• With or without China or EDCA, we are in a serious pickle

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    Two decisions
    A mixed public reaction greeted the Supreme Court ruling, affirming President Aquino’s total exclusion of the Senate from any role in the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States, the provision of the Constitution to the contrary notwithstanding. At the same time, universal indignation met Aquino’s veto of the law providing for a P2,000 monthly increase for two million Social Security System pensioners.

    The two courses of action are not related to each other. But, occurring at the same time, they jointly impact the people’s view of the outgoing Aquino administration. While some Filipinos see EDCA as the answer to China’s “aggressive behavior” in the West Philippine/South China Sea, many others believe it dramatically increases the risks of war with China, in which the victims will be Filipinos rather than Americans or other nationals. The Save the Nation Movement, for one, called it “the final betrayal.” Even those who believe in “enhancing” military cooperation with the US believe Aquino should have involved the Senate, especially since the agreement will be in effect long after Aquino is gone.

    This would have been consistent with Article XVIII, Section 25 of the Constitution, which provides: “After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America concerning Military Bases, foreign military bases, troops or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when Congress so requires, ratified by the majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”

    First casualty
    But it can no longer be undone. While EDCA’s first audience is clearly China, because of Aquino’s imperial arrogance and boorishness, its first casualty is also clearly the Senate and the Constitution. The ruling has put the President above the Constitution, and the Senate has been completely sidelined as a treaty-making partner of the Executive; the only thing to do now is to abolish it. In principle, the fact that EDCA is but an “executive agreement” means the next President, if he is so minded, could abrogate it. But that would presuppose a total reversal of the country’s foreign policy and national security orientation vis-a-vis the United States.

    Unless we become a province of China, I cannot see that happening. The most recent findings by Pew Research in the US show that Filipinos are the most “pro-American” nationals, even on top of the Israelis, who are supposed to be their best allies. The next Filipino president is unlikely to embark on any effort to impeach the SC ruling. But since the agreement has an extendible term of 10 years, it is subject to review at the end of that period, and the sitting president, even if he agrees to renew it, could insist that in lieu of the present agreement, the two parties negotiate a treaty subject to Senate concurrence, if by that time the Senate still exists.

    What can be done
    Or the government can do what Marcos did with respect to the 1947 military bases agreement. In 1966, he proposed that its 99-year term, which was to expire in 2046, be cut to the next 25 years, ending in 1991. He also pressed for the return of baselands that were not being used by the US armed forces. He demanded that Philippine sovereignty over the bases be clearly spelled out, so that the Philippine flag alone fly over the bases, that they be known as Philippine bases and be commanded by a Filipino commander.

    Finally, Marcos demanded that the rent-free provision be revisited to allow for the payment of a decent economic compensation package. This was the Economic Support Fund, over which Henry Kissinger and Gen. Carlos P. Romulo haggled, and which precipitated the fall of Marcos.

    Not for offense
    The government could also insist that the troops, munitions and facilities deployed under EDCA can only be used for mutual defense of the Philippines and the US, never for offense.

    We cannot predict whether street opposition to EDCA, if any, would grow into anything like the political Quarter Storms against Marcos. As of now, there is no sign of it. Various politicians have crossed party lines to denounce Aquino for the SSS pension veto, and to threaten a congressional “override.” But Malacañang’s response has been thoroughly anemic. The government has appropriated P82-billion for Dinky Soliman’s poorly documented Conditional Cash Transfer to the poor, and the SSS itself is able to provide millions in bonuses for its top executives. It has also shown enormous generosity to the leaders of the MILF. But it seems to have extreme difficulty thinking of subsidizing the pension increase.

    So one can safely assume the discontent will fester and the two million SSS pensioners and their families could provide the initial base for passive resistance against a “cruel and heartless government.” In Aquino’s defense, some Senate sources have pointed out that the veto could have been avoided if the companion bill providing for funding for the pension increase had not been smothered in the Senate. They lay the blame squarely on the Senate finance committee, chaired at the time by Sen. Francis Escudero, now one of the veto’s loudest critics. Escudero will be back in the Senate, should he fail in his vice-presidential bid.

    Converging crises
    These are serious problems, but they are just two on a long list. With or without EDCA, or the brewing revolt of two million SSS pensioners, various forces are converging to confront the nation with the gravest multi-faceted problem it has had to face since the Marcos years. The danger could come from ISIS, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army /National Democratic Front, and even the long pacified Moro National Liberation Front–all at the same time. The confluence of events may have already begun.

    Jakarta bombings
    The street bombings in Jakarta are reportedly all ISIS-related. They are too close to our southern backdoor, and could spill over. Our security officers are confident they will not, but there are reports, first aired on Rappler, that the Islamic caliphate in Iraq and the Levant has decided to establish its first Southeast Asian province (wilayat) in Mindanao.

