Sat. May 28th, 2022
This is wartime cartoon from Puck magazine (c) Bettmann/Corbis. | As history would tell us, America essentially deceived and lied its way into occupying the Philippines. With promises of independence and sovereignty, the Americans gained the cooperation of the Filipinos who were yearning to be free from Spain. Emilio Aguinaldo himself fell prey to the flowery words being thrown at him by the Americans, with Admiral George Dewey assuring him that “the United States is rich and needs no colonies” and Consul Spencer Pratt telling him no formal written agreement as to American recognition of Philippine independence was necessary because Americans kept their word. As a result, Aguinaldo gladly helped the Americans defeat the Spanish here.

Vice President Leni Robredo’s satisfaction ratings as vice president, according to polls of the Social Weather Stations, have collapsed from its peak of plus 42 in March 2019 to just plus 1, based on the pollster’s December 2021 survey.

That means most Filipinos view her vice presidency as an abject failure. She is insane if she thinks they will vote her to the higher office of the presidency.

Polls on whom Filipinos would vote for also reflect the fact that she doesn’t have a chance of winning, with the latest poll I’ve seen showing Isko Moreno has even overtaken her in the No. 2 slot.

Comparison to Sotto, Duterte

In contrast, the net satisfaction ratings of the third highest official (by succession) who is running for vice president, Senate President Vicente Sotto 3rd dipped only slightly, from plus 61 in March 2019 to plus 53 last December.

That of President Duterte rebounded from a net ratification of 52 in September 2021 to the “very good” level of plus 60 in December 2021, a remarkable performance, according to the SWS president, as this means he is still “in his honeymoon phase even if he is just a few months away from stepping down.” That net satisfaction of 60 means about 85 percent of Filipinos are satisfied with his presidency.

This means Duterte would be the president, among six past presidents, with the highest net satisfaction rating at the end of his term. Corazon Aquino’s was 7; Ramos, 19; Estrada, 9; Arroyo, negative 17; and Aquino 3rd, 29. In short, Filipinos think he is the best president in the post-Marcos era.

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For some reason — or for obvious reasons — SWS has not released to the public its latest data on Robredo’s satisfaction ratings.

It was, however, disclosed by SWS head Linda Luz Guerrero at a forum organized by the Asian Institute of Management and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Foundation on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022.

Only the Manila Times and Balita (the Manila Bulletin’s tabloid) reported the huge drop in Robredo’s ratings. (The Manila Bulletin, whose president Sonny Coloma was Aquino 3rd’s communications director, reported only Duterte’s ratings but not Robredo’s.)

If Robredo were rational, or had some compassion for her gullible followers, she wouldn’t waste their time and energy and withdraw now. Unless of course she’s running not to win, but, as politicians’ phrase would put it, “for the funds of it.”

Or maybe her American contacts have assured her: “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of things, as we’ve done in Ukraine in 2014 and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.”

Turncoat

I was startled when presidential candidate Francisco Domagoso (aka “Isko Moreno”) stated in a recent TV interview that he does not look unfavorably at “political turncoatism,” which refers to a politician’s defecting to another camp to advance his personal ambitions.

Domagoso even expounded his view in some detail in the vernacular: My loyalty lies with the people. It only matters to me if it’s advantageous to people, not for politicians. If you are good and you fulfill your promises, then I’ll join you. But if you are not true to yourself and the people, it’s not imperative for me to remain loyal to you because my loyalty lies with my countrymen. (Translated)

I was surprised at his statements because just two days before he said those, an old source of mine, very well connected in political and business circles and usually reliable, called me out of the blue, excited to reveal something to me.

Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso expresses his intent to strengthen the country’s maritime relations with the United States if he wins for president, as ad interim US Charge d’Affairs, Heather Variaba pays him a courtesy visit at Manila City Hall.
 

He said: “It’s done. The Americans are desperate that they’ll offer Isko big, big money for him to withdraw his candidacy and support Leni Robredo. With some manipulation of the polls, Leni’s rating will be made to appear to move up and with Isko’s throwing his support for her, the Americans think they can create a bandwagon effect, enough to conceal the massive cheating they’ll do, as they did in 2015 for Leni.”

Isko’s explanation why turncoatism isn’t really bad is what he will say when he withdraws from the race and supports Robredo, that it is for the good of the people.

“Lacson, of course, could also be more easily persuaded to do an ‘Isko,’ as everyone knows he’s running not to win but as they say, ‘for the funds of it’,” my friend claimed.

F-35

I asked: How big is “big money”?

