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‘Real Men’ Say Goodbye to Leyte


Thank you, Korea, and thanks too to your fine young soldiers who sweated it out here for our fellowmen. Thank you too for remembering our Korean War veterans. That was a heartwarming thing you did for the vets in Leyte. Godbless.

Originally posted on Heroes of Yolanda:


by Jonathan M. Hicap
July 22, 2014

The stars of the Korean TV show “Real Men” spent their last days in Leyte, Philippines, interacting and playing games with Filipinos.

As shown in the fourth episode of the TV show that aired on July 20, Super Junior M’s Henry Lau, ZE:A’s Hyungsik, actor Kim Soo Ro, singer K.Will, Park Gun-hyung, Chung Jung-myung, Seo Kyung-suk and Sam Hammington wrapped up their tour of duty in the region with the rehabilitation of the Naga-Naga Elementary School in Palo, Leyte.

Joint Philippine and South Korean forces, as with the show’s cast, helped rebuild the school, which was damaged by Typhoon “Yolanda” back in November.

A mini-program was staged as part of the celebration.

Henry Lau and Seo Kyung-suk, together with two Korean soldiers and four students, danced to Girls’ Generation’s “Gee.”

The audience, especially the “Real Men” cast, were surprised and delighted when K-pop girl…

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Peace demonstration in Israel tomorrow


Let us give peace a chance.

Originally posted on Dear Kitty. Some blog:

This video from Britain says about itself:

Gaza Crisis: Jews & Arabs Refuse To Be Enemies

23 July 2014

Jews & Arabs around the world have been sharing loving images of coexistence using hashtag #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies in an effort to change the discourse online. BBC Trending meets the people behind the campaign.

From the Gush Shalom peace movement in Israel today:

Stop the War Demo Sat. 8pm Tel AvivRabin Square

We Are Not Afraid Of A Political Solution

Gush Shalom is among the initiators

Statement of the organizing coalition + transportation details:

On Saturday, the peace camp takes a stand at Rabin Square. The war is taking a heavy toll in lives and injuries on both sides, in destruction and horror, in bombings and rockets. We answer this by taking a stand and making a demand: end the war now!

We must end the war and start talking with the…

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Miscalculations Fatal to the Peace Process

by: Former Sec Jess Dureza

Atty Jess Dureza is an esteemed friend who used to be Press Secretary in 2008 under then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. During that period, he was also the Chairman of the Government Peace Negotiating Panel with the MILF, and concurrent Chairman of the Mindanao Economic Development Council (Medco). His vast experience and connections in the frontiers of Mindanao has made him a great source of information on the situation on the ground insofar as the Mindanao peace process is concerned.   His latest caution comes at a time the government and the MILF panels are struggling with the issues being raised in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which is for submission to Congress.  


Former Peace Panel Chairman Jess Dureza weighs in.

The latest word on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro  (CAB)  with the MILF is worrisome.  President Aquino met discreetly with KAGI MURAD  for the second time  in Hiroshima, Japan in the last few days  where the MILF head raised to the President some serious “concerns” evidently  after reading the latest  draft of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that Malacanang legal experts were working on. Then  MILF panel chair Mohaqher Icbal, obviously trying hard to suppress misgivings, admitted  that he was “not upbeat” or optimistic.  Evidently, I can only guess, but all is not well, contrary to what the President wants us to believe.

I may sound like a broken record but let me stress this again:  the negotiating parameters of the Philippine government (GPH)  and the rebels ( MILF) are NOT the same. This I personally know. In the whole course of the peace negotiations and consistent with its basic negotiating parameters, the MILF always REJECTED AND REFUSED to use — or   even just mention —  the Philippine Constitution as “reference” in ALL the agreements signed since the first agreement was signed in July, 1997 in Cagayan de Oro until the last document was signed last January, 2014 ; or in all of 12 agreements already signed. Instead, they  preferred  adherence to international protocols  like the UN Declaration of Human Rights or the UN Charter, but NOT the Philippine Constitution. They simply rejected being subjected to the provisions of the Philippine constitution. To the MILF, adherence to our basic law during the peace talks was  premature  “capitulation” and would  “canalize” their options for redress, knowing that some provisions of our Philippine constitution  could very well be the reason for those historical injustices on the Bangsamoro, which they wanted to be  redressed. They fought to get concessions from government that perhaps could be beyond the ambit of the basic law.  If you won’t believe me, go check for yourself those signed agreements. In short,   it should not come as a surprise to us why there will be constitutional issues that will necessarily arise now! This must be expected.

Hence, those presidential assurances coming from President Aquino no less that there are no constitutional issues and that all is ” well and ok” may not be the real score; although it is expected that as head of state, he must appear to be the fountainhead of optimism. But the ghost of the failed and lamented  MOA -AD is still around to haunt us. We committed a fatal mistake during our time.  We should learn from those lessons. To ignore them is not prudent. To ignore them is reckless!

PRESIDENT IN A FIX  — Just like during our time in the Arroyo administration, President Aquino is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. While the President  wants to give concessions to finally put an end to the rebellion by addressing historic grievances, he cannot give beyond what the Constitution normally allows. He is duty bound to keep within those rigid parameters. The most he can do is to do some “brinkmanship”, but then that was what happened in the MOA-AD with President Arroyo. I think the President is looking now closely at what was signed and  now realizing that for him  to adopt it en toto will put the presidency in jeopardy. So some last minute adjustments in the BBL had to be made.


