December 18, 2017, 1:02 pm
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1 Philippine Peso = 0.07288 UAE Dirham
1 Philippine Peso = 2.24593 Albanian Lek
1 Philippine Peso = 0.03533 Neth Antilles Guilder
1 Philippine Peso = 0.34712 Argentine Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02593 Australian Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.03533 Aruba Florin
1 Philippine Peso = 0.0397 Barbados Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 1.63815 Bangladesh Taka
1 Philippine Peso = 0.03288 Bulgarian Lev
1 Philippine Peso = 0.00748 Bahraini Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 34.75546 Burundi Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01985 Bermuda Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02675 Brunei Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.13617 Bolivian Boliviano
1 Philippine Peso = 0.06539 Brazilian Real
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01985 Bahamian Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 1.2763 Bhutan Ngultrum
1 Philippine Peso = 0.20411 Botswana Pula
1 Philippine Peso = 397.3799 Belarus Ruble
1 Philippine Peso = 0.03965 Belize Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02552 Canadian Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01965 Swiss Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 12.62406 Chilean Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 0.13118 Chinese Yuan
1 Philippine Peso = 59.40849 Colombian Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 11.184 Costa Rica Colon
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01985 Cuban Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 1.86245 Cape Verde Escudo
1 Philippine Peso = 0.43364 Czech Koruna
1 Philippine Peso = 3.50992 Djibouti Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 0.12575 Danish Krone
1 Philippine Peso = 0.94204 Dominican Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 2.28011 Algerian Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.26427 Estonian Kroon
1 Philippine Peso = 0.35252 Egyptian Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.5391 Ethiopian Birr
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01689 Euro
1 Philippine Peso = 0.04119 Fiji Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01488 Falkland Islands Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.0149 British Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.08949 Ghanaian Cedi
1 Philippine Peso = 0.93628 Gambian Dalasi
1 Philippine Peso = 177.61016 Guinea Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 0.14561 Guatemala Quetzal
1 Philippine Peso = 4.01171 Guyana Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.15502 Hong Kong Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.46602 Honduras Lempira
1 Philippine Peso = 0.12717 Croatian Kuna
1 Philippine Peso = 1.24851 Haiti Gourde
1 Philippine Peso = 5.30468 Hungarian Forint
1 Philippine Peso = 269.45216 Indonesian Rupiah
1 Philippine Peso = 0.0697 Israeli Shekel
1 Philippine Peso = 1.27173 Indian Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 23.50139 Iraqi Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 706.60975 Iran Rial
1 Philippine Peso = 2.09111 Iceland Krona
1 Philippine Peso = 2.47122 Jamaican Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01404 Jordanian Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 2.23456 Japanese Yen
1 Philippine Peso = 2.04347 Kenyan Shilling
1 Philippine Peso = 1.38392 Kyrgyzstan Som
1 Philippine Peso = 79.89281 Cambodia Riel
1 Philippine Peso = 8.1582 Comoros Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 17.86423 North Korean Won
1 Philippine Peso = 21.58495 Korean Won
1 Philippine Peso = 0.00599 Kuwaiti Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01628 Cayman Islands Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 6.65919 Kazakhstan Tenge
1 Philippine Peso = 164.78761 Lao Kip
1 Philippine Peso = 29.88289 Lebanese Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 3.0389 Sri Lanka Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 2.48432 Liberian Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.26141 Lesotho Loti
1 Philippine Peso = 0.06051 Lithuanian Lita
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01232 Latvian Lat
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02704 Libyan Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.1878 Moroccan Dirham
1 Philippine Peso = 0.33869 Moldovan Leu
1 Philippine Peso = 1.03414 Macedonian Denar
1 Philippine Peso = 27.03454 Myanmar Kyat
1 Philippine Peso = 48.15403 Mongolian Tugrik
1 Philippine Peso = 0.15967 Macau Pataca
1 Philippine Peso = 6.9869 Mauritania Ougulya
1 Philippine Peso = 0.67209 Mauritius Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 0.30905 Maldives Rufiyaa
1 Philippine Peso = 14.16276 Malawi Kwacha
1 Philippine Peso = 0.37963 Mexican Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 0.08094 Malaysian Ringgit
1 Philippine Peso = 0.2608 Namibian Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 7.10599 Nigerian Naira
1 Philippine Peso = 0.60838 Nicaragua Cordoba
1 Philippine Peso = 0.16635 Norwegian Krone
