Open Discussion #6: Knowledge is relative, but acts are exact

Einstein theorized that space and time are relative and it seems to me that knowledge is the same. Yet we act with absolute confidence that what we think is what is real.

It isn’t.

Knowledge says we are better with earnest, civil leaders, but we elect people who for sure do not represent the best of our humanity, the best of our nation, or the best of any particular group.

Filipinos in particular seem to have a penchant for doing exactly the opposite of what is best for their own well-being. The nation needs achievers, but Filipinos declare them “ambyoso“, a disparaging slant on ambition. Ambition, of course, is what drives corporations to increase profits and individuals to seek a better paying job. It fuels innovation, problem-solving, and wealth-building.

So actual deeds by Filipinos, in the amalgamation, work to suppress innovation, problem-solving, and wealth-building.

I mean, just look around at the RESULTS if you need proof of this.

Elected officials are ethically challenged and for sure are not the brightest and best, poverty abounds, trains continue to break down, my town has had 8 electrical “brownouts” in the course of a week, the nation is a killing field, and the Tourism department wants us to hide that fact. That’s proof, too. After all, transparency is a form of seeking knowledge, but the head of Tourism, like the Philippines in general, is in a state of denial. And excuse. And blame.

Excuses and blames are way too often used to suppress knowledge in order to protect our faces. Occasionally, they point to knowledge or even solutions. But that requires a tangible ACT to correct the error, and usually blames and excuses are just words thrown out with no solution in mind.

It is truly surreal to live in the Philippines and see the problems and understand the solutions but also recognize all the effort being put into suppression of knowledge and the doing of deeds that harm Filipinos. It’s like watching an ax murderer working in slow motion, and not being able to stop the video or club the ax murderer upside the head.

One can only laugh, or cry.

The Philippines is no place for democracy, I think. Filipinos want to be led, not think about things. The question is how to get a leader in place who respects and seeks knowledge and aspires toward deeds that have a better chance of building than wrecking.

The standing government seeks to blur and distort knowledge. And it cannot possibly produce better results than a government that appreciates and seeks knowledge.

It is surreal here. It is absurd. It is the Philippines.

“It’s the way we do it, Joe.”

* * * * * * *

During open discussion, any subject may be raised. There is no such thing as ‘off topic”. However, respectful discussion is always in order. Rude language or crude photos are not appropriate, as this is a public space. Teaching and learning from original commentary, with relevant reference to outside resources . . . that’s what we aspire toward . . .

153 Responses to “Open Discussion #6: Knowledge is relative, but acts are exact”
  1. Steven Rood says:

    I remember I was working in Baguio on a rebuttal to James Fallows’s “Damaged Culture” article in the late 1980s when the birth of a child interrupted me. I still don’t buy it. The Philippines lacks methods of overcoming collective action problems — who will bell the cat? — generally speaking (beyond the clan/angkan).
    Filipinos follow traffic laws in Subic (or at least they did — it’s been a long time since I’ve been there) and in Davao. Richard Gordon had a vision for post-Pinatubo Subic and led people, and the same goes for Davao (though with different mechanisms/visions!). But this relies on individuals — who change, move on, etc. What is the institution?

    • Trust in the idea of law and order, and belief in ethical discipline as the way toward betterment of all. Divide that among every legislative, judicial, and executive agency/department.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    Killing seems relative to some.
    There is killing softly( with his song), there is over kill, and there is just kill.
    Then that homicide -murder legal mumbo jumbo.

  3. Grace Sapuay says:

    It’s only the 16.6 million bobotantes, Joe. a small percentage of the Philippine population. The thinking class were out-voted because of an ambitious woman with an ambiguous birth and citizenship. Or perhaps she is part of the conspiracy to have that poor excuse of a human voted to lead this country towards debt and perdition.

    • Senator Poe. She is the Fagan in our Dickens of a drama.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        Would you then cast Roxas as Oliver Twist, Joe ? It’s an odd analogy as Roxas tried hard to get Poe to be his running mate !

        And I remember that Poe was the leading candidate in November 2015 before Duterte threw his hat in the ring. So surely it was Duterte spoiling Po’s quixotic tilt at the presidency.

    • Sup says:

      If it is a small % how can it be that in SWS and Social Weather the percentages are 70/75 who say excellent/very good when asked about Duterte?

      • Bill in Oz says:

        That dear Sup is an excellent question. Why do so many approve of Duterte now he is killing people even thought they voted against Duterte ! Here is a separate complete post. Though I have no clues about an answer.

      • NHerrera says:

        Sup, Bill:

        I hope this adds to the discussion. It is just a plausible explanation.

        First, going by notional numbers, the registered voters in the last Presidential election was some 54 million of which about 75% voted or a total of about 40.5 million voters. Again, notionally (am too lazy to google), the votes were roughly, in percentage, and taking out the small votes that went to Santiago: 40, 20, 20, 20 for Duterte, Roxas, Poe and Binay, respectively. (Actually somewhat more for Roxas than Poe; and somewhat more for Poe than Binay.)

        In summary, notionally, the election returns in percentage were:

        Duterte = 40
        Roxas = 20
        Poe =20
        Binay = 20

        On the survey on Duterte approval rating of about 75%, do the following: take away the sentiments from Roxas, Poe, Binay that now favors Duterte:

        * Roxas >> 5 of 20 now approves of Duterte
        * Poe >> 10 of 20 now approves of Duterte
        * Roxas >> 20 of 20 now approves of Duterte

        5 + 10 + 20 = 35

        Add that to the 40 “solid” supporters of Duterte and we have, voila, 75 (= 40 + 35).

        In fact, I believe, we should credit the mass of the Filipinos surveyed to using their “coconuts” better than the politicians. The majority of the House of Representatives members who were elected under other parties have practically all gone (90%?, much larger than 75%) to Duterte-Alavarez camp.

        • Sup says:

          Thank sir Herrera…

          But i still believe a lot of Filipinos jut like to laught and have fun watching Duterte foul mouthing everything and everybody…They like tele dramas…
          (Willie, Eat Bulaga etc.)
          They want to be amused and have subjects to joke about during meetings, birthdays , street corners etc.
          Nobody like to talk about ”boring” guy’s like Mar Roxas….

        • chemrock says:

          Something wrong with your figures NH? Roxas was behind Duts by about 5mm. Duts had 16.5 mm so your 40:20 does’nt seem right.

          • NHerrera says:


            I said notionally. But you are right. One can’t trust one’s old mind without checking. Here are some numbers on a total votes of 41.4 million (I estimated wrong with 40.5 million):

            Duterte 15,970,018
            Roxas 9,700,382
            Difference ~ 6.3 million

            Chemrock, you are right on that: 5 million is closer to 6.3 million compared to my 8.1 million (= 40.5×0.40 – 40.5×0.20)

            Now on the percentages of election returns rounded to nearest percent:

            Duterte = 39
            Roxas = 23
            Poe = 22
            Binay = 13
            Santiago = 3
            Señeres = 0

            And using the same concept as in the post above:

            * Roxas >> 5 of 23 now approves of Duterte
            * Poe >> 10 of 22 now approves of Duterte
            * Binay >> 13 of 13 now approves of Duterte

            5 + 10 + 13 = 28

            Add that to the 40 “solid” supporters of Duterte and we have 68 (= 40 + 28). No voila this time and I am short. Sorry for that.


            I hope Joe does not take away my credentials.


            • edgar lores says:

              Isn’t the shortage explained by your base of voter turnout of 41.4M? The number of registered voters is 54.4.

              One does not have to draw voters from the losing candidates to make up for Duterte’s ratings?

              • NHerrera says:

                There probably are as many thoughts as there are contributors here on why the 75% current approval rating is far from the election returns of 40% — what with the EJKs. In a functioning democracy, for one, the almost wholesale jumping to Duterte’s camp by the reps in HOR is not understandable. I won’t give a lot of thought to my numbers as I commented to Bill below.

              • edgar lores says:

                NHerrera, sorry to hear you are feeling poorly.

                Here’s a joke half-purloined from the Web to lift your spirits.

                A Filipino addict finds himself in front of the Pearly Gates to heaven. In front of them, stands St. Peter. As the addict approaches, St. Peter greets him and warns him it is not so easy to get in heaven. There are some criteria before entry is allowed.

                For example, was the fellow religious in life? No? St. Peter told him that’s bad.

                Was he generous? Gave money to the poor instead of supporting his addiction? No? St. Peter told him that that too was bad.

                Did he do any good deeds? Help his neighbor? Anything? No? St. Peter was becoming concerned.

                Exasperated, St. Peter says, “Look, everybody does something nice or brave sometimes. Work with me, I’m trying to help. Now think!”

                The addict says, “There was this old President, his new Foreign Affairs secretary, and his Police Chief. I saw them kowtowing before a tomb at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

                I got so mad at what they were doing and how thousands of my fellow addicts have been killed. I kicked the tomb and confronted them. I told them how immoral, despicable, and brutal they were and spat in the Police Chief’s face”.

                “Wow”, said St. Peter, “That’s actually very impressive. When did this happen”?

                “Oh, about 10 minutes ago”, replied the addict.

              • NHerrera says:

                Hahaha. Disposition improved to 99% of normal. (St. Peter must have felt good too; and surely he allowed his new applicant enter the Pearly Gates.)


        • Bill in Oz says:

          N’Hererra, you sem to be suggesting that most of the Roxas, Poe & Binay voters were not rusted on die hard supporters of their candidates,,Rather they were ‘butterflyers’ who switched teams when it became clear that Duterte was the Man.

          From an Australian perspective, very odd indeed.

          • NHerrera says:

            More like butterflyers. No thanks too for the likes of Mocha Uson and Cayetano. Don’t put too much on my arithmetic, it’s my mind doing some arithmetic and posting the above. As it is, chempo already punched holes on my numbers. 🙂

            Yes, I agree from your Australian perspective, very odd indeed.

            Also, I write again what I posted above:

            In fact, I believe, we should credit the mass of the Filipinos surveyed to using their “coconuts” better than the politicians. The majority of the House of Representatives members who were elected under other parties have practically all gone (90%?, much larger than 75%) to Duterte-Alavarez camp. Now try that one from your Australian perspective.

  4. madlanglupa says:

    Our long neolithic and later impoverished colonial history attests to our problems in the fields of knowledge, innovation, initiative, and other factors which make most other countries in the region more assertive and forward-looking.

