June 23, 2018, 6:03 am
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The Ayungin Shoal incident

HALF of the tandem that was responsible for our losing Panatag Shoal, ex-Foreign Sec. Albert “Super Amboy” del Rosario, the other half being ex-President Noynoy Aquino, said President Rodrigo Roa Duterte aka Digong needs “fuller briefings” on the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea (WPS/SCS) situation. 

I agree, considering the news report that Foreign Sec. Alan Cayetano told a House committee hearing last May 30 that Digong had given “strong instructions” about the harassment incident in Ayungin Shoal. 

“We filed a protest regarding that. We had a meeting. The President had strong instructions,” Cayetano reportedly told a House committee hearing on May 30. 

The incident has to do with a Chinese military helicopter buzzing a Philippine Navy vessel that was bringing fresh supplies to the handful of Filipino marines manning Ayungin Shoal on board a grounded, rusting vessel.

However, when Digong was asked about the incident upon his return on June 5 from South Korea, he said it was the first time he heard of the report.

He claimed he was unaware of the incident and was surprised when told about Cayetano’s statement.

Obviously, that prompted Digong to say that Cayetano and his department have no power to file diplomatic protests against China without his approval.

“DFA does not on its own do a policy. It’s the Office of the President. And so they just implement. It’s the sole organ of the foreign policy of this country lies with the Office of the President,” he said.

“I don’t know about that incident. I was busy talking to Korean officials. What kind of harassment in the first place before — before I commit myself to answer the question, what kind of harassment was this? This is the first time I’ve heard of it. It would be dangerous for me to answer questions without really having the slightest idea of what it is all about,” he added.

I tend to believe that Digong really was not aware of the incident. That could only mean he was not briefed by Cayetano about it beforehand. 

Was it because he had no chance to do so? Was it a simple case of omission? Or worse, was it deliberate on his part for reasons known only to him?

Yes, Del Rosario is right. Digong should get fuller briefings not only on the WPS/SCS situation but also on other important matters. Needless to say, Digong should make time for such briefings.

In the meantime, let’s watch what Digong does about Cayetano’s apparent lapse.

RUSSIAN WARSHIPS

Soon after British and French warships plied in the South China Sea in support of the US’ move to ostensibly ensure freedom of navigation in the area, three Russian warships docked in Manila for a “goodwill visit.” 

The visit came in the wake of what Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed as “unity” of the security bloc China leads with Russia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). 

Xi made the statement last weekend during the opening of the (SCO) summit in Qingdao, China, where Russian President Vladimir was in attendance. 

I think the presence of the Russian warships in the region was precisely timed to demonstrate support for China’s position in the South China Sea in response to the British and French action. 

CARPIO’S PROPOSAL 

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said the Philippines could lodge another complaint before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) for the Chinese Coast Guard’s (CCG) alleged bullying of Filipino fishermen at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. 

In my view, if the report is confirmed, we should definitely protest against the CCG’s action. That is not the way to treat a friend.

However, I do not believe that filing another complaint before the PCA is the way to go. Based on its ruling on our previous complaint, the tribunal will most likely back us up. Ergo, hiring lawyers for the additional complaint will not be cost effective. The previous complaint, reports say, cost us US$7 million (about P350 million). 

Also, a favorable PCA decision will simply be ignored by China as it did the ruling on the previous case. 

What is the use then of filing another case? 

BONG GO 

I have a couple of questions about the Mocha-Kris tussle over “that kiss:” 

1) Why was Digong, through his man Friday Bong Go, so quick to apologize to Kris? Is it because Go is supposedly a friend of Kris who previously said she will support him in his senatorial bid next year, although he has been saying he is not running at all? Go also apologized to Kris.

2) What will Go now do or say? He assured Kris during the press conference he called that Mocha will also apologize to her. Later, Mocha categorically said she won’t. On his part, Digong said he will not ask Mocha to apologize as she was only exercising her right to free speech? 

Incidentally, Go’s face has been blurred in nine photos taken during the departure of Digong for South Korea published by social news and blog site POLITIKO on June 3? The photos were courtesy of Malacanang. Question is who did the blurring, POLITIKO or Malacanang?

***

REMINDERS

This segment is intended to remind the Duterte administration of some of its yet unfulfilled promises and matters that need attention and/or follow-up action. More importantly, the people are entitled to know what’s being done about them.
1) Digong’s promise to rid the country of foreign troops. This, of course, necessitates re-visiting the lopsided VFA and the EDCA with the US. 
2) Reciprocal visa arrangements with the US and other countries. (What is the DFA doing about this? Our embassy in Washington?)
3) The retrieval of the Balangiga bells. (Sources say the return of the bells is now awaiting a certification of some kind from the US Defense Department to be submitted to the US Congress. Is our embassy in Washington on top of this?)
4) The return of the Canadian waste. (Sources say the DOJ has filed a motion before the proper court for the importer to return the waste to Canada. No decision yet. No word about what Canada is doing.)

***

Today is the 45th day of the 12th year of the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos, son of the late press icon and founder of this newspaper, Joe Burgos.

After the acquittal of Major Harry Baliaga Jr., the only person formally charged with Jonas’ kidnapping, I guess what happens next is now up to Divine Providence.

***

From an internet friend:

Tommy was sitting in math class when suddenly his teacher asked him, “Tommy, how much is 2 + 2?” 

Tommy, caught off guard, begins counting his fingers under the table mumbling to himself: “1…2…3…4,” before happily exclaiming “the answer is four!” 

“That’s correct,” said his teacher, “but I saw you counting your fingers instead of doing the math in your head. So I want you to put your hands in your pockets and tell me what you get if you add 5 + 5.” 

Tommy put his hands in his pockets and his teacher saw him looking at his pants and moving his lips without uttering a word until finally the teacher became impatient and said: “I see what you’re doing there and I can tell you right now that the answer is not eleven!” 

***

12 June 2018
Email: roacrosshairs@outlook.com
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