Polite silence

By: Ricky Poca November 22,2015 - 02:39 AM

During last week’s  APEC conference in  Manila, it was agreed that the South China Sea dispute would not be discussed at the request of  China.  Philippine leaders agreed in order not to  embarrass the Chinese president who attended the conference as head of one of the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

The Philippines was very respectful and heeded the request since the APEC was not the proper venue.  The dispute is under  arbitration in the Hague, where China has not been appearing.

However, US President Barack Obama brought the issue up. He advocated that  the South China Sea should be kept free for navigation and that China should stop its expansion there like an ongoing reclamation.

China reacted saying that no country has the right to tell China what to do when the country is  just exercising it right.  Its claim of ownership is based on a very old map that showed the sea was part of China’s territory. Lately, China has been reclaiming the sea and developing some of the islands to serve as a launching area for military buildup. Chinese  boat patrols drive away passing Philippine  vessels.

Lately, the US has been sending its  warships there  to maintain free navigation.  The  Chinese government resents the activity, calling it a threat to peace in the area.  As a Filipino, I am urging our government to take more aggressive steps to to settle the controversy and find a solution that serves the best interests of both the Philippines and China.

* *  *

US presidential aspirants in the  Republican Party are against the idea of accepting refugees from Syria because they fear that  some who enter the United States may be Islamic State militants. The

ISIS  has a notorious record of  killing and beheading its victims. The recent explosion of a Russian jet and the Nov. 13 shootings in Paris are their recent exploits.

ISIS is the most feared terror group in the world and the most hated. France  and Russia continue to bomb ISIS strongholds in Syria.

But ISIS is an ideology. Time and again, we are told that we cannot kill an ideology through violence. We must be  better than that.  We are lucky that ISIS is not yet working its wrath in the Philippines but we must be vigilant against an attempt.

Let us pray harder that this violence never happens here.

* * *

The Senate Electoral Tribunal,  the sole judge of all contests on election disqualification and returns,  handed down its decision not to disqualify presidential candidate   Grace Poe  as a senator.

The SET voting 5 to 4 dismissed the disqualification case filed by Rizalito David who asserted that Poe is not a natural-born Filipino citizen and thus not qualified to seat in the Senate.

The SET decided that a foundling  like Poe is a natural-born citizen based on  international law.  This is a victory for Poe but winning this battle does not decide the outcome of a war.

Poe still faces four  disqualification cases in the Comelec. Some quarters say the SET decision is not a precedent as the tribunal is not a  quasi-judicial body whose decision is not part of the jurisprudence of our country.

The  issue of Poe’s  citizenship will be properly deliberated by the Supreme Court which has the final say on decisions brought before it by the  SET and the Comelec.

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TAGS: APEC, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, China, ISIS, Paris

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