  5. Oldmaninla says:

    Sad to say, from my Asian perspective, I think Democracy cannot work in the Philippines for now.
    Maybe later in the future……….maybe, only maybe…………

    Philippines is an Asian country, unique in history as islanders, at early days, populated by Austronisian and southern Han Chinese to the north, populated by Muslim Hindu from Persian India to the south, influenced by the Yuan Chinese (Kubli Khan time), influenced by the Ming dynasty admiral Zheng He voyage Chinese traders during the 15th century, mixed by intermarriage with Chinese traders, in 16th century, partly occupied by the Spanish conquistador, then partly protectorate by the American from 1898-1946, granted national independence in a silver platter as a single nation by the American in 1946, but southern Mindanao area people was not fully occupied which remain semi-independent.

    As an Archipelago in Southeast Asia, people are naturally seafaring and highly mix in cultures, such as Chinese Taoist, Confucian, Buddhist, Turkey Muslim, India Hindi, Animist, Spanish Roman Catholics, American Protestant Christian, Spiritist and others……Due to its highly mix way of life with mobile way of livelihood, never experienced a national consciousness of government style, never experienced a national revolution. Due to abundance of natural agricultural coastline, livelihood for existence is easy to local people.

    The ideological concept of Democracy originated from early Europe then embraced by American Western form of government. The multi-cultures Asian ideologies which are so complex had a hard time to understand and changes. To show an example, the Asian family value in is paternal clan, the American Western family value is individualistic. The conduct and meaning of “Respect” has different ways and values in the daily interaction and family interchanges of conducts and behaviors.

    Democratic concept and practice and implementation are a very complex ideology…..
    Politician leaders, lawyers, business tycoon usurps the democratic law to enrich themselves, therefore corruption abounds. Therefore, I think, unless the people are fully educated for democratic concept of nationhood, Democracy exported in the silver platter will not be successful and will likely be failure.

    Democracy has to evolve…… Singapore…….maybe!

    • madlanglupa says:

      > Democracy has to evolve…… Singapore…….maybe!

      An independent country, yes, but an illiberal one. Too many years of People’s Action Party.

  6. NHerrera says:

    The new blog topic catches me in one of my poorly-disposed days.

    It is really a deeply embedded sociological, cultural thing posted in TSH often enough, not helped by the “forgiving” sermons of the Church, repeated ad nauseam.

    For note this. Let us not talk about the very poor and the many voters among them. Let us talk about those who are in a position to pause for a few minutes of their waking hours — a situation probably not granted the very poor.

    A substantial proportion of Filipinos have travelled to foreign countries who in their remarks, praise and wonder at the traffic management, how those foreigners choose their leaders*, and items related to governance of those countries. Surely, their brain links those observations to why that is so. And that is knowledge. But when back home, the behavior is at great odds to that knowledge, even the most basic of those knowledge.

    (To be fair, I must add this note on the asterisked item: excluding what happened to the US recently. Thank goodness, the French placed their votes where there brains are.)

  7. edgar lores says:

    1. I recall Irineo’s dictum that “Data is not Knowledge is not Information is not Wisdom” that was posted above the door of his computer science professor’s room in Germany.

    1.1. I would somehow rearrange the sequence, exchanging the position of Information and Knowledge and say that “Data is not Information is not Knowledge is not Wisdom.” I do this because Knowledge is internalized Information and our Knowledge (or Thoughts) is the basis of our Actions.

    2. I would like to present this diagram to give a comparison between my 5-tier thought process model as compared to what I perceive to be a typical Filipino’s thought process. I have discussed the 5-tier model in “Open Discussion #4: What do people think when a life is rolled away?”

    3. The diagram is divided into 4 columns:

    3.1. The first column is named “Data” and lists some of the inputs to our thought processes.
    3.2. The second column, titled “Information Processing,” explains how we process the “Data.”
    3.3. The third column, titled “Knowledge,” is the output of our information processing.
    3.4. The fourth and last column, titled “Action,” is how we consequentially act in life.

    4. There are two layers of thought processes:

    o My 5-Tier Model (in green)
    o A Typical Filipino Model (in orange)

    4.3. The main differentiation between the two models is the method of filtering used in information processing. My model uses internal filtering and the Filipino model uses external filtering.

    5. By external filtering, I mean that most Filipinos do not internally verify data by the reasoning of the heart and of the mind. They rely on what external authorities tell them. These external authorities usually form a hierarchy in the sequence that I have named them in Note 1, starting from parents to politicians. The actual quantum of the influence of each authority may differ according to the personal circumstances of a Filipino.

    5.1. In the present reality, I would classify the formal communication staff of the politicians, such as Mocha, Thinking Pinoy, and the informal hangers-on, such as the FB groups, blog sites, and others, as extensions of the politicians.

    5.2. I cannot explain how a typical Filipino will bend towards a chosen authority. We know that members of a family and of a clan can have differing and opposite assessments of a politician (or belief or ideology). Their biases and leanings will lie in their particular personal histories as they interact with the perceived qualities of a politician or aspects of a belief or an ideology.

    5.3. One of the most salient features of external filtering is that the individual superego, which is the constraints of conscience, is not developed. This is due to the fact that most Filipinos rely on external authority to guide them and rein them in. They are driven by their ids and bound by their egos… but not by their superegos. And the external authorities themselves, with the exception of the pope and some others, are without conscience or are pretenders.

    5.4. I will note that a politician can have the greater cachet of authority than priests or the pope. Duterte cursed Pope Francis and won the election in a country that is 80% Catholic.

    5.4. As their superego is underdeveloped or undeveloped, so will the reasoning capacity of most Filipinos. They are heart-oriented, not mind-oriented, and their reasoning is full of fallacies, their outpourings laced with profanities and threats.

    5.5. They do not reach conclusions on their own but adopt the conclusions of their chosen authorities.

    5.6. Because most Filipinos are living the adopted truths (and untruths) of their authorities, they are living their lives inauthentically. They are living the Lie, the alternative reality, of others.

    5.7. Their knowledge is not their own and their acts are in accordance with how others make them think.

    • Oldmaninla says:

      Quote from Edgar conclusion above………

      5.6. Because most Filipinos are living the adopted truths (and untruths) of their authorities, they are living their lives inauthentically. They are living the Lie, the alternative reality, of others.

      5.7. Their knowledge is not their own and their acts are in accordance with how others make them think.


      These statements speak the truth of …..
      Asianic Filipino unconventional reality as oppose to the Western conventional reality.

      Western conventional reality uses rationalization, logic, projections for successes.
      Asianic unconventional reality uses relationship survival wisdom for centuries……

      To illustrate further…….
      Western emphasizes philosophies, theories, mathematics symbolism.. individual rights etc.
      Asian emphasizes human relationships, friendships, survival knowledge…community rights etc

      In math, we have straight line, vector line, circle line…..polygon lines.
      In life, we have chicken walk lines, snail slide lines……forest multi-path lines.

      He, he, he

      I think, Filipino Differences and Similarities to the current convention truth are authentic natural survival wisdom Reality…………the future will tell the story.

      • NHerrera says:


        I am trying to understand your post. You state that the Filipino uses Asianic unconventional reality or AUR as opposed to Western conventional reality or WCR. Further you state that:

        * AUR uses relationship survival wisdom for centuries; while
        * WCR uses rationalization, logic, projections for successes. And that it emphasizes philosophies, theories, mathematics symbolism.. individual rights etc.

        Your concluding paragraph if I understand it correctly — and I am paraphrasing here — is that only the future will tell the story of whether the AUR which you say the Filipino uses will survive compared to the use of WCR.

        My comment, if I may:

        – The fact that AUR uses relationship survival wisdom for centuries, leaves me wondering what is meant by survival? Survival like the poor at the slums are surviving? Being used for centuries certainly does not mean no better alternative may be tried. By the way, since you mentioned it: math itself is not static, there were certain facets of math that had to be modified or adjusted over the centuries.

        – Survival is certainly necessary. But is survival at a low level sufficient? Don’t you consider knowledge used appropriately as basis for action — the subject of the current blog — an alternative worth trying: so that living may be elevated beyond just survival?

      • edgar lores says:

        Oldmaninla, thanks.

        I believe I know what you are saying.

        There is no Filipino philosopher of note. The top 3 Asian philosophers would be Lao Tzu, Siddartha Gautama, and Confucius. The first two are religious philosophers, so I will take Confucius as representative of Asian thought.

        Western philosophical thinking deals with Nature and Knowledge. On the other hand, Confucian philosophy deals with Social Relationships and Ethics.

        Western thought attempts to understand the World by breaking it down into its components. Confucianism sees the World as a habitat in which man, as a social being, must live in harmony

        This is a vast simplification, but we can say that Western thought is analytical, whereas Confucianist thought is relational.

        I think the Filipino is caught between these two worlds. We use the concepts (democracy, rule of law, human rights) and tools (ratiocination, empiricism) of Western thought but do it poorly. We live primarily in the social relationships of family, clan, and tribe, but do not behave ethically (according to our adopted Judeo-Christian norms).

        With respect to Knowledge, Western thought verifies it first hand by ratiocination and science. Filipino Knowledge is second hand, transmitted by culture and authority. We are also recipients of Western thought, culture, and technology.

        As to the methods and tools for survival, I can see some differences in terms of quality, magnitude, and efficiency. However, the difference in the quality of living, as NHerrera points out, is of greater significance.

        All the above are observations of Filipinos at the collective level. The thought processes I discussed are more at the individual level.

        The present already tells the story.

        • Oldmaninla says:

          Edgar, I love your articulations…you got it..all are valid observations, isn’t all the truth?
          The gift of natural balancing in life is reality. Day and Night, both are significant to existing, else inbalance cause sicknesses. East and West cultures too, both are significant and contribute to world knowledge and progress……

        • NHerrera says:


          This paragraph in your note, which I emphasize,

          I think the Filipino is caught between these two worlds. We use the concepts (democracy, rule of law, human rights) and tools (ratiocination, empiricism) of Western thought but do it poorly. We live primarily in the social relationships of family, clan, and tribe, but do not behave ethically (according to our adopted Judeo-Christian norms).

          sums up well the current status.

          This brings up OM’s note about balance which is very nice if done so as to elevate and develop further rather than use poor representation of the Eastern and Western thoughts. If one has to construct a physical balance, do it not from a rotting plank of wood, but from a sturdy piece, perhaps protected further with chemicals against pests.

          Individually we develop, perhaps unconsciously for some, the balance of the Eastern and Western ways of thinking and doing. In my case I am a catholic with a bit of a scientific mind — and full disclosure: Chinese ancestry. If a priests talks nonsense, I treat him as such like a layman talking nonsense, but not to his face, partly in deference to my good wife — meaning, at the very least, I don’t stand in awe because he is a priest. I would rather listen to my handyman than him.