Breakthrough in GRP-MILF negotiations. Will this push through? (gov.ph)

MILF ALSO IN A FIX — The question is: will those adjustments be acceptable to the MILF? I may sound presumptuous, but I bet you, the MILF will NOT  capitulate and accept substantive variations  from what was signed and agreed  just to make the agreement constitutional. (This is now derisively called “watering down”).    During my time as peace negotiator, I can tell you that  the MILF had shown flexibility and openness to re-adjust its positions from time to time as the negotiations progressed. But they had certain “non-negotiable” points which, I am sure, were  carried through in the present CAB, some of which could be “constitutionally-sensitive”.  I doubt very much if Kagi MURAD will agree to allow a re-adjustment just to suit constitutional concerns of the government if it means giving up on some of those “non-negotiables”.  But if he or the MILF leadership does so, it will  be at  their  own peril — just like the equally problematic situation our own Philippine president must now be facing. The dangers are obvious. The MILF is organizationally not that  cohesive, like  just any other rebel group where force of arms rule.     They cannot even totally control their own forces on the ground with the BIFF and other so-called rogue, break-away elements operating. Some MILF base commanders are  “autonomous” and they can call their own shots. Then there are young MILF elements who have their own more radical aspirations and are more restive. This is not to mention the presence of Islamic fundamentalists and “terrorists”  whose bottom line is to establish an  independent calyphate in this part of the world who have succeeded in embedding themselves in MILF-controlled areas.   Of course, let us not forget that the Bangsamoro is factionalized and deeply divided, in various levels and MILF cannot claim exclusivity.   I need not say more on this.


MILF factionalism could also prove worrisome. (phantomreport.com)

SOME OPTIONS.  — At this crucial stage, I have a few unsolicited advices to make, if I may:

A) Before submitting the draft BBL to Congress,  Malacanang must first do some constitutional “sensitivity” tests. This may not sound appropriate to others  but yes, some “friendly” Supreme Court justices can be discreetly consulted but allowing room for “deniability”. (My  guess is that this was already done. )    Let’s not forget Chief Justice Sereno voted against the MOA-AD and if the same situation is present now, it will be difficult for her to make a reverse act with CAB.  Then there is former panel Chair Marvic Leonen. I’m sure he has a mouthful of advice to give. It is not advisable to feed  the BBL to Congress if the “coast is not clear”. Remember, the CAB is a political threat to the entrenched politicians in power and many of them are just “waiting in ambush” there in Congress to chop  it down to pieces. Believe me.
B) Continue the back-channel  “negotiations” with the MILF if there are problematic provisions. This will also allow the MILF to vet new developments with its own stakeholders and for an easier “acceptance” just in case there will be some re-adjustments still  to be made. The recent  brief meeting in Japan  was more on  Kagi MURAD  expressing “concerns”. A more substantive discussion should be held, between them again or between other equally high level representatives. (This is now ongoing in Kuala Lumpur – cbh)


Govt and MILF panel meet in Kuala Lumpur. (Rappler.com)

C) If it shall become inevitable to amend the Constitution to preserve the peace process, then it is  time for  the joint Transition Commission, which drafted the proposed BBL, to immediately buckle down to work as mandated by the CAB    “….to work on proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for the purpose of accommodating and entrenching…the agreements”. This is clearly stated under Article VII, par 4b of the CAB.


A Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is acceptable to everyone. We pray this is achievable. (gov.ph)

D) During my time at  OPAPP, there was talk about “entrenching” the MOA-AD by “appending”  it to the constitution, just like what was done with the original US BASES agreement and getting a national plebiscite to approve it. Then the constitutional parameters are expanded to accommodate the CAB.

MISCALCULATION — One final word. We understand the determination of President Aquino to get this done during his time. He took the first unorthodox step not usually done by heads of state by meeting with KAGI MURAD at the onset of the talks. Both of them again met recently. This is already a milestone no one before him achieved and to his credit. It may be prudent for him to study his options well at this time. And this equally applies to MILF’s KAGI MURAD. We all cannot afford a misstep at this crucial time.

A MISCALCULATION will put to naught all those milestones never achieved before.


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An Open Letter to Fellow Miami Heat Supporters

by: Gian Lao

Gian is a dyed-in-the-wool Heat ‘supporter’ (he refuses to be called a mere fan). This gave me fits last year when he ‘in-your-faced’ me however subtly after Miami’s epic miracle win. I am – after all – a proud Spurs fan. I do feel some sort of compassion for his team, after those humiliating blowouts in games 3 to 5. (Sorry, Gian, just had to rub it in a bit.) So now, before my magnanimity deserts me, before I become lucid once again, here’s Gian’s piece to all grieving Heat lovers out there. My salute, Gian, goes to the Heat for having been a worthy opponent; and to you, for being a great supporter. Keep those flames burning!!

It’s over. We’ve lost. I imagine our championship “three-peat” shirts are now in large, wooden crates, being delivered to impoverished countries (hey, at least they’re making some people smile). No street parades for our team; no more smug status messages on Facebook about the greatness of LeBron; no more Chris Bosh pouring champagne on himself as if he were a fully immersed participant in an X-Art video. Obligatory:


Bosh boozed after the 2013 NBA Finals.

If you’re anything like me, you’re absolutely devastated, and now have an irrational hatred for air-conditioning systems. And perhaps like me, you’re also looking for sources of comfort, or in other words, what to think of to woo-zah yourself back to sleep after waking at three in the morning with cold sweat, thinking about Danny Green 3-pointers.

The first is that we lost to the Spurs—a team that played basketball in a way that made our trapping defense look like it was invented by middle schoolers.They’re also quite possibly the least hated championship team in history. They have one of the best coaches of all-time, both on the court and in the pressroom. They have the best power forward of all-time, who keeps baffling doubters every year—“how long will he keep turning back the clock?” The Spurs did it with zero lottery picks too, apart from Tim Duncan, thanks to the genius of R.C. Buford and the rest of the Spurs front office. And hey, did you see Kawhi Leonard’s smile once or twice? Losing to such a team can really summon the sportsmanship out of you.

But no, not really. I can’t speak for everyone, but as I do my best to lose with grace and applaud “basketball the way it’s supposed to be played,” I can’t help but feel, deep within myself: Who gives a shit about the Spurs? To hell with Tim Duncan, that boring, geriatric, never-committed-a-foul-in-his-life nitwit. To hell with Tony Parker, that bigamist, baguette-eating douche. And to hell with Manu Ginobili and his layups; that’s not how a real man scores! (See how I’m grasping at straws here to find ways to hate these guys?) My team lost and I want to bury my head in my LeBron James pillow and let the misery accumulate around my bed. I want to kick Skip Bayless in the teeth. I want to call Dwyane Wade and beg him to opt out and take a contract equivalent to his current, diminished superpowers.

