While foreign secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin was being entrapped into a diplomatic faux pas by CNN show host Pinky Webb on the program “The Source” the BGC-Ortigas link bridge spanning both sides of the Pasig River and cutting BGC to Ortigas motoring time from one-hour-thirty minutes down to twelves minutes.
What is the connection of the Locsin interview and faux pas with the BGC-Ortigas link bridge?
The link is the construction companies that accomplished the successful connecting finale of the BGC and the Sta. Monica spans of the bridge through the pandemic crisis to ensure the commencement of its service by the first quarter of 2021.
The construction company that performed the sterling task of pushing the construction project through the difficult days of the pandemic are Persan Construction, Inc. jointly with the Sino Road and Bridge Group Co., Ltd of the China State Construction which is a Fortune 500 company ranked No. 18 in 2020.
At the same time as the linkage of the BGC-Ortigas link-up completion two other Chinese funded projects donated to the Philippines are also working non-stop through the COVID-19 crisis towards completion in late 2021, and work continued while Chinese Ambassador continued to oversee personally the progress of the works.
The Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge linking Makati and Mandaluyong over the Pasig River and the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge providing the narrow and congested ancient Chinatown road network to a relief detour out to the less travelled Aduana to flow out to Taft as well as towards Roxas Blvd. and R1 cutting traffic and travel time.
The Chinese construction companies in partnership with Filipino construction companies duly registered in the Philippines and with the PCA (Philippine Contractors’ Association) have been doing splendidly keeping on target and ensuring the Build, Build, Build program of the government gets completed on time.
While the DPWH and the contractors work overtime on the Philippine-China projects agreed upon between the Philippine and Chinese governments, the secretary of foreign affairs of the country goes on the media circuit shooting off his personal opinions like he had no official responsibilities at all to the institution and the president he serves.
In The Source, the show aired over CNN Philippines, a media company that has American media company WarnerMedia as partner, that is suspected of and does shows all indications that it propagates American tinted (if not tainted) colored domestic and international reporting, the secretary was baited by the presumably scripted host Pinky Webb to bite into a question.
The question was, with the US move to sanction 24 Chinese companies involved in the Chinese government’s reclamation on islands within its claimed territory in the South China Sea should the Philippines do likewise, sanction those construction companies and terminate construction contracts with them if there are such engagements.
Locsin is heard and quoted by reports replying, “If I find that any of those companies are doing business with us, then I would strongly recommend that we terminate the relationship with that company…” The first reaction and question that comes into mind, “Is Philippine foreign policy again the tail to the American dog?”
A little research brings us back to the root of the question from CNN Philippines to Locsin since the issue of the Chinese construction companies involved in China’s South China Sea islands reclamation projects were some of the biggest Chinese construction firms.
The British-Liberalist oriented Alibaba owned South China Morning Post (SCMP) already raised the issue in 2016.
In an article “Chinese island-building firm wins contract with South China Sea rival claimant, the Philippines” as if any other party not involved in the US-British lead Western interests cares at all what construction companies are involved in the SCS Chinese reclamation projects. They are construction companies and have nothing to do with the geopolitical decisions the government makes.
In particular the SCMP article zeroed in on the CCCC Dredging, a subsidiary of the China Communications Construction Co., which is supposed to carry out a 208-hectare land reclamation project in the Davao harbor per agreement of the two governments signed during President Duterte’s visit to China in 2016.
The same Chinese mega-construction company of one of its subsidiaries is also involved or has been considered for the Cubeu International and Bulk Terminal project, the Subic-Clark railway, the Manila Harbour Center reclamation and the focus of much attention now – the transportation and logistics infrastructure at Sangley point and airport with Philippine company MacroAsia Corporation.
Other Chinese construction companies may also be dragged into the net if Secretary Locsin’s “recommendation” is to be heard, such as flood control projects, island bridges projects, power projects, all involved in the Build, Build, Build program of President Duterte which is all the more vital now in the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts aimed at creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.
But Locsin’s hare-brained shoot-from-the-hip idea clearly will not fly.
On the same day August 28, as the The Source interview was reported by Rappler and the other usual suspects, including the Daily Inquirer of course, the Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque made an announcement and reported by the Philippine News Service (PNA, the only reliable source for real government activities):
“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is the chief architect of our country’s foreign policy. He charted an independent foreign policy course, with our national interest at the core.