          • edgar lores says:

            1. I agree we do develop our Eastern and Western ways of thinking.

            2. Assuming the aim is to reconcile our Western and Eastern halves to achieve individual (Western) and collective (Eastern) harmony, how do we go about it?

            2.1. We are corrupt in our individual and collective behavior, which I have said before is a failure of religion. As Steven has noted above, we are capable of behaving but seemingly only under an authoritarian leader. Absent the threat of fear, we are disorderly and anarchic.

            2.2. In our experience, authoritarians tend to do more harm than good. Singapore was fortunate to have LKY. And LKY was fortunate to have a cooperative constituency.

            2.3. Other countries have effective mechanisms for controlling (a) authoritarian power and (b) individual and collective corruption.

            2.3.1. With Trump, these mechanisms include a vigilant press, independent civil servants (e.g., Sally Yates and James Comey), special counsels, and the threat of impeachment.

            2.3.2. In Oz, we have a constitutional monarchy, our anti-corruption commissions are effective, the ever-present threat of royal commissions, and a citizenry that votes independently.

            2.3.3. In Japan, there is a revered royalty, a disciplined people who are socially cooperative as we saw in the Fukushima disaster, and civil servants who are accountable. As you know, the discipline of the people was developed through centuries of civil war, the feudal caste system, and the Bushido Code.

            2.3.4. In a word, other countries have, in Steven’s word, “institutions” that work. Political, social, and religious institutions. They also have an adaptive culture and a strong national character, both molded by history.

            3. Absent culture and national character, Steven’s central question remains: how do we institutionalize a fair, just and civil society?

            3.1. In the above examples, we can see that abusive power and corruption are controlled by several mechanisms:

            3.1.1. Meta-Power (Royalty) – we don’t have this.
            3.1.2. Enlightened Power (Philosopher King). We never had this.
            3.1.3. Self-controlling Power (impeachment, a strong judiciary, special counsels, royal commissions) – We have only the first two and we are weak in these.
            3.1.4. External Power (vigilant press, religion, international opinion, sanctions) – We are weak in the first two, don’t care about the third, and none for the fourth.
            3.1.5. Power of Individual character (independent civil servants) – We are weak in this.
            3.1.6. Power of collective character (social discipline and morality as developed by history and religion) – We are weak in this.

            3.2. These mechanisms encapsulate the premise that only secondary power in different forms can inhibit primary power. In the cited countries, these mechanisms were mostly developed and grown organically.

            3.3. I think 3.1.6 is the most significant factor. Further, 3.1.2, 3.1.4 and 3.1.5 will grow 3.1.6.

            3.3.1. In all countries, the national character is not only imbued in society but in its leaders as well. It is second nature. (Trump is the exception.)
            3.3.2. In our country, the national character is one of corruption and it pervades all levels. (PNoy was the exception.)

            3.4. We live in the hope of an Enlightened Power — the fast way. We are dismissive of a succession of Philosopher Presidents — the slow way.

            3.3.1. In the last elections, we had the choice of a fast way and a slow way. We chose the former. It may be that the fast way is indeed the slower way. (Or that there is no way and we are lost?)

            3.5. I do not think that we can parachute and graft any of the above mechanisms into our culture.

    • NHerrera says:


      Thanks for the chart on the Filipino processing of the elements: Information >> Knowledge >> Action. It should be in the pocketbook of Filipinos from teachers of HS students and they in turn should urge their students to have it in their pocketbooks — explaining the meaning of the columns, rows and boxes. Best of all, explaining how the habit contained in the chart can be changed for the better, for the good of the individual and the society.

      (To the teachers-readers: right click the chart, save the picture on a file, and print. Lacking a color printer, save to a thumb or flash drive and go to a computer with color-printing capability.)

      • Often it is “action agad” (action at once) – the Marcos slogan if anyone remembers… and then from the results o the action, empirical knowledge is gained… “ay ang daming patay sa daan!”.. “ay di natin inayos ang MRT, NASIIRAA!!!”.. “ay – inabangan tayo sa Mamasapano!”.

        The pure theoretical approach DATA->INFORMATION->KNOWLEDGE->ACTION does not always work. Sometimes you lack data, sometimes you have to fill in some blanks through intuition. There is a chapter in Sun Tzu about this – if you can’t measure, estimate it says. But interestingly, the Sun Tzu approach is to go about things AS RATIONALLY AS POSSIBLE – based on constraints of what you know and how much resources and time you have in war. Of course you don’t risk unnecessarily, so trial, error, conjecture alone are usually too costly.

        • NHerrera says:

          Bahala na, saka na natin ayusin kung may gusot.

          That aside, I agree, Irineo, things are not always as clear cut. As is and was discussed here, intuition is a useful tool especially in situation of urgency. But, I believe, we agree, that it is intuition helped unconsciously from the normal habit of acting preceded by analysis based on our store of knowledge, no matter how hurriedly done if time is of the essence.

          • Edgar Lores says:

            Irineo and NHerrera, very fine points.

            1. As Reasoning may be stumped because it has insufficient data to work on, so also may Intuition be stumped by the lack of insight.

            1.1. I have faced problems where Intuition offers no direction, and one must rigorously analyze the situation through reasoning alone.

            1.2. Intuition can be developed. Specialists in any area of human endeavor develop a sixth sense. After years of investigating, detectives have hunches or gut feelings that guide them away from red herrings and towards the correct suspect and solution.

            2. “Action agad” and “Bahala na!” are still the products of Intuition and Reason. In certain situations, one will take a gamble and act. The gamble can be seen either as an offensive strategy (blitzkrieg or “attack! attack! attack!”) or as a defensive strategy (pre-empting or “attack is the best defense”).

            3. Reasoning is a vast enterprise. There are so many methods and techniques. Systems thinking. Experimentation. Lateral thinking. Occam’s Razor. The Five W’s. Recursion.

      • Edgar Lores says:

        NHerrera, De nada.

  8. “I stopped taking meth when [Rodrigo] Duterte became president. I was too scared. I knew he meant business and I didn’t want to die young.”

    Rey wasn’t the only one who got scared. The drug dealers who were once ubiquitous on the streets of his barangay (or ward) were suddenly nowhere to be found. Most of the users in his neighbourhood surrendered themselves to go to rehab out of fear of being executed by unknown parties.

    Rey is a nineteen-year-old pedicab driver. He earns 300 pesos a day working from noon till 7pm in the evening. Up until a few months ago he also had a side-job. He was a “runner” – delivering meth to customers and getting a portion to use in exchange.


    Question: What is the statistics of people like Rey? Of Filipinos who stopped taking and dealing meth over there?

    “Asked whether he agreed with Duterte’s support for such punitive measures, Rey said “No, this is too cruel. We should be sending people to rehab instead. It is better for people to be jailed than killed. It’s only us, the little people that are being targeted: not the big fish.”

    • karlgarcia says:

      COA must remain solid.
      But who will prosecute the prosecutors?
      In addition, Calida is the next Ombudsman unless some adjustments happen like placing retired Generals because many are complaining about leftists in the cabinet.(My guess)

  9. Been watching in the wings – both the discussion between LCPL_X and Edgar on intuition vs. logic – basically that was their discussion in a separate thread.. and the Asian/Western dichotomy over here.

    1. Intuition is what we have before we develop logic. A child touches a hot plate and learns not to touch a hot plate again. The senses and common sense is something even our primate cousins have.

    2. Authority teaches us. Elders tell their children not to cross the street when the lights are red (Germany) or to look out for cars and make space (Philippines) – teachers extend that and more. Traditional/tribal cultures have village elders who say what is wrong and right – in old Filipino culture there were the “old ones, the ones they call maroronong” – Spanish friars complained about not being listened to at times and mentioned the maroronong or knowing ones.

    3. Logic is taking things apart and putting them together again to come to conclusions. Basically the strongest achievement of Western culture from the Greeks onward, allowing finding out about things without really “personally knowing” them, to quote the Philippine Congress. A lot of Western culture is about taking things apart and putting them together again – the alphabet, the decimal system, the measurement of the world during colonization (Mercator etc.) and finally GPS, computers, Internet.

    A lot of Eastern thinking is basically maroronong of a higher degree, putting things down that come from experience and intuition – millenia of experience put together by old civilizations like India and China. It is more like fuzzy logic than binary logic. Western thinking in its most extreme form is mostly deduction. IF-THEN-ELSE, or Edgar’s 1, 1a, 1b, 2, 2a, 2b. Filipino thinking is tribal thinking mainly, with lending from Eastern and Western thinking. Confused as to what to believe, whom to believe.

    Finally it is all about going beyond “personal knowledge” only – we would still be in caves in that case.

    • Zen says:

      It seems that the ‘personal knowledge’ question that the Committee based its decision from on the impeachment case’ demise had not gained reaction from both the public and the social media. It would seem that the people are afraid to talk about it out of fear of its repercussions. This post really do relate whatever is happening in the Philippines and the feelings of some percentage of the people. We wait for things to happen and move into action when the worst happens, the Tagalog has an expression for it ‘ naghalo na ang balat sa tinalupan’. A kind of knowledge perhaps we keep to ourselves and then let go when the time is ripe even if the wait is forever. Jose Rizal’s Father Florentino?

      • NHerrera says:

        This is going out-of-country but this, to my mind, relates to your concern.

        In the case of the US, in spite of the overbearing US President, the most recent news about the appointment ex-FBI Director Mueller as Special Counsel — with independent powers to investigate the alleged Russian intervention of the US election and the possible collusion of Trump’s campaign — shows that there is a will to right the chaotic course of developments and that check-and-balance works in the US.

        Mueller is considered as one with impeccable reputation and integrity and got overwhelming support from both the Republicans and Democrats. By the way, Mueller is an ex-Marine. Now Mueller has to buckle down to work and the US and the world await. Meantime the President can attend to his Presidential Agenda.

        • NHerrera says:

          Sorry, for this addition.

          I felt good for Trump after the first muted but Presidential-sounding statement from the Whitehouse attributed to him, in reaction to the appointment of the Special Counsel — although still self-serving:

          “As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity … I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.  In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.”

          But, gee-whiz, after that statement, Trump comes out with a tweet a day later, in reference to the appointment of the Special Counsel: “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”

          Isn’t that rather cute if made by a young kid? But not so cute coming from a President. Poor Whitehouse Staff — cleaning after his mess 24/7.

          (I wonder what the reaction is if a contributor in TSH make those two statements one after another?)

          • NH,

            All this stuff going I’m sure all stems from his running his suck on Twitter. That’s of course his Communications staff, shoving sweet words into his mouth— but, Trump doesn’t talk sweetly, so he goes onto Twitter and continues to run his mouth.

