Blog November 12, 2015, Thursday.
APEC, AIIB, TPP et al:
Pan de Sal Forum/Jusi-Silk Dialogue summary
With the November 17-18, 2015 Manila, APEC Leaders’ Summit in mind the group of like-minded individuals that have been taking initiatives to balance the national media perceptions on the geopolitical issues of the day decided to ensure that the economic issues of Philippines-Asia, China and World relations are highlighted.
Hence the Pan de Sal Forum and the Jusi-Silk Road Dialogues project, supported by the IDSI (Integrated Development Studies Institute), the PAISS (Philippine-Asia Institute for Strategic Studies), CenPeg (Center for People Empowerment in Governance) and the Pandesal Forum, set the November 11 “Philippines & AIIB, TPP, AEC & the New Silk Road” discussion.
Resource persons that graced the forum were: Mr. Donald Dee (PCCI), Jeremy Gatdula (columnist of the Business World), Prof. Benito Lim (Ateneo and U.P.), Mr. Bobby Tuazon (CenPeg), and Mr. George Siy (IDSI) who spoke from the panellists’ table giving short basic positions on the question of the Philippines participating in these trade pacts and the nature of the trade pacts or communities.
The general view of all the panellists is that the Philippines must be engaged, must participate and join if possible and found truly beneficial, all these trade pacts and communities. There were numerous reservations made by Lim, Gatdula, Siy and Tuazon about the secrecy surrounding the negotiations on the TPP led by the U.S., as well as the voluminous terms and conditions that nobody seems to have completely studied about it considering the 5,000 pages of documents of the TPP.
Alarm had been raised about the violations of sovereignty of nations required by the TPP, the favoured interests of U.S. corporate transnationals on Intellectual Property Rules, Investor-State Dispute Resolution system which undermines nations’ laws, protection of strategic national economic sectors, the prospect of GMO spread, and Climate Change issues and IMF primacy.
The same speakers that expressed concerns about the TPP also expressed a better view of the AIIB since this does not demand diminution of national sovereignty, domestic laws, and as Prof. Benito Lim explained does not have a dominant country exercising veto power – not even China despite its $ 100-B funding commitment – unlike the IMF which gives the U.S. veto power.
The news release issued to the media through Wilson Li Flores also explained how important the issues of the AIIB and the IMF funding for trade and development is: “According to a recent report of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asia will need to invest bout US $8-trillion in over-all infrastructure between 2010 and 2020.”
The AIIB and the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, integral to the discussion as China’s response to the TPP but not spelled out in the title) are components of the New Silk Road that China is championing. Prof. Bobby Tuazon explained the significance of the global circumnavigating project of railroad transportation, airline routes, ICT infrastructure, sea ports and shipping lanes and facilities. One crucial point raised is the danger of the Philippines being skirted by this New Silk Road and bypassed by its Maritime Silk route.
The Philippines was the an “international emporium” during the height of trade and exchanges between China and the Philippines in the 14th Century, as Filipino historian and journalist E.P. Patanne wrote.
The vaunted Galleon Trade between Manila and Acapulco during the Spanish times was really an adjunct to the Ancient Silk Route transhipping Porcelain, Silk and Tea from China to the West through Manila. An earlier event at the Pandesal Forum sponsored by the Binondo Heritage Foundation has literary giant Mr. Cua Ching Tam explain this, and it was due to this Silk Road connection that Spain found it profitable to continue maintaining its colony.
Herman Tiu Laurel, this blogger, expressed his appreciation of the event as it focused attention on the truly important issue instead of the China Sea dispute the Amboys (American boys) like Justice Carpio, Raffy Alunan, Roilo Golez et al and controlled mainstream media like the Inquirer, Philippine Star, ABS-CBN etc. would like to corral the people into to isolate the Philippine from the fantastic potential of collaborating with other Asian nations in regional and national development.
Example of the opportunities being missed by the Philippines were cited by Mr. George Siy and Herman Tiu Laurel pointing out the great railroad contracts China has signed with Thailand, Indonesia, even U.K. but which the present Philippine government will have nothing to do with – all because it has saddled the country with the fruitless U.N. Arbitration Court case. ###
EDCA: The Master’s Voice to BS Aquino.
Some morning headlines focused on the meeting on the side lines of the APEC Summit between U.S. President Obama and Philippine President B.S. Aquino. The infamous U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, notorious for fomenting a coup plot and attempted ouster of Bolivian President Evo Morales, was asked by the Philippine media if the side talks of Obama and Aquino would deal with the South China Sea and the EDCA issues, to which he answered “I would imagine that they will… When the two presidents get together, those are issues of mutual concern.”
The U.S. and BS Aquino have encountered an early stumbling block to the expeditious deployment of American troops to any Philippine military bases across the entire archipelago. The Philippine Senate in a 14-1-2 (affirmative, negative, abstentions, and four nowhere to be found) voted to affirm it authority over the EDCA as a treaty and rejected claims that it may be treated as a mere “executive agreement” as a component of the implementation the U.S. Philippine Mutual Defence Treaty.
The present composition of the Philippine Senate cannot be said to be particularly patriotic or nationalistic, but whatever the motivation of the four that voted to assume authority over the EDCA and pre-empt the Supreme Court which has been prematurely reported to be ready to declare the agreement “constitutional”. That rumour was published by the Manila Times as very reliably sourced, and the other newspapers such as the Philippine Star reported that the Supreme Court was “expected” approve the EDCA.
The EDCA was signed between Obama and BS Aquino in April of 2014, an event tht has been interpreted by various analysts as a major step in the implementation of the U.S. “Asia Pivot” that will transfer 60% of U.S. military forces to Asia. Anyone that’s not naïve would clearly understand that the “Asia Pivot” and movement of such significant military forces to Asia can mean only an attempt of the U.S. enforce it dominance, and the People’s Republic of China can’t be said to be naïve at all. Hence, in August of 2014 the reclamation of three significant South China Sea “island” began pushing the security perimeter of China 1,100 kilometres from Hainan Island.
China has stayed one step ahead of the hegemonic ambitious of the U.S. which is attempting to restore its predominance in the Asia-Pacific region and on the World in general, but it has been one reversal after another for the former superpower which has lost its wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and it regime change campaigns against Syria and Iran, lost its strategic initiative in Ukraine, and now seriously lagging behind its schedule in its Asia Pivot.
In the Philippines the U.S. campaign to have new permanent military bases in the Sulu Sea through the BBL and the MILF has been severely crippled, and a new administration after the 2016 elections will have an equally difficult time through a BBL ideal for the U.S., and now this delay in the EDCA approval. For those aware of the U.S. plot to create destabilization, tension and a “controlled war” in the region to forestall the final and total liberation of Asia from the Age of Western Imperialism (since the 15th Century). ###