Fake news on GMA 7’s “poop” by China vessels traced to dilawans

I’ve said it time and again, and I’ll say it again.

In this day and age, fake news are easy to track down and expose.

That already happened with the dishonesty shown by Simularity, Inc. and GMA 7 in using a photograph of a dredging vessel causing damage to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia way back in October 2014 and make it seem like an actual image of a Chinese vessel spewing human waste into the West Philippine Sea.

Now, the venerated columnist Bobi Tiglao has done it again: he exposed Simularity as a propaganda front of the dilawans to spread lies against China. And Tiglao raises the question about whether or not the U.S. State Department, or the CIA, could have put up the $1 million that the brother of a former Aquino government cabinet member infused into what was moribund company on July 17, 2018. That’s just three years ago.

Simularity washed its hands from any culpability in using that damning photograph from “The Daily Mail”. It blamed GMA 7 for failure to double-check its attribution in fine print that the ship was unknown with its source indicated underneath. Was GMA alone in this apparent act of spreading fake news?

Hell, no.

There was malice in Simularity’s use of that photograph. The intent to raise a furor by showing a picture of a ship with murky water in its wake was palpable. There was nothing in the caption that would warn the reader that the vessel wasn’t Chinese, and that it wasn’t in the act of dumping human waste as an accompanying illustration to the article. And that certainly accomplished its purpose: it raised hell among Senators who fell for the fake news.

It’s sad because GMA 7 merely removed the offending picture without offering an apology. Simularity said it had asked “the irresponsible news organization” to publish a retraction. GMA 7 pretended as if nothing happened. That is cowardice.

That embarassing episode is now aggravated by what Tiglao has unearthed.

In his column appearing in The Manila Times today, Tiglao discovered that Simularity was a mediocre technology company founded in Delaware, U.S.A. in 2011. Its business was providing clients with data on “changes on the earth surface” using images downloaded from a satellite of the European Space Agency.

But as the website of ESA would show, its powerful satellites are used to monitor “gradual changes” in the earth’s surface such as the gradual clearing of rainforests, the annual rise in global sea level, and an increase in the number and intensity of wildfires.

With this in mind, the question begs to be asked: how can Simularity monitor the build-up of human waste in the open sea when any discharge is carried away by strong currents? It’s not as if the “poop” discharge is weighed down by an anchor so that it stays in place for generations to come, such that its accumulation can be detected from space.

Liz Derr is guilty of exagerrating her report when she said there are now two man-made things visible from space — the Great Wall of China and the “poop” concentrations in the Spratlys. “When ships don’t move, the poop piles up,” she said.

That is plain stupidity. Even an elementary school pupil understands that in open sea, nothing remains stationary. Certainly, human waste piling up in that part of the world is impossible. It’s not an earth-surface latrine where the poop stays in the dug-out for a long period of time. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

But there’s more to it.

Tiglao found out that Peter Abaya, brother of former DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya, invested $1 million in the company on July 17, 2018 through his company, Shatter Tech Venture Holdings.

What was it about Simularity that attracted Abaya’s brother to pour a cool million dollars in that company? And why did Simularity quickly change its packaging to become a technology-company keeping a tight watch over what was happening in the West Philippine Sea? And how did Simularity’s so-called “poop report” draw the attention of Philippine media to warrant an on-line interview with Derr?

If you ask me, Simularity was set-up as a propaganda vehicle for the oligarchs who have set their eyes on the gas and oil underneath the West Philippine Sea. It’s not hard to see the connection.

China is a greatly misunderstood giant

With an economy that grew phenomenally in a brief span of four decades, China has emerged upon the global scene as a giant that has matched wealth with a powerful military. It is now the number two largest economy in the world, with the United States holding on to that position rather precariously. Hence, it is easy to understand why the U.S. and its neighbors feel great discomfort as this combined economic and military power keeps growing. Unless the Chinese economy is stalled, it will overtake the U.S. as the biggest economy in the world.

This has led to rising tensions in U.S.-China relations, with the frightening prospect of this ending in armed confrontation, particularly in the South China Sea and Taiwan. Everybody agrees that war, even on a limited scale, can bring about disastrous consequences. Because of this, experts on U.S.-China relations espouse caution to American policy makers as it struggles to maintain a delicate balance between its need to stay the most powerful nation on the planet and peace. The task becomes difficult because recent U.S. rhetoric, especially during the Trump presidency, demonized China’s intentions.

The Panda bear best describes the size and temperament of China. It is huge but meek. It is not known to be aggressive on human beings. Indeed, there has been no instance in its history when China became an aggressor state. On the other hand, it came under foreign domination several times in the past, the most recent of which was the Japanese invasion during World War II. Even in dealing with break-away province, Taiwan, the mainland Chinese have demonstrated restraint for more than half a century now. Except for the occasional harassment against their estranged province, there has been nothing close to a forcible retaking of Taiwan. At least, up to until now.

