Tuesday, March 4, 2008
It’s called treason
Truth seekers from Bacolod have yet to extend their search to the Spratly Island angle. This Spratly angle is larger than the ZTE scam. Indeed, some people have called this the mother of the ZTE deal and the source of all the alleged corruption stemming from Chinese loans.
Seven countries claim ownership of the disputed Spratly Islands, just off of Palawan. China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines all claim to own part or all of the Spratlys. Indeed, the Spratly Islands is just a stone throw away from Negros waters. Our people, especially the fisherfolk, should take heed. The Spratly Islands, which which we call the Kalayaan Islands, are rich in oil and natural gas. China has already established several outpost and other military installations around these island waters.
In 2003, the Philippine government signed an agreement with China to jointly undertake seismic studies of the Spratlys and explore the area for oil and natural gas. Naturally, the other claimants got angry. But aside from angering our neighbors and undermining regional stability, Arroyo’s action is also be illegal. The Ombudsman, Merceditas Gutierrez said that she believed that the deal violated the constitution. While it was a deal between the PNOC of the Philippines and CNOOC of China, it implicitly gave Chinese government and military vessels access to our oil reserves. This deal signed in 2003 effectively strengthened China and Vietnam’s claim to the Spratlys at the expense of our own territorial claims and not just over the Kalayaan islands but to surrounding seas all the way up to Palawan.
Now why would the Arroyo government do a stupid thing like that? How about 2 billion US dollars a year? After the Spratly deal was signed, the Chinese government committed $2 billion in official development assistance a year to the Philippines until 2010. But the two billion dollars are not for free. As loans we will have to pay the money back. This is probably the reason why Arroyo is determined to last till 2010. Meaning, she (GMA) has 2 billion reasons for doing so.
According to the correspondents expose on the same toipic, what makes this particular deal with China appealing to some government officials is that they do not have the cumbersome requirements that loans from the US, Japan, and the EU have. Requirements for documentation, bidding, transparency and other conditions do not apply to the ODA from China. The ZTE deal, for one did not require any public bidding and would have pushed through without the people’s knowledge if Joey De Venecia did not expose the Abalos “bukol”. Given China’s laxity with their loan conditions, its no wonder why every government project funded by Chinese ODA have been subject to allegations of graft and corruption.
Apparently, the Chinese government has, by bribing the Arroyo government, has enhanced their influence in the region and strengthened their claim to the Spratlys Islands. The Chinese were able to do this, according to the investigative reporters of a major TV station, by corrupting the Arroyo administration officials and their cronies. They said that $8 billion represents unprecedented opportunities for graft on a scale that would shock ordinary Filipinos. The same reporters claim that by the end of the day, that $8 billion is going to be paid back. Not by the Chinese, nor will rich Filipinos who don’t pay their taxes anyway but by us, you and me who have no choice but to remit our withholding tax automatically every time we get our salaries, and by our children and their children to boot. The price to pay for giving the Chinese access to our territorial waters will be more poverty, apathy, and amorality. They call it treason.