Thursday, January 26, 2006

VFA--Will GMA Do Another Angelo de la Cruz?

ANGELO DE LA CRUZ was the greatest accomplishment of the Anti-war Movement and the Left in the Philippines since the Coalition of the Willing was formed to overthrow the dictator and terrorist training camp patron, Saddam Hussein.

ABROGATION OF THE VFA would be an even greater victory that would be warmly cheered by the aging wards of the Dutch welfare state who run the terrorist CPP-NPA, and gleefully noted by their jihadi allies in the AQ, the JI and the ASG. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is hoped by some to be on the verge of doing another Angelo de la Cruz, this time over the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Subic Bay Rape case. Here the human tragedy engulfing a 22-year old Filipino woman and four US marines charged with raping her, has been deftly used as a prop on a stage for the rites and rituals of the victimology at the heart of a defensive, resentful, self-absorbed and ultimately failed brand of Filipino nationalism. The same coalition of anti-American media outfits and organized Leftist forces that spooked Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the Angelo de la Cruz kidnapping affair in Iraq is busily at work again. The Philippine Left, has of course engaged the help of its Continental allies in Leftist America, while local media comrades try to raise a lynch mob in the Archipelago over the "insult to sovereignty" -- a Visiting Forces Agreement suddenly discovered to be unequal after six years of mutually beneficial operation. (No more headlines with Abu Sayyaf terrorists flaunting their that was taunting our sovereignty.) Today the Left's real goal, having already gotten the Philippines out of the Coalition of the Willing, is to get the Coalition of the Willing out of the Philippines. It has nothing to do with rape per se, or justice, but radical international politics.

Using political melodrama before the willing media platforms, I recall them pressuring the Philippine government to accede to the Iraqi terrorist kidnappers' demands to pull out the small humanitarian force the Philippines had sent into Iraq after Saddam Hussein was overthrown. (Here's Ka Roger. the CPP's mercurial local spokesman whom the AFP hasn't caught in 20 years, yet almost anyone in Media seems to know his cell phone and can easily tell on some class enemy.) These pro-appeasement forces convinced GMA that she would be ousted from the Presidency if she did not capitulate to the demands of the Iraqi hoods holding Angelo de la Cruz hostage. So, in a selfish, shortsighted and utterly selfish overnight flipflop heard throughout the world in Jay Leno's joke about the retreating Filipinos fitting into a HumVee, GMA did indeed walk out on the Coalition of the Willing in Iraq and straight into the arms of ... China! See the post: America's Interests and the Fate of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The reaction from Filipinos abroad was of course shame at what GMA had done, though everyone was glad for Angelo de la Cruz and his family. But there was emphatic disdain from Michelle Malkin. and the sober analysis of the Belmont Club.

The retreat and capitulation in the Angelo de la Cruz affair, was a great victory for the Left and its allies, but a great defeat for the Philippines which still suffers today from the stigma as inconstant and unreliable ally, who will go back on their own word never to negotiate or capitulate to terrorists, who will abandon their allies when the going gets tough, and for whom international treaties are hostage to powerful domestic ideologues.

Today, the same strategem of intimidation by media-dramatized street protests and ideological pontifications from the news and editorial pages. is being employed to break an important project of common defense and security interests in the Visiting Forces Agreement. The same people who have made a business and profession of hating America want the Visiting Forces Agreement abrogated. This, the Left and their media comrades have been trying to do for years, from even before the Agreement was signed, and long before the present controversial rape case. This time it is not the blood of Angelo de la Cruz they are parading before GMA's imagination, but rather, the stain on the honor of Philippine Sovereignty arising from a completely regular and lawful operation of the VFA itself. The investigation and trial are done under Philippine jurisdiction, while the accused are held by the US Embassy in Manila. But Philippine jurisdiction over the case and the speediness of the proceedings so far, (lightning by Philippine standards) do not seem to be enough. The Mob would have the soldiers under its custody. -- as if the Revised Penal Code's punishments for rape include a public lynching and a relegation to a jail system whose conditions are violative of all human rights, Filipino or American.

