The faces of partnership

Every once in a while a picture comes along that seems to say even more than the proverbial 1,000 words. This is one of them, captioned as reported in Mint Press News:


U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, talks with his Philippine counterpart Voltaire Gazmin during their joint press conference at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on Thursday, April 14, 2016. The United States on Thursday revealed for the first time that American ships have started conducting joint patrols with the Philippines in the South China Sea, a somewhat rare move not done with many other partners in the region. (Romeo Ranoco/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, talks with his Philippine counterpart Voltaire Gazmin during their joint press conference at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on Thursday, April 14, 2016. The United States on Thursday revealed for the first time that American ships have started conducting joint patrols with the Philippines in the South China Sea, a somewhat rare move not done with many other partners in the region. (Romeo Ranoco/Pool Photo via AP)


What do you see in the photo? I see trust, respect, equality and camaraderie. These are the two men who must forge a world-class defense force under the wary watchful eyes of Filipino leftists and skeptics and the hostile eyes of Chinese generals and propagandists. The photo also gives (to me) confidence that this is the kind of relationship that can make good things happen.

I simply can’t imagine a Chinese partnership with the same kind of personal closeness, unless Gazmin is replaced in the picture by Duterte or one of his NPA generals. Or with Binay in the picture, possibly. Probably not with Poe. Definitely not with Roxas.

And the greater amusement (for me) is that, under Senator Santiago, Ash Carter would be taken out of the picture.

Here’s a brief on the work now being done between the two defense organizations, as reported in Mint Press New:


The Pentagon said the U.S. forces that will remain in the Philippines are already participating in the Balikatan, or shoulder-to-shoulder combat exercises, that will end Friday. About 200 airmen, including special operations forces, will remain at Clark Air Base, along with three of their Pave Hawk attack helicopters, an MC-130H Combat Talon II special mission aircraft and five A-10 combat aircraft.

This initial contingent will provide training to increase the two militaries’ ability to work together, laying the groundwork for forces to perform joint air patrols.

Up to 75 Marines will stay at Camp Aguinaldo to support increased U.S. andPhilippine combined military operations.

The troops and aircraft are expected to leave at the end of April, but other U.S. forces and aircraft would do similar rotations into the Philippines routinely in the future. Carter would not say how frequently those rotations would happen, but called it a “regular periodic presence.”

Last week the Pentagon announced that the U.S. will give the Philippines about $40 million in military assistance to bolster intelligence-sharing, surveillance and naval patrols. Carter said the aid will include an enhanced information network for classified communications, sensors for patrol vessels and an unmanned aerostat reconnaissance airship to help the Philippines keep watch over its territory.

The U.S. will get access to five Philippine military bases to house American forces that will rotate in and out of the country for training and other missions.

99 Responses to “The faces of partnership”
  1. The Chinese-Duterte relationship would look more like this:

  2. Joe America says:

    Mainland Chinese plane photographed April 15 in Davao by pilot Rafael Misa, who observed that he had never seen this kind of plane in the Philippines before. Duterte has apparently said his early advertising was funded by a Chinese donor.

  3. Bert says:

    What I like most is this report that the US is training the Philippine Armed Forces the use of Highly Mobile Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which has an accurate range of 300 kms. With this kind of weapon system, it can be said that now we have the capability to defend our sovereign territories such as Kalayaan Islands and the Scarburough Shoals against Chinese incursions or attempt at reclamation in those areas that lie within our exclusive economic zones without having to send warships or fighter planes to meet such threat.

    Scarburough Shoal is just 240 kms. from Zambales so within the range capability of this HIMARS.

    Now I feel good just thinking that we are no longer so vulnerable to Chinese intimidations.

    • Joe America says:

      Excellent point. My sources spread across the nation like a spider’s web, each node a listening post, rumored (but absolutely deniable) to include a villager with a short wave radio on Pagasa, say the EDCA agreement has brought the two partners together in a very constructive, working way. The work is forthright, serious and purposeful. I asked, “what are we talking about, exactly”, and I got this kind of mysterious laugh which faded to static . . .