Seriously, though, how can anyone deny that the Spurs’ victory is good for basketball? Of course it is. Of course the Spurs winning will help convince younger generations of the necessity of teamwork, unity of purpose, and boring basketball (I had to). But I, along with several other Heat supporters, simply hate when the Heat lose, we reserve the right to be angry, irrational, and sad. For a day or two, at least.

Perhaps what allows me to leave the confines of my room—and what allows me to go back on forums like /r/nba—is traveling back in time and asking myself: What the hell were the Miami Heat doing in 2009? I remember my anguish. We were in purgatory—unable to get out of the first round; plus, our second best player was Michael Beasley. We were wasting the prime of an all-time great. Don’t get me wrong, I support everyone who’s given part of himself to the team, and that includes occasional 2007-2009 starters Chris Quinn and Yakhouba Diawara, but those guys simply don’t even begin to measure up to the Heat role players of past years: Mike Miller, Shane Battier, RayAllen, and Birdman.

It wasn’t the first time it happened. In the summer of 2004, Heat supporters were bickering about who to take 19th in the NBA Draft. My personal thoughts were: World to Pat Riley, Jameer Nelson was available. Dorell Wright isn’t gonna be useful for a really longtime. Dwyane Wade isn’t a pure point guard. Eddie Jones and Brian Grant are getting old. But before we knew it, Shaquille O’Neal was taking his talents to South Beach. Uhuh. The Shaq. Kazaam. The Big Aristotle. Jameer who? True, perhaps he was in the latter part of his prime, but it was enough for two deep runs in the playoffs and the franchise’s first championship. And that one championship meant everything. We were happy. That was the last time I doubted Pat Riley.

I don’t need to narrate how this Heat team we now have was assembled. Obviously, we’ve overhauled our expectations from the beginning of the 09-10 season. But really—three championships in less than ten years? A prolonged sadness because of this year’s loss would quite simply be bratty. On the bright side, it’s likely that we’ll still have the best player in the league next year. We still have a front office led by the Don, Patrick James Riley. We have a promising young coach who has the potential to be an NBA coaching institution a decade or two from now, Philippino Jackson himself.

To all Heat supporters, new or old: You probably already know this, but in case you need reminding, our team has treated us well. You might have noticed that I’m allergic to the word “fan,” and instead prefer “supporter.” That’s because I think that word—supporter—is an apt reminder of our role in the franchise—it’s to cheer the damn team on. Not to boo the players who have brought us two championships, and who have shared our triumphs and disappointments. Not to walk out when the team’s losing by a lot—which is actually the moment when they need our support the most. This offseason, no matter what happens on the trade/free agent front, one thing is certain: Our Miami Heat will be trying to get even better at basketball. It should be the same for us. We should be ashamed of ourselves if we don’t try to become better supporters.

To the supporters who started watching the Heat because of LeBron James: I invite you to continue being Heat supporters in the coming years, regardless of what happens. Those guys calling you bandwagoners? Let them be. Remind yourself that it is always better to be for something—even if that thing is the Milwaukee Bucks—than to simply be against something. It doesn’t matter how you come to like a team; it only matters if you stay. So stay. I promise you, there will always something to be excited about—whether it’s the draft, the prospect of signing Carmelo Anthony and pissing off the entire league all over again, the constant scheming of Pat Riley, or simply anticipating the first tip off of the season. It is always exciting. That’s the beauty of following this team. We try to win—and whatever adversity or disappointment we face, it never lasts too long.



(Photos courtesy of bleacher report, ussportsdownunder.com, sbnation.com, miamiherald.com, nba.si.com, philstar.com)




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Pinoy Paddlers Do It Again!!!

Amazing!!! The Philippines’ vaunted Cobra-PDBF Dragon Boat Team once again proved their mettle by finishing 2nd overall in the first-ever IDBF Dragon Boat World Cup competition held in Fuzhou, China last June 10-12.  Not given much of a chance with the many obstacles they had to overcome to be able to compete, the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF) nonetheless dug deep, drew inspiration from its small group of loyal backers, and almost came back home with the overall championship trophy!  Host country and heavy favorite, China, would later clinch the overall crown, but the underdog Pinoys were right there fighting tooth-and-nail, giving the Chinese team the fight of their lives.


Cobra, ably represented by Michael Ngo and Jinky Sebastian, hosted the triumphant Cobra-PDBF Team to a Lunch Presscon upon arrival from China.

Only five (5) events were played in this best-of-the-best competition. Only sixteen (16) elite countries were honored with an invitation to participate. And only twelve (12) teams were there to answer the starting gun. Each team was allowed only 28 members each, to compete for the  five (5) premiere events at stake, namely: the 100m standard mixed, the 200m standard mixed, the 500 standard mixed, the 400 small boat relay, and the  1000 small boat team pursuit. The 28-member limit provided our Pinoy paddlers a better chance, with the other teams not able to bring in their vaunted specialists in the sprints, the middle distance and the long distance races.


The proud sprint kings and queens of the first-ever dragonfest.

This ‘feel-good’ Cinderella story almost didn’t happen  however, considering the many heartaches our team had to go through.

First, there was the perennial problem of the absence of support from the national sports body. Nothing has changed from the time our paddlers came home victorious with five (5) gold medals from Tampa’s IDBF World Championship last 2011. Despite President P-Noy’s promise to stop the politics that was ruining the sport, things have remained the same. No support from the PSC? No problem, our paddlers continued to thread water for the country and for their sheer love for the sport.


A Philippine Team in one of their previous successful sorties. Proudly waving the flag!!! (Courtesy of AmpPhi)

Next, they had to contend with the bureaucratic red-tape that threatened to shut the door on more than half the delegation. Fifteen (15) of the 28 members of the team come from the military service, and it would take a few kind and determined souls in the military organization to expedite matters.

