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It’s largely all China talks today. President Duterte blames the United States (US) for the West Philippine (South China) Sea dispute, as it allegedly had a chance to nip in the bud the territorial conflict in the controversial islands years ago but has “done nothing” about it.

The President has sharply rebuked the US for its inaction when China started its reclamation works in the disputed waters a few years ago, accusing America of waiting for the conflict to ripen into an international issue.

Duterte is resenting US pressure to take a stand against China for its failure to take a “decisive action” to resolve the matter in the past.

In Pilipino he said “Why in hell did America not move when it is the only one who can stand against China...?”

SS ventures a calculated answer, our past Philippine Presidents sat on their asses then and never made a move to initiate action. If they did, America would have invoked the Mutual Defense Treaty and run to the rescue of the Philippines.

On the issue at hand, America is not the immediately aggrieved party - it’s our country. Our past leaders should have made the first move.

What the president next pointed out is exactly what we mean “… the US, which is bound by a defense treaty to protect the Philippines did not confront China to stop building on parts of the country’s territory.

Repeat - America is not the immediately aggrieved party - it’s our country. Our past leaders should have made the first move. What say you?

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The Philippines is willing to consider a joint mineral exploration with China in the South China Sea despite overlapping claims in the area.

President Rodrigo Duterte recently announced he is open in “sharing” resources with China after admitting country is unable to afford exploring the mineral resources on its own.

SS agrees with the idea, but corrections in our edicts must first be made. Recall, Senior Justice of the Supreme Court Antonio Carpio had questioned the move to be unconstitutional. He bared, sharing of natural resources with other countries is prohibited under our constitution.

Basically though, SS repeats - the Duterte initiative is well-intended and would surely be productive for our country lacks the financial resources, as well as engineering and technical know-how. Under the wisdom-filled setup, what we can only offer is manpower.

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The Philippines starts its own bullying antics, declaring the Philippine Navy will regularly patrol Benham Rise in the western Pacific after Chinese research vessels were sighted in the area. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana made this disclosure on Friday, after the Philippine Navy sent one of its warships, the frigate BRP Ramon Alcaraz, to begin patrolling the undersea region and biodiversity hot spot off eastern Luzon.

“The Navy will henceforth regularly patrol Benham Rise partly due to past Chinese activities there but, more importantly, because it is part of our continental shelf and awarded to us by the (United Nations,)” Lorenzana said.

The undersea region is located 250 kilometers east of Isabela and Aurora provinces.

“Our next activity is to have the area surveyed to clearly determine its limits, depths, coral formations,” Lorenzana said.

The 12-million-hectare undersea region is rich in biodiversity and minerals.

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Pres. Duterte presses his amorous chivalry on VP Robredo. Seated beside he - disregarding an earlier arrangement, during the PNPA graduation rites - he quipped, “Let’s have dinner.”

This is a far-cry from the announced animosities between the pair, as they appeared for only the second time in a public event since Robredo resigned from the Cabinet last year (Or was it kicked out after she was barred from attending cabinet meetings.)

This second meeting took place amid threats from Mr. Duterte’s allies to impeach Robredo for criticizing his brutal war on drugs, which they insist is part of a plot to destabilize the administration.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Mr. Duterte’s right-hand man in the House of Representatives, is insisting on examining an impeachment complaint brought against Robredo by a Marcos loyalist, saying it is the job of the House to process the filing.

Alvarez claims that Robredo betrayed the public trust by sending a video message to an EU gathering last week criticizing Mr. Duterte’s crackdown on narcotics, which has taken the lives of more than 8,000 mostly poor people.

In spite of that, the mod now is pleasant. The first time they met was during the graduation of the Philippine Military Academy’s Class of 2017 in Baguio City two weeks ago, and were seated a chair apart.

This time, based on the names posted on the backs of the seats for the VIPs, Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno was supposed to sit between the President and the Vice President.

But when Mr. Duterte arrived, Sueno offered Robredo his seat.

Robredo appeared hesitant, but  Duterte pointed to the seat and took the papers off it, apparently asking the Vice President to sit beside him.

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As expected administration and opposition lawmakers clash over the reported Duterte plan to appoint barangay officials.’ On Friday opposition allies said granting Pres. Duterte that power  will give him control over the people like the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, administration supporters, however, countered that selecting rather than electing village leaders will get rid of those linked to drugs.

“Imagine the possibilities of appointing at least eight officials in each of the 43,000 barangays all over the country,” said Akbayan Rep. Tomasito Villarin, a member of a minority bloc in the House of Representatives.

“That’s 344,000 people at the beck and call of the President!” he said.

He said that during the Marcos dictatorship, barangays became “a machinery to monitor and control the people.” Marcos also used barangay assemblies to ratify the 1973 Constitution, the legal mantle to his dictatorial rule, he said.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Mr. Duterte’s chief ally in the House, agreed that village officials who use their positions for the illegal drug trade should be replaced by presidential appointees.

“We have no problem with that and we support the President in that it is quite a valid reason,” Alvarez said in a radio interview on Friday.

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A former Manila City councilor filed a disbarment complaint Friday against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales before the Supreme Court.

In his complaint, Greco Belgica asked the Court to disbar Morales for violating the Lawyer’s Oath and the Canon of Professional Responsibility after she dismissed the graft and technical malversation case against former President Benigno Aquino III in connection with the Disbursement Acceleration Program (PDAP), amounting to P72 –billion.

Belgica said that by absolving Aquino of criminal liability in the DAP case while finding probable cause against former Budget secretary Florencio Abad, Morales deprived the Filipino people of their right to due process and violated her lawyer’s oath.

Belgica does have good point there. For a single act acted upon in unison by three officials, how can one be found liable and the two others absolved. And only of usurpation of legislative powers,? Fractious. Think so?

If there was usurpation, how could they be cleared of technical malversation, when their act per se was void abinitio due to the basic performance of illegal usurpation? Just asking.

Belgica said that Aquino should also be made liable for the circular because a provision there states that it bore the approval of the President.

Morales is an  Aquino appointee. The complainant said that by absolving Aquino without providing reason Morales showed bias in favor of the former president who appointed her, in contrast with the way she prosecuted former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The complaint also alleged that Morales violated Canon 7 and Rule 7.03 of the same code on the ground that she failed to “uphold the integrity and dignity” of the legal profession by clearing Aquino of the charge of usurpation of legislative powers “without reason.”

“Taking into consideration the fact that the former president appointed her, her conduct of favoring the former president adversely reflected her fitness to practice law,” it said.

Belgica said that if his complaint is resolved before July 26, 2018 when Carpio’s term expires, the Court could apply the penalty of public censure or defer her disbarment until after her term expires.

Belgica said he did not want to file an impeachment complaint against Morales, but said there were feelers from people that did, including some congressmen, And he now mulls on it. (By Jimmy Cabato)

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