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Tag: Rafael M. Alunan III
Aye, that is the question. The extended enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for Luzon will end in 10 days, by the end of April. The President and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases are between a rock and a hard place; between saving lives at the expense of saving the economy and between saving the economy at the expense of saving lives.
Strong coronavirus measures today should only last a few weeks, there shouldn’t be a big peak of infections afterwards, and it can all be done for a reasonable cost to society, saving millions of lives along the way. If we don’t take these measures, tens of millions will be infected, many will die, along with anybody else that requires intensive care, because the healthcare system will have collapsed.
Last Saturday, March 8, President Rodrigo Duterte declared a nationwide state of public health emergency pursuant to a Department of Health (DoH) letter of recommendation from Health Secretary Francisco Duque dated Feb. 21 should local transmissions occur. The day before, we learned that the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country had risen to six, two of which were deemed locally transmitted. Yesterday, four more cases were confirmed. We’re now on alert level Code Red sub-level one. It means we’re one step away from the “possible sustained community transmission” of the virus, or Code Red.
As of Sunday, 8:13 p.m., Feb. 23, 2020, the COVID-19 global snapshot was this: 78,830 confirmed cases and 2,469 deaths. Of the total, 76,936 confirmed cases and 2,442 deaths were in China. The rest are scattered in 30 countries worldwide and one cruise ship, the Diamond Princess.
The current tussle between the concessionaires and President Rodrigo R. Duterte (PRRD) stems from two arbitration awards by separate arbitration panels in favor of Maynilad Water (P7.4 Billion) and Manila Water (P3.4 Billion), in July 2017 and November 2018. The claimed amounts allegedly represent their accumulated losses after the Regulatory Office under the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) refused to grant their petitions to raise their tariffs from 2014 to 2018.
A few days ago, I spotted this interesting piece of news that China has reportedly reassigned over 60,000 soldiers to plant trees in a bid to combat pollution by increasing the country’s forest cover. A large regiment from the People’s Liberation Army, along with some of the nation’s People’s Armed Police, have been withdrawn from their posts on the northern border to work on non-military tasks inland. Most will be dispatched to Hebei province, the area known to be notorious for the smog blanketing Beijing.
Last week the Philippines hosted the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, who came to Manila to address the India-Philippines Business Conclave and the 4th ASEAN-India Business Summit in Manila on Oct. 19. The night before, President Rodrigo Duterte tendered a dinner in his honor in Malacañan. A major player of that conclave and summit was the Philippines-India Business Council (PIBC) chaired by Johnny Chotrani.
I spoke last week at a summit for campus safety, security, and disaster resilience. I called for a broad alliance of school stakeholders (administrators, faculty, staff, employees, safety/security officers and students) and partners (military, police, media, local officials, emergency response organizations), to ensure readiness, mitigate risk, rapidly respond to emergencies, and skillfully manage crises.
Hong Kong has captivated the world these past 15 weeks, awed by the tenacity of its citizens to live free and stay free. But this has forced the dragon, which we had hoped would evolve peacefully into a responsible global citizen and stabilizing force for good, to carefully weigh its options. Today, we liberally quote two respected thinkers — Alexander Neill and Shyam Saran — who have written of the risks that lie ahead. Mr. Neill is the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellow for Asia-Pacific security, while Mr. Saran is a former Foreign Minister of India.
I just returned the other day from a trip to India on the invitation of Johnny Chotrani, Chair of the Philippine-India Business Council (PIBC) of which I’m a member. We met with the ASEAN-India Business Council (AIBC), the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce Inc. (FICCI), and the Chamber of Indian Industry (CII). The trip had a dual purpose: it included matters pertaining to the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations (PCFR), which I chair, and where Johnny’s a member. I met with Philippihne Ambassador to India Dondon Bagatsing, our Defense Attaché and officials of India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MFA).
Reliable sources have disclosed that Operation “Awakening the Believers” was rolled out globally in early July. Simultaneous attacks were launched in Syria, Libya, Mozambique, Somalia, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Iraq. Islamic State Southeast Asia (ISEA) will allegedly follow suit with multiple coordinated attacks in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia. The attacks will reportedly come in waves, first from July to September, then another wave till the end of the year. High value targets such as churches, hotels, malls, public transport, and other heavily populated areas are reportedly in their sights.
For today’s column, I abridged an article entitled “A New Generation of Unrestricted Warfare” by David Barno and Nora Bensahel. Lt. General David W. Barno, USA (Ret.) is a Distinguished Practitioner in Residence, and Dr. Nora Bensahel is a Distinguished Scholar in Residence, at the School of International Service at American University. Both also serve as non-resident Senior Fellows at the Atlantic Council.
On June 28, news filtered in from Indanan, Sulu that two suicide bombers had penetrated the headquarters of the Army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team. As of the latest reports, eight people were killed (the two bombers, three soldiers, and three civilians); while 22 were wounded (12 soldiers and 10 civilians). The Islamic State East Asia Province (ISEAP) allegedly claimed responsibility for the attack.
I’m directing this column to our national and local leaders whose duty is to defend the country, protect the people, and secure our natural resources. There’s a need to adapt mindsets to a deteriorating security situation in the South China Sea -- fueled by China’s spurious claims of “indisputable sovereignty” over this vital body of water -- by thinking, speaking, and acting as one united leadership to confront the external and internal threats to our national security.
A week after the e-lections, citizens are questioning its integrity. Just like before, we hear cries of “dagdag-bawas,” be it manual or electronic. But who has the smoking gun? Only telltale signs, so far, that aren’t admissible in court. It’s a given that some won hands down on their own merit and those who fell short of the mark. What we don’t know is the exact count, whether some winners are really losers and if some losers actually won.
Writer Jeff Haden spoke to a number of Special Forces operators about perseverance, developing the right mindset, and how the only limits we really have are self-imposed -- adaptability, attitude, mental toughness -- and that in life there’s no finish line. One of them, Herbert Thompson, a Special Forces (Green Beret) team leader shared a story of a combat mission he undertook replete with leadership lessons.
Filipinos are being destabilized by all kinds of risks -- political, safety and security, economic and external. It’s not that we’re new to it but we’ve never been through all that’s happening at the same time in rising intensity, real or imagined. What am I referring to? Hang on to your seats as I run through my list.
As far back as 1991, I was vocal about investing in our defense should the government decide to let go of the US bases on account of a provision in the 1987 Constitution mandating “no foreign troops on Philippine soil.” Up to that point the US was our defense shield, and if we were to give it up then we would have to be responsible for the country’s defense.
WHEN government and society come together to address a national problem, the “whole-of-nation” principle is at work. It epitomizes national unity, solidarity, and teamwork. This is what Rotary Club of Manila’s (RCM) “One Rotary, One Philippines, One for Marawi” attempts to do — harnessing private sector companies and civic groups to partner with government agencies to address humanitarian assistance needs of people impacted by armed conflict and natural disasters.
Ten years ago, my family took our first ever cruise to celebrate three milestones: my 38th wedding anniversary, 60th birthday and my youngest daughter’s 28th birthday. We chose Alaska via Vancouver (first time for all of us) and, on our return spent a week in Whistler, a skier’s destination, before returning home. Not sure now if we flew PAL or Cathay Pacific, but our cruise line was Royal Caribbean.
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