With the military clearances finally complete, the team immediately flew to Xiamen, then took a 4-hour train ride to Fuzhou, arriving just in time for the first event. They didn’t have time to practice, didn’t have time to acquaint themselves with the course, and didn’t even have time to check-in their bags at the hotel!


Despite coming in late, our Pinoy paddlers was in the thick of the fight all through out.

No matter.  For this team was made of sterner stuff.  This team was built on pride, on the ‘can-do’ spirit, and on sheer grit and determination. So determined – in fact – that at the end of the tournament, our Pinoy paddlers would surprise the heavyweights with 4 podium finishes, two of which were gold medal harvests!


With ConGen Julius Flores in Xiamen, without whose support, the team would not have made it on time in Fuzhou.

At the end of the competition, the medal tally read: China (3 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze), Philippines (2 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze), Canada (2 Silver, 2 Bronze), USA (1 Silver), and Australia (1 Bronze).

Canada, which will be hosting the IDBF World Championship next year, had been expected to give China its strongest challenge. No dice. The Cobra – PDBF Team ruined what was supposed to be a preview of the China-Canada clash for next year’s World Championship. On top of that, the Philippines also set a new world record in the 100m standard mixed category with a time of 23.455 sec, relegating the heavily-favored Chinese team third behind Canada, which finished just a shade lower at 23.825 sec.

During the Thanksgiving Lunch and Presscon tendered by Cobra for the victorious Cobra-PDBF Team, Michael Ngo, AVP for Marketing, Media and Budget, congratulated the team and pledged more support on behalf of Asia Brewery and Interbev. He highlighted the fact that for the Chinese, dragonboat racing had started over 2000 years ago; while Philippine Dragon Boating only started in 1991! China’s experience of more than 2000 years against the Philippines’ measly 23 years would result to a no-contest, it would seem. No problemo, my man! Inspite of the vast advantage in years, our Cobra-PDBF Elite Crew showed them far superior technique, training and teamwork.


Victorious amidst overwhelming odds!!!

Michael spoke proudly of how the team bested the hulking paddlers of Canada, the USA, Australia, Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, Russia, Great Britain and Guam. And he likened Philippine Dragon Boating to the country; that if united and steered towards the right direction, can one day transform into a solid force that can be the best in the world.


Amazing what the Filipino can do!

Indeed! Our Pinoy paddlers have proven time and again that they can triumph over the best of the rest of the world  in the sport of Dragon Boating. And we can certainly parlay this win into something greater for our country, if we only take time to discern the precious lessons it holds for us.

For more on Philippine Dragon Boating, read our previous issue:

PDBF Gears for World Championship in Hungary

(Photos courtesy of PDBF and Philippine Dragon Boating)


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Completion of China Airstrip in Mabini Reef a Game Changer?

from: anc.yahoo.com

Former NSA and Congressman Roilo Golez is one of our more vocal speaker and respected leader on the subject of the Spratly Islands issue and the Western Philippine Seas. Here, he raises the alarm on China’s continued construction of structures that can radically affect the region’s security environment. It is important that the Philippines – as well as the region and the world – show its concern over the danger this offensive action presents.  


Former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez warns of the clear and present dangers of Chinese invasion. (Courtesy of rappler.com)

 Former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez warns about the dangers posed to Philippine security and ASEAN stability if China is able to complete its military installation in Mabini reef.

He says if China is able to construct an airstrip in the disputed area, it will be a game-changer in the region’s balance of power.


Golez sounds the alarm as China builds airstrip right within our EEZ. (courtesy of ANC)

“You can see this is probably a mile-long airstrip. It’s almost like an airport, like what you see in the international airports, that support facilities, there’s a dock for ships. I understand it can support and resupply frigates. But what is very threatening is that mile-long strip because now they can base their fighters there. I’m looking at  for example, a J-11 fighter made in China that has a range of 2000 miles. You can see this Mabini reef is that dot in the middle, the circle is the 1,000 mile range. You can see it encompasses the entire Philippines, most of it is  Vietnam, part of Malaysia and and the whole of Borneo. So it can threaten all our vital military installations including the installations we can make available under EDCA.” Golez says.

Power in Asia-Pacific

Golez says by building various structures, China wants to alter the balance of power in Southeast Asia.

“They want to consolidate the power in South China Sea and convert that into their lake. They really want to strengthen their claim which is the 9-dash line claim. This is a balance of power they want to alter – this balance of power in the Asia-Pacific – because the dominant power until now is the US, it is the hegemon not only in the world but even here, but China is starting to challenge that. In balance of power politics, it is a counter action also. ” Golez says.


Changing the balance of power in the region. (Courtesy of solarnews.ph)

Changing the facts on the ground

Meantime, Professor Richard Heydarian Lecturer in International Relations at Ateneo, says China is changing facts on the ground by reclaiming and occupying disputed waters and land features.

And it could use this in the future when it faces further international legal action in territorial and maritime disputes with its neighbours in the region.


China’s greedy claims reach out to the very shores of its SouthEast Asian neighbors. (Courtesy of philippinechronicle.com)

“There’s also a legal dimension to this. The 9-dash line doctrine in China’s sweeping fame for quite a while. The way China looks at this is, down the road, they have to face the legal opinion arbitration. And if you look at the recent trends in the international arbitration, they give priority and prerogative to the countries who continues to establish and exercise effective and continuous sovereignity. If China will be able to build structures there, and they turn this structures into islands and project into 200 nautical mile economic zone, somehow they’ll be able to argue this legally. Although the Spratly’s island is far away from the coastline of China, there is still some legal dimension.” Heydarian says.

“China is trying to boycott the arbitration process to avoid legitimizing it. But if Vietanam joins, and they [Vietnam] are now looking at multiple arbitrarial cases against China, then that will put China at back foot.” Heydarian adds.