  4. NHerrera says:

    I am glad I read Barbara Tuchman’s Guns of August for perspective it gave me; the perspectives there, not totally outmoded, I believe. The guns of August started in 1914. We are now 2016, a century hence. Modern technology and modern weapons, but the human mind is probably still similar in thinking on national and international politics (guessing here).

    Even in this modern times, it may take historians another half a century to frame national and international conflict in a fairer context.

    Right now I am content to be on the side of a UN who if I am not wrong is on the side of a small country being bullied by a big panda bully. And between that bully and the US I prefer to believe the preference of Aquino and Roxas’ for an international partner — the US — in the maritime issue.

  5. karlgarcia says:

    Strong words or strong bluff.

    • Bill in Oz says:

      The Al Jazeera reporter does not know Philippines or it’s politics. He thinks that Duterte will confront China over the West Philippines sea. .

      • karlgarcia says:

        What a laugh,he will go there alone to negotiate.
        He wants people to take him seriously.
        He is serious…seriously ill.

        • that is why he gets along well with Miriam.

          The question I pose as a comment here is: how seriously ill are some Filipinos?

          Yes, the nation has been raped many times.

          But with Duterte, it would sit on the lap of China to be fondled – willingly.

          Well, many prostitutes, GROs and strippers are victims of abuse turned willing victims.

  6. Bill in Oz says:

    @Supp & Joe, in 1974, I rode the train from Manila to Legaspi in Bicol..It was not air conditioned. But it was a regular train built by the USA in the 1910’s. It had regular stops and no big issues about traffic…It took about 6 hours.
    When coming back in 1974 to Manila from Legaspi, a typhoon had damaged the line so there was only the bus. A bit of a 14-15 hour marthon.with lots of stops…Ummmm…

    Now that Bicol train line is closed.So I have now done 6 bus trips to Bicol…Even the Isarog Express ( air conditioned ) bus with just 3 stops takes a minimum of 11 hours….

    The railway line route still exists.With upgrading it could be reopened and become a major transport route.

    And I’m sure that there are Chinese investors willing to help in that process even without Duterte.

    • It did work again for a while… I know because we took it in 1978. In fact Mayon was erupting and no other alternatives to get to the burial of Atty. Irineo Salazar, my grandpa.

      The line only went up to Camalig because of lava and the ride took around 16 hours. The way back we had to take a plane because the train line was totally stopped. The other line from Tutuban in Manila was the Spanish line to Pangasinan built by the English.

      • Sup says:

        i took it in 2001, almost 10 hours, Naga/Manila….

        • Bill in Oz says:

          I guess lack of maintenance on the line and the railway trains themselves slowed things down before it was closed..I noticed the old rail line at a couple of points where it crossed the road. Squatters have also camped close to the tracks now.

          There is always the temptation with government owned utilities to sell the product or service cheap to win electoral support. It feels good. But then there are no funds for maintenance & upgrades.

          Public private partnerships can help provide some ‘cushion’ and s lead to a beter service. If the contracts are prooerly prepared. !!

          • karlgarcia says:

            Millions spent to remove to squatters along the railways. Surprise,they are back.
            Now the contractor,I think is Hanjin who was not paid on its completed project,because the funds meant for paying them,went to the removal of the squatters.

            Noli de Castro has the gall to lambast DOTC on a daily basis,yet he screwed up on this.

      • We took it (Pasig City in NCR to Sorsogon, Bicol) in 2015 Holy Week vacation – by car convoy. It took us 11 hours, with many stops to eat and take in the views. That’s when I saw for myself the many infrastructure projects of this government.

  7. Bert says:

    So it’s now quite clear, China is funding the campaign of Duterte.

    If Duterte wins the election (Heavens forbid), goodbye West Philippine Sea, goodbye Pag-asa Island, goodbye Kalayaan Islands, goodby Spratley Island, and goodbye Scarburough Shoals.

    And most of all…goodbye Philippines.

    • karlgarcia says:

      That is a fire cracker imported from China.