Unfortunately, the Philippines inteligentsia has not yet evolved to the stage of granting that America too is entitled to nationalism, that Americans too have human rights, that their government has Constitutional obligations to its citizens to protect those rights. It is perhaps because the Filipinos have such scarce experience of a real government exercising its duties the best it can, and upholding their rights as a matter of principle and not convenience that some would now demand the US Government abandon its military to the tender mercies of Gabriela or the PDI editorialists I wrote about in A Little Yellow Journalism from Leftist Hatemongers. There are awesome stakes in the global war on terror right here in the borderlands of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Yet people who call themselves nationalists are working with the Left to sabotage an already frail alliance between the Philippines, the United States and Australia, all of whom are engaged in a major fight with and hunt for terrorist operatives in Mindanao. These reportedly include the Bali Bombers and the "genius of the Jemaah Islamiyah" Dulmatin, still missing and wanted dead or alive for US $10 million.

But I wonder if GMA isn't taking everyone for a ride as she goes to America, Europe and Saudi Arabia next month. She's a lot harder to spook nowadays, having so marvelously survived Gloriagate so far. I speculated on what is really going on in: The Leftists and the Trapos United In GMA's Gambit.

Maybe this time GMA is using them.


manuelbuencamino said...

The VFA is in trouble because both governments have thought it wise to make provisions protecting the old "whores follow the flag" tradition.

US soldiers on R&R enjoy practically all the priveleges and immunities of diplomats under various internaional conventions and treaties.

Why not confine US troops to camps during training periods/war games? They can always be sent to Okinawa or wherever for R&R. Those boys are not tourists. They are here to work not play. There should really be no interaction with civilian populations outside official duties. Definitely R&R should be taken elsewhere.

The extra expense of shipping troops out for R&R is nothing compared to what both countries have to lose because of this stupid jurisdiction/custody clause proyecying troops on R&R.

The Philippine side should propose this and the US should accept so we can rest easy.

Rizalist said...

MB--Aside from "R&R" would you also ban such soldiers from shopping, studying, touring the country, visiting museums, attending academic, religious, diplomatic, commercial or entertainment events? You would keep them prisoners in the camps? How about the fact that much of their work actually involves civic action projects, outreach, education, medical and other "non R&R" activities? Where would you draw the line between R&R and all other activities? By the way, I do agree the US Military has to do more to discipline the troops and punish them severely for endangering a common international mission.

AmericanPainter said...

What will happen, if in the end, the proponents are successful in abrogation of the VFA?

Will the U.S. just sit back and watch terrorism export from th e Philippines?

What are the options?

manuelbuencamino said...

Ban shopping, studying, touring the country, visiting museums, attending academic, religious, diplomatic, commercial or entertainment events?
Yes. Do that elsewhere. It's unfortunate but these activities are trivial compared to the potential danger they pose to a common international mission should soldiers out n "personal time" violate Philippine laws.

Ban civic action projects, outreach, education, medical and other "non R&R" activities? No. Those are official duties. They move in teams with officers and their Philippine counterparts.

The thing is to remember is this - The political problem arises when laws are broken during "personal time." , a more accurate term than R&R to describe what I was getting at, that immunities and privileges should not apply to personal time and that includes shopping, touring etc.

We have to draw the line between visiting forces and tourists.



Re your question: My answer is yes, she will!

Her very own hold to power is endangered so, defusing an anti-American time bomb sentiment now is a good political tactic.

S--t! What a bunch of scalawags we have in government.

Rizalist said...

AP--I doubt very much that serious people here are considering abrogation. It's just senseless since both countries have an obvious mutual interest in it. I take it MB, that you are not for abrogation either, but for a limitation of the chances for this to happen. I grant such forces are not tourists, but to what extent would you grant them the status of "diplomats"?

manuelbuencamino said...


Diplomats only when they are on those types of missions you mentioned. It's easy enough to see when you compare it with "personal time". Don't you think?

The thing is to get these irritants out of the way so we can appreciate whether a security arrangement such as the VFA works for us or not. That would be my bottom line as far as keeping the agreement or not.

Amadeo said...

Is the issue here complete abrogation of the present agreement, to infinity? Or isn’t the implied purposes to abrogate the present one and renegotiate another one, one embodying the missed oversight provisions? Like the custody issue?

