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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Will China stop bullying Philippines?

“With all the dangers that journalists in the Philippines are faced with, we journalists should be highly paid”

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With all that happened during the five-day official visit of President Marcos Jr. to Washington and his bilateral face-to-face meeting at the White House with US President Biden, and the statement of the latter that “there is no better partner of the US than the Philippines,” I would consider that Marcos Jr. had a resounding visit.

On the security and defense aspect of the Marcos visit, the US once again reiterated its “ironclad” commitment to defend the Philippines in case of invasion.

Insofar as China is concerned, Biden supported the Hague Arbitral Court ruling.

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the additional EDCA sites is proof of that commitment, Santa Banana.

The US also committed more planes and more military weapons to the Philippines.

My gulay, the fact that the US Vice President Kamala Harris and the Pentagon promised more military aid to the Philippines is proof of all these.

On the economic aspect of BBM’s five-day visit, once again American trade and investors also committed additional investment amounting to P1.3 B in investment pledges, like the joint venture of Filipino tycoon Ricky Razon with a nuclear power plant builder to put up smaller nuclear power plants in the country.

This, aside from Washington’s assistance to agriculture and other commitments, Santa Banana!

The problem, however, is the assertiveness of China in the West Philippine Sea.

For instance, will China ever stop bullying the country in the West Philippine Sea? Will China ever stop harassing Filipino fishermen also in the West Philippine Sea?

China’s plans to invade Taiwan with its claim that Taiwan is a province of China puts at risk the 40,000 Filipino OFWs in Taiwan.

My gulay, will China ever believe the additional EDCA sites, especially those nearest to Taiwan, are all for defense and shouldn’t be looked at as for offense?

There are also plans for the US ships to join Philippine Coast Guard vessels in joint patrols in the South China Sea?

And speaking of assertiveness in disputed waters, and despite all the hundreds of protests we have filed against China, does China care?

It would appear it doesn’t and will not.

That to me is the bigger problem.

And all we can rely on is the assurance of the “ironclad” commitment of Washington of its promise to protect the Philippines, Santa Banana!

***

Cleansing the PNP

At long last, we are now seeing the cleansing of the Philippine National Police.

Four ranking police officials have finally been recommended to be removed from the PNP due to alleged involvement in illegal drug activities.

The five-man advisory panel headed by retired Police Chief Rodolfo Azurin Jr. recommended the acceptance of the courtesy resignation of the third-level officials, including two one-star generals and two colonels.

The four were among the 953 third-level officers evaluated by the panel after their courtesy resignations.

On the other hand, the panel cleared 917, while it submitted and endorsed the suspension to President Marcos Jr. of 32 officials.

Since Napolcom has yet to resolve their administrative cases filed against them, they remain anonymous.

President Marcos Jr, as the country’s top cop, has in fact already accepted the resignation of the two generals, having judged the merits of their cases.

The four names have one thing in common. They were once assigned at the PNP Drug Enforcement Group .

The panel also endorsed the filing of administrative charges before Napolcom for alleged violation of PNP rules and regulations for involvement in illegal drug activities.

Aside from Azurin, the other members of the panel were Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, former Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro, retired police General Isagani Nerez and Court of Appeals Associate Justice Melchor Sadang.

With this act of cleansing the police of scalawags, it is hoped the faith and confidence of the people in the PNP as the guardian of the people’s safety and for peace and order will once again be restored.

As far as I am concerned, the restoration of the people’s confidence and faith in the police may take some time, however.

Let’s just say that it’s only the beginning.

***

Press Freedom

The observance of the World Press Freedom Day had ranked the Philippines as among the worst places for journalists, citing numerous killings.

While I believe it’s partly true there have been killings of journalists in the country, observers should separate those that were killed because of their reports as journalists and journalists who were killed because of personal reasons, especially in the province.

What I say is that journalism is not a profession for those who are afraid to tell the facts and the truth when they write news.

As a columnist for many decades, I say it is also the responsibility of journalists, especially columnists, to hold people accountable for their actions.

In doing so, journalists must be fair and report balanced news for the sake of truth and justice.

I say groups like the UN should not just lump Filipino journalists into two groups — journalists against those in power and those who are not.

That’s the mistake of the Western Press — if you are for those in power, you lose your freedom as a journalist, and if you are against them, you are a hero. Santa Banana, this observation is short-sighted.

Press freedom can’t be just one way. If a journalist tends to support those in power, he is also free. It does not mean that a journalist is suppressed and curtailed.

The only time, to me, in the Philippines when the press was not free was during Martial Law when media outlets were closed, but soon enough freedom was restored.

(Editor’s Note: In the early months of Martial Law in 1972, the so-called Big Four – Reuters, AP, UPI and Agence France-Presse – and other foreign-based news organizations with correspondents then in the Philippines had their reports read by the government’s press censor, but otherwise they had the freedom to report on the Philippines).

What I can say about freedom of the press is when media owners — print, radio and television — do not pay their media workers, particularly journalists, what they deserve, since journalists are in pursuit of facts and the truth and expose themselves day and night to danger.

Low pay and the non-payment of perks and benefits due to media workers expose the press to corruption.

The low pay and corruption besides the killing of journalists are the greatest danger to press freedom.

I would say with all the dangers that journalists in the Philippines are faced with, we journalists should be highly paid.

But, sadly, we are not. That too curtails press freedom.

***

Masks Should Be Mandatory

I am surprised that with the present surge in COVID-19 cases, the President and the Department of Health have not made the wearing of face masks mandatory, not only in enclosed places, but everywhere.

The latest Omicron sub-variant — the XBB.1.16 Arcturus – is highly contagious and easily passed from one person to another.

And masking is the best way to stop the surge and uptick.

I, for one, always wear a mask outside our house and whenever an outsider comes to the house.

I may be accused of being extra-careful, but at my age, I cannot be too careful.

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