    • caliphman says:

      Bert if there is solid proof that Duterte accepted campaign funding and support from forein or corporate sources, that is grounds for disqualification. It is specifically prohibited under the Omnibus Election Code with removal of the elected official. Not sure if riding in corporate aircraft and helicopters is included if the candidates claim it was fully paid for. Some one should carefully scrutinize Dutertes campaign finance history and spending and analyze mainland chinese fingerprints. If he wins in May as indications say he might, this might be the only legal route to unseating him!

      • karlgarcia says:

        You are familiar with Tonyo Cruz.

        He says it is a donation.What us the difference? Funding is funding.
        An interesting breakdown of campaign spending by tonyocruz in Philippines
        [–]tonyocruz[S] -7 points 11 hours ago
        Before anyone jumps on the ‘But Duterte got money from China’, let me put that one to bed.
        What he received from China was a DONATION, not campaign funding and it’s a ‘show of good faith’ in return for making the right decision on our disputed Islands.
        Unlike other candidates who would rather go to war, Duterte will convert those worthless Islands into cold hard cash and/or a train


        What the???

        • karlgarcia says:

          Thanks to madlanglupa for sharing this.
          [–]tonyocruz -2 points 17 hours ago
          Thanks for sharing my article here.
          Full disclosure, I’m actively employed by PDP–Laban to handle the social media for the Duterte-Cayetano presidential campaign.
          While I admit using Manila Bulletin as a platform for promoting Duterte, everything I’ve written about other candidates is true to the best of my knowledge.
          For anyone interested in joining the DU30 social media wave, just send me a PM and i’ll sign you up to our semi-automated platform.
          Alternatively you can follow me on Twitter @tonyocruz
          One of our recent and most successful campaigns has been for the Kidapawan farmers where we managed to produce over 6 million tweets in a single day. Albeit the majority of them were automated bot tweets from one of our IT guys.
          Again, thanks for sharing!

          He is even proud of his keyboard warriors and automatons.

        • caliphman says:

          Donation shomatipn…thats campaign financing and its illegal.

          • Joe America says:

            I suppose someone could correlate the receipt of money and volume of advertising buys, which are reported by the television stations. If the donation found its way into pre-campaign advertising, is it illegal? Or do foreign contributions only matter if during the campaign period?

      • Sup says:

        Davao is full of Tsinoy.. 🙂

        He said its 44-hectare area makes the Davao Chinatown the biggest Chinatown in the Philippines, although, he said much has yet to be done to make the area more upbeat as center of “Tsinoy” culture.

        Read more:
        Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

        • Karl and SUP please do a joint article just what you’ve found out about the plane and the admissions of Tonyo Cruz. I’d write it but I am currently trying to disengage got a few warning about posting election stuff.

          Karl/ Sup please please please

          • karlgarcia says:

            I am sure Sup could do it without my help,right Sup?

            • karlgarcia says:

              what do tou think? It is already seconded by Andrew?

              • Sup says:

                Saved by the bell…………..uh…JoeAm…………. 🙂

                Sorry guy’s/girls, i am not a writer type…..

                Go ahead JoeAm…..try to get a Tsinoy to enter the CNR factory, go to the planning department and get the ”donations” records….
                The are in the drawer ”Future SOP projects in the Philippines………………….


              • karlgarcia says:

                All right ,Joe will do it.

            • Sup says:

              Wrong, i type only with one finger… 🙂
              By the way…i have no proof abour CNR funding Duterte, ……

              • Sup says:

                Should be ”about”, you see…disaster writer… 🙂

              • karlgarcia says:

                pareho lang tayo….
                typing with one finger. kahit sa laptop.

              • karlgarcia says:

                If you are left handed you do the left index finger or thumb, i am right handed I ‘ll do the right handed stuff.

                seriously though, email your initial draft composition to me even if speculative or conjectures,at first.
                When we dig in further.It won’t be speculation anymore.If not let us try another angle.

                Email address is

                What say you?

              • andrewlim8 says:


                you need not prove it right away. just ask the right questions, provide what is already known, then make plausible conjectures. the article would be crowd sourcing additional info on it.

