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Sunday, March 3, 2024

So who was the VIP?

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“While a comparison might be odious at this point, remember how Hitler waved the Nazi flag after the economic recession brought about by Germany’s defeat in the First World War?”

It’s been a week since that maliciously spread fake news about VP Inday Sara causing traffic stoppage in Commonwealth Avenue came up.

The OVP came out immediately with a statement denying the supposed incident, by flatly informing the public that she was in Davao City on that day.

The QCPD head promptly relieved the lowly policeman manning the traffic flow from his duties because he was misled by the video-taker into mouthing “VP for VIP.”

As the video became viral, the MMDA chair issued a statement “it is only normal to give courtesy for VIPs” when they passed our usually traffic-clogged streets.

But the damage was done, as the socmed manipulators came out with terrible memes condemning and ridiculing Inday Sara for her alleged sense of entitlement.

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QC Mayor Joy Belmonte later called on the QCPD to reinstate MSG Verdo Pantollano, the patsy who was manipulated by the video scammer and the mastermind/s of the fake news spread, as she felt that an injustice was done to a lowly policeman “who was simply doing his job.”

Fair enough.

But neither MMDA nor QCPD has come out as of this writing to identify who the VIP for whom “due courtesies” were given, such that an entire span of Commonwealth Avenue had to be closed.

Neither have the fake news manipulators demanded for the identity of the “VIP” so they could be fair to the VP who they unjustly accused.

Following the necessary identification of the VIP by officials in charge of traffic control, the MMDA, the Metro Manila Mayors Council led by San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora, the DILG and the PNP should forthwith draft proper protocols on such entitlements given to VIPs.

They should review the violations made on a popular “no wang-wang” policy of former President Benigno S. Aquino III which had been thrashed since he left office.

Why for instance are senators and Cabinet officials escorted by motorcycle cops as they move throughout the metropolis, even if it is not SONA day?

Or the span of Roxas Boulevard fronting Rizal Park closed to traffic each time some foreign diplomat, not even a visiting head of state, offers a floral wreath before the monument of Rizal?

Of course this does not include wealthy contractor-congressmen who regularly attend sessions at the Batasan arriving in their own helicopters, such that ‘traffic’ in the air corridor of the legislature has to be monitored by the hapless sergeant-at-arms?

I repeat: Identify who that VIP was.

***

The small committee of the HoR, composed of flip-flopping Stella Quimbo, mega-contractor cum party-list appropriations chair Zaldy Co, majority leader Mannix Dalipe, and in-house minority leader Nonoy Libanan have scrapped VP and DepEd secretary Inday Sara’s CIF from the president’s submitted budget, without touching a centavo of the president’s CIF.

Then, to show they are not targeting the VP alone, they added the DA (absolutely unnecessary as it has no police or investigative powers), the DFA (whose secretary already stated they didn’t need confidential funds), and the DICT (at a time cybersecurity is imperiled).

Unsheathed knives in the political theater of this nation benighted by politics have not only been drawn, but made to cut and cut deeply.

Let’s see what the Senate does next.

***

The mayhem inflicted by the Hamas against Israel has transfixed world attention on the escalation of tensions in the Middle East.

The barbarity of the assault and the hostage-taking of innocent civilians, including women, children and the elderly is completely unforgivable, and though it justifies retaliatory measures by Israel against the terrorists, the specter of violence expanding in what could be a long and drawn-out war is terrifying, even for those of us far removed from the theater of conflict.

As we write, the DFA has confirmed that two Filipinos have become casualties of the terrorist attack, and others are still missing.

The initial shock has roiled the stock markets and sent petroleum going up by $6 to $8 where it was on a corrective decline just before the conflict erupted.

With the Russia-Ukraine war still ongoing with no relief in sight, West African nations in pocket turmoil of their own, and the South China Sea conflicts still simmering, there is genuine cause for worry even for us Filipinos.

It is not just the plight of thousands of our brethren in the arena of violent conflict, or the escalated cost push on our supply-induced inflation becoming worse than it already is, but something else that worries this writer.

What if China’s Xi Jinping takes advantage of the situation, where America’s military might is stretched thin by both the Ukraine and Israel problems?

This may sound alarmist, but it is always best to analyze the current world situation and see how, given least concern and worst-case scenarios it might impact upon our region.

First, Taiwan is in the midst of an important electoral campaign to choose their next president in January.

The surveys show that DPP’s Lai Ching-te is comfortably ahead of his rivals, both from the KMT and the TPP, as well as a nascent, though relatively weak, independent run of Terry Gou.

That is a red flag for China’s ‘peaceful’ desire for re-unification, and as we see it, unless the opposition rivals unite behind one candidate, and a one-on-one contest materializes, the ruling DPP is off to another four years, well into Xi Jinping’s 2027 ‘re-proclamation’ for a fourth term, which observers say is also his self-imposed deadline to take Taiwan into the PRC’s wings.

Second, the US of A’s military might and resources are, as stated earlier, stretched thin.

Third, the supply bases the Philippines has granted to the US military, for clear potential use in case of a Taiwan Strait conflict, are still being constructed and equipped with more modern facilities.

Months ago, this writer has warned that those Cagayan and Isabela EDCA sites the president allowed might hasten Xi Jinping’s adventurism over Taiwan.

Fourth, China’s economy has spawned still simmering internal political troubles for Beijing, and if the trend continues, Xi might ‘wave the flag’ to unify the Chinese people’s resolve to take over Taiwan.

While a comparison might be odious at this point, remember how Hitler waved the Nazi flag after the economic recession brought about by Germany’s defeat in the First World War?

China’s “century of humiliation” might be a distant memory in comparison, but a pledge to rejuvenate through ‘re-unification’ strikes a chord in Han and Manchu emotions.

President Marcos and his national security and foreign affairs advisers would do well to study all possible scenarios, and as the Boy Scouts say, “be prepared.”

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