Beting Dolor

Editor-In- Chief

Elected leaders who misunderstand their roles

It would seem that a number of our elected officials have no clear understanding of the roles they have to play under a democratic government.
Foremost of these are US President Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, as well as US House Speaker Paul Ryan and Philippine Speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez.
Messrs. Trump and Duterte both have issues with judges who disagree with their actions. For the American leader, his ill-fated Executive Order banning nationals from seven predominantly Islamic countries from traveling to the US was quickly shot down by federal judges last month. But he is so hell-bent on his anti-Muslim campaign that he has just released another EO that continues to limit nationals from six of the original seven countries from entering the US.
In the Philippines, meanwhile, Mr. Duterte has just said that local government officials such as mayors should not be subject to audit by the Commission on Audit, whose job is to make sure that public funds are spent legally. Speaking in the vernacular this week, Mr. Duterte said something to the effect that the men and women of the CA should just take over as mayors since they seem to know better.

It has been pointed out time and again that Mr. Trump’s lack of experience in governance is one of his biggest weaknesses. He simply does not understand that his heading the executive department does not mean he also heads the legislative and judicial branches of government, or that they are subordinate to him. He feels he is more empowered because he was elected, while everyone else in the two other branches of government are either appointed or promoted.
As for Mr. Duterte, he recently admitted – an apologized for – continuing to act like a city mayor, which he was for the longest time. As president of the Republic of the Philippines, he wields tremendous power and has appeared swamped by the responsibilities of office.
As SpiderMan was reminded by his Uncle Ben, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
As President, Duterte still does not comprehend his great responsibility to the Filipino people. Consider that some of his appointees like Mocha Uson (essentially a former bold starlet) and Cesar Montano (a faded matinee star) have been committing acts that show their failure to follow the rules at the local board of censors and a marketing arm of the Tourism department, respectively.
It will get worse in the near future as Mr. Duterte has promised to give a job to publicity hound Sandra Cam (a self-styled whistleblower), who is already acting like a big shot by claiming to be close to the president.

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PH, China squabble over Benham Rise

 

MANILA – A 13-million-hectare underwater plateau known as Benham Rise has become the latest cause of a squabble between the Philippines and China after it was learned that a Chinese vessel had intruded there recently.
On Monday, March 13, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a statement over the Chinese presence in the area off Aurora province, in conflict with at least two of his Cabinet secretaries. The president initially said that he had granted permission for the Chinese vessel to conduct a survey of the area, but Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he found the incursion “very concerning.”
Mr. Duterte then added that he did not want to pick a fight with China over Benham Rise. He, however, admitted that China was laying claim to the disputed area, not unlike its claim of ownership of Scarborough Shoal.
“Let us not fight over sovereignty or ownership at this time,” Mr. Duterte said, adding that “things are going great for my country” vis-à-vis its relations with China.
On Tuesday, March 14, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said, “Benham Rise belongs to the Filipino people.”
The commotion was triggered last week by a statement from China that the Philippines cannot take Benham Rise “as its own territory.”
By Tuesday, this week, however, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said her country “fully respects the Philippines’ rights over the continental shelf in the Benham Rise, and there is no such thing as China challenging those rights.”

She added that China merely sought to enjoy the freedom of navigation in the area.
It was another spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Geng Shuang, who had said that the Philippines had no right to claim Benham Rise as its own.
While part of the Philippine Sea, the country cannot claim “ownership” over the plateau, but can only claim exclusive rights to develop the area under international law.
It is believed that besides being rich with minerals, Benham Rise may have commercial quantities of natural gas, which China’s booming economy desperately needs as a source of power.
A large portion of Benham Rise falls within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, as recognized by the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea.
The previous administration of President Benigno Aquino III had taken China to international court over its claim over Scarborough Shoal, winning the case in 2012.
Former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario on Tuesday noted "recent negative observations" on Benham Rise as well as the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
In a statement, Del Rosario said this shows that "promoting national security, including protecting what is ours, must be paramount."
"Under no circumstances would it be wise for us to trade away our national security," Del Rosario said. – With an additional report from Rappler

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