Bombings, pandemic, Chinese incursions — how many more problems do we need?

by Ambassador B. Romualdez

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo meets with Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., in Manila, Philippines, March 1, 2019. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

The twin bombings in Jolo carried out by female suicide bombers, killing 17 people and wounding 75 others, simply shows us how volatile the situation in Mindanao is – with terrorists taking advantage of the pandemic.

Many of our friends in Washington, D.C. particularly from members of Congress and the State Department sent their sympathies and condolences to the people of Jolo who suffered from the terrorist attacks. Senators Jack Reed, Jim Risch, Bob Menendez and Jim Inhofe have all expressed support to the Philippines, vowing continued close US cooperation on counter-terrorism.

Clearly, terrorist activities in Southern Philippines are carried out by ISIS-affiliated extremist groups taking advantage of our government having to deal with the pandemic as the number of infections continues to rise, hitting 210,000 cases.

Those of us in our senior years should consider ourselves lucky to be alive today since those vulnerable are coming from the 65 and up age bracket. For older people, the key is to survive and live a little longer. But younger people who still have a long life ahead of them should be concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their future, and try to help the country survive economically while keeping alive.

It’s contemptible how corrupt officials of PhilHealth saw the pandemic as an opportunity to line their pockets. Stealing is already bad enough but stealing from the sick and the poor is absolutely disgusting. President Duterte’s pronouncement that corrupt PhilHealth officials will be prosecuted and sent to jail is important for people to hear.

“Sadly, there are people coming from the extreme left and far right who continue to think of ways to destabilize the government – all of them selfishly lusting to take power. This is really despicable.”

Sadly, there are people coming from the extreme left and far right who continue to think of ways to destabilize the government – all of them selfishly lusting to take power. This is really despicable. There are already so many Filipinos who are going hungry because of the loss of jobs, do we really need these power-hungry individuals adding to their misery?

For all those salivating for power, don’t be impatient – wait for your turn. As the president said, he just wants to finish his term. The 2022 elections is just around the corner. Besides, do you really want to take the reins of government now and think you can do a better job of solving our current multifarious problems? Aside from terrorist extremists, the COVID-19 pandemic and the contraction of the economy, we now have more Chinese aggression in our maritime territories in the South China Sea.

“Last week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin lodged a strong diplomatic protest over the Chinese Coast Guard’s illegal confiscation last May of Filipino fishermen’s fish aggregating devices in Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), and expressed resolute objection to China’s continuing illicit issuances …”

Last week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin lodged a strong diplomatic protest over the Chinese Coast Guard’s illegal confiscation last May of Filipino fishermen’s fish aggregating devices in Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), and expressed resolute objection to China’s continuing illicit issuances of radio challenges against Philippine aircraft conducting legitimate regular maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana weighed in, not mincing words, saying that China’s claims on most of the South China Sea based on “their so-called historical rights over an area enclosed by their nine-dash line don’t exist except in their imaginations.”

The US was happy to support the Philippines by also weighing in on Chinese aggression over the South China Sea, with State Secretary Mike Pompeo announcing the imposition of visa restrictions on persons “responsible for, or complicit in, either the large-scale reclamation, construction, or militarization of disputed outposts in the South China Sea.”

This move, said Secretary Pompeo, clearly expresses support for a free and open Indo-Pacific. “We respect the sovereign rights of all nations, regardless of size, and seek to preserve peace and uphold freedom of the seas in a manner consistent with international law,” he stated.

The US Commerce Department also imposed sanctions on 24 state-owned Chinese companies for “helping the Chinese military construct and militarize the internationally condemned artificial islands in the South China Sea.” These companies have been placed in the “Entity List” which restricts them from buying US goods, materials and technology without a special license.

“Such is the confidence over the strong bond between the two nations that Secretary Locsin himself said that if something happens that is beyond incursion but is in fact an attack on a Filipino vessel, then he will “call up Washington, D.C.”

These developments only show that the relationship between the US and the Philippines will continue to endure despite the many challenges. Such is the confidence over the strong bond between the two nations that Secretary Locsin himself said that if something happens that is beyond incursion but is in fact an attack on a Filipino vessel, then he will “call up Washington, D.C.”

“For now, we have to concentrate on fighting the pandemic and doing our part in helping the less fortunate.”

For now, we have to concentrate on fighting the pandemic and doing our part in helping the less fortunate. As Dr. Edsel Salvaña said, the pandemic is temporary. This too will come to pass. People need to practice patience instead of becoming a patient.

“Eventually we’ll be able to see each other in person. If you insist on visiting before it’s safe, you may never see each other again. Mask, physical distance, eye protection/face shield. And Zoom or Skype or Viber, etc. for now. Best practices ensure best chances of survival,” he said.

We have to overcome our loneliness and be smarter than the virus, he also said, warning against unnecessary social visits that could put our loved ones in harm’s way due to the risk of infection. “How does one live with the guilt knowing that you put your loved ones in harm’s way or even indirectly killed them?” Dr. Salvaña pointed out.

Smart businessmen are no longer looking at profit in terms of dollars and cents, but in terms of saving lives. A wise businessman succinctly pointed out – “Our profit this year is our lives. What good is wealth without health – can’t take it with you.”

Email: babeseyeview@gmail.com

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