Earlier on, the public was made aware of how custody was handled in other places where the US also has agreements, specifically with reference to a recent similar case in Japan. Thus the local sentiment has been why not here, too.

In this scenario I am inclined to believe that this present one will be set aside. The politicians, including the President, I suspect will find this the most convenient way out of a potentially contentious and divisive domestic squabble. This way all the domestic contending parties will gleefully claim unqualified victory, and only the “bully” US will be left squirming and led to a negotiating table for yet endless rounds of talks.

The question then is will the American side find this custody issue amendable in the Philippine context, given what it knows and have experienced (from the time the first American set foot on Philippine soil to the time the last base was closed) with the Philippine criminal justice system? Including its jail system?

Is Japan a good comparative analogy for this issue?



I personally am not for the abrogation of the VFA - silly thing to do; however, it is imperative to re-negotiate certain terms.

Isn't it amazing that many major contracts or agreements signed by the Philippines with foreign parties these last few years ended in "abrogation"?

And we expect a potential foreign partner to take the Republic of the Philippines or its government seriously?

Rizalist said...

Amadeo, HB,

Okay, let's examine the provision being questioned: CUSTODY. Remember that this matter was discussed during the original negotiations along with all other issues relating to US forces getting into trouble with Philippine laws. As it stands, the VFA gives JURISDICTION to the Philippines, where the alleged crime was commited. What Miriam and others say they want is CUSTODY.

So why indeed does the agreement with Japan grant them custody and not the Philippines. I think it has to do with the perception, which even Filipinos admit is at least partially true, that unlike in Japan, the Philippine Govt cannot actually guarantee the human rights of convicted criminals in its jails, much less those of unconvicted criminals being held under arrest for trial. Though such a reality cannot be admitted officially in public by either government, the US Government still has a duty to protect the Constitutional and human rights of its own citizens. So when it negotiated the VFA it was wllling to grant jurisdiction but not custody UNTIL conviction or acquittal.

If you ask a FILIPINO AMERICAN parent of a US Marine assigned to the Philippines, would they agree with the above or with Miriam Defensor Santiago?

The official reason given for the inequality of treatment vis a vis Japan and Korea is that the Philippines no longer hosts US Military Bases here.

Talking of Japan, I recently read a very interesting characterization of her post WW2 policy. Japan is essentially a true "semi-colony" of America since she turned over virtually her entire National Defense to the US, and has prospered where we have suffered -- frying in the oil of our own defensive nationalism, instead of riding on the Yanks to First Worldhood, like Japan.

ellen said...

Hi Dean,

Saudi Arabia has rejected RP govt.'s request for GMA to visit Riyadh next month.

It's pathetic for DFA to be begging other countries to receive GMA third week of February just so she would be out of the country during the celebration of EDSA 20. Why doesn't she visit Iraq?

BTW, I have an item on Davide eyeing a UN post in my blog today.

Rizalist said...

Ellen--I'm sure there's some gangs in Ramadi or Fallujah that would greet her with flowers and kisses, share of the loot even. But I'll be over in just a lil bit to see what the scuttlebutt is on Mr. Davide. He really should just write a book. There is salvation in writing, especially the truth. It's almost pass your paper time for him in the History exam. He's already got a failing grade. What can he do to pass?

Amadeo said...

Thanks, Dean. I thought I could have you give the answers to my obviously leading questions.

But they are too logical to be acceptable.

Local politicians, I believe, will play home-grown politics, never mind if the "bully" US is left twisting in the wind.

The US can't possibly just walk away and forget everything. Its options with regard to the Philippines are quite limited. Think of twins joined at the hip.

Think also of about 3 million of our compatriots already in the US mainland, with countless relatives and hangers-on still in the old homeland. Count yours truly as one of them.



Amadeo says that we should think of about 3 million compatriots in the US with relations in the Philippines (as an influential lobbying block in the US?).

That's all very well and good but what is the lobby power of these 3 million people? From what I have seen, they are as disunited as the 7,110 islands back home.

