Things weigh heavily on the Presidential mind.
First there is this Scarborough Shoal business. Then there is the darn Corona trial which resumes next week.
The Scarborough stand-off is messy. At stake are the sanctity of the International Law of the Seas, the security of strategic sea-lanes, the ownership of potential oil reserves, and the fate of 32 cute sea turtles hauled off by Chinese fishermen. In response to the Philippines’ call to dial down the rhetoric and engage in dialogue, the Chinese sent an armada of fourteen vessels; with no translators! It appears they are not interested in talking.
The President called VP Binay if he could take time off from his hectic Presidential campaign to negotiate a settlement, but Jojo is not picking up. After his failed attempt to rescue three Filipino mules, he sees no upside in saving thirty-two turtles who, at this time, are probably already in the soup menu of some fancy restaurant in the Bund. Binay’s advisers also tell him animal rights activists are unlikely to be a key demographic in 2016.
The Administration has called for United Nations arbitration, forgetting China has a veto in the Security Council. The matter will be heard after the Council’s debate on the Palestinian Peace Plan scheduled sometime in the next decade.
The Government is referring the case to the International Tribunal On The Law Of The Seas in Hamburg and transferring Sen. Miriam there as judge from the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
The Philippines is also considering invoking our Mutual Defense Treaty with the U.S. Both countries confirm the Treaty is “robust, agile and responsive” which, incidentally, is a good description of my puppy. What Washington really means to say is our business is important but with all the international calls for American servicemen in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Cartagena in Colombia; the lines are busy and we have to wait for the next available agent.
In truth, the U.S. is somewhat annoyed at Filipinos for intruding in the domestic affairs of the country. Mentioned specifically are the millions of texts from the Philippines in support of Jessica Sanchez, reinstating her to the top three in that temple of U.S. democratic ideals, American Idol. Not only does it violate U.S. sovereignty, the State Department claims, it also undermines the very foundation of its Constitution, namely the principle of one-man, one vote. The average Filipino texted 100 times for Jessica.
We have sought the support of our ASEAN neighbors but suddenly everybody is soooo busy.
If all these initiatives fail, we may have to send out the Bat Signal.
China has warned the Philippines not to internationalize the dispute. It would rather, I suspect, have the matter adjudicated by the (current) Philippine Supreme Court.
The good news is that pending the outcome, Philippine-China trade will be frozen. This means no more cheap Chinese imports, no ZTE-type deals, no tourists who jostle Presidential relatives and no mining investments.
In a show of solidarity for our position, Vietnamese fishermen returned the sea turtles they poached in Philippine waters. We are not totally without friends.
On the subject of the impeachment, events took an interesting twist when the Ombudsman requested the CJ to explain $10 million of deposits that allegedly belongs to him. The account(s) are apparently remarkable for their magnitude as well as the number of credits and debits; suggesting it is a possible clearing mechanism for dubious receipts and disbursements.
In a rare case of a public official not taking the money, Corona said the deposits are not his.Who says ‘Daan Matuwid” is not working?
If the funds exist and the CJ disavows ownership, then presumably he (or the depositary bank) would not object to the Ombudsman publicly disclosing the details of the accounts. In fact, in the absence of a proprietor and assuming it is still around, the Government might want to expropriate the money and donate it, say, to the Cojuangco family which lately is feeling unfairly dispossessed.
Talking of which, the CJ denounced the Ombudsman’s move as retaliation for his role in Hacienda Luisita. Seriously, is he taking full credit for the SC decision? What about the rest of the majority who also voted for it? The implication is interesting since the bedrock of his defense in all the other controversial SC cases (GMA, PAL, etc.) is that these were collegial deliberations of which he is only one of fifteen. Yet in Luisita, if we are to follow correctly, he is the lone champion of the farmers’ rights.
So the President is somewhat preoccupied these days but he did have time to bring Grace to watch Sergio Mendez (“Sergio who?” she asked). They are quite lovely together and we hope, here at least, he is getting what he wants.