            I still don’t understand why he fired Flynn, he didn’t really have to, all Flynn did was forget to add a couple of pages on his declaration forms (happens all the time), his talk circuit stuff and talking to foreign leaders in December was so easily explanable. Now Trump’s defending Flynn, and in the course of this gallant effort he fired Comey, why not defend Flynn in situ (instead of firing him).

            Mueller’s not gonna focus on Flynn, he’s a big nothing, he’ll focus on Trump’s business with Russians, and check if any of those Russians are in fact agents of the Russian gov’t. The election collusion is like our old talk of whether social media affected the election (impossible to know), that’s a big nothing as well.

            I’m very excited to learn about Trump and his Russian friends, giving him money thru his various businesses, and that I’m sure will take about a year. But I gotta feeling there will be nothing illegal there too, if there is a fall guy can easily be place in lieu of Trump, he’ll have plenty of smart lawyers at his disposal.

            So it’s when Trump lies, when Mueller actually catches him lie, that I think will roast him. It will eventually come to those two men face to face—- almost poetic, I can’t wait.

            • NHerrera says:

              Thanks for your thoughts. You know your domestic politics better than I do. Nothing more on this mini-thread from me.

            • NHerrera says:

              Oops, posted the above, one note too early.

              A 72 year old ex-Marine and lawyer who had prosecuted hundreds of cases, some high-stakes ones, and with impeccable reputation and integrity on both sides of the fence during his 10-year stint as FBI Director; with no incentive, in my opinion, to play politics at this nice twilight of his life. That Mueller appointed as Special Counsel to look into the Russian-Trump connection is a match to Trump.

              But in the Philippines there is no such gold in them dar hills of the same 24-carat quality, I am sad to say. Culture and the system does not allow yet the production hereabouts of that kind of gold.

      • I think Filipinos have communicative difficulties in describing what they have observed, what their personal knowledge is. There is a certain tongue-tiedness, a) due to lack of mutual trust except among very close relatives/friends and b) due to lack of descriptive capabilities..

        So much collective knowledge is NOT created from personal knowledges (plural intentional) because of that, the culture somehow does not catch up with modernity and even regresses. The Filipinos of Padre Florentinos time were less disoriented than the Filipinos of today, I think.

        • karlgarcia says:

          In watching on the spot interviews of citizens by reporters, we seldom get the no comment types and the camera shy types nowadays, except if it is a scandal, but if it is a pop quiz interview they answer, no right or wrong answers, if it is So wrong it will go viral, and you get fans or bashers.
          Articulation and language barrier are not the issues, it is still leaping before looking.

          • karlgarcia says:

            This is where MRPs rants about affidavits come to place.
            In those affidavits it is almost always mentioned there that you swear personal knowledge in all allegations.

    • Great summation!

      chemp, yesterday, threw me a wrench of sorts with my “meth kills the brain” statement, and his Dr. Carl Hart introduction (vis-a-vis his stay there recently).

      NH’s above: “But, I believe, we agree, that it is intuition helped unconsciously from the normal habit of acting preceded by analysis based on our store of knowledge, no matter how hurriedly done if time is of the essence.”

      applies, here. And I’m looking more into this Dr. Hart’s work and studies right now, but there’s a flaw here (intuition working) , now i gotta read up on his works, him, dissenting research (knowledge working), and come up with a better explanation on why I think he’s wrong (analysis working ), but it starts with personal knowledge (of this drug scene), NH/Ireneo, conscious or unconscious, a gut feeling or hunch, though intuition driven.

  10. josephivo says:

    Looking at the discussion it seems very intellectual. The “professionals” think differently. A good inside is given by Oliver Stone 10 commands to win an election and be successful as politician. (Oliver Stone as Paul Manfort were (are?) well paid advisors of Trump and many republicans and foreign dictators) I’m convinced that these rules are well known by influential politicians here to.
    (see By: Manuel L. Quezon III – @inquirerdotnet / Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:09 AM May 17, 2017)

    1.“The past is f—–g prologue.” Filipinos live in the now, history is irrelevant.
    2. “It is better to be infamous than to never be famous at all.” Look at Marcos…
    3. “The only thing worse in politics than being wrong is being boring.” Get attention with e.g. rude remarks, correct reasoning is irrelevant.
    4. “One man’s dirty trick is another man’s civil political action.” Such as killing fields…
    5. “Hate is a more powerful motivator than love.” Addicts are monsters, the yellows are elite only thinking to enrich themselves.
    6. “To win, you must do everything”. Before and behind the screens, e.g. support those who can steal votes from you main competitors.
    7. “Attack, attack, attack. Never defend”. Not how good we are, but how bad the others are.
    8. “Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack”.Cayetano could explain this one
    9. “A man isn’t finished when he’s defeated, he’s finished when he quits.”
    10. “Nothing is on the level.” Forget level playing fields, proportional action….

    Getting “there” is the issue, not reason or the values of the enlightenment.

    • NHerrera says:

      Nice, josephivo.

      Forget obsolete political science or advices as presently taught or advocated. To the budding politician: first, by hook or by crook, gain sufficient public awareness, then you need only use those 10 items.

      We know, in at least two recent instances that the method worked.

      • NHerrera says:

        (Caveat: said with tongue in cheek.)

        • I think there’s an ebb and flow operating here. with American presidents, Clinton was theoretical (but morally questionable), so next had to be W. Bush (seat of his pants -type, born again Christian), then Obama (who was too theoretical , over-thinking type), then Trump (bat shit crazy). I don’t think W. Bush could have ushered in Trump, it had to be someone like Obama—-

          similar IMHO to PNoy and DU30. ebb and flow, you use Stone’s Rule consecutively , i gotta feeling it won’t work.

    • edgar lores says:

      Stone’s Rules are say-anything and do-anything tactics to gain Power. They are Machiavellian in character.

      A politician who uses these tactics to obtain and maintain power is, as Joseph implies in his annotations, amoral.

      To me, even if the ends are moral but the means are amoral, then so too are the ends.

      • josephivo says:

        It is clear in the extremes, but where are the limits? One can be more pure than a virgin like Jeanne d’Arc or more amoral than Satan on a bad day, but most of us are somewhere in between for both the end and the means. Preaching paradise and pacifism on the top of a hill with nobody listening or sending everybody straight to paradise by blowing up the world with a few nukes?

        E.g. rule one “The past is f—–g prologue.” Describe the past as objective as possible, plusses and minuses, in the most scientifically correct language. Or define the audience, not our diehard supporters or opponents but the ones in between, than formulate the past as terrible, corrupt, unsafe, unproductive, dominated by a small elite, give past events a little spin or plant some evidence when needed and use a vulgar simple language with the main aim to create rage. What is the correct way? Something in between?

        • edgar lores says:

          1. I agree it is clear in the extremes.

          2. In the spectrum between the means (left) and the ends (right), I tend to lean towards the left side. The good ends must be in the good means. The destination is the journey.

          3. Looking at Stone’s Rule 1, I think it is meant to condition people to expect and to yearn for new things in the future. “Change” is the catchword.

          3.1. The expectation is based on the word “prologue.” It is not exactly that the past is irrelevant. It is more the past is just an introduction for the big things that are to come.

          3.2. And the adjective “f—–g” is to condemn and belittle the past in order to increase the yearning for the new things to a fever pitch.

          3.2.1. If anything, the past should not be condemned but examined and praised because there are good things in the past and it is the foundation upon which we stand. For America, the foundations are the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. For us, the foundations are EDSA and the 1987 Constitution.

          3.3. It is not that the foundations are weak but that the people, squatters mostly, have built lean-tos and slums upon them. And the leaders cover up the mosaic granite floor with cheap carpeting and drag mud all over the carpet.

          Rules 2 and 3 focus on publicity.

    • On Machiavelli’s amorality, it would be more fruitful to divine from his “Discourses on Livy” and “the Prince” IMHO , Book 1, Chapter 5 was probably most relevant to the Philippines right now, plus Machiavelli’s view on use of force. He’s not so “amoral” after all. (read the rest here)


      Although the envious nature of men, so prompt to blame and so slow to praise, makes the discovery and introduction of any new principles and systems as dangerous almost as the exploration of unknown seas and continents, yet, animated by that desire which impels me to do what may prove for the common benefit of all, I have resolved to open a new route, which has not yet been followed by any one, and may prove difficult and troublesome, but may also bring me some reward in the approbation of those who will kindly appreciate my efforts.

      CHAPTER V.: to whom can the guardianship of liberty more safely be confided, to the nobles or to the people? and which of the two have most cause for creating disturbances, those who wish to acquire, or those who desire to conserve?

      All the legislators that have given wise constitutions to republics have deemed it an essential precaution to establish a guard and protection to liberty; and according as this was more or less wisely placed, liberty endured a greater or less length of time. As every republic was composed of nobles and people, the question arose as to whose hands it was best to confide the protection of liberty. The Lacedæmonians, and in our day the Venetians, gave it into the hands of the nobility; but the Romans intrusted it to the people. We must examine, therefore, which of these republics made the best choice.

      There are strong reasons in favor of each, but, to judge by the results, we must incline in favor of the nobles, for the liberties of Sparta and Venice endured a longer space of time than those of Rome. But to come to the reasons, taking the part of Rome first, I will say, that one should always confide any deposit to those who have least desire of violating it; and doubtless, if we consider the objects of the nobles and of the people, we must see that the first have a great desire to dominate, whilst the latter have only the wish not to be dominated, and consequently a greater desire to live in the enjoyment of liberty; so that when the people are intrusted with the care of any privilege or liberty, being less disposed to encroach upon it, they will of necessity take better care of it; and being unable to take it away themselves, will prevent others from doing so.

      On the contrary, it is said, in favor of the course adopted by Sparta and Venice, that the preference given to the nobility, as guardians of public liberty, has two advantages: the first, to [108] yield something to the ambition of those who, being more engaged in the management of public affairs, find, so to say, in the weapon which the office places in their hands, a means of power that satisfies them; the other, to deprive the restless spirit of the masses of an authority calculated from its very nature to produce trouble and dissensions, and apt to drive the nobles to some act of desperation, which in time may cause the greatest misfortunes.

      Rome is even adduced as an example of this; for having confided, it is said, this authority to the tribunes of the people, these were seen not to be content with having only one Consul taken from this class, but wanted both to be plebeians. They afterwards claimed the Censure, the Prætoriate, and all the other dignities of the republic. And not satisfied with these advantages, and urged on by the same violence, they came in the end to idolize all those whom they saw disposed to attack the nobles, which gave rise to the power of Marius and to the ruin of Rome.

