THE LAST time US forces occupied several military bases all over the Philippines, among them Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, it took a decades-long campaign against their presence, a volcanic eruption, and over 40 years to get them out.
Anticipating the need to get and keep them out, the 1987 Constitution barred foreign troops and military bases without a treaty ratified by the Senate, which, despite then President Corazon Aquino’s advocacy, refused to renew the US lease in September1991. Not that the US was at the time still seriously interested in keeping the latter, the global projection of US power through its nuclear submarine complex and aircraft carrier tax forces being then seen to be less costly and more effective. The cleanup at Clark because of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in June 1991 would not have been worth the expense and effort anyway. The Senate action wasn’t as disastrous to US strategy as some thought at the time. But it did end a long period of occupation by foreign troops in places where they were the undisputed, non-accountable sovereigns.
DO most of the country’s media organizations, among them the broadsheet that claims to have the largest audited circulation in the country, want war with China? Do they think the Philippines could win such a war? Do they believe the US would go to war with China in support of the country’s claim over the Scarborough Shoal?
Judging by the way they‘ve been reporting the Philippines-China impasse over the Shoal, the answer to all three questions is “yes.”
COMMISSION on Human Rights chair Loretta Rosales was right: the death penalty has no place in any legal system — make that in any civilized legal system — but the rest of her statement the day after Sally Ordinario-Villanueva and Ramon Credo were executed in Xiamen, China, and Elizabeth Batain in Shenzhen, also in China, was off the mark.
Rosales issued a statement condemning the death penalty, but also declared that Ordinario-Villanueva, Credo and Batain had been “twice victimized,” first by the drug syndicates that used them, supposedly without their knowledge, to smuggle drugs abroad, and second by the “inflexibilities” of the Chinese judicial system. Rosales also took the opportunity to suggest that China consider abolishing the death penalty.
THEY’RE victims twice over, casualties of the brutal struggle for survival in a country of absent opportunities and grinding poverty, and dupes of the drug syndicates that lure them into carrying illegal drugs to and from the Philippines.
That’s basically the argument of the OFW advocacy groups, and much of the media, that support the Philippine government’s (temporarily successful) efforts for a stay in the executions of three Filipinos sentenced to death in China for drug trafficking. But add another argument in support of getting the Filipinos off: the laws of China are too severe; they punish drug dealing with death while the Philippines doesn’t. Ergo, the Filipinos’ conviction was unjust and it’s only fair to commute their death sentence to life imprisonment or even less.