1 Philippine Peso = 2.03573 Nepalese Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02839 New Zealand Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.00762 Omani Rial
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01985 Panama Balboa
1 Philippine Peso = 0.06535 Peruvian Nuevo Sol
1 Philippine Peso = 0.06434 Papua New Guinea Kina
1 Philippine Peso = 1 Philippine Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 2.17745 Pakistani Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 0.07099 Polish Zloty
1 Philippine Peso = 111.57205 Paraguayan Guarani
1 Philippine Peso = 0.07225 Qatar Rial
1 Philippine Peso = 0.07797 Romanian New Leu
1 Philippine Peso = 1.1679 Russian Rouble
1 Philippine Peso = 16.58892 Rwanda Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 0.07443 Saudi Arabian Riyal
1 Philippine Peso = 0.15358 Solomon Islands Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.26852 Seychelles Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 0.13219 Sudanese Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.16899 Swedish Krona
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02675 Singapore Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01489 St Helena Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.44077 Slovak Koruna
1 Philippine Peso = 151.44898 Sierra Leone Leone
1 Philippine Peso = 11.09567 Somali Shilling
1 Philippine Peso = 413.80507 Sao Tome Dobra
1 Philippine Peso = 0.17368 El Salvador Colon
1 Philippine Peso = 10.22191 Syrian Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.26054 Swaziland Lilageni
1 Philippine Peso = 0.6449 Thai Baht
1 Philippine Peso = 0.04961 Tunisian Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.04557 Tongan paʻanga
1 Philippine Peso = 0.07666 Turkish Lira
1 Philippine Peso = 0.13159 Trinidad Tobago Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.5944 Taiwan Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 44.30329 Tanzanian Shilling
1 Philippine Peso = 0.54875 Ukraine Hryvnia
1 Philippine Peso = 71.55617 Ugandan Shilling
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01985 United States Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.57046 Uruguayan New Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 160.57959 Uzbekistan Sum
1 Philippine Peso = 0.198 Venezuelan Bolivar
1 Philippine Peso = 450.55577 Vietnam Dong
1 Philippine Peso = 2.09845 Vanuatu Vatu
1 Philippine Peso = 0.05144 Samoa Tala
1 Philippine Peso = 11.07165 CFA Franc (BEAC)
1 Philippine Peso = 0.05359 East Caribbean Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 11.49782 CFA Franc (BCEAO)
1 Philippine Peso = 2.00337 Pacific Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 4.96129 Yemen Riyal
1 Philippine Peso = 0.26079 South African Rand
1 Philippine Peso = 103.00714 Zambian Kwacha
1 Philippine Peso = 7.18341 Zimbabwe dollar

Bravo, Secretary Cayetano!

I would be less than candid if I did not admit I was pleasantly surprised at what Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano reportedly said last week in a press briefing about PH-US relations in particular and our foreign policy in general.
 “That’s the point of the independent foreign policy.  In areas where we share common interests, we’re together.  But in areas where our interests clash, don’t expect us just to say yes.  We have to start defining very clearly what our interests are and who will help us in those interests”, Cayetano said.
Surprised, because I thought I would never see the day when a Philippine foreign secretary would utter such words that now clearly define the basis of our relationship with the US and, indeed, with all other countries, including China and Russia.
Of course, Cayetano was merely echoing the independent foreign policy already set in motion by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte aka Digong.
Cayetano was briefing the press on the proposed joint exploration and development agreement with China which has drawn criticism from the usual suspects. 
He said, among others, that not a “single inch” of Philippine territory would be lost in case the deal materializes; that any deal would be in conformity with our Constitution and laws; and that any future deals would be more beneficial to the Philippines than the agreement on the Malampaya development.
Speaking of the Malampaya development, I understand that 45 percent of it is owned by Chevron and another 45 percent by Shell.  Only 10 percent is owned by the Philippine Government.  If this is true till today, then the agreement is clearly not in accord with the relevant constitutional provision/s. 
Yet, interestingly, Cayetano pointed out that the joint venture was approved by the Supreme Court.
Cayetano also said during the press briefing that the Philippines would consult first with individual ASEAN members  before taking action on the joint venture proposal.
He likewise took the occasion to criticize the US for “making it appear it was totally supporting the Philippines’ position on the South China Sea maritime dispute”.
 “Do not pretend that you’re protecting the Philippines. You’re protecting your interest,” he said.