      And, truly, whoever weighs all these reasons accurately may well remain in doubt which of the two classes he would choose as the guardians of liberty, not knowing which would be least dangerous, — those who seek to acquire an authority which they have not, or those who desire to preserve that which they already possess. After the nicest examination, this is what I think may be concluded from it. The question refers either to a republic that desires to extend its empire, as Rome, or to a state that confines itself merely to its own preservation. In the first case Rome should be imitated, and in the second the example of Sparta and Venice should be followed; and in the next chapter we shall see the reasons why and the means by which this is to be done.

      To come back now to the question as to which men are most dangerous in a republic, those who wish to acquire power or those who fear to lose that which they possess, I will remark that Menenius and M. Fulvius, both plebeians, were named, the one Dictator and the other Commander of the Cavalry, to make investigations on the occasion of a conspiracy formed at Capua against Rome. They were also commissioned to find out all those who from ambition and by extraordinary means sought to obtain the Consulate and the other important offices of the republic. The nobility, believing that such an authority given to the Dictator was aimed against them, spread the report throughout the city that it was not they who sought thus to arrive at these honors from ambition or by illicit proceedings, but rather the plebeians, who, trusting neither to their birth nor their personal merits, thus employed extraordinary means to obtain these honors, and they particularly charged it upon the Dictator himself.

      This accusation was so actively followed up that Menenius felt himself obliged to convoke an assembly of the people; where, after having complained of the calumnies spread against him by the nobles, he deposed the Dictatorship and submitted himself to the judgment of the people. The cause having been pleaded, Menenius was absolved. On that occasion there was much discussion as to which was the most ambitious, he who wished to preserve power or he who wished to acquire it; as both the one and the other of these motives may be the cause of great troubles. It seems, however, that they are most frequently occasioned by those who possess; for the fear to lose stirs the same passions in men as the desire to gain, as men do not believe themselves sure of what they already possess except by acquiring still more; and, moreover, these new acquisitions are so many means of strength and power for abuses;

      and what is still worse is that the haughty manners and insolence of the nobles and the rich excite in the breasts of those who have neither birth nor wealth, not only the desire to possess them, but also the wish to revenge themselves by depriving the former of those riches and honors which they see them employ so badly.

      (as to Machiavelli’s thoughts on use of force, he was definitely more moral than most for his time… 🙂 )

      • oooooops, “it would be more fruitful to divine from his “Discourses on Livy” *than “the Prince” IMHO”

      • karlgarcia says:

        When you say Machiavellian it is always about the Prince. Like when you attribute to Adam Smith, you have Wealth of Nations in mind, not the Theory of Moral Sentiments.

  11. NHerrera says:


    After reading the news, Hero’s welcome in Pyongyang for North’s missile developers

    my mind goes back to the US “Manhattan Project” which led to the development of the first atomic bomb.

    The scientist or technologist mind works differently on knowledge or data that lead to his action. He seeks the “truth” of the store of knowledge/ data to see how he can solve the current problem just like any scientist/ technologist the world over.

    So, although, we may belittle the North Korean’ politicians and their economy, we have to be respectful of NK’s scientist/ technologist. Given the proper incentive so that the scientist and his family live comfortably — not lavishly, I don’t believe the scientists desires that because it distracts — and the fair and just academic recognition for his work, any such group from any country can do good science/ technology work.

    My contention is that unlike the Cayetanos, Aguirres, Alvarez’ the scientist/ technologist works on a different plane. Given the above reasonable incentive, the scientist gets a lot of kick, almost an “Orgasmic Kick or High” from the “Eureka moments” of solving a problem.

    That is why, although I admire the scientists and engineers of NK for the work they are doing — not to say, of course, that NK did not have initial outside help in the development of their missile and nuclear program — I have this genuine fear that they will achieve what they are aiming for in terms of missile and nuclear development, when the politicians or leaders of course use the fruits of scientist/ technologist work for their ends.

    This of course brings out the matter of the ethics of the work of the scientist/ technologist be it in the development of nuclear bombs, chemical weapons, or research on the genes, etc. But that is another story.

    • “Given the proper incentive so that the scientist and his family live comfortably — not lavishly, I don’t believe the scientists desires that because it distracts — and the fair and just academic recognition for his work, any such group from any country can do good science/ technology work.”


      Scientists are supposed to be the easiest to convince or deter from dangerous research, simply give them better areas to study and autonomy, preferably the unmapped regions of science.

      Project Paper Clip convinced WWII, Nazi scientists to harness the power of the atom; having harnessed it, it’ s not so ‘unmapped’ any more, hence most scientists worth their salt will want to study and focus on cutting edge stuff, technicians and engineers and lower scientists can do the old already mapped stuff.

      So i guess the cutting edge stuff would be in quantum computing, nano tech, cold fusion, etc. etc. not much to discover with nukes any more , that’s already been done. China’s doing exactly that by recruiting Chinese scientists educated in the West, now doing research here, and promising them more lee-way and a cool lab or two to do exactly the cutting edge stuff they want to do.

      I think within this program, or another,

      • NHerrera says:

        Chinese scientists/ technologists graduating from the US, are humans too. Given the same comfortable incentive to do science work, it does not stress the mind to analyze why quite a few stay in the US.

        • sonny says:

          NH, how many light years are we (PH) from THIS state of “affairs,” national laboratories?

              • sonny says:

                Neph, Prof Dayrit of UP pioneered research on the nature of our “lowly” coconut oils: the pharmacology of medium-chained saturated fatty acids. Procter and Gamble took the oils to its beauty product, the bigger dollar earner and may be neglected going the route of Prof Dayrit at an earlier time. The oils were also bad-mouthed by Madison Avenue by lumping the oils with the evil of long-chain saturated fatty acids the culprit in acute heart disease. And now our coconut supply is being used up via coconut-water products, the current darling of sports health aids.

              • edgar lores says:

                Karl, thanks, very informative. Confirms my theory.

              • karlgarcia says:

                You are welcome!

              • sonny says:

                Karl, thank you for the two links on coco and DOST. I just lost all what I was typing for this reply. aaaaargh!!

              • karlgarcia says:

                De nada, Unc !

              • sonny says:

                Karl, thank you for the two links. There are more than a few takeaways from them.

                1 The coco link clarifies the 2 coco paths:
                a) the food, nutrition, pharmacology (ingested, virgin coconut) path – the coconut as food should be part of the caloric intake especially of the children of the C & E sectors of our society. The high nutritional value of coconut must be made easily accessible to them, compulsory if need be to help keep body & soul together. Prof Dayrit traces the different metabolic path ingested coco (viz Lauric acid) takes. It is VERY different from the sugars of other foods, i.e. coco delivers its energy and nutritional content more efficiently.
                This is where the social intervention of the government is sorely needed;
                b) the copra path, aka the Procter & Gamble path (apply externally, Lauric acid removed from copra) derived from other “chemically engineered” copra component chemicals

                2 from the DOST link:
                the need to announce & promote the activities of DOST as the STEM arm of the Executive Branch of government CANNOT be overemphasized. The DOST as official husbander of the country’s intellectual power must be part of every Filipino’s civic consciousness. The paradigmatic relationship between the educational institutions and the state and its citizenry should be known and promoted. To illustrate. I observed living in Minnesota – the U of Minn is one of the largest campuses in the US. It is known for excellence in almost all fields of academic endeavor: Agriculture, Natural Sciences, Medicine, Information Sciences, Engineering, Biology, Social Sciences etc. Graduates populate the industrial sector of the state e.g. 3M (Minn Mining and Manufacturing), Honeywell, General Mills, Cargill, Mayo Clinic, Hormel (originator of the iconic spam meat), Green Giant. The Minn school system also pioneered in the field of vocational education. Graduates populate the blue-collar manpower of the state and in-state small-to-medium enterprises. These connections are solid and quite palpable even to the casual observer.

            • sonny says:

              Neph, believe it or not from way back, Teddy Roosevelt eyed the governorship of the Philippines with the same ‘vision-sight’ he had for the vast land frontiers of continental America. He was a fan of Alfred T. Mahan, a naval visionary teaching at US Naval War Coll. From Mahan came the idea of forward naval bases and some extended this vision to the newly acquired Philippine Islands as one huge US naval base to project US ‘hegemony’ in the Pacific and Asia.

              I mention this in the same breath as alternative facts, i.e. things that could’ve been. In another history, the Philippines as colony or US territory would be part of the US national laboratory system for maritime R & D, conservation, commerce and mimicking Woods Hole and La Jolla Oceanographic Institutes, and on to the treasures of Benham Rise.

              Today, we have sold out anyway, just to a different set of “sponsors.”

          • NHerrera says:


            Let me try.

            It may be “light years” away. It is mainly a budgetary constraint.

            Take the case of the US National Lab in the link, I counted 20 labs in the map — with the numbers in the map for certain places perhaps indicating the number of labs in that area in close proximity . The right column indicates 17 labs. Take the higher number 20.

            Now a top of the head calculation. Say, personnel on the average gets $15,000/month for 500 personnel each. That gives you $90 million for personnel expense per lab per year. Say, throw in $910 million for equipment, administration, operation and maintenance for a total of $1 Billion (= 90 + 910) per lab. Thus $20 B for the 20 labs. Since this is rough, say the range of $20-$40 B for the 20 labs.

            I note that the totality of the 20 national labs are researching a wide range of physical, chemical, biological, and computational and information sciences.


            Even if we have only one such lab in the Philippines funded with $1 B (of course there will be a lot of caveats here because, for one, the wages should be much smaller — but perhaps compensated for with a lot more Filipino researchers for training purposes than the 500 per lab I used above) that amounts to PHP 50 B the rough budget for the entire University of the Philippines System.

            If President Duterte and succeeding leaders elevate the per capita income of PH to a fourth (?) of Singapore’s, then we may begin to dream of such quality national research lab.

            Of course, the focus should be in just a few areas of research, say, related to agriculture and serious efforts at implementation but sorry to say, there may not be immediate returns — meaning “money” — there rather than say the “importation route,” etc.

            There will be too the congressional wrangling. What? PHP 50 B for that. Why not use that money for more classrooms and teachers pay in the public grade schools, and all such argument.

            • Work with what you got.

              If no funding’s in sight for national labs, fancy programs in universities, private enterprise, why not get your DOST to focus on theoretical stuff. Focus on that and the funding for fancy stuff, use it for grant writing and other ways to get Filipino scientists to get in those national labs, whether in the US, Canada , Australia, EU, etc. , to do their work.