The 3 million or so Americans of Filipno descent in America are considered Americans by the US of A; unless they all band together to become a potent lobby group, their influence over American policy in the Philippines is only worth the floor Gloria Macapagal walks on.

NaFFAA is apparently so consumed by internal bickerings that it cannot exercise influence at all in the US Congress.

The custody case was foregone conclusion long ago - that's why the Philippines could only "beg" the US to show good faith, they should allow for the "accused" servicement to undergo a court martial but held in the Philippines - the US could grant this easily; the court martial could be held on Philippine waters aboard a US ship.

Appeasement? You bet, there is no other way to do it unless we unilaterally abbrogate the VFA and face the US head on... And where would that leave RP.

A US military trial of the accused by the US Navy aboard a US ship on Philippine waters will allow the US to retain custody of their marines and appease Pinoys/Pinays while humoring the Philippines on the jurisdiction issue at the same time!

DJB, re: JAPAN-US first worldhood; Don't you think Douglas MacArthur was largely to be blamed? He left the Philippines in a lurch when he could have championed the Philippine cause vis a vis US Congress, etc right after Japan's defeat.

By leaving the Philippines in the hands of unfriendly hands back in the US homeland, the Philippines didn't have a potent ally. Fact: MacArthur championed the cause of Japan to the detriment of the Philippines; he had his political and military reasons for developing Japan (rightly so) and not the Philippines but I really couldn't care less - the bottom line is he abandoned the Philippines.

That's all water under the bridge now but I don't think we should compare RP-US relationship with US-Nipon relationship today. We all know why Japan has fluorished from day 1 of US occupation while the RP is still on a "begging" stage in its relationship with America!

(Ok, Ok, everyone will say Filipino fault, Filipino etc., etc. and to that I say, baloney - not everything is Filipino fault; we must consider that the US had been grossly unfair in its treatment of the Philippines post WWII.)



Of course, we know that useful allies are virtually forgotten, left to cope with their misery by their major war ally after a war; the vanquished gets "royal" treatment from the leader of those allies, the victors - just look at the MARSHALL PLAN.

Germany had more food, more clothing, etc. while Britain was still on food stamps until 1954!!!!

And that's how the world goes... let's move on and forget WWII for the moment.

Rizalist said...

60 MILLION LIVES PERISHED in ww2, yet America rebuilt its worst foes such that they became No. 2 and No. 3 in the world.

How can anybody DOUBT America can succeed again in the Middle East?

I don't!

I think the Arabs can't be any worse than the Japs and the Germans WERE. But look at Japan, a perfect semi colony!



I really would prefer that the philippines were a semi-colony or virtual colony of the US if it could oust gloria and her corrupt government.

My uncle (Rep Antonio) was the celerbated (sadly forgotten) proponent of PHILIPPINES-USA move back in the early 70s.

The Filipinos need a break and if the US could put them back on track, I'm all for it!

Rizalist said...

i'm seriously thinking about writing President Bush a letter calling on him to do a Second Invasion of the Philippines. and it the REBOOT button. Start with that and work up to the Netherlands!

Amadeo said...

True, in the present milieu the fragmented FilAm communities here cannot be reckoned as a potent lobby group. But due to accretion as a result of sheer numbers, FilAms are getting into politically sensitive positions, either elective or appointive. And those many splintered groups scattered throughout the continent continue to provide the squeaky wheels that get the attention of higher-ups who are forever looking around for more constituencies.

FilAms here also give new meanings to the process of immigrant assimilation, quite unlike most other ethnic groups. While the country does very well like to lump them with the rest as simply Americans, FilAms think differently. The old homeland is still very much in their minds and in their plans. I see no immediate prospects that that umbilical cord between the two countries will be cut anytime soon. Just observe all those PAL, Cathay, EBA, and now even Northwest flights to and from the old homeland. 2/3rds of inward remittances of OFW dollars still originate from the US. Was surprised to see our Daly City mayor, Mike Guingona, nephew of the former VP, as host in a Filipino channel TV program on immigration. As far as I know that’s quite unique.

BTW, Hillblogger, I was a card-carrying member of that statehood movement. Paid my one peso membership fee to get in and be counted. I believe the initial goal was to get one million members.

Amadeo said...

