceable prompted Mrs. Llamanzares to chide him for his failure to answer any of the charges aired against him at the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee—-a point Roxas also repeated when his turn came. Both obviously had no understanding that the subcommittee was acting beyond its jurisdiction in its hearings, and Binay failed to educate them on this issue.

    Mrs. Llamanzares and Roxas tried to hit Binay for his alleged corruption at every opportunity they had. He tried to present documentary evidence to ward off these accusations, but the “rules” of the debate, controversy over which (we now learned) had caused the one-and-a-half-hour delay, prevented him from presenting such evidence. The way I understood the rule was that no debater would read from any prepared notes. However, an official document, evidencing something or other, cannot and should not be considered “notes”, which could not be read into the record of the proceedings. But he was obviously a minority in the group and they simply outvoted him.

    Binay had an excellent opportunity to get even with Mrs. Llamanzares and Roxas, but unfortunately failed to exploit it. He tried to make a big point of Mrs. Llamanzares renouncing and abjuring her allegiance and fidelity to the Republic of the Philippines, when she became a naturalized American citizen in 2001, but he failed to add, which would have been useful, that in the United States, no citizen who renounces his US citizenship can ever regain it, or if ever he does, can be permitted to seek any high office.

    Binay allowed Mrs. Llamanzares to say that her “love of country” prompted her to “come home” and that Republic Act 9225, popularly known as the Dual Citizenship Law, allowed her to “reacquire” her Philippine citizenship. Binay should have pointed out that only former natural-born Filipino citizens, which she is not, could reacquire their citizenship. She “reacquired” her citizenship by falsely misrepresenting herself as a natural-born citizen, born of her adoptive parents.

    On the basis of her two birth certificates, the only conclusion one can reach is that she was born twice, first as a foundling of no known parentage, and second, as the alleged daughter of her adoptive mother, Jesusa Sonora Poe, aka Susan Roces. Is this someone anyone should consider as a possible president?

    As for Mar Roxas, who aside from charging Binay with corruption claimed that Aquino’s “daang matuwid” has gone after corrupt officials, without regard of their political affiliations, the VP could have challenged his rival to declare publicly whether he would authorize the prosecution of former president Aquino should he become president. The same question he could have put to Mrs. Llamanzares, who is now seen as Aquino’s “Manchurian candidate.”

    What if midnight calls?
    Not even Duterte asked this question. But he proved to be the statesman during the debate. At the last portion of the debate, when the candidates were allowed to ask a question of each other, and Binay, instead of asking the mayor a question, said he was not asking him any question because they were both “qualified candidates,” (an oblique reference to Mrs. Llamanzares, whose eligibility is still pending before the Supreme Court), Duterte replied by saying Binay was “more qualified” than he.

    But Duterte asked the most important question during the debate, and he asked it of Mrs. Llamanzares. What would she do, if as President, she was awakened in the middle of the night, and told that our two Coast Guard cutters had been sunk by the Chinese at the Spratlys? She went into a spin and used so many words to say nothing. So Duterte restated his question: What exactly would you do, as soon as you get the report?

    Her answer: She would rise from bed; she can’t just say it’s only 4 am, can’t this wait until five?—and call the Armed Forces Chief of Staff.

    Sounds good. The bad news here though is that it was, in fact, the AFP Chief of Staff who had awakened her from her sleep. This simple detail tells us that the lady does not know enough about the presidency or government, and is simply not ready to be President.



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    1. Duterte sounds very assertive and calm. Poe talk like a non-sence gatling gun when duterte ask her what her responce if china will bomb our two coast guard vessel. Binay has always been a cheater taking kodigo with him. Roxaz is like a dog defending his owner. I wish Miriam was there because the arena looks a no hold bars MMA championships. Miriam will be a thunder and everyone will run like a scared cats.But my winner will be duterte because he stays very calm and very clear until the end of the debate. i hope for the best in the philippines! think wisely everyone.

    2. If its true, she used 2 SSS nos, she is a potential subject of extortion and blackmail by the US while she is president. China may capitalize on it, too. When the time comes kakapit sa patalim. As Sheryl. She may hide not just under the bed and with such trepidation…jst thinking 555!