              Like any human endeavor , a lot of this science stuff is also all about pecking order, so along with getting your foot in the door, via grant writing, research proposals, etc., give Filipino scientists a leg up, so they don’t unnecessarily become subservient to Western scientists, thus wasting their time —- a lessons learned from you all, sonny, NH, edgar, Ireneo, etc.—- would go a long ways (that would be an awesome collaborative blog, part memoir part if-i-had-to-do-it-over-again…) .

              This is piggy backing on my idea of getting more law schools, essentially since these schools are the easiest to stand up (unlike medical schools), all you need is a solid library (now unnecessary with online and digital libraries access) and solid teachers. Same same with how to modernize the AFP and PNP, you guys don’t need all the fancy toys, just the fundamentals in leadership (this habit of speaking truth to power),

              so focus instead on that aspect of training, then maybe as part of some military/police exchange program, which there are plenty of, get them out there, and engage their western counterparts.

              My point, you don’t have to construct your own labs right now (in the future, sure), but just get good enough to be able to go to these labs and be able do your work.

              I don’t know if you guys are familiar with these series,

            • sonny says:

              @ NHerrera

              DOST is the gathering body that must do the front-end heavy-lifting for this kind of leadership: explain the R & D projects and NEDA, for example, does the ROI within targetted objectives. This concerted effort will define the ripple effect in the direction of commerce and education, for instance.

              • NHerrera says:

                I agree. It is just my feeling that science work in the Philippines, at this time, has difficulty fighting for the its share of the money pie with the congress, such as it is, allocating the pie. At this time serious work is probably best focused on a limited very justifiable scope, but greater depth. Otherwise the money is probably best spent on science education with perhaps a little more teacher incentives to grow the number of inspired teachers who inspire students. And perhaps the inspired educatee can further science/ technology on his own with little money, producing something that leads to an invention contributing to the PH economy — before the rights are bought by foreigners.

  12. jamesb says:

    Duterte shows that scum as well as cream rises to the top.

    Duterte makes kim jong-un seem rational.

    Duterte has a vocabulary which only goes from k to l

    Duterte’s inferiority complex is the biggest thing about him

    Duterte knows that he is inferior to the west, but why does he keep needing to prove it.

    Duterte’s anger and racism stems from the fact that the skin whitening cream didn’t work on him

    Duterte would wet his pants if he actually tried to shoot someone.
    All mouth, and wet pants.

    Duterte should get down off his one trick pony and drink his milk

    Duterte’s knowledge of geography only extends to the karaoke bar and the red light district of davao.

    Duterte was a pea brain at school. Now amoebas beat him at maths

    Duterte wasn’t bright at school and couldn’t add up so he just makes up figures instead.

    Duterte’s legal mantra is, ‘show me the man, and i’ll fabricate the evidence’

    Duterte’s policing policy is, ‘shoot first, and don’t ask questions after’

    The human brain weighs 3 pounds, or in duterte’s case a packet of fetanyl.

    Duterte’s teenage daughter owns more houses than the local estate agent.

    Duterte’s logic has more holes in it than a colander

    Duterte only knows one speech which he has on endless loop

    Duterte likes to be on tv but he has a face for radio.

    Duterte has more chips on his shoulders than in a branch of mcdonalds

    Duterte’s role model and hero is hitler. So he should know how it ends.

    Duterte doesn’t want to go to the white house because he doesn’t want to use the servant’s entrance

    China is known as the sleeping giant. Duterte is known as the sleeping pygmy.

    Duterte is a hit with the women. Erratum. That should read, duterte hits women.

    Duterte says he is not a misogynist. That is because he doesn’t understand what big words mean.

    Duterte gets everywhere. I looked up the meaning of hypocricy in the dictionary and it just had a picture of him

    Duterte likes lots of exposure, unless it is his bank accounts or property empire.

    Duterte has Mocha uson to spread his lies, or as she is known in showbiz – Margarine mocha – you can spread her anywhere, anytime.

    Mocha uson is bisexual, because it gives her double the chance to lower her….morality

  13. karlgarcia says:

    Back to this so-called OBOR

    Is India trying to convince the world China’s One Belt One Road plan is secretly colonial?

    Is India trying to convince the world China’s One Belt One Road plan is secretly colonial?
    More than 29 heads of nations came together in Beijing on Sunday to officially launch China’s massive One Belt One Road initiative, an effort that some have described as the biggest overseas development push in history. But despite the enormity of the project, which will include investments estimated at $900 billion to develop new land and maritime trade routes between China and Europe, Beijing’s most populous neighbour was conspicuous by its absence. Explaining its decision to stay away, the Indian government released a statement saying it is concerned about China’s attitude towards territorial sovereignty and financial responsibility.

    “We are of firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality… Connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity.


    Guided by our principled position in the matter, we have been urging China to engage in a meaningful dialogue on its connectivity initiative, ‘One Belt, One Road’ which was later renamed as ‘Belt and Road Initiative’. We are awaiting a positive response from the Chinese side.”

    — Ministry of External Affairs
    The Times of India condensed this to a simple phrase that would easily resonate with Indians, saying New Delhi’s strongly worded statement suggested that the Belt and Road project “is little more than a colonial enterprise, leaving debt and broken communities in its wake”.

    China-Pakistan corridor

    India’s statement is generally being read as a direct response to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a $62 billion package of infrastructure projects considered one of the flagship parts of the Belt and Road initiative. The CPEC connects China’s western Xinjiang province with Gwadar, a port on the Arabian sea, while also giving Pakistan access to other Central Asian nations. But a significant portion of the corridor runs through what New Delhi calls Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

    This has constantly caused heartburn in relations between New Delhi and Beijing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a reference to the CPEC at the Raisina Dialogue in January, saying “only by respecting the sovereignty of countries involved, can regional connectivity corridors fulfill their promise and avoid differences and discord.”

    Saturday’s statement from the Ministry of External Affairs about the Belt and Road Initiative reiterated this.

    “Regarding the so-called ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’, which is being projected as the flagship project of the BRI/OBOR, the international community is well aware of India’s position. No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

    Colonial China

    While the references to CPEC and sovereignty are to be expected, Saturday’s statement included objections that go beyond questions of territory.

    “Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities; balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards; transparent assessment of project costs; and skill and technology transfer to help long term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities.”

    India has always insisted on referring to OBOR as a “unilateral” or “national” project of China’s rather than a regional, multilateral one. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said in 2015 that OBOR is a “national initiative devised with national interests,” and that if China wanted India to buy into it, they would “need to have larger discussions and those haven’t happened.”

    References to financial responsibility, environmental protection, transparency and technology transfer now expand on this idea with a more specific critique. With the CPEC, India wanted China to know that it is miffed about the initiative intruding on disputed territory. With the new references, it seems like it is trying to convince countries that are party to OBOR that getting close to China might be a bad idea.

    Debt diplomacy

    This is not new. Analysts have for some time warned that Beijing’s massive initiative is essentially aimed at helping China transition from a manufacturing nation into a consumer economy, get rid of excess capacity, reduce the disparity between its western and eastern provinces and, most importantly, project Chinese geostrategic power throughout the neighbourhood and beyond.

    Foreign policy analyst Brahma Chellaney called the OBOR China’s “debt-trap diplomacy”, arguing that it intentionally puts partner countries in debt to increase Beijing’s leverage. Ratings agency Fitch warned in a report earlier this year that OBOR does not address the most pressing infrastructure needs of partner countries and could easily result in unviable projects and smaller nations saddled with large debts.

    There have already been examples of this. In Sri Lanka, China helped build a large port and airport near Hambantota but with little economic activity emerging from either project, the loans are mounting and that debt is turning into equity, giving Beijing more control over key assets on the island country. Analysts in Cambodia have raised red flags suggesting the same thing might happen there. Seema Sirohi, writing in the Economic Times, goes further, calling OBOR “not globalisation 2.0 but dominance 3.0”. New Delhi now appears to be taking this line too.

    Too little too late

    Yet it is important to also note that almost every large country in the world, apart from India, was already at the table in Beijing. Even the United States of America, which initially planned to snub Beijing, sent representatives after China said it would open its market to American beef. The same applied to India’s neighbourhood. Every one of India’s neighbours, barring Bhutan, had a delegation at the Belt and Road Forum.

    Never mind questions about what India’s own connectivity efforts have amounted to, whether it is the Spice Route or Project Mausam, the Indian Ocean-focused SAGAR or New Delhi’s inability to keep even Bhutan in a road project connecting the neighbourhood. The last-minute statement from MEA suggests negotiations for India to turn up at the Belt and Road Forum failed, as have most other attempts to connect with Beijing recently – whether it is keeping India out of the Nuclear Suppliers Group or in preventing Masood Azhar from being declared a global terrorist.

    India might be attempting a face-saver in bringing up questions of finances and transparency with OBOR, but it is unlikely to convince anyone beyond a domestic audience, at least for the moment. But MEA seems to have finally made its position on OBOR clear. What will snubbing China, India’s largest trading partner, mean for events in a region that is already tense?

    • My respect for India grows. Thanks for bringing this in, Karl.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Welcome, Joe.

      • sonny says:

        My thanks too, Karl. During my 5-yr stint in computer materials & processing, the Indian professional literature was one of our mainstays in the industry. Thus my sympathies in the field lie with them.

    • Notice also how China’s not even interested in the Philippines.

      • karlgarcia says:

        “Notice also how China’s not even interested in the Philippines.”

        Do you notice that Lance?
        How I wish that is the case, but we all know that it is not.

        • In terms of big picture, karl… China’s in Africa, S. America, and it seems now they want to penetrate the Spice Islands , towards there is the Philippines. But their interests seem to stop at logging and mining in these parts. But when taken together China is Europe ,or West facing.

          I agree it is still colonization, but not like Rome and the British, more like the US in the last half of the last century, but much smaller foot print. My point is that China still sees the Philippines as a backwater, requiring no serious planning in their bigger plans, hence that One Road doesn’t come close to the Philippines, the South China seas do.

          • karlgarcia says:

            It seems that you have not been interested in reading our take on the debt trap by China which surely goes beyond logging and mining.

            • karl,

              The debt trap is kinda obvious. I believe you guys call ’em 5-6 scams, loan sharking over here. Black street gangs over here, marginalized by Mexican and Central American gangs, and side lined by White gangs, now subsist by pimping innocent White suburban girls, they get them hooked on meth, heroin thus rendering them physically and emotionally dependent on them (fear of force too). Not the best way to conduct business of course, but extortion (in all its forms) has been around for awhile.