He then cited the unequivocal support given by the US to Japan on the latter’s dispute with China over the Senkaku islands.  In contrast, the US has said it is neutral on the territorial dispute we have with China.  How can she stay neutral when, for instance, Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal is within the 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines?
 “So they (US) can’t keep telling us what to do as far as our strategy is concerned when sila mismo hindi signatory (to UNCLOS) and sila mismo na treaty ally natin is not ready to give us the same guarantees that they are giving to Japan,” Cayetano said.
I believe our diplomatic representation in Washington and the relevant agencies would be well-advised to absorb and digest everything that Cayetano has said.

Bravo, Mr. Secretary!
***
Oh, by the way, my dear friend and former DFA colleague Ben Hur Ong asked me if I noticed “the sudden avalanche of goodies from the US, with more to come – including and specially all three Balangiga bells?  Might appear to be too good to be true, but hey, why should I object.” 
Right on, Ben!  I think you and I know to what we may attribute the apparent change in the US attitude towards us.  Right again, Ben – Digong’s shift to an independent foreign policy!
***
For a number of years, this space has been taking up the cudgels for DFA officials and staff who have complained to me about being inconvenienced by the closure of the service road in front of the Seafront compound of the US Embassy on the eastern side of Roxas Boulevard.
For reasons that could only be attributed to the “reticence” of concerned DFA officials from the secretary down, no serious action had been taken on the complaint.  A common excuse was that it was the Pasay City government that should be the one to take action.  Another stock reply was, “mahirap, US Embassy ‘yan!”  Garbage!
Last week, the road was finally re-opened for the motoring public.  Bakit?  US Embassy pa rin ‘yun, ah? 
Without a doubt, it is because of Digong’s policy on how we should deal with matters involving foreign countries, not only the US.  We should start asserting ourselves as an independent and sovereign nation, especially on our own turf. 
And, I like to believe, the present generation of Foreign Service Officers who have now assumed positions of responsibility in the DFA are better “enlightened” and more assertive at promoting and protecting the national interest, inspired no doubt by Digong’s example.

ASEAN AT 50
In exactly one week’s time, Asean will be celebrating its fifty years of existence.
It was on 8 August 1967 when the so-called Bangkok Declaration was officially promulgated in the Thai capital, thus giving birth to the Association.
But actually, the Declaration was negotiated and finally approved on 6 August 1967 in Bang-saen, a beach resort south of Bangkok, by the foreign ministers of the original five members.  They were Adam Malik of Indonesia, Tun Abdul Razak of Malaysia, Narciso Ramos of the Philippines, S. Rajaratnam of Singapore and Thanat Khoman of Thailand.
 (I was then assigned at the Philippine Embassy in Bangkok as a staff employee.  I was the lone secretariat member of the Philippine Delegation.  I had to lug an Underwood typewriter.  Also, for lack of sufficient hotel accommodations, I had to sleep on the floor of the suite assigned to Secretary Ramos – with his kind consent, of course.)
After they reached final agreement on the declaration on August 6, the ministers repaired to Bangkok.  Two days later, the Bangkok Declaration was signed.
 (Note:  I tailed the official motorcade in my own car on the return trip to Bangkok with my dear friend Nestor Mata as passenger.  He covered the meetings in Bang-saen.  As I was not supposed to be in the official motorcade, the police escort cut me off.  Nestor and I nearly fell into a “klong” [canal] on the side of the road.) 
After I took Nestor to his hotel, I went home only to find out that my wife was in the hospital.  She had given birth to our third boy a few hours before.
Happy 50th birthday to Asean!  And, coincidentally, to my third son, Reggie!
***
Today is the 95th day of the eleventh year of the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos, son of the late press icon and founder of this newspaper.
The family and friends of Jonas hope that the Duterte administration will exert serious efforts to find and haul the perpetrators of Jonas’ disappearance to justice.
***
From an internet friend:
Outside a pharmacy in a busy street, a poor man is clutching onto a pole for dear life, not breathing, not moving, not twitching a muscle, just standing there, frozen. 
The pharmacist goes up to his assistant and asks: “What’s the matter with that guy? Wasn’t he in here earlier?”
Assistant replies: “Yes he was. He had the most terrible cough and none of my prescriptions seemed to help.”
Pharmacist says: “He seems to be fine now.”
Assistant replies: “Sure, he does. I gave him a box of the strongest laxatives on the market. Now he won’t dare cough!”
***
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