    3. Dr. Chrisostomo Phd on

      Tadtad makes another interesting blog opinion titled, “What should we do if the Chinese strikes the Spartlys? Basically, the simplest, quick and proper answer to that is, nothing! The Philippines after gaining its independence from the Americans, the Filipinos could not even govern themselves. Since July 4th 1946, the date America relinquished sovereignty over the P.I. (Philippine Islands) the Philippine government has had difficulty solving the enormous problems such as alleviating poverty, high unemployment, malnutrition, population explosion, public education, public housing, clean water, sanitation, traffic congestion on Edsa, inefficient government bureaucracy, money laundering, bribery and public corruption in Philippine government agencies like the Customs, impunity from the law by the Marcos clan, vote buying, lack of justice on the Magindanao massacre, the 48 years of Moro insurgency in Mindanao, the New People’s Army insurgency since 1968, the victims of human rights violations by Marcos dictatorship, the lack of good jobs that forces millions of Filipinos to search for jobs as “atchays” in Hong Kong, Singapore, Middle East etc. high crime rate in Manila, the proliferation of guns and gun violence, lack of land reform for poor farmers, the oligarchy who controls the wealth, power, land, business, banks, and government interest, the powerful hacienda owners, the unpaid national and international debts of billions of dollars owed to the IMF, World Bank, ADB, DBP, GSIS, resettlement of millions of Yolanda natural disaster victims, perpetual colonial and victim mentality and list goes on. Yet, Tadtad and the Filipinos wants to focus on Chinese expansion on the Spratly coral atolls. The Filipinos kicked out the Americans from Subic Bay in September 13, 1991. Now, the Filipinos are begging the Americans to come back to defend them against red China’s illegal expansion of some tiny coral Spratly atolls. What an irony! How can the Filipinos tackle the Chinese expansion of the Spratly atolls when they cannot even tackle their enormous, numerous problems? Perhaps Tadtad’s next opinion blog might suggest a solution.

    4. The result of the SWS presidential survey in cebu shows Grace Poe is the winner.so what else do you want?definitely Grace will be the next President.

    5. Kit..if your country is being raped what will you do? I know what will I do. This is not a matter of being a small country and a large country or small military and strong military. Righteous is in our side. We should all think about being Israel.. God protected Israel the same way the God’s people will protect our country. If we go to war with China so be it. This is a fight for what we believe is ours. You should know by now what our leaders and people did at the time when most powerful countries invaded our country. You should go back in history and believe what our forefathers were fighting for. If we will not fight the Chines, the next thing they will do is cut your throat!

    6. If I were a presidential candidate, like Grace Poe, I would gracefully withdraw and leave alone Danding Cojuanco and other monopolist oligarchs to exploit the suffering masses at their own shameless risks. There’s no pride in becoming a puppet of opportunist oligarch.

    7. Fred Pescador on

      Politics in this country is so unprofessional that anybody can run whatever political ambition they are aspiring for. You might be a citizen of other country,an ex-convict,actor & actresses that don’t have the slightest idea how a government works,etc. If this keeps going on…the Philippines will be a third-world forever and this will proved that there is “forever”.

    8. I will pressed the RED Button.Activating our Emergency Response Team, our allied country specifically USA which we had a treaty to help us, our reserve force, our people.They must know what to do assuming that we already train them in case war broke out.

    9. opinonated bum on

      Google Military Times, Philippines, about U.S. Military is moving into these 5 bases in the Philippines. The article was written on March 21st and it says the agreement was finalized Friday, which would be the 18th of march.

    10. Maging tulad Lang yan Kay Pnoy sa Mamasapano na tulog pa at nakapatay Ang CP Nya. Tapos sabihin din Hindi sya Ang Chief ng PNP! Don’t vote her!

    11. Vaquero Sitchin on

      Related to the question on what we are going to do If China strike at Spratly, what are we gonna do now that China has already seized Panatag Shore and depriving our fishermen of their lively hood?

    12. Grace Poe is the winner in the recent SWS survey Presidential debate.for all the previous and latest survey she always on top meaning the filipino people like her.and those bad and evil element to disqualify and discredit her will not succeed.even they dont respect the SC decision.Go Grace we love and support you.you will win this coming presidential election.

      • Reason yourself out not just go grace, so that the reader will understand and learn something from you. Not just basta grace ako. BAKIT.

    13. 1> Binay, a lawyer, seems to be poor in debating ? ! ? !
      2> Grace Poe says those who did not choose to work overseas and need to renounce their Philippine citizenship are more prone to steal ?
      3>Mar Roxas, no need to comment……….

      • Defensor or Roxas for future, Duterte mithi ng maraming biktima sa ngayon, Poe panibagong simula, Binay sa ikalulubog ng bansa.

      • Rita de Dios on

        Miriam or Duterte ako. They have a clear grasp of how to address the dispute to save the country.

