By Reynaldo O. Arcilla | The Manila Times
A READER wrote: “It is no longer USA. The new name is UBRA, United Banana Republic of America.”
His was an allusion to rioters violently taking over the Capitol building in Washington, DC last week while the United States Congress was in the process of certifying the victory of Joe Biden as the next US president. The legislators had to flee the congressional chamber for their safety. Five people reportedly died during the riot, including a former servicewoman, who was allegedly shot by a policeman on leave, and two police officers, who died because of injuries suffered during clashes with the rioters.
It is true that such an occurrence is usually associated, rightly or wrongly, with Third World countries with frail democracy or so-called banana republics. But for such a thing to happen in the most advanced democratic state in the world is rather unexpected and unbelievable.
“I hope the enemies of liberty among mock world powers don’t believe and won’t peddle the line that the US is done for; US democracy is strong to the bone and American power can cope with a civil disturbance and fight wars on three fronts if it wants to — and come out the winner.”
No, no, the above statement did not come from the US State Department or the US Embassy here. It is from our very own Foreign Secretary Teodoro “Tweeterboy” Locsin Jr.
Surprised? I’m not. The fellow is a known US worshiper, an “Amboy” and a true-blue Yellowtard. One wonders why President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte, with his independent foreign policy platform, still has him as Foreign secretary. Or, perhaps, the more appropriate question is why Digong appointed him as such in the first place.
Yes, Mr. President, why?
Who can ever forget the immortal lines once uttered by Locsin at a July 4th reception of the US Embassy as quoted last July in her piece by Philippine Star columnist Joanne Rae Ramirez:
“She (America) is the larger image of ourselves as we are her smaller image, and we care for her as we hope she cares for us.”
OMG! LOL! “Hope she cares for us?!” Is the fellow for real?! O dopey lang?
If he wants to be a spokesman of the US, he should hold office in the basement of the US Embassy, as I once said about one of his predecessors in the Noynoy Aquino administration.
Former Interior secretary Raffy Alunan is dismayed with the “lousy” service of Smart Communications that prompted him to look for another telco provider.
“Smart is making it difficult for customers like me to pay on time. Parang they don’t care to correct their deficiencies, only for customers to pay on time for their lousy service,” he said.
His is exactly the same beef I had with Smart. Last November, I wrote:
“Earlier this year, I subscribed to a Smart cellphone plan for about P400 a month. After a while, I found out to my dismay the frequent absence of a signal at my place.
“Then Covid-19 came and the hard copy of my bill stopped coming for some months. As a result, I couldn’t pay my bill. I pay my bills online through the BPI.
“Then one day, I received a text message from Smart saying that they have stopped rendering services to me for non-payment of my bills. That was some months ago.
“Last week, I received an email from a law firm obviously retained by Smart demanding that I pay a measly amount that I allegedly owe them or else they will file a complaint against me. Just like that? They didn’t even give an accounting of the amount I allegedly owe them. I also stopped using their services long before I received the email and bought a pre-paid SIM card from another company.
“File a complaint against me? For what?! What about the times when I got lousy service from Smart or no service at all? Should I file a complaint against them for that?
“I guess not. That wouldn’t be a smart thing to do. Then again, I might, if only to prove a point and on behalf of others who may have experienced similar abuse and bullying from Smart.”
Incidentally, President Digong warned sometime in July last year that if the telecom companies do not improve their services by December (2020), they would face the risk of “closure” or “expropriation.”
I’m afraid they have not improved at all, Mr. President. Was your warning last July another one of those that you make out of pique without any intention of carrying them out, Sir?
The notorious Smartmatic — In June last year, Digong directed the Department of Information and Communications Technology and, at the same time, encouraged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to search for a replacement for poll technology provider Smartmatic.
Smartmatic recently won the bidding conducted by the Comelec to refurbish its vote counting machines for the 2022 elections.
And there has been no reaction whatsoever from Malacañang — especially considering that Smartmatic won over the lowest bidder, for what experts say are allegedly very flimsy reasons!
The only other bidder, Power Serve Inc. (PSI), was disqualified by the Comelec’s Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) for its failure to indicate “zero” or “dash” in the relevant bid documents.
PSI’s bid of P490 million is lower by P147,443,308.45 than Smartmatic’s bid of P637,443,308.45.
PSI has appealed to the SBAC to reconsider its decision but no action has been taken by it as of this writing.
Is the US coming back to Subic? — About three months ago, this newspaper reported that Maritime Industry Authority Administrator Robert Empedrad, former Philippine Navy chief, said a contract had already been finalized between Australian shipbuilder Austal and US private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, and would reportedly soon take over the Subic Bay yard from Hanjin Shipping, a South Korean firm that went bankrupt in 2016.
Empedrad also reportedly said the US and Australia were eyeing the yard as a possible ship repair and maintenance facility (read, naval base). He added that US and Australian naval presence at Subic Bay could bolster national security.
That would directly run counter to what President Duterte said in his fifth State of the Nation Address in July last year.
“Kaya ‘yang maglagay lagay ka ng base at this time, this will ensure, if war breaks out because there would be atomic arsenal brought in, this will ensure the extinction of the Filipino race,” he said.
A grim scenario indeed!
So, what will Digong do, or can do, if the contract is already a fait accompli? A reliable source said Austal and Cerberus are reportedly poised to take over the facility during the first quarter of this year.
An authoritative source suggests that the government could insist on re-negotiating the contract to include a provision that “there should be a restriction that prohibits the yard from accepting any naval business, whether for repair, routine or emergency, and new construction defining clearly the protocols. It should also prohibit the accommodation of any nuclear powered vessel, armed ships whether they are government or civilian-controlled.”
The source also said that “we should get a clear picture on who the beneficial owners really are. It is just too bad that our local entrepreneurs do not have the appetite for this business.”
Fugitive Andres Bautista — In November 2019, Senate President Vicente Sotto 3rd urged the National Bureau of Investigation to serve the arrest warrant issued by the Senate on former Comelec chairman Bautista for contempt for ignoring the Senate hearings into his alleged ill-gotten wealth. It was his wife who blew the whistle on him.
Bautista was earlier impeached by the House of Representatives but resigned and left the country before standing trial in the Senate. It was later found out that he had fled to the US. Shouldn’t the government seek his extradition from the US to face the charges against him? Isn’t flight a sign of guilt? Maybe his passport should be canceled to force his return?
Isn’t Bautista’s case one of corruption? So, how come there has been no action on the part of the government to be consistent with its campaign against corruption?
And what about the Senate? After all, it was its arrest warrant that was defied by Bautista. Shouldn’t it at least encourage the government to do something?