SO IT SEEMS
Before leaving for a two-day official visit to Myanmar (formerly called Burma) over the weekend, President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines cannot stop China from building a radar station in Panatag or Scarborough Shoal which is inside Philippine territorial waters.
“We cannot stop China from doing its thing. Even the Americans were not able to stop them,” Duterte said in a press conference at the Davao International Airport before taking off for Myanmar.
That’s a defeatist attitude. We should assert jurisdiction over a body of water that belongs to us. The Panatag Shoal is located 230 kilometers west of Zambales and a common fishing ground of Filipino, Chinese and even Vietnamese fishermen, It is considered part of the Philippine continental self.
In the later part of the Noynoy Aquino adminis-tration, the dispute between China and the Philippines over the Panatag was brought to the international court of arbitration in the Hague, Netherlands. In its ruling the arbitral court invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash claim over the whole of China Sea.
Earlier, Duterte said he agreed to allow China to conduct surveying or search mission in the area. In the press conference Duterte recalled that during his visit to Beijing last year he told Chinese President Xi Jinping “I will not invoke the arbitral ruling now but there will come a time during my term that I will bring the issue back to the table of the foursquare of the arbitral ruling and it will come.”
The only way for us to assert our jurisdiction of the Panatag Shoal and adjoining areas is to bring the issue to the conference table. Engaging China in combat is out of the question. The Philippines is just a pigmy compared to China in all aspect, from size of population to land area to military strength— to everything.
China is the world’s population giant. Its population of 1.4 billion constitute one-fourth of the total population of the universe now reaching seven billion. As a wag once said, for every five people in the street, one is a Chinese.
Duterte’s becoming soft-hearted to China is a result of his official visit of Beijing last year. On the whole Digong’s trip to China was fruitful; he was able to get the commitment of Chinese business tycoons to invest in the Philippines.
The about-to-start construction of a huge solar power farm in Banaybanay, Davao Oriental is a result of Duterte’s visit to China. The planned solar power plant has the capacity to generate 300 megawatts to l gigawatts of electricity, enough to supply the whole of Mindanao with renewable energy. It is said to be the biggest solar power farm not only in the Philippines, but in the whole world.
Because Tagum City to where we have transferred residence since two years and all areas in Davao del Note under the franchise area of the Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative (DANECO) are often hit by brownouts, we hope the construction of the solar power farm in upper Banaybanay will begin soon.
As we have been saying, when the huge solar power plant is completed and starts operation, the perennial power outage in places served by DANECO will become history.
Here we go again, the Catholic Church interfering with affairs that clearly belong to the government, a blatant violation of the separation of Church and State as mandated by the Constitution.
In a pastoral letter read during mass nation-wide last Sunday, the third Sunday of Lent, signed by Catholic Bishops Conference of the Phi-lippines pre-sident and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas asked the faithful to stand up against the imminent restoration of death penalty.
“Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, let us not allow our wells to be poisoned by bitter water; let us uphold the sanctity of life and make a stand against death penalty,” the CBCP president said in his pastoral letter.
Went on to say that while victims of heinous crimes deserve justice and reparations. “Criminals remain children of God who should be given chance to repent and reform.”
The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines provides that “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable,” yet the CBCP president made on bones in blatantly violating the man-date of the fundamental law of the Republic.
The CBCP which is the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has the habit of tinkering its “dirty” finders on affairs that exclusively belong to the state. The implementa-tion of the Reproductive Health Law meant to drastically cut the coun-try’s exploding population has been put on hold because of the strong opposition of the Catholic clergy.
To stop once and for all the Catholic bishops and priests from their habitual interference on affairs of the state, the 1987 Philippine Constitu-tion should be revised and overhauled in a way that it cannot be interpreted in any other way. To make the amendment more effective, it should provide penalty for violators, including imprisonment of not less than one month or 30 days without bail.
In our view, there are two provisions in the 1987 Constitution that should be the first to go in the event of an assembly to amend the constitution. The first to go is the abolition of the party-list system, fol-lowed by a total overhaul of the separation of Church and State.