POSTSCRIPT / March 22, 2022 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Can Leni cut BBM early survey lead?

Supporters of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and other presidential candidates must have noticed too the spirited big crowds flocking lately to the rallies of Leni Robredo, giving hints that the surveys saying the son of the late dictator is far ahead in the race may be misleading.

Supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo and Kiko Pangilinan at a rally in Pasig City. Photo: VP Leni Robredo Media Bureau

For comparison, we noted not only the crowd size, but also how people went to the rally – if hauled on buses, lured by envelopes, hiked alone or with barkada, etc. – as well as their spirit, their spontaneous excitement when they saw their candidate waving to them.

We won’t get embroiled here in a debate with anybody seeing in a different light this interesting development on the campaign trail.

We’re just wondering aloud with many others if the swelling of pro-Robredo crowds and their upbeat mood signal the awakening of a bigger segment of the population, dispelling the fog of disinformation and convincing them to vote wisely.

Believers of table surveys can stick to the figures used to condition the public mind while I’ll hold on to my own subjective impressions – and let’s leave it at that until the final official poll survey on May 9.

If this trendy movement rumbling on the ground and amplified in cyberspace keeps on, with spirited crowds gravitating toward Robredo – that’s one big IF –  Marcos and his well-lubricated machine could be in trouble.

Marcos’ operatives and others who want to find out what is fueling this phenomenon that has been coloring the sky pink and shaking the ground can go to Robredo’s rallies and see for themselves.

I’ll not get into a discussion about Marcos’ staying away from the televised presidential debates and forums where he is bound to be asked about his spotty track record and his family’s wealth and unpaid taxes. Anyway, all the facts are on the record for those seeking the truth.

Am I then saying Robredo has overtaken Marcos? We’ll probably know after the Holy Week.

Am I voting for Robredo? As of today, I’m torn between Robredo and Ping Lacson. I also admire Manny Pacquiao and Leody de Guzman, who strike me as honest, humble, and who also have the masses’ interest at heart.

For the record, I have NEVER met or talked with any of these four candidates that I have mentioned, nor has anybody contacted me on their behalf.

 Who’ll replace Duterte in Xi’s heart?

With President Duterte stepping down on June 30, China could now be scouting for somebody to support among the leading presidential candidates willing to continue the favored treatment given it by Duterte.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, could run out of paper cranking out diplomatic protests on China’s intrusions into Philippine maritime areas for various reasons, including illegal fishing, surveying the seabed for minerals, plotting military features, and other violations.

Duterte has not shown keen interest in stopping the repeated Chinese violations of Philippine maritime areas. He does not speak loud and often enough to be heard and heeded by his supposed friend China President Xi Jinping.

He has tried rationalizing his not pressing the issue by asking critics what he could have done after Xi hinted at possible hostilities if he insisted on the 2016 ruling of the arbitral court at The Hague that invalidated the Chinese claim on practically all of the South China Sea.

Duterte has refrained from demanding concurrent presence and fishing rights of Filipinos who have cast their nets for generations at the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Zambales. He has not complained enough either about Chinese militia boats crowding around some Philippine islets.

Many Filipinos have wondered if the former Davao City mayor, in overreaching for a place on the international stage, has inadvertently compromised national interests.

His spokesman said days ago that the Philippines would protest Chinese incursions in the Philippine Rise (formerly called Benham Rise), an area off Aurora coastal province that is part of the county’s continental shelf. He did not say when that would be done.

National Security Council deputy director-general Rufino Lopez disclosed the intrusions during a Senate hearing last week. The Navy and the Coast Guard, he said, have been monitoring the illegal Chinese activities similar to those reported in 2018.

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The Rise is a 13-million-hectare submerged plateau over which the Philippines has sovereign rights to explore and exploit its natural and non-living resources. The United Nations declared it in 2012 as part of the country’s continental shelf.

The Chinese trespassing has been mostly on the other (west) side of Luzon. Last week, the foreign office summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian to protest the illegal entry and the lingering by a People’s Liberation Army-Navy vessel (PLAN 792) in the Sulu Sea.

Acting Undersecretary Ma. Theresa Lazaro demanded that “China respect Philippine territory and maritime jurisdiction and to comply with its obligations under international law, particularly United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and direct its vessels to desist from entering Philippine waters uninvited and without permission.”

The Philippines recognizes the right of innocent passage under Article 52 of the 1982 UNCLOS, the DFA said, “But the actions of PLAN 792 did not constitute innocent passage and violated Philippine sovereignty.”

The vessel, an electronic reconnaissance ship (Dongdiao-class), was in Philippine waters from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1 without permission, reaching the waters of Palawan’s Cuyo Group of Islands and Apo Island in Mindoro.

The Philippine Navy vessel BRP Antonio Luna \ (FF-151) challenged the Chinese ship, which claimed that it was exercising innocent passage.

But PLAN 792 did not follow a track that was continuous and expeditious and then lingered in the Sulu Sea for three days despite repeated orders by the BRP Antonio Luna to leave immediately.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 22, 2022)

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Dear Sir Pascual, Headline reads Duterte endorses BBM...surprise, surprise! It would appear that PRRD feels he has to lend a hand to his master's pup because Leni is catching up fast. Looks like the Duterte online machinery is faltering, especially with his toadie has switched to Ikso. The endorsement could be a Judas kiss.

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