              • Sup says:

                Maybe Raissa could do it? She has more connections then me………. 🙂

              • Joe America says:

                I may take a shot at an article. Today I spent time on a different aspect of Duterte. How women supporting him are supporting the abuse of women. Let me see if I can collect some ideas about the China connection from what we know already, and frame the issue at least.

              • Sup says:

                It is all guess work i guess?

                Jan. 11 2016

                Mr. Duterte, meanwhile, returned yesterday from a three-day visit to Taiwan where part of his itinerary was a visit to the different mass transportation systems there, including the fast train.

                The mayor, who is on leave from his local post until the 14th, also met with overseas Filipino workers in Taiwan to present his platform of government.

                Mr. Cayetano said the first phase of the envisioned railway system will be in Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), straddling the coastal cities of Iligan, located southwest of Cagayan de Oro, and Gingoog in the northeast.

                The entire rail system, the first anywhere in Mindanao, will be circumferential with a total length of 2,000 kilometers.w

                It is planned for construction under six phases at a total estimated cost of P86 billion, based on the initial study conducted by the National Economic and Development Authority.

                “We will have it inked in the 2017 budget,” the senator said.


        • Sup says:

          His assistant is Chinese…:-)

          Christopher “Bong” Go, executive assistant – Go is the man with Chinese features always seen at Duterte’s side in any public event. Most people who want to talk to Duterte have to go through Go first. As Duterte’s executive assistant, he plays the role of sortie manager for the campaign. He coordinates with organizers and tries to make sure Duterte sticks to his schedule for the day. Insiders say Go is the son of a family friend of Duterte. Go’s grandfather, in fact, stood as godfather when Duterte married his first wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman. Go has been Duterte’s assistant for 18 years, ever since Duterte’s days as a congressman in 1998. Go has his own assistants.

          • Bill in Oz says:

            The Philippines is a multicultural nation.The Chinese tsinoy here are a major part of recent economic growth. And capital from Chinese companies in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China is a big positive player.

            The question to ask is if individuals are acting as an agent of a foreign government to directly influence the outcome of the Philippines elections…Folks of a leftish persuasion have always been sensitive about US interference. I wonder if they are aware of interference from China ? And if they will protest against it ?

      • chempo says:

        @ Caliphman

        Unless you can point me to something more specific, I think the Omnibus Election Code is flawed here. Look at these 5 relevant sections :

        Section 12 deals with Disqualification – but receiving foreign contributions is not included as grounds for DQ.

        Sections 95+96 deal with contributions from foreigners — yes, it’s specifically prohibited.

        Section 107 requires all candidates to file Statement of Contributions and Expenditures within certain number of days before and after election.

        Sec. 111. ” Effect of failure to file statement. – In addition to other sanctions provided in this Code, no person elected to any public office shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has filed the statement of contributions and expenditures herein required.”

        What can we conclude :
        1. Receiving contributions from foreigners is not ground for DQ.
        2. There is no penalties for receiving foreign contributions other than Sec 111.
        3. Although there is Sec 107, it appears only winning candidates will submit the statement, because failure to submit is penalised under Sec 111, so for the loosing candidate, Sec 111 is a joke to them, it’s irrelevant to them.
        4. So following on (3), a loosing candidate, goes scot-free. Nobody knows he received foreign funds, he is not punished in any way.
        5. Sec 111 is even more ludicrous in this manner — say Duterte receives foreign funding, he has 2 options :
        – a) he submits the statement truthfully — what is the penalty? Which section in the Omnibus Election Code provides for this situation? I can’t find it. Could I have missed it?,
        – b) he refuses to submit statement — Sec 111 kicks in, he cannot enter office of the Presidency until he complies. Pnoy’s term ends. Duterte is still stubborn. Then what? Philippines walang President?. It’s a joke?

        Can someone point me the error of my summation. It’s a damn serious issue if you ask me.

        • Bill in Oz says:

          Ahhh Chempo, who is the Society’s honorable ‘pro bono’ adviser advocat in matters legal ?