With this in mind, we should not allow American scare tactics to put a barrier between our country and China. The Scarborough Shoal issue remains a thorn on our relations, but it does not lock the door on a peaceful resolution that will benefit both sides. If China has reclaimed shoals and reefs in the South China Sea, it is not because of a long-range military plan to expand its territory in the Asia-Pacific. The putting up of military installations on their reclaimed islands are not much different to the United States having bases in Japan and South Korea. China simply wants to build an adequate security barrier to shield the mainland from any security threat.

It’s really amazing how China has continued to grow despite American efforts to contain its economy with tariffs and sanctions such as the ban on Huawei from the U.S. market. During the year 2020, China shrugged off the ill effects of Covid 19 to continue grow at a fast pace of 8-9%. The technological ban imposed by then US President Donald Trump two years ago may have hurt China, but not for long. David Goldman, an economist and China watcher, observed that the economies of the U.S. and China were about the same size. He made that assessment two years ago. “But China is growing at twice the speed of the U.S.,” he said. That gives us a better understanding of the power dynamics we are seeing in China.

This brings me to the tough decision that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has to make about the country’s relations with China. Early in his term, President Duterte showed openness to friendship with China. But the issue about the Scarborough Shoal put pressure on him to lean back and rethink about developing closer ties with China. The propaganda being thrown about depicts China as a territory-hungry behemoth that will ultimately devour the Philippines. President Duterte is being labeled as a “puppet” of the Chinese.

We need to look at the situation with pragmatic eyes. The Philippines has something every powerful nation on earth now wants to gain access to: vast oil and natural gas reserves underneath the South China Sea that fall within our exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Aside from that, the South China Sea is a vital sea lane where billions of dollars worth of goods pass through every year. Almost all countries would want that shipping lane to remain free to international trade and commerce. This is a reason why the U.S. and other Western nations are apprehensive about China putting up military installations along that route. If China shuts down the shipping lane, all hell will break loose in the global economy.

Rather than provoke China, we might be able to approach the situation with an open mind toward a mutually-beneficial development of the SCS gas and oil reserves. The worst thing China would want to see now is the Philippines going back to the embrace of the United States. That will only alarm them, for a strengthening of the US-PH military alliance is certain to be viewed as a hostile threat. And that will deprive our nation of the economic benefits that can be derived from an early exploitation of the SCS gas and oil reserves.

If such a partnership is achieved, China will feel less nervous about external threats and focus its attention to its goal about continued economic growth to bring prosperity to the lives of its 1.4 billion population. The grand strategy of China is centered on “rejuvenation” after having surmounted its “survival” phase. A joint exploration and development of the SCS will forge stronger economic ties between China and PH and contribute to lowering the tensions in the region. The key word, indeed, is cooperation. And even the U.S. will stand to gain from changing its outlook about China and treat it as an equal in world affairs.

A climate of security and stability in the SCS will put the Philippines at the doorstep of the world’s fastest growing economy. It is not too hard to see Filipinos will reap from that unique position, something that we did not experience when we were loyal allies of the Americans.

China: must we be afraid of it?

The controversy over the South China Sea issue, particularly the loss of the Scarborough Shoal to the Chinese in 2012, has dominated public discussion during the last several months as the opposition tried to pressure President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to assert its rights as laid down in the International Arbitral Court ruling three years ago.

The opposition has painted a picture of a leader who showed subservience to the Chinese in that instead of adopting a strong position in seeking the enforcement of the ruling, President Duterte took the path of friendship with President Xi Jinping since he assumed office on June 30, 2016.

Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has been the most vocal critic of the President’s “soft” stance regarding the South China Sea issue. He accused President Duterte of “selling the country’s sovereignty” to China. He and his colleagues in the opposition are trying to spread the fear of China among Filipinos. The Scarborough Shoal episode is just the prelude to China ultimately trying to swallow the Philippines into its fold.

This fear-mongering is unfounded. China is not in the business of gobbling up new territory. What it is doing is translate its relatively new economic power into military might to strengthen its security position. Of course it is understandable why its neighbors are apprehensive. Throughout modern history, the whole world has gotten used to regarding the United States as the sole superpower with the capability to keep the status quo on security and stability.

The sudden emergence of China as a military power has upset that status quo. And its incursions into the South China Sea is being viewed by the U.S.-led partnership in the Asia Pacific as a serious threat to the region’s security. Already, China has created artificial islands in the SCS and positioned naval and air assets. This has extended the reach of China’s military might to the doorsteps of Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and, of course, the Philippines.

This is a most unwelcome development for the United States. It has always projected itself as the unrivaled military power in the Asia-Pacific after Japan surrendered at the end of the second world war. All of a sudden, it is seeing a peer competitor as a regional hegemony emerging from the shadows. Its ability to freely roam the seven seas is now facing a possible obstacle.