    14. Poe is premature for the position of President of the Philippines.. MDS is more credible to be the President than any other candidates. dinaya lang iyan ni tabako , na wala rin nagawang magaling sa Pilipinas kundi ang PPA niya na pahirap sa mga ordinaryong mamayan na ang nakinabang ay mayari ng meralco na lopezes..Feed your beautiful mind people. Isipin ninyo ang kapakanan ng ating mamayan at inang bayan, hindi ang pansarili interest ninyo. Sino sa palagay ninyo sa mga candidates ang magrereact agad, once China invade our Spratly islands?? What is the first thing they would do.. Ito ang ang dapat pagdebatehan, dahil maaring mangyari ito in future, hindi iyong kung ano ano na walang kabagay bagay… Ang dapat pagdebatehan ay para sa interest ng ating bayan at sa mamayang Filipino na salat sa buhay…

    15. rios del prado on

      The best she could do as President is to call out her cabinet members for an emergency meeting. Then first thing in the morning is to ask the Chinese Ambassador and his staff to go home as her strong protest against the Chinese government. Ask other Chinese citizens or Chinese expats and businessmen to leave the country immediately. Call out all other countries in south east asia and seek their help. File a protest to UN and demand the Chinese government to leave the philippines’ exclusive economic zone at scarborough shoal.

      • And further turn up the heat by asking all our kababayans in Hongkong, Macau, Taiwan, and mainland China working as hotel staff, casino staff, housemaids, teachers, PT’s, engineers, nurses, doctors, drivers, other professionals, cooks, waiters and waitresses, those working in the utilities, those working in the service sector, those working in retail, etc to pack up their bags and just go home. This should be able to cripple their economy and bring them down to their senses.

    16. …why don’t we start gathering all the aswang, manananggal, mangkukulam, vodoo practitioners and other expert of this trade from Capiz and their known bulwarks all over the country of ours and deploy them as the first line of defense against China?…instead of asking help from U.S. and offered them military bases?

      • Francis Dizon on

        Nakalimutan mo na marami tayong buwaya sa Pinas. Sila muna ideploy natin. Tingnan natin kung alin an mas mabagsik Yung noypi o yung tsekin.

    17. Poe is not ready to be a President. Di sapat ung pagiging natural born citizen. A Big liar! Period!

    18. dapat ang sagot ni Grace..

      “babangon ako at kukunin ko ang espada ng tatay ko.
      dahil ako ang Anak ng PANDAY..”


    19. Nangutana pa si Digong.Gusto siguro makakopya ug maayong tubag kay sa pag-adto niya sa amo sa Butuan ang iyang ingon useless daw makig-away sa China kay wa tay baslanan (walang laban). Ihatag na lang daw spratlys sa China basta bayloan ug railway.
      Tapang at malasakit daw.Talawan man diay.

      • Sus nimo Dong puno siguro ug atuli nang imong dalunggan maong wala ka kaklaro sa gisulti ni Duterte noh! Dili na mao iyang gisulti maong ayaw pagpataka ug yawit! Matod pa ni Duterte nga useles makig-away sa China kay dili nato kaya kay wala ta’y armas nga ikasukol. Mas maayo pa nga makig-istorya sa China pero ipasabot jud sa ilaha nga ang Spratlys sa Pilipinas ug dili ilaha. Mao na ang pagkatinuod Dong ug ayaw pagpataka ug abre anang imong baba nga dili ka sigurado sa imong mga ipangyawit ha!

      • bay, ani man gud ni hunahunaon sad nimo ang kadaghanang tao. ibaylo nimo ang mga isla para mamatay ang pila ka milyon nga tao? dili man paisogay sad nang issueha. pila na ka milyon nga ilang sundalo ug mga military firepower. mao gani na apil na ang china sa g5 (apil us,uk russia super power country na sila) kay kusgan na ang china. kung boot lang jud sa china nga sulongon ta dili abtan na ug usa ka semana. hunahunaa lang maayo bay.

      • siegfred sumicad on

        maybe is she had more time she would answer correctly to call on danding and chiz escudero !

    20. Grace reaction upon waking up will depend if she has a hang-over from the late night drinking sessions with chiz and ochoa.

    21. the right answer should have been
      to immediately initiate search, rescue and retrieval operations;
      for the victims dead or alive.

      • Nope…..that is not the practical answer of Grace Poe! The correct one is……we’ll see tomorrow I still have hangover from midnight drinking with my friends!

    22. Leodegardo Pruna on

      Definitely, disgraced GRACE is not ready nor prepared to even become president of a small entity. She is insisting because of the prodding of big business which will only use her to gobble up other businesses and monopolize. God save the Philippines.

    23. Strike the chinese back with bombs and if they attack the Philippine Islands, the Philippine-American Mutual Defense Treaty will kick in.

    24. Mayor Duterte showed civility that I was almost sold to him but when he favored the burial of the Dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani I was turned off and decided to return to Roxas. I just wish the next debate would be cordial but with fireworks of substance.

      • Korny mo, dahil lang sa ililibing si Marcos sa libangan ng bayani mas gugustuhin mo pa na mag Roxas ka. Pag si Roxas na presidente, kung ano ngayon ang problema ng bansa, yun pa din ang problema naten for the next 6 years. Same style of governance and incompetencies like his boss BS Aquino.