    Various other nationals who had been “training” in Syria are reportedly back in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand; only the Filipinos who had been reportedly recruited in the Middle East are not yet back in the Philippines. But some recent violence in Mindanao, including the beheading of a Malaysian engineer during the APEC Summit in Manila last November, and the bombing of power lines and stations in some areas, is said to have been ISIS-influenced.

    At the same time, some 40 young Filipino-Americans from the US were reported to be immersed in some kind of “radical tourism” in Surigao–training in revolutionary warfare among the Lumad. These are raw reports that need verification. But southern Philippines has long been known as a laboratory for developing techniques in insurgency warfare.

    In northern Luzon, reports persist of repeated arms landings, reminiscent of, though not of the same magnitude as, the MV Karagatan incident during the Marcos years–allegedly from China, for the communist insurgents. Also, several thousand high-powered rifles originally meant for the MNLF had reportedly been turned over by Malaysian intermediaries to the MILF.

    The MILF is reported to have received large sums of money from Malacañang to keep its leaders in tow, following the non-passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, which seeks to create a new autonomous territory for the rebels. But they are suspected to be using that money precisely to create the very trouble Malacañang wants to avoid. This should not surprise anyone.

    But it seems the Moro rebels are not the only ones awash with funds. The communists do not seem far behind either. Just look at the pre-campaign ads of some of their senatorial bets. Some military analysts estimate that the communist insurgency has grown faster and stronger than any insurgency group during the last six years, even as communist politicians have won party-list seats in Congress and have even become involved in the pork barrel scandal. Some of those seeking Senate seats seem to be among the more moneyed in this election.

    Failed policy
    All this tends to confirm the short-sightedness of policy with respect to the communists. When Republic Act 1700 or the Anti-Subversion Law of 1967 was repealed in 1992, the nation expected the communists to abandon armed struggle as they entered the political mainstream. This has not happened. The NPA continues to engage the police and the military in the countryside, except that, if a suspected NPA member is killed in a police or military raid, the police or military personnel involved could end up being accused of a human rights violation, while the killing of a local policeman or politician is usually declared a “closed case” after the NPA owns the killing.

    Meanwhile, the Armed Forces’ ability to respond has suffered lately from poor leadership and poor logistics caused by serious procurement problems. Dense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin has been famously heard to say his mandate as defense chief is to see to it that the country is safe and secure until June 30, 2016–but not beyond. About 32 procurement contracts under the Military Modernization Program have failed to move because of questions involving incentives for the intermediaries. Government-to-government offers have been rejected in favor of offers from private suppliers, for obvious reasons.

    For whatever reason, only 200 million cartridges have been delivered to the Armed Forces out of 800 million cartridges for standard weapons. At least two deliveries from Ankara, Turkey of 5,500 rounds of 105 mm Howitzer cartridges, amounting to P165,758, 000, were reported to have fallen illegally into civilian hands and cleared through customs, instead of being seized by the authorities, as required by law, before reaching the originally intended end-users.

    Indeed, corruption, which includes selling our patrimony and everything else we can sell, has become our first national security problem. It is the battle we must first win. With or without China or EDCA, we are in a serious pickle.

    fstatad@gmail.com

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    10 Comments

    1. If Japan and Korea,Taiwan who have strong military power capable of defending themselves are allied with US representing the free loving Nations while China representing Godless socialist communism(Budha and Dragon or Satan).How much more for us? Which side do we choose? We need to choose freedom because in a free country you have spiritual freedom,chance to prosper and freely worship God! You are not treated as merely a tool of the state who have no soul & spirit but your life and right is surrendered to the socialist state therefore the state owned you and your family. The authority (from Satan)of the Socialist state can do anything to you for the sake of the state forcefully not voluntarily therefore the state becomes the god who do at will what the Oligarchs/Elites/officials want! Millions were killed or sacrificed by their founders and killed to oblivion?Went to hell and condemned for eternity for those who did not believed in Jesus! That is the saddest reality. So we appeal to our patriotic kababayang Filipino. Choose freedom ruled by law and order under God! When we choose freedom under God then we are protected. Please read the Biblical assurance for our salvation and protection in Isaiah 45:20-25New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)
      Idols Cannot Save Babylon
      20 Assemble yourselves and come together,
      draw near, you survivors of the nations!
      They have no knowledge—
      those who carry about their wooden idols,
      and keep on praying to a god
      that cannot save.
      21 Declare and present your case;
      let them take counsel together!
      Who told this long ago?
      Who declared it of old?
      Was it not I, the Lord?
      There is no other god besides me,
      a righteous God and a Savior;
      there is no one besides me.
      22 Turn to me and be saved,
      all the ends of the earth!
      For I am God, and there is no other.
      23 By myself I have sworn,
      from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness
      a word that shall not return:
      “To me every knee shall bow,
      every tongue shall swear.”
      24 Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me,
      are righteousness and strength;
      all who were incensed against him
      shall come to him and be ashamed.
      25 In the Lord all the offspring of Israel
      shall triumph and glory. John 17:2-3Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
      2 since thou hast given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom thou hast given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.