But as political science Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago put it, China is merely imitating what the U.S. has been doing for over a century now: it is seeking to become a regional hegemony. The U.S. has done that in the western hemisphere. And during the last century, the U.S. has been instrumental in making sure four nations that had the potential to become hegemons — Imperial Germany, Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union — would collapse. The U.S. does not like competition.

Is there anything sinister in China’s intentions?

According to Prof. Kishore Mahbubani, what China wants to do is avoid the harsh experiences of the “century of humiliation”. It learned that being a weak China made it vulnerable to exploitation and abuse from more powerful states. It was a victim of the United States, United Kingdom and Japan in the past. This imbued the Chinese leadership with a strong and unwavering drive to become an economic giant, and with it, military might, so that never again will it be subjugated.

Indeed, China has behaved quite well as it grew in leaps and bounds during the last four decades when Deng Xiaoping opened its doors to the world. From a poverty stricken country, it quickly transformed into what is now arguably the most powerful economy that comes a close second to the U.S.

Prof. Mearsheimer believes turning that economic power into military might is only a logical move on the part of China. With its economic gains that breathed prosperity into the lives of its 1.4 billion people, China wants to make sure no other nation can take that away from them. There is no better way to accomplish that than building a military that will deter any aggression toward them.

China wants to be a good neighbor and a global citizen. It is only the United States that now wants to depict this nation as evil the way it did with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

From the viewpoint of the Philippines, it makes for sound foreign policy to befriend China. The irritants brought about by its take-over of the Scarborough Shoal in 2012 should not put a bile taste into our attitude towards them.

The Philippine government should adopt a pragmatic approach. Our experience with the U.S. hasn’t been pleasant. While we have a mutual defense treaty with the Americans, it has failed to demonstrate that it is a sincere ally that is looking after our interests. The U.S. has exploited our friendship with them in a lopsided manner: the scale has tipped heavily in their favor.

As we have seen in the past, we almost have to beg for military aid to crush the communist insurgency. More than that, the U.S. has tried to interfere with our domestic affairs. This was apparent when President Duterte launched an all-out war against illegal drugs; the Democrats in the U.S. Senate blocked military sales to the Philippines because they accused him of human rights violations. It puts into serious question on whether the U.S. indeed wants the communist insurgency to end. (30)

Dapat alam na ni Del Rosario kung ano ang aabutin sa HK

Malaking hasol ang nangyari kay dating DFA Secretary Alberto del Rosario doon sa Hongkong airport pagkatapos hindi ito pinayagan na makapasok sa bansa at pinabalik sa Pilipinas. Itinigil ng mga immigration officials ng Hongkong ang pagpasok ni del Rosario at pinasa-ilalim sa mahabang proceso na na-uwi lang sa pagtanggi ng entry. Walang dahilan na ibinigay ang HK authorities kung bakit pinabalik si Del Rosario.Del Rosario

Pero alam ng lahat na si Del Rosario, kasama si dating Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, ang naghain ng reklamo laban kay Chinese President Xi Jingping sa International Criminal Court. At alam naman natin na iba ang batas at kultura sa China. Nangyari na noong buwan ng Mayo na hindi rin pinapasok sa bansa si Carpio-Morales.

So dapat pinasok na yun sa kaisipan niya na ganoon rin ang mangyayari sa kanya pag-sinubukan niyang pumasok sa Hongkong, na sakop na territoryo ng China.

Ito kasi ang problema sa mga dilawan. Akala nila magagawa nila ang kung ano man ang gusto nila pero ayaw rin nilang tanggapin ang negative reaction laban sa kanila.

Maritime accident sa Recto Bank

Hindi muna ako nagbigay ng aking opinyon tungkol sa nangyari na banggaan ng Filipino at Chinese fishing boats doon sa Recto Bank na ginagawang isyu ng mga dilawan laban kay Pangulong Duterte. Hinintay ko muna luminaw kung ano talaga ang nangyari at hindi ako sumakay sa bandwagon ng media.

o, eto na ngayon, inamin ng kapitan ng Filipino fishing boat na hindi niya nakita kung sino ang bumangga sa bangka niya. Ibig sabihin, wala nga siyang basehan na bentangan ang mga Intsik na sila ang bumangga sa bangka ng mga Pinoy.fishermen in distress

Dapat natin tandaan na napakaraming maritime accidents na nangyari sa ating kadagataan. Ilang beses na nangyari ang aksidente ng malalaking barko sa dagat kahit na completo ito sa mga radar at iba pang gamit upang malaman kung may panganib na parating. Kahit na napakalawak ng dagat, may banggaan pa rin kahit sa araw.

Tama po ang naging pahayag ni Pangulong Duterte na isa itong maliit na “maritime accident” na hindi kailangan palakihin na maaring makasira sa relasyon sa gitna ng Pilipinas at China. We have to be cautious when it comes to our international relations. Hindi basta-basta’t sumigaw tayo na handa tayo pumunta sa giyera na hindi pa natin alam ang kabuohang katotohanan.