          • Joe America says:

            We have no designated house attorney.

            • caliphman says:

              Jeebus, chempo. So you are playing Philippine legal expert now too and you are not even a lawyer or Filipino. This might be help you in your quest 🙂

              The Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines prohibits any person from soliciting or receiving any contribution for partisan political activity from any foreigners. The pertinent provisions of the Election Code are Section 95 (h), Section 96, and Section 264, to wit:

              Sec. 95. Prohibited contributions. – No contribution for purposes of partisan political activity shall be made directly or indirectly by any of the following:

              (h) Foreigners and foreign corporations.

              Sec. 96. Soliciting or receiving contributions from foreign sources. – It shall be unlawful for any person, including a political party or public or private entity to solicit or receive, directly or indirectly, any aid or contribution of whatever form or nature from any foreign national, government or entity for the purposes of influencing the results of the election.

              Sec. 264. Penalties. – Any person found guilty of any election offense under this Code shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years and shall not be subject to probation. In addition, the guilty party shall be sentenced to suffer disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage. If he is a foreigner, he shall be sentenced to deportation which shall be enforced after the prison term has been served. Any political party found guilty shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than ten thousand pesos, which shall be imposed upon such party after criminal action has been instituted in which their corresponding officials have been found guilty.

              • caliphman says:

                Obviously, the idea here is to prevent Duterte from assuming office if he is elected president should be be guilty of violating these provisions. There is nothing in the penalty section that a losing candidate escapes the consequences of his violation and not be barred from holding public office. Be that as it may, I really dont care if Duterte escapes such punishment as the whole point is to deny the presidency. If anyone must know, there us a case outstanding against Robredo for allegedly receiving money from US citizens when she ran for Congress…and unlike Duterte, I would like her to win. No Virginia, the Philippine Constitution is sometimes silent or in cases not enforced but it is not flawed!

              • Bill in Oz says:

                Thank you Caliphmna for your clarification of this legal issue..I want to say that I am still just an interested foreigner who rightly should not take an active part in this election campaign.

                But it is also my honest opinion that any candidate who has acted illegally to gain of president should be dealt with under law and denied the position.

              • chempo says:

                Thank you Calipman.
                Section 264 escaped me, that’s why I was puzzled. I suppose 264 is a catch-all clause. What I know of statues the way they are mostly organised is you have all the clauses on prohibitions bla bla bla, then followed by the penalties relating to those prohibitions. Section 264 is way to the end.

                My querry on Section 111 remains unanswered.

                So it shows, the learned lawyer and a wannabe haha.
                No I can never be a lawyer. I only know a bit on commercial law and our penal code ( I was in Police Constabulary first before the Army for my national service). But it’s always good to know something.

  8. Oldmaninla says:

    National respect and trust is lost between philippines and China leadership. It’s sad, very sad.

    So much to gain to good neighbors, products export and import, transportation infrastructures upgrade, investments opportunities, tourism capital inflow and labor opportunities. Huge mutual national livelihood advancement to the future, all is lost,

    It’s sad, very sad. Indeed !

    • Bill in Oz says:

      Yes the Great East Asia Coprosperity sphere is, once again, being unraveled !
      Bullying tactics are so off putting…whether from Japan or China.

      • Better to build up ASEAN, especially economic cooperation – including ASEAN and Australia, ASEAN and Japan, ASEAN and Korea, ASEAN and the USA, ASEAN and EU. Foreign ownership not yet – those who want it now may have Chinese interests in mind.

  9. caliphman says:

    In the end, there are 3 things that detemine how far the US will go to risk a military confrontation with a nuclear strike cspability like China on behalf of any partner. The extent of its committment under a mutual defense treaty. The degree its economic interests and citizens are also in peril. And thirdly and probably the weakest, to demonstrate its global geopolitical strategy of protecting its traditional allies and so called friends. The US has very little stomach for deploying boots on the ground, performing international ‘police’ roles save as part of the UN, and bailing out its partners just because they are being bullied. I have no illusions that the Philippines will ever be as high on their defense priorities as Guam or Puerto Rico or when we were its only colony.