“How much is an F-35?” he rhetorically asked, referring to the US’ most advanced fighter jet that has been flying over Chinese-held reefs to challenge that superpower’s claim.

I googled that. An F-35 costs $80 million. Looks small, but in pesos, that’s huge: P4 billion. A man who some say is deep in debt in tens of millions of pesos because of his gambling habit, will overnight become a billionaire. He can even stash away a billion, put it in good investments and he’ll have a war chest for the 2028 presidential elections, when he will be only 53 years old.

The Americans will not even rely on government audited funds. Run as private foundations, US entities using the excuse that they are championing human rights and a free press, such as the National Endowment for Democracy and Omidyar Network, have given so far $50 million to Philippine media outfits such as Rappler, Vera Files and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and other “NGOs” to demonize Duterte since 2016.

The Americans don’t need these traitors if it gets to install Leni Robredo — clearly the most pro-American and anti-China candidate — as president and, therefore, can bankroll that F-35 amount.

The American plan, however, is not flawless.

The latest polls I’ve seen show Isko getting 12 percent; Leni, 15 percent; and Lacson, 6 percent. Even if Isko and Lacson withdraw and manage to convince their followers to instead vote for Leni, her total votes would just be 33 percent, which is only half of the 62 percent voting for Marcos. And that would even depend on whether their followers will vote for Leni — and not Marcos.

However, other than disqualifying Marcos from running, which seems to be unlikely, Isko’s turncoatism is the only plan the Americans think has the chance of stopping a Marcos 2nd presidency.

What gives my source’s claim some credibility is the fact that never since the Vietnam War ended in 1975 has the US desperately needed a pro-American Philippine president as it does now.

Bongbong Marcos will likely at the very least follow Duterte’s foreign policy of having China and US at an equidistant length from us. Marcos also, of course, knows how the US betrayed his father — abducting him to Hawaii and undertaking a “kangaroo court” there that portrayed him as a murderous dictator.

But he doesn’t seem to have that Aquino trait of vengefulness and he’s too realistic to make the US an outright enemy.

President BS Aquino III chats with US President Barack Obama as the world leader signs the guest book at the Malacanang reception hall on April 28, 2014.  

Heyday

The Americans had a heyday here when they got to put President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd in power, who was not only so servile to the US, but so unintelligent that he was easily maneuvered into adopting a very hostile stance against China, our biggest trading partner, to the point of filing the first suit ever (even if it was only an arbitration) against that superpower.

Even as it prodded and maneuvered Aquino to be belligerent to China, the US frightened him so easily after he lost Scarborough Shoal inn 2912 that he agreed in 2013 to enter into the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the Americans, which is essentially a new version of the Military Bases Agreement that the Senate ended in 1992.

The Americans scared Aquino and his officials into buying the argument that such basing agreement would facilitate US defense of the Philippines in case China attacks it.

That EDCA is nothing but a basing agreement in fact was demonstrated only recently with the US announcing that it will be stationing troops in Bulgaria and Romania so its forces could more quickly come to Ukraine’s aid if Russia invades that country. The treaties Bulgaria and Romania signed in 2006 and 2005 that allow American troops to be in these two countries made up the template for our EDCA.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s detestation of the US has demonstrated how crucial it is for US interests that a Philippine president be pro-American.

Duterte’s “shelving” of the arbitration award in the suit against China knocked the wind out of the sails of that US propaganda project against the Chinese. He has also developed the Philippines-China economic and diplomatic relationship so much that the US has been practically put in the sidelines.

End EDCA

The Americans fear that an anti-US Philippine president will end the EDCA, which can be done at the whim of the president since it is a mere executive agreement that was signed only by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and the US ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg.

Recent developments have further emphasized how crucial it is that a Philippine president be pro-American.

Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

The US appears to be convinced that China will be moving soon to take over Taiwan and there are suspicions that that superpower and Russia are coordinating their moves to make President Joe Biden’s head spin.

Russia’s “tasking” involves its invasion — or a pretended invasion — of Ukraine, or just the occupation of the southernmost territories bordering Russia, occupied by two separatist states, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.

The sum of P4 billion to retain EDCA would be a bargain. Only the smallest country in Asean, Singapore, is a staunch US ally in the region that it would be difficult for the US to put up a charade that Asean countries are demanding that it militarily defend Taiwan.

The May election doesn’t just involve candidates’ different views on how this nation should be run and their real qualifications.

The contest is between nationalists who want the country to continue Duterte’s path of liberation from the American eagle’s claws on the one hand and US lackeys who want it to remain a neo-colony.

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