    2. Gusto nga ng China pati TAIWAN kanila na rin… hindi ba kayo nakakahalata mga kabayan?? gusto kong lumubog and economy ng China balik sila sa ZERO. Gusto kong dumating ang tsunami sa inagaw nilang island sa atin at lumubog.. Gusto ko lindolin ang buong china ng intenity 10 para matauhan sila sa kanilang kaswapangan ng terrirtoryo.. Kung hindi napaalis ang US Base dito, hindi gagawin ng China ang ganyan. Hininttay lang ng China na makaaalis ang mga kano sa ating bansa, kaya ngayon na pagkakataon na ginawa nila…Pero ito ay sinadya ng mga dilwan pulitiko na huwag idevelop and ating military defense after EDSA 1 para magkaroon ng butas ang china na agawin ang ating mga isla o gusto na nilang sakupin ang Pilipinas dahil sa mga aquino family na mga commnista…

    3. Sharp analysis but it fell short with the call of action. Anyways, the article itself is enlightening so it’s probably that the author leaves the decision to the readers/people. What can we do when there is no organization or a leader that has come forward to lead us – the people into action. The organizations that we know for a long time, that led us into mass actions, reforms in government have all misled us and brought us further into a bigger problem if not bought us back into similar problem with the old order system. We need Sun Yat Sen or Jose Rizal in the modern times. We probably need also Andres Bonifacio in our times. But where are they? and who are they? I haven’t seen one for a long time!

    4. Bullshit! Mr. Tatad, what did you do to protect our territory during your times in the government! nothing Mr.Tatad only talking, If I know you will be the first one to hide in times of aggression or invasion from China.

    5. “…People that can’t conceive Natural Law are mentally deficient—lack a proper education. Nobody can dictate that there will be honorable people. Today we have a world of psychopaths that can’t feel empathy for other people…”
      click:
      http://larouchepac.com/node/25797

      Sir,
      Salamat po…providing quality.

      Kung puede sir, atin atin lang ha?!

      Nung 2008 nagkaroon ng crisis at ngaun simula ng January 2016,kitang kita ang crisis. Baka puedeng tanungin ang SSS at Central Bank kung magkano ang itinaya nila sa casino type speculative investment tied po sa Wall Street.

      Lagut sila sa Sambayanang Pilipino, mala artikulo Uno ang parusa po niyan.

    6. Leodegardo Pruna on

      Well, it’s just too bad that even the SC dismissed the Philippine Constitution in its decision as to whether or not the EDCA is constitutional or not. The Philippine Constitution is very clear with the word “TREATY” spelled out clearly as cited by Sen. Kit. Where are we going from here? We remain guessing but still hope that God will bless the Philippines.

    7. Ruben V. Calip on

      We, Filipinos, have been in a very very serious pickle since we made BS Aquino the 3rd our president!

    8. EDCA confirms the loss of Philippine sovereignty.
      Pnoy Aquino can now wear a US flag pin, and stop the pretence.
      Woof, woof.
      Treachery runs in the Aquino family – maybe he should take a DNA test – his values and interests are not filipino.

    9. so kit tatad what do you suggest the filipino people do? i hate eveything about aquino myself but at l give him credit for securing edca for our country’s sake. unless of course you are a member or supporter of the pesky leftist movement like Bayan or Grabriela or the CPP who would rather see the country be part of china. why don’t you for country’s sake write about china’s bullying and illegal take over of spratly islands instead? why mr. tatad?

    10. Densedy Isaguirre on

      Could the Philippines be in the better position if there is no US along the way? China is aggressively taking steps to expand its Imperial territory as its tries to rival US for the supremacy in the entire world. By building artificial islands in the South China Sea, China will have more sovereignty in the South China Sea. By gaining sovereignty in the South China Sea, China can expand more further its economy by acquiring natural assets in the sea and expand their military influence in the South East Asia region. And if they successful for it, they can elevate to their next step and probably expand their sphere of influence in the entire Asia Pacific region and this might be enough to rival their American counterpart. US on the other hand has been involved in conspiracies to make their influence known to the entire world. China is still beginning to gain supremacy in the South China Sea but US has been the supremacy in the vast areas of the entire Pacific and Atlantic not to mentioned their sphere of influence in the oil rich Middle East region. China is just following the strategy of what the Americans did. For the Philippines well, we are just a victim of the conflict of two world super powers. If we ignore them both, then I don’t think it would be a good idea for a cat to stay in the arena of fighting tiger and lion. Whatever the outcome, the cat will soon be devoured be either the tiger and the lion. But if we choose which side we are in, then its either we lost or win, nonetheless win or lost is better that lost or lost. Now which side will you pick on, well I hope the decision of majority of the people shall prevail, not the decision of some elite group of people who is deciding which side to lean on. Just always remember no country is an island, every country needs a friend to rely on.