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With Due Respect

Sorting the good news from the sad

Amid the sad news dimming our horizon — like the worrying rise in the ABSOLUTE NUMBER of coronavirus infections, the shocking plunder of PhilHealth funds, the deadly Jolo blasts, and the President’s revelation of his doctors’ advice that his Barrett’s esophagus may worsen to Stage One cancer—I welcome some shiny good news, among them:

First, the President’s firm disavowal of RevGov that some of his supporters are inflicting on our nation. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana declared the RevGov “illegal and unconstitutional” and Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. condemned it as “unique in its insanity.”

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The legal community led by Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Domingo Egon Cayosa wants to charge the RevGov promoters with “inciting to sedition.” I agree, but subject to the caveat that facts must be proven according to the rules of evidence, not necessarily according to media reports.

No RevGov is possible without the military’s backing. Cory Aquino set aside the 1973 Constitution. The resulting revolutionary government during her first year succeeded because our people, backed up by the military, supported it. A year later, the 1987 Constitution took effect. With President Duterte’s disavowal, the nation, I think, need not worry about this “insanity.”

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The second piece of good news is the flattening of the COVID-19 curve. Prof. Guido David of the University of the Philippines OCTA Research Team explained though that “flattening does not mean it is over. It means there are still cases but the [TRANSMISSION RATE] is on the decline. Flattening is a long process.”

As more people — many of them asymptomatic — return to their offices, rehabilitate their livelihood, shop in the malls, and normalize their activities, the chances of contact surge.

For this reason, more care should be taken in the observance of isolation, physical distancing, use of face masks and shields, and hand-washing.

The third is the more aggressive assertion of our maritime rights in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) led again by Lorenzana and Locsin. Locsin’s Department of Foreign Affairs lodged a diplomatic protest over the Chinese Coast Guard’s “illegal confiscation” of the fishing equipment of Filipino fishermen near the Scarborough Shoal. In a tough follow-up, Lorenzana debunked China’s “nine-dash line” as a “fabrication” and accused Beijing of “illegally occupying” our maritime territory.

Supporting the two officials, Palace spokesperson Harry Roque said our military movements in the WPS are in line with our sovereign rights, and the supply missions in the Spratlys and the overflights in Scarborough will continue.

This hawkish stance of the Duterte administration surfaced even as the Philippines refused to join the recent kick-off by the United States (US) Navy of the “world’s largest maritime military exercises” in the South China Sea (SCS).

Asked why, Lorenzana simply replied, “President Rodrigo Duterte has a standing order to us, to me, that we should not involve ourselves in naval exercises in the [SCS] except in our national waters, the 12-mile distance from our shores.”

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Escalating the war of nerves and tech, US Health Secretary Alex Azar visited Taiwan. To show its displeasure, China flew fighter planes across the median maritime line separating the mainland from Taiwan on Aug. 10, the second day of Azar’s visit. What especially irked China was the US sale to Taiwan of 66 ultra-hi-tech F-16C-D fighter jets on Aug. 20.

Lately, China fired missiles into the SCS, showing it could sink US warships patrolling the area. In turn, the US imposed sanctions on 24 Chinese companies that constructed the artificial islands in the SCS.

Following suit, Locsin said the other day he would ask for the termination of government contracts with the said companies, one of which, together with MacroAsia Corp., was awarded the building of the $10-billion Sangley Point International Airport.

For his part, Roque hoped that the US and China would resolve their disputes “amicably and peacefully.” Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein was clearer, saying the Asean countries must get together to avoid being “dragged and trapped” in the struggle between the two superpowers.

I agree, we should neither be pro-American nor pro-Chinese. Rather, we should always be pro-Filipino and align ourselves with our Asean brethren in dealing with the two giants.

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TAGS: Artemio V. Panganiban, bad news, good news, With Due Respect
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