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Daily dose

Justice Antonio Carpio: Defending Philippine Sovereign Rights in the West Philippine Sea

A must-watch for every Filipino, this lecture of retired Supreme Court senior associate justice Antonio Carpio eloquently demolishes the 9-Dash line claim of China over the West Philippine Sea.

Using historical and legal evidence, he presents a very strong case in which China’s claims over the Spratly islands is built on a false narrative designed to suit the Chinese government’s expansionist desires.

Through this lecture, Justice Carpio makes it easy to understand the Philippines’ historic victory against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016. The full lecture can now be watched on Access Online’s YouTube account here.

Categories
Daily dose

Who is Qassem Soleimani? Is it now World War III?

When news of the US admitting that President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani broke out, World War III became a trending topic in Twitter, Google search and Facebook.

Journalist Caitlin Johnstone has a good rundown of what this recent development in the Middle East is and she’s right to say that those who value peace and humanity should closely follow how it will all pan out.

Who is Qassem Soleimani to begin with? Andrew Sexun easily sums it up as:

But I do know something of how important Qassem Soleimani was, because he spent more time in the Arabic-speaking world—propping up Iranian allies from Iraq to Lebanon, and from Syria to Yemen—than he did back home in Iran. From a military and diplomatic perspective, Soleimani was Iran’s David Petraeus and Stan McChrystal and Brett McGurk all rolled into one.

To which Fred Kaplan adds:

To convey a sense of Soleimani’s significance, it would be as if, during the Iraq war, the ayatollah had ordered the assassination of Gen. David Petraeus, Gen. Jim Mattis, the head of Special Operations Command, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.* Soleimani’s responsibilities corresponded with all four of these roles. Even then, the analogy falls short because, among Shi’ite Muslims across the region, Soleimani also exuded the charisma of a religious icon, a holy warrior.

For the past 20 years, he had been the architect of Iran’s expansionist foreign policy, running subversive operations and controlling Shiite militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan.

Why did the US assassinated Soleimani? He may have helped the US push back ISIS, he is also responsible for attacks against US soldiers and operatives in recent years. That may or may not be a justification, but most experts are now saying it doesn’t matter. It’s been done. The real question now is, what will happen next aside from the certainty that Iran will strike back? World War III? Who knows? Even the experts don’t have an answer yet. And that’s the scary part.

Categories
Opinion

#HINDIdependenceday – Can we repeat something we did 122 years ago?

History doesn’t repeat itself, we repeat history.

It’s my favorite quote by historian Ambeth Ocampo which, to me, simply means that if we do not learn anything from history or our past, we are bound to repeat it. Tragically or ironically or both, we Filipinos seem to have the collective habit of repeating the ‘bad parts’ of our history.

Take yesterday for example, our “Independence Day” commemorating the proclamation of independence by Emilio Aguinaldo 120 years ago. To be clear, that “independence” was from Spain which had colonized and ruled our islands for almost 400 years. We say and put emphasis on “independence from Spain” because shortly after that proclamation at Kawit, Cavite, we came under American occupation and colonization.

Ironically, the Act of Declaration of Philippine Independence contained the following:

“And having as witness to the rectitude of our intentions the Supreme Judge of the Universe, and under the protection of our Powerful and Humanitarian Nation, The United States of America, we do hereby proclaim and declare solemnly in the name by authority of the people of these Philippine Islands,”

Our history textbooks call this “benevolent assimilation”, the US subjugating our islands, robbing us of our independence, pillaging our natural resources and murdering thousands of our forefathers. Ironically, again, the same history textbooks fail and are even completely silent about how the US occupation was facilitated by our past leaders, led by the man who made the proclamation 120 years ago. He did not only proclaim our so-called independence that was “dependend” on a foreign power, he also proclaimed himself “egregious dictator.”

Which brought us to yesterday’s June 12, 120 years later independence still continues to be something complicated for our nation, succinctly captured in this photo by Christine Avendaño for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, taken before Rodrigo Duterte delivered his Independence day speech:

In the ordinary course of things, the photo would have been just one of the many that will serve as a memory of today’s programs. However, in the context of what has happened and what is happening in terms of the Duterte administration’s ‘pivot to China’ vis a vis China’s occupation of territories in the West Philippine Sea, one cannot find it hard to say that we, at the very least our leaders in government are repeating history once again.

We commemorate our ‘independence’ with all the formalities, speeches, parades, photo-ops, holidays, the whole official brouhaha, yet we find our so-called leaders embracing foreign powers that threaten our security, plunder our resources and steal outright from our citizens. We have a representative government yet its Chief Executive has acted and continues to do so in the fashion of a dictator. Dissent and criticism is dealt with violence, political persecution and oppression.

Like Aguinaldo before him, both leaders are surrounded by representatives of the ruling faction of society who has taken turns plundering our national coffers to protect their business interests, propagate themselves in power, collaborate with foreign interests setting aside and perverting the causes for which the Revolution began: freedom to steer our national destiny, taking our place in the family of nations and serving the common good so our people would prosper and our citizens are able to take on the pursuit of happiness.

120 years on, it is clear that the ‘independence’ we commemorate, despite the material and visual trappings, the parades and speeches, remain shallow and wanting. 120 years on our national project remains a complex and complicated work in progress. 120 years on we find ourselves repeating the shameful and disgraceful events of our history. 120 years on, can we not for once repeat something else? Can we not repeat that glorious act we took 122 years back? If you our history, you’d know what I am referring to.