"China is most absolutely not a friend."
Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go was elected senator by more than 20 million Filipinos. And yet he is still often seen behind President Rodrigo Duterte.
It seems to me that old habits die hard. Once an “alalay,” always a lapdog and messenger boy.
Obviously, Go does not realize that he is actually demeaning his exalted position as a senator, and more especially the institution of the Senate.
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I did not have a column last week because I was incapacitated. I had my left eye operated on because of cataract. This was something I had been postponing for some time. My eye doctor, Dr. Edward Uy of Makati Medical Center, told me that the older one gets, the more dangerous an eye operation becomes.
I had to go to the hospital daily for over a week. With so many people walking around (or wheelchair-bound), MMC now looks like one of Henry Sy’s SM malls. There are so many restaurants!
Two weeks from now, it will be my right eye that will be operated on. Like a dutiful patient, I will undergo the same medical procedure. But that’s ok—when it comes to my health, I don’t take chances. I go to the best doctor.
Some who have undergone the same procedure might say that a cataract operation is a breeze. I say yes—when you are young. Me, at my age, I take nothing for granted.
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President Duterte claimed that as a close personal friend of China’s President Xi Jinping, during his first visits to Beijing he made a deal that both Chinese and Filipino fishermen can fish in disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea and even in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines.
This claim of the President brings to fore two basic questions.
One, wasn’t the deal between Duterte and Xi violative of the 1987 Constitution? It mandates that “the State shall protect the national marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”
Santa Banana, nothing could be clearer than this! So why are we allowing the Chinese in Recto Bank, within the EEZ?
What is laughable was Duterte’s reaction towards his critics’ moves to impeach him. “I will send them all to jail!” he warned.
Of course, Duterte cannot do this. Impeachment is not criminal in nature. It is, instead, a legal and political process. The President knows quite well that any impeachment case filed against him at this point would be futile because he controls both Houses of Congress.
What bothers me as a journalist and lawyer was the President’s remark that the Chinese are our friends. He and Xi may be personal friends, but the way China is acting in the West Philippine Sea—it most definitely is not a friend. Can you ever be friends with a bully?
This brings me to my second point. Was China’s occupation of Panatag or Scarborough Shoal an act of a friend? When it ignored the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, was it being a friend? When its trawler hit a much smaller Filipino boat, and then left the 22 fishermen at sea, was that the act of a friend?
The President’s pivot to China is simply a policy of accommodation and acquiescence. It saying “yes” all the time to what China wants. If the Chinese are our friends, who needs enemies?
In an effort to please Xi, Duterte now says that the constitutional mandate that marine resources within the Philippines should be given exclusively to Filipino citizens, such exclusivity is not thoughtless and senseless. It’s an exercise of sovereign rights. The Constitution is the fundamental law of the land!
Obviously, Duterte forgot that when he was sworn in as President he also swore to defend and protect the Constitution.
I now realize why he said he was sick and tired of his job. Unlike his job as mayor, being president has many restrictions. It cannot justify a one-man rule. He cannot simply decide on his own what to do because there are other branches of government. Perhaps when he was mayor, nobody questioned his acts.
There was even the Davao Death Squad which restored peace and order in the city.
But now, he cannot simply tell the other branches of government to do as he wishes.
The problem with Duterte is that he still thinks and acts like a mayor.
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Observers say that PDP-Laban president Koko Pimentel made a big mistake in committing the support of some 30 members of the ruling party to Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, who is running for Speaker. This would just divide the House.
One reason is that the division of the ruling party. Members of PDP-Laban were never consulted on their choice for Speaker.
The bigger reason there is now dissatisfaction among PDP-Laban members is that there’s a possibility that those who do not toe the line may face sanctions.
What the House needs at this point is unity.
For me, Rep. Martin Romualdez remains the best choice for Speaker. He is a consensus builder, and his credentials are the best among those in the running.
All the Speaker-aspirant needs is the support of 156 members.