Was Obama bluffing?

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

US President Barrack Obama’s Pacific much-publicized journey to reinvigorate American presence in Asia-Pacific has not stopped Chinese bullying. Instead, China has become bolder, brazenly daring America.

Seemingly oblivious to a joint American-Philippine military exercise in Luzon, a Chinese flotilla installed a giant oil rig in an island group also claimed by Vietnam.

Then we Filipinos discover that China is reclaiming land and building what looked like an airport in Mabini Reef.


What response has America shown to back up even Obama’s “ironclad” commitment to defend the Philippines? Have we heard even some American huff and puff?

China is demonstrating to the world that Obama was merely bluffing. America cannot simply move its military assets in place to support military commitments with Asia-Pacific allies because of the economic implications. Like the Ukraine crisis, President Obama has very limited options to influence the emerging situation.


Should this make the Philippines cower as China flexes its might in the West Philippine Sea?

History tells us how past Philippine leaders dealt with foreign bullies. Like Lapu-Lapu and Leon Kilat, we can stand up despite the odds. Or we can follow the examples of leaders who sought accommodation with bullies.

Learning lessons from history could mean freeing ourselves from this brown American mindset and uniting our people on a common stand. While at this, we can strengthen our relationships with our similarly situated neighbors.

Personally, I look forward to a stronger Asean that could stand up to China. At the moment, I support Vietnam for its example in dealing with Chinese bullying and expansionist tendencies.


Forging Filipino unity now is admittedly difficult, especially with the way national leaders are acting on the pork barrel issue. Instead of digging for the truth, we are seeing some success at creating confusion. In the guise of uncovering who are really guilty, it seems some bright boys are moving forward, throwing squid ink at everybody, including members of the national media.

I was amused reading the name of neophyte congressman Gerald “Samsam” Gullas in the list of one sloppy operator.

Sure, some interesting details, particularly from Benhur Luy’s hard drive, are surfacing worthy of more space in subsequent columns. However, we need to piece together the truth and recognize the lies.

If only more witnesses find the courage to surface and tell the truth. If only we have enough honorable officials who would rather resign than utter outright lies in privilege speeches and press conferences.

I believe it is within this context that the Cebu Coalition against the Pork Barrel System pushed forward its cause as it articulated the people’s impatience for results.

“While we are glad that more evidence has surfaced, and more witnesses come forward, we also feel disgusted at the apparent mishandling of the emerging issues,” said the coalition in a statement titled “Show us results now.”

According to the coalition statement signed by Msgr. Rommel Kintanar, “The public’s sense of betrayal has reached a very high level, the disappointment with government so palpable, and the clamor for truth now so strong. People are realizing that of the problems of the country, corruption has taken the worst toll on the lives of ordinary citizens. This issue is a fight between good and evil.”

Those who failed to secure a copy of the whole statement, coalition members have posted copies online like the Facebook group “Maghisgot Kita’g Politika, Bay.” I also posted a copy in Slideshare.net and my blog politika2013.wordpress.com. Please share this in your respective social networks.

This week, representatives of different anti-pork groups in the country will gather at the Cebu Archbishop’s residence together with Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma to plan the next moves. Abangan.


Government should suspend taxes and duties on donations in container vans now congesting the Cebu International Port. Aside from government duties, there is also the demurrage fee. The collection of fees had been suspended at the height of the crisis but has since resumed.

Aside from several containers with sacks of donated rice, there are also used clothes, sanitation kits, and even tarpaulins. The foreign donors and local NGOs are at a loss on how to deal with this government insensitivity.

(Follow @anol_cebu in Twitter)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 19, 2014.


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