“The Chief Executive’s main consideration is what is best for the country’s Build, Build, Build program.
“The Philippines considers the United States and China as special friends and trading partners. We hope that both partners of the Philippines will be able to draw an understanding and resolve any and all issues between them amicably and peacefully.
“This outcome will help further enhance greater stability and security in the region. This is what is needed for the mutual benefit and interest of everyone in our region.”
That was a truly properly worded and framed official statement that did not specify what it was responding to in order not to project a government at odds with itself and not to embarrass anyone in particularly but reaffirming the signed international agreements which referring to Build, Build, Build clearly refers to China.
On August 29, Senator Imee Marcos in a quick and timely response responded with the proper politeness to Secretary Locsin Jr. “faux pas” by saying she was “very happy” the cabinet official “was fighting for the country’s sovereign rights but correctly added that “authorities should be careful in issuing pronouncements that involve ‘complicated’ matters” as worded by one report.
Senator Marcos cited the possible repercussions of the Locsin notion of following US sanctions on the planned development of the Sangley Point Airport in Cavite which is, as I pointed out earlier a joint venture between a Filipino company and the China Communication Construction Co. Ltd. (CCCC) which the US is sanctioning.
The lady senator exclaimed, “How about that, would we stop its contractors. Then the project will again be delayed, how about the airport?”
And how about the jobs for thousands of Filipino construction workers that would be matters of life-and-death right now for them and their families. Hundreds of thousands of jobless OFWs are back in the country and millions here have lost work.
Imee Marcos did deliver a slight poke into the tummy of Locsin who opined too that he would call on the US and the MDT if China attacked the Philippines. She warned the Philippine government from seeking US help against China’s aggression (if any at all – htl) from the country that may seek favors in return “especially amid their election season” – obviously referring to the U.S.
“It might cause us trouble more that those we expect” Senator Marcos added.
Very subtle, tactful and diplomatic statements and warnings indeed, the kind of subtlety and sobriety we would expect from the chief factotum of the chief architect of the foreign policy of the land, the secretary of Foreign Affairs of the President of the Republic of the Philippines.
The President should evaluate if Locsin has struck his peter principle, and is now just like a few members of his Cabinet, patent lameducks.
A parallel columnist, Ado Paglinawan, has explained how Karen Davila of ABS-CBN News Channel and now Pinky Webb of CNN Philippines, known TV networks subservient to American interests have ran rings around the foreign affairs secretary sending him to chase his own tail anent his shallow posture on the Permanent Court of Arbitration controversy.
While all the newspapers’ reports always carry the obligatory reference to the PCA which is neither permanent nor a court, which did not perform an arbitration, and which is always mislabeled as “United Nations Arbitral Tribunal,” when will Secretary Locsin wake up to the fact that the same PCA was disowned by the UN twice – by UN Spokesman Stefan Dujarric and ICJ ex-judge Abdul Koroma?
And to seal the coffin on the PCA, as I wrote in my previous article here on SovereignPH.com (Nail in the PCA coffin: US fails blocking a China seat at ITLOS -the U.N. International Tribunal on the Laws of the Sea) just elected a Chinese juror, Duan Jielong, to its 21-seat Tribunal with 149 out of 166 votes and 17 abstention.
The cadaver of the US opposition to the nomination and election of Duan Jielong to the ITLOS lies across the UN voting floor for the US perfidy of egging the Philippines to act according to the UNCLOS but never ratifying the UNCLOS itself – how foolish of the Philippine for having been such a dupe in the past.
This fairytale of the PCA “award” should already be discarded as it has become a real liability and danger to the cognitive faculties of the nation and an incentive to suicidal thoughts of serving as cannon fodder for U.S. aggression against a millennially friendly and brotherly neighbor, and a potential cause for the scuttling of the carefully constructed plan of President Rodrigo R. Duterte for peace and prosperity.
Better yet, those responsible for wasting more than a billion of taxpayers money for this senseless entrapment should be prosecuted not just for practices inimical to the government and national interest, but utter graft and corruption under Republic Act 3019 in pursuance of their own personal greed at the expense of national security. (ia/SPH)