              My point is this debt stuff is only a small portion of its bigger strategy. But my bigger point vis-a-vis Philippines as seen thru China’s eyes, is actually in line with all you guys’ thoughts on this, ie. know that China doesn’t think much of you, thus you can make more realistic decisions, ex. not cutting ties with the US and others—- don’t go all in with China. China’s not looking to make long term investments in the Philippines, just like its not looking to make ’em in Africa and S. America either.

              Like that poor innocent prostitute in EDSA Entertainment complex whose ready to drop everything thinking some rich Chinese will surely marry her and live happily ever after, I’m simply saying don’t quit your day job, don’t start packing up and saying goodbye to your roommates in Ermita 😉 .

              • karlgarcia says:

                Not that kind if Debt Trap, It is the trillion peso worth Infra Debt trap. Jeez, you really know how not to pay attention. Chempo had several posts about it. You keep on saying big picture, yet you can not see.

              • “Foreign policy analyst Brahma Chellaney called the OBOR China’s “debt-trap diplomacy”, arguing that it intentionally puts partner countries in debt to increase Beijing’s leverage.”

                It’s the same thing, karl.

                The flip side to this, is debt forgiveness—- an equally absurd undertaking.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Unfortunately Duterte is throwing the US under the bus, at least he is attempting to.
                And he is the one doing the ‘All-in” stuff.And if you say that is bad, I agree.

          • chemrock says:

            After evolving out of communism and experienced growth and unimaginable wealth thru globalisation and capitalism, China now sees the world in two dimensions – suppliers or buyers. The whole word are their buyers, with the west more so. Resource rich and mostly third word countries are their suppliers. Hence their great interest in Africa and far away Latin Americas. Philippines is the oddity. There are resources sure enough, but as a market for their goods, its insignificant. They key importance of Philippines to the Chinese is their security strategy of surrounding the middle kingdom with vassal states. Philippines was a torn in their plans due to its long association with US. If you think that they were happy Duterte came along and all of a sudden there is a shift in their favour, you are being naive. Covert initiatives had been in place for a long time to bring Phil’s under their orbit. It began to materialise under Arroyo admin. Aquino admin frustrated that. During the whole of Aquino presidency the Chinese couldn’t sit back and watch US ascendency again. They must have planned for the next admin that will be more amiable to their overtures. My bet is they initially focussed on Bongbong. I saw Marcos revisionism activities 10 years ago and wondered why Filipinos were so laid back because it attracted no lashbacks. This revisionist works simply grew more blatant over the years. So yes, my view is the Chinese interest in Phils is defense oriented. The resources are just bonus. So it will pamper us to a certain extent, but its not going to put $100 b here.

            • Very enlightening perspective. It fits, that China is not really new to the scene.

              • That’s a good way of looking at it, chemp ———— buyers and suppliers (thanks). Aside from the Philippines’ location, I’d probably add its affinity to the US and Western ideals too. Not only will the Philippines NEVER be a market to covet, China will always deem the Philippines suspect because of its Western ties.

                Whatever money China purports to sink in the Philippines, it pretty much already knows that it’ll end up in the US (ie. since most Filipino politicians take their ill gotten wealth to the US), I guess that would be another reason why China won’t sink too much of its money in the Philippines.

    • chemrock says:

      Japan and India are coming up with another initiative to link countries from African eastwards all the way to Japan. This will be trade and economic cooperation, not infras and it’s 2 way trade, not one monopolised by a behemoth China. Interesting how this will develop, but it’s absolutely right for Japan and India to try to regain some influence.

      As to OBOR I think EU countries are not biting. Russia has backed off.

      China’s invitation for countries to join in the infra investments are too fold. Firstly, there’s big bucks involved, so more countries chipping the better. Secondly, when countries invested in the infras, they need to go with Chinese policies to make projects a success. They are killing 2 birds with one stone. Many of these infras are in countries where the projects are not sustainable. And Duts is jumping in. Would you go put money in those Pakistani projects?

    • NHerrera says:

      Of these five main policy thrusts of the Administration,

      * Illegal drug war
      * Constitutional Change
      * Peace with NPA and Muslim Rebels
      * Tax Reform and other Economy Related Measures
      * Economic Development mainly via China-funded Infrastructure Development

      the last, to my mind, is the foundation item of the set. Great success there would facilitate the success of the other thrusts. A lot of weight is being placed on the last item that it seems everything is being done — including considering the PH win from the PCA of it’s WPS claim such as the Scarborough Shoal as a non-event — to make sure that China is not displeased and withdraw its intended multi-billion promised infra loans.

      On the other hand, failure there will complicate the success in the other policy thrusts because of the massiveness of the funds involved, failure of which may include a high percentage of none or poorly functioning infrastructure and great opportunity costs, but with the associated funding needing to be paid nevertheless — much much more than involved in that white elephant the Philippine Nuclear Power Plant.

      Failure in the Infra Thrust via China’s OBOR initiative cannot be attributed only to President Duterte. The Economic Team and Trade and Industry people will have more to account for such failures given the warning already voiced from various international sources — using as basis the experience of failed third-world China-funded projects; and from Philippine sources based on the experience about Chinese project products previously touted as cheap but turning out much delayed in delivery or breaking down more often than usual for such products. Thus if the Economic Team is party to this headlong OBOR “gold rush” with unrestrained speed, in spite of uncertainties and risks already known, they are worse than the President, who in fairness is not an economist or a financial whiz.

      (A test question to the TSH reader-contributors (no correct or incorrect answer): would you buy a Chinese car with the “same advertised features” for P600k against a Toyota at P800k? — that is at a 25% discount?)

  14. Bill In Oz says:

    Chemrock & Joe etc

    Remember the $81 Million Bangladesh bank theft ?
    Well it seems that Norht Korean agents were behind it

    • karlgarcia says:

      The Nokors must have contacts in the HK Triad and Russian Mob, I still think when it comes to hacking like that Ransomware, the pattern is, they (hackers) steal from NSA tech or any security tech then create havoc.

      • Thanks! , Bill.

        Maybe Russians hiding behind North Koreans? Working with Chinese? National actors not necessarily criminal in scope, and not crime per se but testing out possibilities of cyber warfare. Hmmmmmm… very interesting.

    • chemrock says:

      No one really knows for sure.
      Norkor hackers are govt employees and their activities mostly politically motivated.
      The hacker group Lazarus have been id as the ones responsible for several big time jobs, like the one on Sonny and now suspected as involved in the Bangladesh central bank heist. The reason for that suspicion? Some trails led to Norkor ip address. But this is no definitive. It could be red herrings to lead the trail to Norkor. When the Norkor started out their hacking activities, their technology was very crude. No doubt they have progressed, but I don’t think they are anywhere near the Russians.

      Personally I think it’s the Russians. They have the technical capabilities and they are well versed with the financial technologies. Norkor do not have the exposures to the high level technologies involved in the Bangladesh hack.

      • Bill In Oz says:

        A more sophisticated outfit would have sought payout in bitcoin which is very anonymous. The Bangladesh theft however ( from memory ) was paid out in sweet hard cash and that is one thing the North Koreans always want as their trade is throttled by UN trade restrictions.

        • chemrock says:

          Haha yes crypto currencies are great way to launder money. But there’s no way to convert $81mm to bitcoins.

          By the way the ransomware payment is in bitcoins. When wannacry news came out, Bitcoins took a hit 7 days running. Now it has recovered by at least 300 points to $2,100. It’s crazy.

          • How does one cash out in bitcoins? Is bitcoin just for bitcoin market, or is there a mechanism now where if you have bitcoins, you can go to a real bank or ATM and withdraw hard cash?

            Bill, I do remember seeing a bunch of Korean run casinos in the Philippines, with that Korean massage, KTV, club, short-time motels, all other businesses related to Philippines night industry—– but never thought they’d be North Koreans, or can North Koreans easily pose as South Koreans (not by looks , but administratively, ie. papers, etc.)

            Also if those Koreans are South Koreans in the Philippines (legit or criminal), won’t they be able to identify North Koreans? I’m with chemp here, I think because so little is known of North Korea, they’ve become our go to cyber boogeyman… their cyber stuff may be light years ahead, but I doubt their ground game is sophisticated (which I think the Bangladeshi heist required).

            • Bill In Oz says:

              Not sure about the process Lance. But if one buy bitcoin, then one can sell them too.

              Bitcoin was invented by an Aussie. But I think it should be banned world wide. It is just a black market currency to support black industries.

              As for Koreans in the Philippines : yes I think that North Koreans could be planted there under false identities to serve the regime’s purposes.

              • karlgarcia says:

                That spy stuff they did n Malaysia to kill the half brother of Kim is a thng for suspense thriller novels.

              • That North Korean assassination, although creative, wasn’t really spy stuff IMHO, karl, they simply created an elaborate hoax and found very innocent women to conduct the poisoning under false pretense (candid camera)—— though I guess the smuggling of said chemicals would be pretty impressive, maybe not (not too sure of its transport requirements).

              • karlgarcia says:

                Maybe if it were the Fast and the Furious or the Expendables who did it, it would be spy stuff.

              • chemrock says:

                Ordinary North Koreans do not have passports and cannot travel overseas.

                Any Norkor guys you see overseas has to be govt agents.

              • chemp,

                But South Koreans would then be able to identify them, correct?

            • chemrock says:

              The origin of bitcoin is shrouded in secrecy. Saitoshi Nakamota was thought to be the guy who invented it, but no one by that name has surfaced. A few others were though to have use the SN pseudonym but nothing there’s no prove.

              Bill – the ossie Craig Wright claimed to be SN but he could’nt prove it.

              What’s known is the SN must be someone living in US, has commonwealth English background (hence the ossie angle) and has sophisticated knowledge of computer forensics, coding and money. The trail led to a Japanese guy in US whose name I think was Dorian Saitoshi Nakamota or something like that, but he denied it.

              So why the secrecy? Because it was intended originally for illicit purposes. SN eventual turned everything over to some other developers who went legit. Hence SN’s lips are forever sealed.

              Bitcoins, and other cryptos, just goes to confirm what’s written in books about money thousands of years ago before we have internet. Anything can be cash, even pieces of sea shells — so long as every body accepts it. I don’t really know much about crypto ccy but I think the world just got caught up with a runaway idea that seem to work at the moment. I think it’s success will be it’s failure. As it gets too big, then the problems will come. Problems there will be for the simple reason it’s un-regulated and backed only by demand. It’s the same as the tulips of Holland once upon a time.

              There are bitcoin ATMs in some cities. I think there are 4 in Singapore. You can cash out physical coins, but I don’t think you can walk into a shop and buy something with it.