China hurries to gobble up space. (Courtesy of the International Herald Tribune)

Long-term effects on imports?

Heydarian also believes China is thinking about the long-term effects of its row against the United States on the supply of some of their main imports.

“The other dimension of the disputes is the security dimension. From the perspective of China, [and] their paranoid generals, one day down the road, they are scared that if you look at the flow of commodity, [the] hydrocarbon of imports of China, a lot of it comes from the Middle East and it passes through a lot of choke points. In the opinion of Chinese, a  lot of those choke points are actually surrounded by countries that are either sympathetic to United States, or maybe allies of the United States. So what the Chinese are looking at is there is a possibility down the road in the an event of a conflict with United States or Japan,” Heydarian says.


The potential offensive reach of this facility is very alarming. (Courtesy of ANC)

More on the South China Sea dispute:

Carpio: China’s Aggression is Armed Aggression (7 Jun 2014)

Ours, Not China’s, Kalayaan Islands (27 May 2014)

Can the Philippines Really Bully China? (27 May 2014)

Historical Fiction: China’s South China Sea Claims (24 May 2014)

What the Typhoon Revealed (24 Apr 2014)


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Carpio: China’s Invasion is Armed Aggression

Associate Justice Antonio Tirol Carpio is a well-known authority and popular speaker on the Western Philippine Seas issue. The article below was written by Jojo Malig of the ABS-CBNnews.com last June 6, 2014.

MANILA (UPDATED) – China’s invasion and occupation of Mischief Reef in 1995 and Scarborough Shoal in 2012 are acts of armed aggression against the Philippines that violate the United Nations Charter, according to Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.


Carpio:’ ….. an act of armed aggression’.

Carpio, in a recent speech before the Philippine Women’s Judges Association, said China is also threatening to forcibly evict Philippine Marines aboard the shipwrecked RPS Sierra Madre in Ayungin Reef within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Spratlys.

The Philippines is not the lone target of China, according to Carpio. He said Beijing also committed armed aggression against Vietnam in the Paracels in 1974 and Fiery Reef Cross in 1988.


China flexing its muscles in the adjoining seas.

“The world is now familiar with the expansionist designs of China in the South China Sea. China’s creeping invasion of the islands, rocks and reefs, as well as of the waters, of the South China Sea grows in force and aggressiveness each day as China’s naval forces assume greater superiority over those of other coastal states,” he said.

Carpio said China is using force and is making up historical falsehoods because its position is weak under international law.

He said that Manila is in the right path by filing an arbitration case against Beijing in accordance with Constitution and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). “At stake in the arbitration before an UNCLOS Annex VII tribunal is whether the Philippines will keep or lose 80% of its exclusive economic zone and 100% of its extended continental shelf (ECS) in the West Philippine Sea.”

He said that based on arguments Beijing has presented and under the general principles and rules of international law, it cannot claim any “historical right” in the West Philippine Sea that pre-dates UNCLOS.

“Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that China has such ‘historical right,’ the entry into force of UNCLOS in 1994 extinguished such right. Under UNCLOS, a state cannot claim any ‘historical right’ to the EEZ or ECS [extended continental shelf] of another state,” the senior magistrate said.

He specifically mentioned China’s controversial 9-dashed line claim that renegade Koumintang forces drew up only in 1947 and presented to the UN only in 2009.

“China’s claim to a ‘historical right’ to the waters enclosed within the 9-dashed lines in the South China Sea is utterly without basis under international law. This is the almost universal opinion of non-Chinese scholars on the law of the sea,” Carpio said.

He explained that UNCLOS extinguished all historical rights of other states within the 200 nautical-mile EEZ of an adjacent coastal state. “That is why this 200 NM zone is called ‘exclusive’ – no state other than the adjacent coastal state can exploit economically its resources. Fishing rights that other states historically enjoyed within the EEZ of a coastal state automatically terminated upon the effectivity of UNCLOS.”

Carpio added that UNCLOS bars nations from making any reservation or exception to UNCLOS unless expressly allowed by the international agreement.

“UNCLOS does not recognize ‘historical rights’ as basis for claiming the EEZs or ECSs of other coastal states,” he stressed.

Carpio said that under UNCLOS, a state can claim “historical rights” over waters only as part of its internal waters or territorial sea. “Thus, under UNCLOS, a state cannot claim ‘historical rights’ over waters beyond its territorial sea.”

He said the South China Sea has never been considered as the internal waters or territorial sea of any state. “Since time immemorial, ships of all nations have exercised freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Likewise, since the time airplanes flew across the seas, aircraft of all nations have exercised freedom of over-flight over the South China Sea.”

“The waters enclosed within the 9-dashed lines cannot also form part of China’s EEZ or ECS because they are not drawn from China’s baselines and are beyond the limits of China’s EEZ and ECS as drawn from China’s baselines. In short, China’s claim to the waters enclosed by the 9-dashed line claim does not fall under any of the maritime zones – internal waters, territorial sea, EEZ and ECS – recognized by international law or UNCLOS that can be claimed by a coastal state,” Carpio said.

“Only China seems to know what kind of maritime regime the 9-dashed line waters fall under, but China is not telling the world except that it is claiming ‘indisputable sovereignty’ over such waters by ‘historical right,'” he said.


Carpio said China is using spurious interpretation of history, particularly with regard to Scarborough Shoal.

He said the Chinese embassy in Manila claimed in an article on its website that Scarborough Shoal is Nanhai island that the 13th century Chinese astronomer-engineer-mathematician Guo Shoujing allegedly visited in 1279.

Carpio, however, revealed that in a document entitled ‘China’s Sovereignty Over Xisha and Zhongsa Islands Is Indisputable’ issued on January 30, 1980, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially declared that the Nanhai island that Guo Shoujing visited in 1279 was in Xisha — or what is internationally called the Paracels — which are a group of islands more than 380 nautical miles from Scarborough Shoal.

He said it would also have been impossible for Guo Shoujing to go ashore to “visit” Scarborough Shoal and install an observatory when it is just pieces of rock rising a few feet from the sea.