      • Mayor Duterte said he would explain why he’ll allow Marcos’s remains to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. He would’ve explained it at the debate itself but wasn’t allowed to do so. Let’s wait for his explanation; who knows, he may be right? Let’s keep an open mind about everything, telling ourselves constantly that we may be wrong because we don’t have a monopoly of the knowledge of what’s right and wrong. As for me, it solidified my intent to vote for Duterte as he showed through that vote that he keeps an open mind about everything and isn’t as petty as Aquino, Roxas, Abad, Abaya, Drilon, and the rest of the Liberal Party, who, as Walden Bello once put it, operate like members of a fraternity, treating everyone who’s not part of their circle as their enemies. I think a Duterte presidency will bring back loftiness in our government, as in the days of old.

      • Digong might ask the Marcoses to return the hidden wealth to the government in exchange to be buried here. The people had elected Marcoses back to the government even after they toppled them from Malacanang anyway, if Digong can negotiate that exchange and for the Estate of Marcos to pay the victims of Martial Law so much the better. After all if they will allow Enrile to be buried in the Libingan who is one of the perpetrators and henchman of Marcos there is no fairness there.

      • he also said he needs to explain. he did later saying, it is needed to unite the people from division of marcos loyalists.

      • siegfred sumicad on

        I am not a duterte fan but Ok marcos was a dictator but to fall for Roxas just because he favored Marcos to be buried sa Libingan ng mga bayani I feel really would put our country messier than the burial issue.

      • Francis Dizon on

        And why not? Who can give me another president who did better? Let him rest in peace where he wished to be buried. It is the rightful place for hIm. Let HISTORY judge him, not you nor anyone one of us.
        And all the while I thought we were predominantly “Christians”.

      • Ang babaw nman ng dahilan mo para iboto si Roxas. Move on ka na madam, matagal na patay yung tao. Aso nga nailibing dun, tao pa kaya? Kahit ano pa sabihin nyo, for sure may nagawa ring mabuti si Marcos, eh yung gusto mo iboto? The track record speak for itself. Yolanda, MRT, SAF44.

    25. Taken totally by surprise by such question ( which can only be expected in a presidential confrontasi debate of this magnitude ), this Grace clearly showed her lack of knowledge of the role of the president as commander in chief and head of the national security council. Most likely it would have been the AFP chief or the Secretary of Defense who would breaking the bad news to her and there’s no reason for her to still call for them in the first place. Situations such as the one brought up by Digong would have been anticipated by a more learned, experienced and profoundly and acutely aware president and defense condition/ exigency plans would have already been prepared and put in place. the president would just call for the implementation of these plans by the concerned agencies/units.

      But knowing her once abjuring her identification with the Philippines in embracing the citizenship of a foreign power, she call always call on her former adopted country, the USA to help aggravate the situation even further!.

    26. rogelio feir on

      I like this commentary. I think Poe’s 1st question should be “who is this”?

    27. That seemingly simple-sounding question from Digong addressed to this Grace Poe serves to remind us all that we are still living in very dangerous times of potential military conflicts and worsening natural calamities and that it is not to the best interest of the Filipino people to take seriously as possible Chief Executive one who is not only the most inexperienced and ill-prepared among the candidates but who seems to be living in a self-created movie wonderland where her deceased “tatay ” was the king and her “nanay” is the quintessential queen and fairy godmother.

    28. Who said Poe-Llamanzares is ready to be President? She is not even a full-fledged Filipino citizen, in the first place. Assuming that she is a natural -born citizen which she is NOT, she did undergo thru the formal process of re-acquiring Filipino citdizenship. I say this, among others because, personally, she hasn’t undergone the complete process of renouncing her acquired American citizenship when she assumed her post with the Aquino administration. If the renouncing was not complete, how could she have assumed her former citizenship as that of a Filipino?
      This is in ADDITION to the other reasons advanced why she is DISQUALIFIED to run for President.

      “Nakahiya tayong mga Filipino kung si Poe ang ating magiging Pangulo.” Dahil dito, magkakaroon tayo ng isang pangulo na tinaguriang ‘Poejuangco’ dahil siya ay magiging “tutang” totoo, at kasali diyan si Escudero, na kung magsaluta ay akala mo kung sino.”

      May God save the Philippines!

    29. Past is a past. Today’s edition is to look forward concerning the future of the country especially the fundamentals right of the children making and using a propaganda for political production. Its abusing the mentality of not yet mature to understand what is crime.

    30. Poe did the best in the debate. She’s a natural-born filipino. She’s more patriotic that people in the govt. She is more capable than the other candidates to be President

      • How can you be patriotic and how can you claim that you love your country if you renounced it in the first place, swearing to defend and work for the good of another country even if its interests run against those of your country of origin (Philippines), and then moving to reacquire your Philippine citizenship only because you had to because you were given a position in the government? Anyone can say she loves her country, but let’s think deeply about it and consider all the facts before believing.