              • I thought bitcoin was an American invention too. I’ve never heard of the Australian guy, but I think that Japanese-American lives in California, I’ve seen him featured in expose reporting, but I think he’s never done a sit down interview.

                So the physical coins, are also Bitcoin coins? That’s too funny!

                re illicit transaction, drug cartels got into art pieces to do exactly that. Reminds of Micha’s arbitrariness of money idea, so long as you have two (or more) parties to accept terms. Very interesting!

  15. Bill In Oz says:

    With that much money involved, they could buy assistance from anyone they needed in the Triads etc.

  16. karlgarcia says:

    I expect a retraction on the threat of war by China.

    DFA urged to file protest over China’s war threat

    This comes after China reportedly threatened the Philippines with war if it ‘forces the issue’ of the arbitral ruling on the South China Sea

    Published 7:05 PM, May 21, 2017

    Updated 7:05 PM, May 21, 2017

    DIPLOMATIC PROTEST. New DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano is urged to file a diplomatic protest against China over its war threat. Rappler photo

    MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan urged newly-appointed Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano to file a diplomatic protest against China for threatening war against the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute.

    Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party (LP), issued the statement on Sunday, May 21, in reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s reported remarks to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

    Duterte on Friday, May 19, quoted Xi as saying that China will go to war if the Philippines “forces the issue” of the arbitral ruling on the South China Sea, which the Philippines won in July 2016.

    “Did China really threaten the Philippines with war after President Duterte asserted the Southeast Asian nation’s sovereignty over disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea? If so, then Foreign Affairs Secretary Cayetano should issue a diplomatic protest for this threat,” Pangilinan said.

    Pangilinan’s statement also comes a day after Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the Philippines can sue China for making such a threat.

    The senator also said the LP supports Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV’s Senate Resolution 158, which called on the Senate committees on foreign relations and economic affairs to conduct a hearing on the government’s foreign policy direction related to protecting the country’s national interest.

    “The hearing should tackle not only this issue, but also the details of the $24-billion loans and investments recently sealed with China, as well as the Duterte administration’s decision to reject aid from the European Union (EU),” Pangilinan added.

    The Philippines’ decision to no longer accept EU grants would affect around 250 million euros or P13.85 billion worth of aid.

    Senators have urged Duterte to reconsider his decision. – Rappl

    • karlgarcia says:

      China’s Threat Of War Against Philippines Is Baseless Scare Tactic

      May 20, 2017 @ 10:21 PM
      On Friday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said President Xi Jinping threatened war if Duterte started developing Philippine oil and gas resources in the South China Sea. The Philippines has every right to do so, per the award of an international arbitral tribunal in the Hague last year. After describing Xi’s threat, Duterte told his Philippine military audience, “What more could I say?” I sympathize. The Philippines is a much smaller country militarily, economically, and in diplomatic power, than is China. As Duterte points out, war with China would be a “massacre and it will destroy everything,” starting in Palawan, a long Philippine island bordering the South China Sea.

      A US air force personnel looks at a Philippine flag patch he exchanged with his Philippine counterpart after the closing ceremony of the annual joint US-Philippines military exercise in Manila on May 19, 2017. The Philippines and the United States launched annual military exercises on May 8 but the longtime allies scaled them down which focuses only on counter-terrorism and disaster relief in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s pivot to China and Russia. Credit: TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images

      But let’s consider a few options that show this threat of war for what it is: a baseless scare tactic. First, Duterte could hang tough and seek a stronger stance on the issue by the U.S., which is a Philippine ally per the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951. In his defense, Duterte and his predecessor Benigno Aquino may already have sought such help from the U.S. and gotten turned down or dissuaded. That would be a stain on U.S. honor. But redoubling his efforts, for example reaching out to Trump and bringing the threat before the United Nations General Assembly, is constitutionally required according to Philippine Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

      To whomever one ascribes blame, the U.S.-Philippine alliance failed to defend the Philippine EEZ when China occupied Mischief Reef in 1995, and Scarborough Shoal in 2012. That is a fact. Every day that China continues its occupation, the alliance fails anew.

      The U.S. and Philippines together, could easily have defended these locations. The Philippines tried briefly at the Scarborough standoff of 2012, but U.S. ships did not join, and then the U.S. and China brokered a deal in which the Philippines backed off, and China stayed. Why didn’t the U.S. and Philippines return in force when they realized they had been tricked? Given that we all stayed home, we cannot say that China’s willingness to fight has been tested at Scarborough.

      When I spoke to several Chinese foreign ministry officials a couple years ago, they said they would not fight back if the U.S. and Philippines removed them from Scarborough by force. It was a startling admission, one gotten when I surprised them with the question. But I bet it is true, even today. If China attacked Philippine military forces, or the island of Palawan, the U.S. would come to the aid of the Philippines militarily, and China knows this. That would be militarily and economically damaging, if not catastrophic, to both countries. Therefore a Chinese war against the Philippines is unlikely to happen as long as the alliance with the U.S. is healthy. President Duterte could make this clear to the public in both nations by visiting the White House, and inviting Trump to Malacañang Palace, rather than amplify China’s scare tactics.

      Vietnamese protesters hold up posters while shouting anti-China slogans in front of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi on July 8, 2012. Hundreds of people staged the anti-China protest, the second one in a week, after the China National Offshore Oil Corporation announced last month that nine offshore blocks were available for exploration, and said it was seeking bids from foreign companies. Vietnam contends that the blocks ‘lie entirely within Vietnam’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone.’ Credit: HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/GettyImages

      More likely than war would be Chinese attempts to interdict Philippine commercial vessels trying to drill for oil, and offering to sell Philippine oil rights. China did this to Vietnam in 2012. When Vietnam tried to tow sonar in its EEZ, looking for oil and gas, a Chinese boat ran over the cables and cut them. Also in 2012, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) tried to auction blocks for oil exploration that were within Vietnam’s EEZ. The Philippines could protect its oil exploration and drilling with its own Coast Guard, perhaps accompanied by U.S., European and Japanese Coast Guard.

      This would require improved relations with these countries, which is possible. According to U.S. administration officials, Trump wants to help the Philippines be a bulwark against Chinese expansionism in Asia. But President Duterte cold-shouldered President Trump’s invitation to the White House. Meanwhile he told an audience of Beijing business executives, “America has lost now. I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow.”

      Why did Duterte alienate the U.S. ($18 trillion nominal GDP) and E.U. ($20 trillion GDP) in favor of China ($11 trillion GDP)? Because of promises of $24 billion in investments and loans that will most likely primarily benefit Chinese companies, and that have not yet materialized? The Philippines should use its precious resources, whether loans or taxes, to develop its own industrial and technological capacity, not that of foreign companies. The Philippines is a democracy with a U.S. defense treaty. China is a military competitor and is in the process of illegally occupying Philippine territory. The Philippines has every reason to court the U.S. for protection, and to expect that such protection be afforded.

      It is hard to make sense of the U.S.-Philippine alliance failure without resorting to theories of Chinese economic influence in both Philippine and U.S. politics. It is clear that Duterte is seeking billions in loans from China. It is possible that Duterte’s designees, whether friends, family, or political supporters, could stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars from these deals, especially if they are involved in contracting or as middlemen between the Philippine government and the Chinese companies who would likely do most of the work. The Trump family is also making money in China, including through trademarks and possible Chinese real estate investment in the New York area. Is it possible that China’s willingness to provide economic benefit to political leaders in the U.S. and the Philippines has made these political leaders soft on China? I think so. And I think that may be why the U.S. and Philippines never did much about China’s occupation of Mischief Reef in 1995 and Scarborough Shoal in 2012.

      This problem predates Trump and Duterte, which suggests that we need stronger laws to make it impossible for politicians, and by extension their friends, family, and political supporters, from doing business with politically, economically, and militarily aggressive countries like China. Not forbidding such business opens our democracies to authoritarian political influence. As Trump rightly notes, people in the U.S. need the Philippines as a bulwark against Chinese expansionism. Duterte rightly notes that the Philippines, alone, would be destroyed in a war against China. People in the Philippines need the U.S. for its military power. We need each other. Voters in both countries, and in other democracies, must demand that their political leaders stick together and defend the line that divides democracy from autocracy wherever it comes under threat.

      Please follow me on Twitter @anderscorr, or contact me at

      • The US can hardly be seen as failing the alliance if the Philippines concedes rights to China and pushes the US away. No trigger acts have been taken by China, under the Defense agreement. It is PH sovereignty at stake over lands, and US sovereignty at stake regarding passage through international waters.

        • President Duterte is willing to sacrifice territory for economic promise of alliance with China. The US is just a blustering posture point for him to gain popular outrage and support and turn the nation to China. It is a sovereign right of the Philippines to do that, and the US has no basis to interfere.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Whatever Duterte is doing, he wants the Net Trust rating of China and Russia to improve, and the Net Trust rating of the US to deteriorate.
          He is counting on his 16 million voters.
          Net trust stays “Very Good” for United States
          As of December 2016, the United States scored a very good net trust rating of +59 (70% much trust, 11% little trust), 7 points below the very good +66 in September 2016. This is the lowest in over six years, since the good +35 in March 2010 [Chart 1, Table 1].
          Net trust in the United States has been positive since SWS first surveyed it in December 1994, ranging from a moderate +18 in May 2005 to an excellent +82 in December 2013.
          “Neutral” for China; Record-high “Neutral” for Russia
          China’s latest net trust score of neutral +9 (39% much trust, 30% little trust) was two grades up from the bad -33 in September 2016. This is the highest in over four years, since the moderate +10 in March 2012 [Chart 1, Table 4].
          Net trust in China has been positive in only 8 out of 41 surveys since SWS first surveyed it in August 1994, reaching as high as a moderate +17 in June 2010 and as low as a bad -46 in September 2015.
          In December 2016, Russia scored a new record-high neutral net trust rating of +9 (36% much trust, 27% little trust). This surpassed the previous record of the neutral -4 in March 2014 [Chart 1, Table 5].
          Out of the six surveys since December 1995, net trust in Russia was neutral in three, poor in two, and bad in one.

    • NHerrera says:


      Somehow, this cycle of statements, seemingly scripted, from Durterte and Xi reminds me of the show. long past, I used to enjoy — the ventriloquist and his dummy. I am pretty sure Xi is not the dummy.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Remember that shoe throwing incident of Krushev and Sumulong? After calling Sumulong a puppet, he threw his shoe at him.

        Who can dare call Duterte a puppet on International TV and Duterte throwing his shoe?

  17. distant observer says:

    Just wanted to pass by to express my continuous support and admiration for what you’re doing on this website Joe.
    Don’t lose sanity amidst this madness…


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