Apart from those already mentioned above regarding the PI-Japan analogy, I believe another dimension should also be delved into. And it is that Japan was the enemy and the Philippines during that time was a limb of the US. Thus, more than just for purposes of sympathy and restitution, the massive reconstruction efforts in Japan gravitated on making sure that institutions and practices that conspired to make it an enemy be completely demolished and replaced with democratic ones. Though more messy and involved, the same could be said in the case of Germany.

On the part of the Philippines, it is also undeniable that the islands had the best of the US for the 40 some years that it occupied the islands before independence. Even had strategic military coverage till the last base was turned over. How else then was the country able to evolve and exhibit that Quezonian capabilities and confidence for self-rule? Maybe we bungled it later on?

It is ironic to note that while Gen. D. MacArthur oversaw the American regime in Japan, his father at an earlier time also served in a similar position in the islands. Sa card game pa, patas lang.



ANYWAY, MY UNCLE'S PROBLEM WAS NOT GETTING THE SIGNATURES (MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE!) BUT HIS BIG PROBLEM WAS the opposite sex - that's what my aunt told me what i heard from conversations while eavesdropping!


Rizalist said...

The "disunity" of the Filipino American Community is really a sign of their individual strength and independence of most FilAm families. They can make it in America on their own--that is the magnificent fact that ought not be mourned but celebrated. They can even afford to ignore the Archipelago and each other--or so it seems. Ironically, I place my hope mainly in their children, the next generation FilAms, who are Americans, but for whom the words "the old country" has a far more nostalgic power than it does for their parents, and for whom the HYPHEN in Fil-Am is a strange attractor, a magnet for their nagging feeling that there is more to how they got to be there than they know.

We must catch their wonderment and inspire them to be citizens of the Archipelago called Earth.

AmericanPainter said...

After marriage and two years living in RP, I took my Filipino wife to the U.S. where she quickly became homesick. To relieve her anxiety, we attended many different Filipino-American club events. I polled the members and found 20% to be card holders and 80% to be naturalized American citizens.

They were a very happy typical Filipino group. They brought food, danced, sang and had a good time. When I tried to engage them in conversation about the political situation in the Philippines I found most of them to be unaware and the rest just didn’t care. They are busy making it on their own in a very competitive American society. They regularly send money to relatives and seemingly wash their hands of the rest of the Archipelago, it’s concerns and affairs. As far as their children, I found them to be just average American kids and you know American kids care about nothing except being kids, none of them even spoke the language of their parent’s heritage.

Based on my personal findings, I wouldn’t count too much on them to defend the Philippines.


American Painter is right, DJB!

Children born of parents who are naturalized Americans (or Europeans for that matter) don't count anymore - they are gone for good. When they grow older, the Philippines to them will be just some exotic island or strings of islands in the Pacific for holidays or good time, but a country they owe allegiance to, NO WAY!

American Painter, your description of how Americans of Fil descent behave in the US is exactly how Filipinos here behave; if you ask Fil parents here if they'd like their children to go back to the Philippines one day, they'd say "Yes, to visit but not to live there."

Our OFWs deployed all over the world are going to make children (let's call them second-generation OFWs) to serve other countries; these 2nd generation OFWs will be educated, employed and made to pay taxes to improve the economy of their host nations.

In other words, the Philippines cannot count on these kids anymore.

Perhaps in 200 years, the offsprings of the offsprings of the offsprings of the offsprings of these kids might consider going back.

AmericanPainter said...

Hillblogger, I found that Filipino’s become “Americanized” very quickly. They fit themselves very easily into mainstream America and become just as demanding as the rest of us. That, of course, is so different from the submissive Filipino living in the Philippines where the average Filipino demands nothing of it’s government.

It’s very difficult (if not impossible) for one to return to that lifestyle after living in America. If the roads need fixing in the U.S., citizens demand that it be fixed and it is done. People in the Philippines have too many worries just with daily living to be concerned with roads or little else.

I believe the answer lies in upgrading the living standard in the Philippines. Easier said than done.

AmericanPainter said...

