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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

PBBM actually walking on a tightrope

“The problem of illegal drugs in the country is far from being solved, contrary to reports there are drug-free barangays nationwide”

President Marcos Jr. is actually walking on a tightrope in dealing with the activities of China on the West Philippine Sea, Santa Banana!

PBBM knows well enough the provocative acts of China’s Coast Guard and marine militia at the Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal and lately at the Scarborough Shoal, or the Bajo de Masinloc, both within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) will worsen the situation.

The Ayungin flashpoint at the West Philippine Sea and at Scarborough Shoal, which China claims its own and its sovereignty, also a flashpoint, are both critical.

And one misstep by BBM could lead to a China-Philippine conflict. However, so far so good for BBM, my gulay.

Marcos Jr. is fully aware that, with the presence of the rusty World War II vessel at the Ayungin Shoal west of Palawan and within our EEZ, what China is doing in blocking the Philippine Coast Guard vessel is actually taunting BBM’s resolve.

Similarly, what has been happening at Scarborough Shoal which China claims to be its own in installing that 300-meter floating barrier to prevent Filipino fisherfolk from intruding is clearly an act of provocation.

And, Santa Banana, since BBM had no choice but to order the Philippine Coast Guard to remove the barrier, China warned the country to “behave” since from China’s point of view, it is a challenge.

But, will China change its strategy of provoking the Philippines to commit acts that it considers a challenge to China?

I don’t think it will and that’s where the danger lies. With any misstep on the tightrope he is walking could lead to you know what.

The next $20 question, if and when BBM missteps on that tightrope he is walking on, will it lead to a confrontation between two superpowers, the United States and China?

And if there’s a conflict between China and the Philippines will the US come to the protection of the Philippines as provided for in the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty?

That’s the biggest question of all. Since that’s a speculative question, only God knows the answer, Santa Banana!

Sue for damages

With the frequent intrusion of China in the Philippines even to the extent of even intruding into the Exclusive Economic Zone of the country, there have been proposals for the Philippines to sue for damages, particularly with the devastation of corals at the Escoda Shoal and Rozul Reef and the recent installation of floating barriers at Scarborough Shoal within the EEZ off Zambales.

Why not? And the proper venue would be at the Arbitral Court at The Hague.

With the Chinese harvesting corals within the EEZ area off Palawan and the Scarborough Shoal, Filipino fishermen have been deprived of their livelihood. That means a big loss of money.

We can never underestimate the harm done by China with its frequent intrusion into Philippine waters.

The problem, however, is will China comply with whatever decision the Arbitral Court makes since China simply ignored the 2016 victory of the Philippines in that suit against the Nine-Dash Line claim of China at the South China Sea?

This is also a problem if the country will sue China’s 10-dash Line claiming the whole China Sea. a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Will the Philippines just grin and bear everything?

CIF realignment

With all the increasing threats of China within the West Philippine Sea and into the country’s EEZ, China’s bullying has become a sure threat to the country’s national security.

Ergo, it stands to reason why government agencies involved in the surveillance and monitoring of these threats have become important.

Among these threats, it is but logical for both chambers of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives, to provide government agencies involved in the country’s national security, like the National Intelligence Coordinating Council (NICC), the National Security Council (NSC), the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. adequate funding, especially the so-called CIF or Confidential Intelligence Funds.

Thus, when both chambers of Congress, in line with the 2024 National Budget, decide to realign the CIF to government agencies where the CIF are needed, it’s only logical for Congress as mandated by law to appropriate funds of government to where the CIF are needed most to the prejudice of other agencies like the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education which have allocated CIF.

The CIF for government agencies is needed most especially at this time considering how volatile China’s continued threats and bullying are.

Declining support

A newspaper last week headlined that a polling firm called Publicus Asia had found that sentiments for President Marcos Jr. had declined and that support for the opposition had risen.

Those who opposed the Marcos administration grew from 18 percent in the first quarter to 23 percent in the third quarter this year.

Pro-administraton had slipped to 43 percent from 48 percent.

Publicus based its survey on pro and anti sentiments on what’s happening and on the priorities of the Marcos administration.

This means the survey does not base its findings on the true sentiments of the people, which can change from quarter to quarter.

Nevertheless, the administration can tell what the people feel at the moment, but what the leadership of the administration should be concerned about is why there’s a decline of support and dissatisfaction.

What I see is the people are feeling the impact of the increasing prices of all commodities, primarily the increased prices of the main staple, rice.

On headwinds like the continued rising prices of fuel and gasoline which are admittedly beyond the control of the administration, people are feeling dissatisfied.

Surprisingly, while the pro-administration sentiments of the people declined in most parts of the country, in Mindanao there is continuous support.

This simply means the decline of sympathy for the Marcos administration is not a sure indication of dissatisfaction of/for the Marcos administration.

Recall that President Marcos Jr. got the majority support of the people during the 2022 polls. But, there is a lot of dissatisfaction in the air.

Biggest shabu catch

That reported P3.6 billion seizure of shabu in a warehouse in Mexico, Pampanga was certainly the biggest catch under the Marcos administration.

A total 530 kilos worth that amount in street value raises, however, the question.

Was it smuggled?

Considering the amount seized, it can only imply the demand is still there.

If it’s true as suspected the shabu was smuggled through the Subic Freeport, it’s a sure indication it was the fault of Customs, and there’s need to further investigate.

Santa Banana, if that amount of illegal drugs can be smuggled through a well known port, it’s a sure indication that shabu is still smuggled and that illegal drugs are still in demand nationwide.

This simply means that the problem of illegal drugs in the country is far from being solved, contrary to reports there are drug-free barangays nationwide.

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