    • I’m curious what the US Navy would do, if China pulled a similar stunt Russia did with their “Top Gun” fly-bys and helicopters.

      Not sure where the Liaoning is these days, supposedly their flight-ops is coming along, it’b be interesting if they followed Russia’s lead (Obama’s not gonna do anything).

      • caliphman says:

        Liaoning is not a serious threat to US naval power and while it packs more offensive power than our amphibious assault support ships, its no substitute for their new Spratley air felds. This formerly Russian medium sized flattop dates back to the 1980’s, transferred yo and decomissioned by Ukraine and had its military gear removed before being sold as a floating museum.Its air complement of J15 fighter bombers have a very light payload because of the skijump flightdeck of the carrier deck and the PLA navy has never been known for its heliborn assault capability. Which is not to say it could overpower the Korean fighters and tefurbished frigates recently acquired by the AFP. By and large, the carrier serves more as a symbol of China’s willingness to project its naval power outside the mainland than to challenge US 7th Fleet supremacy in the Pacific.

  10. caliphman says:

    Lance, I have not read up on the details of those incidents. But based on past encounters with Russian Bear bombers probing our northwestern borders off Alaska, the greatest danger if some trigger happy airman on the Chinese or US side acts on their own. Past protocol has been that the pilots are under very strict fire control but who is to say that an aerial collision or rogue commander are involved.

  11. caliphman says:–leni-surges-past-bongbong-poe-duterte-in-statistical-tie

    Duterte loses survey lead, Robredo surges past Marcos! Thats the good news but hold your breath because the poll results are from that untested SWS-TV 5 scheme involving a fixed sample and using cell phones. Still that means the Poe 34 and Duterte 33 percentages indicate a statistical tie and Robredo probably slightly just ahead of Marcos. But thats a double digit jump for Poe and Robredo from the last face to face polls by PA and SWS which are vetted systems. So keep your fingers crossed, those who are leery of Duterte and Marcos victories in May!

  12. Karl and SUP please do a joint article just what you’ve found out about the plane and the admissions of Tonyo Cruz. I’d write it but I am currently trying to disengage got a few warning about posting election stuff.

    Karl/ Sup please please please

  13. andrewlim8 says:

    Look at Duterte’s vulgarity, and it’s not against the criminals, it’s against the crime victims:–dapat-ang-mayor-muna-ang-mauna

  14. ylbnoel says:

    this (extended Balikatan cooperation) is the best news I’ve heard all day. May I repost?

  15. uht says:

    Things like these are what make my day a bit easier. I wish we would take this advantage to build military and economy on the level of Japan–but nope, people are too busy minding other matters.

  16. Jose Maria de Jesus says:

    ^People are not interested with it because basically, most of us Filipinos are mababaw. Bringing ROTC is not enough, conscription is I think the best way to instill patriotism and nationalism.

    Partnership with the US is good but at least we build our capability so that we can pull our own weight.

    • uht says:

      I agree with the partnership and the capability building but not conscription if it’s going to be done immediately; most Filipinos hate programs that are implemented immediately without the necessary framework in place (look at how many reacted to the K-12 program). Perhaps mandatory CAT and ROTC first, then conscription when we have enough physically fit people for that.

      About the partnership, it is quite a pity; America trusts us, we are strategically placed and our economy is slowly recovering. I want to see us have full blue-water capability before I die, at least

  17. Bert says:

    “In the end, there are 3 things that determine how far the US will go to risk a military confrontation with a nuclear strike capability like China on behalf of any partner.”—caliphman

    caliphman, I think that the US will take the risk not so much on behalf of any partner but because the South China Sea is a sea lane extremely vital to the economic interests of the Western Allies including that of the economic interests of the US. I think that America will risk everything to insure freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. The Philippines I think is just a small pawn in this conflict being used as leverage against China’s aggressive moves in that part of the Atlantic Ocean.

  18. Bill in Oz says:

    The US Navy ships that were recently in the Philippines have been refused entry to Hong Kong.

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