Excuse my opinion if you disagree but it seems to me that the worst enemy of the Philippines is Filipino’s themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Philippines, I love the culture and the people. But I abhor the way they are distracted from legitimate ways of curing their problems. They stew in their on false pride. I allege false because they have failed to build a nation to be proud of. Blaming others for their problems and hand wringing solves nothing.

They make national heroes of actors and actresses and sports personalities without substance. It is too shallow but they have so little to cling to.

Corruption is accepted as part of life. Is it any wonder that Filipino’s who escape don’t want to return?

I hate that people who are in position to help the Philippines but are so corrupted that they keep their feet squarely on the neck of the downtrodden to improve their own financial gain. There seems to be no one in a leadership role with dignity that inspires admiration.

Then again, if they were different, I may not love them so much! For me personally, it’s catch-22.


But I do agree with what you say Americanpainter.

I too love the Philippines, the land, the seas and the mountains. I love its people who inhabit far flung places, away from Metropolitan Manila and Cebu cities which to me are "erreur de la nature", so badly carved, so misplanned and grossly in bad taste.

When you say that the answer is in upgrading the living standard, I doubt it will happen - the man or the woman who saunters from one "important" meeting to another in his brand-new plastic looking automobile will no longer be important if everyone's living standard is upgraded! Why should he or she want to contribute to something as self-defeating as that?
I don't love the people that inhabit government offices and the poeple that run for public office. I distrust and have little sympathy for 90% of Filipino politicians because I believe they don't deserve the respect that they demand - yes, demand.

I believe all politicians are dishonest and that it is they who do everything for corruption to remain a Philippine way of life.

I don't like most Filipinos in these cities, not even my so-called "rich" friends who no longer feel anything but odious contempt at the sight of poor, dirty, sickly-looking, hungry children litering the streets of Manila begging for alms in the midst of heavy traffic while they, these rich "friends", are chauffeur-driven from one reception to another in 5-star hotels in their immaculately polished car.

Often, I wonder how these rich people, the country's mighty and powerful can live there and pretend that everything is alright amidst such culture of human squalor!


A real-life story:

One day during one of our rare family visits to the Philippines to see my Mom, my daughter aged 10 at the time asked, "Mum, how can people drive such sleek looking cars and not care about these poor children begging in the streets? (We were driving along Roxas Blvd towards Pasay.)

My daughter finds Manila quite ugly because of the obviously huge economic disparity between the people that live in it but loves the remote provinicial barangays for their calm and beauty and is always very happy to leave ugly Manila and its surrounding towns when we are in the Philippines.

Two years ago, when were in the Philippines, she (aged 14 by then) asked to see an orphanage that she had read about in a newspaper at school. She felt very distressed after the visit. And upon her return to Europe, she started organizing and running projects for charity with a group of school friends for the orphanage.

During that visit, my daughter also met friends of mine, some of whom are politicians and one day, we ran into Benjamin Abalos (Yes, the Comelec official) at Edza Shangri-la; after the usual "esprit de politesse", he asked her what she thought of Manila (probably thinking that the shopping, the malls were supposed to be a great teen-age thing to do), my daughter hesitated a bit and looked at me for support but I said nothing and just stared back at her ... My daughter then said rather diplomatically but firmly, "I think Manila could be a great city if only Filipinos were a bit more caring about its very poor children."

Abalos tried to mutter something about caring for the vagrants, etc. but I stopped him and told him that they would have to do things better because it is a general belief that your children are a reflection of who you are!

AmericanPainter said...

Hillblogger your statement so-called "rich" friends who no longer feel anything but odious contempt at the sight of poor, dirty, sickly-looking, hungry children littering the streets of Manila " hits the proverbial nail on the head.

My "well-to-do" Filipino friends even chastise me for giving to the poor children and adults. It's an attitude which I fail to understand and they have no reasonable explanation beyond, "they'll just keep on begging."

With no education and unemployment rampant even for educated souls, they have little choice.

I met a man working as a security guard with a Masters degree. I ask him why with a Masters he worked at such a minimal position. He replied, if I don't have the degree, I don't even get this job!

I’m at a loss to understand how the country’s leadership can look upon these people with such hardened hearts. The least they could do would be to compete with other Asian countries for the importation of jobs.