On the Phil-US negotiations on increased rotational presence

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin at the presser on negotiations for increased rotational presence of US troops in the country.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the “increased rotational presence” was a policy agreed on two years ago. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said “high-value and high impact exercises” will serve as the “modality” for the increased presence of US troops in the country.

Negotiations began yesterday, August 14, between the Philippine and US governments regarding “increased rotational presence” of US troops in the Philippines. Exactly what that means is something that has yet to be 1) made clear and 2) negotiated, if one goes by what members of the Philippine panel said in their press conference last Monday, Aug. 12.

This much was clear: the “increased rotational presence” was a policy agreed on about two years ago; high-value and high impact exercises will serve as a “modality” for this increased rotational presence; and an agreement is needed to “institutionalize” this policy.

This is a transcript of the press conference last Monday. I will post later (when I figure out how) an audio record of the presser itself, so readers can check if there errors or inaccuracies in the transcript (there were some words I couldn’t hear clearly, especially towards the end).

The panel members are: Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino; Defense Assistant Secretary Raymund Jose Quilop; Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Carlos Sorreta; and Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III. Continue reading

The Al-Barka Basilan Incident

“Tayo nag-initiate, ng encounter. Tayo nalagasan ng ganoon karami. Automatic ang tanong, pinaghandaan natin ang operation, bakit ganito ang resulta?…ang pagkakamali, nasa tao. Pero ang paulit-ulit na pagkakamali, kasalanan na iyon. Hindi natin pwedeng pabayaan na magkaroon ng pagkakataon na maging paulit-ulit ito. Kung may mali, depekto sa sistema, ayusin na natin ito. Kung sa training, kung saanman. Hanapin kung saan ang sanhi bakit nagkaroon ng disaster. Ayusin ang mga problema.”

That was President Aquino III speaking, during a press conference he gave on Monday afternoon, where he reiterated that there will be no “all-out-war” against the MILF.

He had earlier refused to answer what lessons were learned about the Basilan encounter, simply saying there is “an ongoing investigation” that “will decide lives, careers and perhaps even criminal liabilities of (the) people involved.”

What was he talking about?

The initial findings – THE INVESTIGATION IS STILL GOING ON – as reported in the command conference with the President and the AFP’s top brass last Friday, was that the soldiers who died shouldn’t have been sent there in the first place. They died because they were sent there unprepared and without planning, so much so that they were practically sent there to die. But that’s me talking, generalizing.

Here are the findings, according to a printed report shown to me: Continue reading

MILF briefing for FOCAP


This is an incomplete transcript of the press conference which MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim held before the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of the Philippines (FOCAP). Continue reading

Wrap up: The first joint session of Congress to tackle the President’s report on the proclamation of Martial Law


That was a great front act on the first joint session of Congress to deliberate on the President’s report on PD 1959, the proclamation of Martial Law.
When Maguindanao Rep. Didagen Dilangalen asked where the President was, the simple reply of House Speaker Prospero Nograles was that she had substantially complied with the requirements of the Constitution: she had submitted her report to Congress on Sunday, and the newly-drafted rules on the joint session did not require her to be present.
Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. then pointed out that Dilangalen was one of those who had a petition questioning the proclamation at the Supreme Court, and said he was forum shopping.
Dilangalen, of course, had to answer that, though Nograles already said that Dilangalen, as a member of the House of Representatives, had “every right to talk in this chamber.”
The allegation was “preposterous” and “out of order,” Dilangalen said. The session was suspended, after which Locsin apologized to Dilangalen and said that, because there are other more important things that need to be tackled, he would rather that they move on to the business at hand.
“I did not come here to be insulted,” Dilangalen said, apparently unwilling to be pacified.
Nograles pointed out the remarks have already been withdrawn.
“If this continues I might change my mind,” said Teddyboy, and again session was suspended.
Of course they kissed and made up after that: “Teddyboy is a very good friend of mine,” Dilangalen said, adding that he was Teddyboy was only testing him. “Thank you very much I forgive you Teddyboy.” Continue reading

Gridlock in Philcoa

Pictures of the gridlock in Philcoa, Quezon City, this afternoon because of the rains brought by Typhoon Ondoy. Couldn’t upload earlier because I had no internet connection.

P1090250

The gridlock in Philcoa was caused by vehicles that tried to counterflow.
P1090251

Pictures from Cory Aquino’s funeral

Police officers salute the casket after the mass, before it is loaded onto the ten-wheeler truck that will take it to Manila Memorial Park Continue reading

US plans on how to distribute swine flu vaccine

The New York Times has a story on how government is planning to distribute vaccine for the Influenza AH1N1.

Buti pa sa Amerika, nagpa-plano na sila kung paano, kanino at kailan ibibigay ang vaccine laban sa swine flu, kahit wala pang dumarating. Sa atin, wala nang balita mula sa Department of Health (DOH) tungkol sa swine flu, maliban sa panaka-nakang pag-amin ng mga DOH officials na naka-base sa probinsya na sila din, mayroon nang swine flu.
Ang huli kong balita (mga dalawang linggo na ang nakalilipas), isasama na lang ang bilang ng mga nagkakasakit ng swine flu sa mga tinatamaan ng ordinary flu. Kung kailan dumarami ang nagkakasakit at namamatay sa swine flu, saka naging mas lalong mahirap kumuha ng datos ang taong bayan.