Carpio said China can’t claim its southernmost territory the fully submerged James Shoal, which is just 50 nautical miles from the coast of Sarawak in Malaysia.

He said a Chinese committee that drew up a map in the 1930s and gave Chinese names to some islands in the Spratlys didn’t even visit the areas.

“Apparently, Chinese leaders and cartographers claimed James Shoal as China’s southernmost territory even without seeing James Shoal. Certainly, no Chinese could have gone ashore to ‘visit’ James Shoal. James Shoal is the only national border in the world that is fully submerged and beyond the territorial sea of the claimant state,” Carpio said.

“Indeed, all Chinese official maps during the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties placed the southernmost border of China at Hainan Island. The famous 17th century Qing Dynasty Kangxi maps, prepared by the Jesuit missionaries who became advisers to Emperor Kangxi, placed Hainan Island as the southernmost border of China. None of the Chinese dynasty maps ever mentioned the Paracels, the Spratlys, Scarborough Shoal, the 9-dashed lines or the U-shaped lines,” he added.

Carpio said that as late as September 1932, China was telling the world that its southernmost border was Hainan Island, and not the submerged James Shoal.

“The real and unvarnished historical facts in the South China Sea are quite different from what China has claimed them to be. Despite its name, which was given by European explorers and cartographers, the South China Sea was never the sole domain of China or of any one country,” he said.

Carpio reiterated this in another speech he delivered at De La Salle University on Friday.


“China’s claim of sovereignty over South China Sea is an egregious lie, inconsistent with historical facts and its own pronouncements,” he said.

Carpio said that under international law, historical information is irrelevant in the settlement of maritime disputes. “Yet, China insists without basis,” he said.

He said “ancient maps” also prove nothing — at best evidence of claim but not basis of a territorial title. Carpio cited the Burkina Faso vs. Mali case at the International Court of Justice as an example.

“Even if we indulge China in its claims, historical facts, ancient maps, and former Chinese constitutions disprove China’s 9-dash claim,” Carpio said.

20140609-223953-81593041.jpgFor more on the South China Sea issue, please read:

Ours, Not China’s, Kalayaan Islands (27 May 2014)

Can the Philippines Really Bully China? (27 May 2014)

Historical Fiction: China’s South China Sea Claims (24 May 2014)

What the Typhoon Revealed (24 Apr 2014)



Filed under Advocacies, Military

Our, not China’s, Kalayaan Islands

by: Jose Ma. Montelibano

Jose Ma. Montelibano is a well-respected opinion writer for the Inquirer. This piece on our Kalayaan Islands Group was published on his column, ‘Glimpses’ , last May 23.

In several articles I have written, and group discussions I have joined, I keep repeating a message that should be part of our national psyche already but sadly is not. And I mean our land and our seas, the motherland, our home and the first source of our identity. I do not see myself stopping from giving the same message over and over again either, in many ways, to many audiences – especially the majority poor of our population who have never tasted that truth.

I have much to be grateful to China’s bullying. This giant of a country is making a ridiculous claim on land and seas that our forefathers have regarded, and used, as their own, as our own. A quick look at the map of Asia, especially Southeast Asia, shows how islands so near to our mainlands, and so far from their Chinese claimants, would be unquestionably part of the Philippines. Even China, if it were not the giant it is, the military and economic power it is, would feel embarrassed about its 9-dash line. It is not about history. It is not about vision. It is about expansion by force. It is about arrogance.


Chinese arrogance on full display. (cnn.com)

Most Filipinos have never felt a deep connection with their land and their seas. How can they when they have been told in words and deeds that these land and seas did not belong to them. For a few centuries, the sense of ownership and intimacy between motherland and her children was cut off, by force first, then by force of circumstance thereafter, as is happening today.

Because the Filipino leaderships that followed Spanish, American and Japanese rule forgot history and apparently enjoyed authority and resources that were never theirs, it remains convenient to maintain that historical amnesia. The historical truth is a dangerous memory if revived because those in power and holding great wealth will realize that they inherited an unjust system and actually perpetuated it. The end result is not only massive poverty that has no place in a motherland so blessed with abundance of everything. Worse is the absence of a collective and reflective intimacy with whom we belong to and what belongs to us.

We are Filipinos who have only an instinctive relationship with our land and seas, forced by physical reality to feel the most shallow of kinship to them, not really loving country, just having no choice to be anywhere else. Inheriting poverty and living lifetimes of the same would surely prevent poor, landless Filipinos from developing an appreciative relationship with their own country. As such, few will readily want to fight and die for a motherland that has orphaned them.

But China’s bullying is starting to change sentiments a little bit. Today’s communication facilities spread the news at ultra high speeds and even the poor know that China is land-grabbing (as in Scarborough Shoal) and wants to landgrab even more (Ayungin et al). What is, at best, an instinctual bond with our territory and race can develop to be much more if the right provocation from an external enemy happens. And I am sure that the national leadership, in a face-off with China, will do its utmost to woo its own citizens to be rabid sympathizers.


China scorns the international courts. (zamoracartoons.blogspot.com)

Meanwhile, as the corrective measures to a lukewarm attachment to lands and seas they never knew was theirs have yet to be made, the Philippine government and the more passionate patriots around can begin to deepen our stake in our Kalayaan Islands. It is less for the suspected oil and gas beneath the sea but to assert our very identity which is absolutely anchored on our land and seas.

How do we do that? For one, if the Kalayaan Islands are truly ours and our government believes in that, then we have the obligation to develop our communities and facilities in all the inhabited areas. When other countries are so eager to risk everything for islets or reefs, we cannot show our own people, especially those living in the Kalayaan Islands, that our own government is incapable of strengthening and expanding Filipino life there.

China has one sure formula, and that is to build structures and facilities in every land mass it grabs in contested territory, including what is ours. It matters little not whether these are inhabited or not; the China will build as it becomes next to impossible, whatever legal outcome the world may come out with, to take Chinese presence out. There is no reason why we cannot show even greater commitment and determination for our own territory when China is more than willing to do so.

