Sovereignty in question

"There must be transparency in all the deals our government entered into."


It’s still too early to make an assessment of the two-day state visit of China’s president, Xi Jinping—whether it was mutually beneficial for both countries, or only for China. But definitely, Xi came, saw and conquered.

I think at this point there is need for the Duterte administration to be transparent insofar as the deals we supposedly got from China. Are we being lured into a debt trap?

Still, President Duterte must realize that many Filipinos have little trust in China, and many condemn our government’s inaction on territorial disputes on the West Philippine Sea.

The most significant issue, to my mind, that became a done deal is the joint agreement on the exploration of oil, gas and other mineral resources. Here, the government needs to be really transparent.

For one thing, does this agreement on the joint exploration mean co-ownership or something else? If it’s co-ownership, which I recall President Duterte had called it at one time, then that is an abdication of sovereignty—unacceptable in any condition. It’s surrendering our sovereignty to China. It’s outright treason!

This could be unconstitutional and will certainly be contested before the Supreme Court. This is why there needs to be transparency on the 29 deals signed by Chinese and Filipino officials.

* * *

Mislatel, the Mindanao-based consortium of Davao City’s multi-billionaire Dennis Uy, has been promising a lot of things after the government has accepted it—provisionally—as the third telecommunication player to break the duopoly of Globe and Smart. It promises fast Internet and better services.

All I can say is that it remains to be seen.

Breaking the duopoly is easier said than done. There had been others that tried, but they soon were absorbed by one or the other.

The question is, will the subscribers of Smart and Globe now go for Mislatel on the strength of its promises?

I’m just thinking, given the survey that Filipinos have low trust of the Chinese, Mislatel may have a difficult time.

* * *

One of the biggest factors preventing any president from getting rid of corruption in government is the fact that even a well-intentioned official could be helpless when he finds there are many corrupt people around him.

Then he becomes a “team player.”

Or, if he tries to resist, the corrupt people begin a smear campaign against him.

This is exactly what happened when a Duterte appointee tried to clean up the mess in a government agency. This appointee discovered that some lawyers assigned to government-owned and -controlled corporations were getting excessive allowances in violation of the law. The rules say the allowances should not exceed 50 percent of annual salaries. Thus, when the Commission on Audit flagged these excessive allowances, the head of agency considered them bribes.

When the appointee refused to participate in this scheme, those lawyers started a “whispering campaign” against him. That campaign reached the President who told the official that he was not a team player and that he was critical of the administration when he was just expressing his honest opinion.

Soon enough, the appointee was sacked. The President made things worse when he made all those allowance-receiving lawyers head the agency.

Eradicate corruption in government? Forget it.

* * *

With so many being arrested in the name of the campaign against illegal drugs, I wonder where they are detained. If they are kept in city or municipal jails, I can imagine the deplorable conditions they are in.

There are reportedly over a million of these individuals, mostly coming from poor communities. This is the reason I want the President to visit jails in Metro Manila. And then he would see how miserable they are with a food budget of P50 a day, and taking turns sleeping on the floor.

There were plans to relocate the National Bilibid Prison to Laur, Nueva Ecija in that 500-hectare area now occupied by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. There were already three bidders who had pre-qualified, Somehow, though, former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II scuttled it. Why?

* * *

Another 365 Club regular is gone. I refer to former Ifugao Governor and Congressman Bert Lumauig. His remains were flown to Ifugao and will be returned to Manila this Sunday.

Topics: Emil Jurado , Sovereignty in question , Xi Jinping , China , West Philippine Sea
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