Disputed reef in the South China Sea

China plans to develop an airport here at the Mabini (South Johnson) Reef. (Johnib.wordpress.com)

In fact, the aggression of China has already enflamed many a patriot’s heart. I am aware that many citizens are more than willing to handle the strengthening and expansion of communities and facilities in the inhabited parts of the Kalayaan Island. The Code of Conduct governing claimants of the concerned islands and reefs to which we are a signatory says no one can occupy and build on uninhabited territory but does not prohibit the same activity on already inhabited islands. We have communities in several of these islands, and we should pour our resources, and our patriotism, on them.


The municipality of Kalayaan. (globalnation.inquirer.com)

Developing our inhabited islands in the West Philippine Sea can mean putting up airstrips and ports. We can also connect the dots by establishing commerce and tourism between them, and them as a cluster with the rest of the Philippines. If we believe that these islands are ours, if we value their inseparability to the Philippines as a whole, then we must affirm that value by embracing the development and expansion of the Kalayaan islands. And I know many die-hard Filipinos will.

From the national leadership, from the Philippine government, we need only for them to appreciate what many Filipinos want to do, and bless their courage and love for country.

For more on the South China Sea/Western Philippine Sea dispute, pls read:

What the Typhoon Revealed (Apr 2014)

Historical Fiction: China’s South China Sea Claims (May 2014)

Can the Philippines Really Bully China? (May 2014)

(Pictures courtesy of titsertitser.wordpress.com, cultureinasia.blogspot.com, Defenders of Philippine Sovereignty, panoramio.com, globalnation.inquirer.com, thelastcolumnist.com, timawa.net, onlinewsj.com, ucanews.com)


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Unheralded FEU Cops Shakey’s Volleyball Crown!!!

Unbelievable! For a team that wasn’t expected to reach the semifinals, the FEU Lady Tams slamdunked the favored NU Lady Bulldogs 25-21, 25-23, 25-18 to snatch the Shakey’s V-League 1st Conference Crown.


FEU fans cheer for their invincible imports, Rachel and Juvy. (Courtesy of Arnold Cruz)

FEU Coach Shaq De Los Santos attributed the team’s giant-killing performance to the arrival of their two grizzled imports, the Army’s Rachel Anne Daquis and Juvy Gonzaga. Shaq was profuse with praise for his dynamic duo, whose complete game bolstered the offense and plugged the holes in their defense to keep the NU Bulldogs at bay.


Coach Shaq shocks Shakey’s!!! (Courtesy of Arnold Cruz)

For her part, the graceful and grateful Rachel – who was adjudged as the Finals MVP – magnanimously acknowledged the improved games of the Lady Tams as the catalyst in the finals series. She lauded her teammates for maintaining their composure despite the lack of championship experience. Indeed, FEU’s iron will was once again on display, as they came back to out-steady the usually unruffled Bulldogs in the first 2 sets.


FEU’s dynamic duo, Rachel and Juvy, victorious but humble. (Courtesy of Arnold Cruz)

By the third set however, FEU’s Lady Tams were no longer acting like the greenhorns they were supposed to be. They were calm and confident, not to mention lucky too, as they forced the veteran Bulldogs to lapse into a series of crucial errors. Suddenly, it was NU’s pudgy Bulldogs who were jittery and having a bad case of nerves.


NU tried their best, no doubt about that. (Courtesy of Arnold Cruz)

The win propelled the FEU Women’s volleyball program to respectability. The valuable experience in championship calibre jousts will surely put them in good stead for the battles ahead. As for NU’s vaunted Lady Bulldogs, the twin debacles in the UAAP and Shakey’s V-League volleyfests this season should mean it’s back to the drawing boards once again. Still, the Lady Bulldogs deserve credit for giving their best to defend their title.


It’s FEU’s time, finally. (Courtesy of Arnold Cruz)

To the ladies of FEU and NU; to the 3rd-running Adamson and co-deserving semi-finalist, UST; to the crowd-drawing Ateneo Lady Eagles and the exciting Davao Lady Agilas, to all the other teams that fought it out, thanks for the wonderful memories! We look forward to the next season.

(Pics courtesy of Shakey’s V-League and Arnold Cruz)

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Can the Philippines Really Bully China?

It is time to call a spade a spade. In a recent China Daily editorial, Chinese propagandists have branded the Philippines as a country that is trying to bully China. The state-run China Daily wants to make the Chinese people – as well as the world – believe that the Philippines, together with Vietnam and Japan, are driving tensions in the Asia-Pacific region by ganging up on it. The article accuses Tokyo, Manila and Hanoi of being “cronies” of an “outside instigator,” which it refused to name. China further blamed the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan of “reneging on their claims of a shared commitment to peace and the peaceful resolution of the disputes through their words and deeds”. Really now? Is it really possible for the Philippines to bully a superpower like China?

China would like the world to sympathize with them, claiming that they alone are the rightful claimants to the South China Sea. Chinese propagandists insist that the concept of ‘historic waters’ empowers their government to legitimately claim broad control over the South China Sea, deliberately ignoring the fact that fisherfolks from the Philippines, Vietnam and Borneo have long been sharing the same fishing grounds peacefully, and have explored the same islands, rocks and reefs for centuries. And for that matter, long before the Chinese seafarers learned to stretch their sea legs, Malay ships were already plying these seas, even bringing Chinese merchants and pilgrims to places as far as India in the 5th century. (For more on China’s historical evidence, pls read “Historical Fiction: China’s South China Sea Claims”.)


China’s 9-dash line extends to waters clearly closer to the land territories of Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam. (Source: UNCLOS)

China claims about 90 percent of the potentially oil and gas-rich South China Sea, while the Philippines and Vietnam as well as Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims. The past years, China has steadily increased its pressure, blocking other countries’ attempts to provide supplies for the people in their islands, and sending patrol ships to intimidate their fishermen.


Claimant states include Brunei, China, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. (From johnib.wordpress.com)

Recently, following the deployment of a Chinese oil rig to waters 240 kms off its coast in the South China Sea, Vietnam sent its Coastguard in an attempt to dissuade China from proceeding with its exploration. Water cannon fights and ‘boat bumps’ were resorted to, but the Chinese rig, protected by more than a hundred military ships, planes and fishing vessels, have remained.


The location of the Chinese oil rig. (Source: Washington Post)

As a result, anti-Chinese violence flared in Vietnam last week, with scores of casualties prompting China to send planes and ships to evacuate members of the Chinese community working in Vietnam. Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, in a strongly-worded statement on the breakdown of ties with Beijing, said that Vietnam had sought to use dialogue to settle the situation, but the response from China had been an increase in force and intimidation. “Vietnam is considering various defense options, including legal actions in accordance with international law,” Dung said. “I wish to underscore that Vietnam will resolutely defend its sovereignty and legitimate interests because territorial sovereignty, including sovereignty of its maritime zones and islands, is sacred,” he said.


Vietnamese anti-Chinese sentiment is growing. (Source: The Asian Correspondent)

Last March, after years of trying to exhaust all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful negotiated settlement of its maritime dispute with China, the Philippines formally submitted a case to an arbitration tribunal in The Hague, challenging China’s claims to the South China Sea. It was the first time Beijing has been subjected to international legal scrutiny over the waters, a clear affront that has embarrassed them no end. With the case, China’s image as a benevolent and peace-loving neighbor has been totally disproved. With Vietnam’s violent reactions to the China’s oil rig exploration, the Chinese have been exposed for what they truly are: as the arrogant bullies trying to snatch the whole South China Sea for themselves.


So who’s bullying who? (Courtesy of philstar.com)

China recently established a large military base camp in Yongxing Island, some 300 kms southeast of Hainan. The military camp will necessitate a bigger legislative entity that will provide Beijing the opportunity to “exercise sovereignty over all land features inside the South China Sea,” including more than 40 islands that it claims are now occupied illegally by Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.


Yongxing Island, with its large military base. (Courtesy of panoramio.com)

China’s efforts to slowly grab our territories started in the mid-90s, when Chinese-built structures on stilts were discovered in Mischief Reef (Panganiban Shoal), only 155 nautical miles from Palawan. The Philippine protested, but this was simply rejected by China. Since then, China has slowly but surely been occupying islets and reefs well within the Philippine-occupied 8-island chain on the Spratlys. Developments have shown that China has built new structures surreptitiously in Kagitingan Reef (also known as Fiery Cross); Calderon Reef (or Cuarteron); Gaven Reef; Zamora Reef (or Subi); and Chigua Reef (or Dong Men Jiao Reef), all of which are found dangerously close to the eight islands that the Philippines claims are part of Palawan province in the southwestern Philippines.


‘Peaceful’ incursions. (Courtesy of toonpool.com)

Last April 2012, Chinese ships occupied Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal). Panatag is just 219 kms away from the shores of Zambales, well within our EEZ. In contrast, it is 857 kms away from Hainan Province in China. The Philippine Navy arrested a fishing vessel and found giant clams, corals and live sharks in its hold. Chinese maritime surveillance ships came to the rescue of the other fishing vessels, causing a dangerous stand-off. An agreement to withdraw was reached, but as the Philippine vessel left, the Chinese did not comply with it, and instead, constructed a barrier at the entrance of the shoal.

At the Ayungin Shoal, Chinese ships stand guard at a permanent Philippine installation, the BRP Sierra Madre. This ship was deliberately placed in Ayungin in response to China’s creeping occupation of nearby Mischief Reef. Ayungin is just 194 kms west of Palawan, while it is 821 kms from Hainan.


Scarborough to Zambales – 219 kms; to Hainan – 857 kms. Spratly to Palawan – 232 kms; to Hainan – 895 kms. (Source: defenseforumindia.com)

As we speak, China is now conducting reclamation in Mabini (Johnson South) Reef, despite being a signatory of the Declaration on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. The declaration clearly stipulates that claimants will not do anything that could complicate the territorial row like building structures in disputed areas.


Massive reclamation to build an airport at Mabini Reef. (Source: Jane’s Defense Weekly.)

China is clearly building structures and facilities in the shoals, reefs and other land mass it seizes in the contested territory. The objective is to ensure that they have a strong physical presence in the islands and reefs so that it will be difficult for the international courts to make a decision against them in the future. China is prepared to invest men and resources, just so they can seize the rumored oil and gas in the area. They have the luxury of time, they have a  huge manpower and resource base, and their economy is expected to grow even bigger in the future. These intimidating actions are certainly not consistent with their claims of being bullied.


Building structures, a creeping campaign to seize the entire South China Sea. (From saudigazette.com)

But what China’s leadership fails to see is that by behaving like a spoiled brat, it is actually losing friends. Not just in South East Asia, but across the globe. Friendship cannot be bought. Neither can it be forced. The image China portrays by insisting that it has sole right over the entire South China Sea negates the goodwill it has painstakingly tried to develop. And the negativity this draws will haunt China in that it can no longer find a true and permanent friend it can trust. True, there will be those who will bow to the economic giant, but when push comes to shove, expect these same characters to be the first to jump ship.


A clear and present danger lurks in the South China Sea. (Source: eagle.com)

Contemporary wars have changed dramatically over the last few decades. Wars nowadays can no longer be won solely by conventional military might. Victory, in order to be sustainable, must be achieved by building rather than destroying, by connecting rather than dividing, and by caring as opposed to discriminating. The heroes of today are no longer the guys who win the race, but the guys who can bring in as many other runners across the finish line.

China can be that hero. But it has to learn, it has  to listen, it has to show empathy. The ideal we must set – under the present global conditions – is that the more friends we have today, the lesser potential enemies we have tomorrow.


We cannot alone survive and thrive at the expense of others. Ultimately, what matters most is not who wins the race, but how many of us will finish the race.



Filed under Advocacies


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