‘Huling hirit’ on the China card?

By Herbert Vego

UNTIL now we hear outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte bragging words of “friendship” with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He is said to have consistently played the “China card”.

He seems to be pinning his and his family’s political survival on Chinese intervention in the forthcoming May 9, 2022 presidential election, where his daughter Sara is running for vice-president with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. – a.k.a. BBM — as standard-bearer.

It puzzles us that Sara has agreed to go “under” BBM despite mind-conditioning Octa Research, SWS and Pulse Asia surveys that had been crowning her “No. 1” should she run for president. Any dark secret in her agenda?

In fact, dad Digong has repeatedly called the son of the late President Ferdinand Sr. “a weak leader”.  But the two have one thing in common: hate of the United States. The Marcoses believe that the US had orchestrated the ouster of the family patriarch through the “People Power” revolution of 1986.

It is no secret that Duterte would prefer a foreign relationship with China rather than the US, which abhors China’s intention to control the vital sea lanes at the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea, through which US$5 trillion in trade passes per year.

If we entertain the notion that Duterte has become a lame-duck – hence would no longer be supported by China — just because he is on the way out, then why are our lawmakers turning his wish into their command?

Let us consider the ramification of Senate Bill 2094, which has been approved by the senators near-unanimously. Only Senators Ralph Recto, Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan voted “no” because of their belief that it’s unconstitutional.

While the 1987 Constitution limits foreign ownership of land and businesses to only 40 percent and sets aside the other 60 percent exclusively to Filipino citizens or corporations, the bill allows complete foreign ownership of properties and critical services.

In her sponsorship of the bill, Sen. Grace Poe admitted, “We are declaring as public policy that the expansion of the investment base will benefit the public by allowing meaningful competition with more players, domestic and foreign, to slug it out to win the satisfaction of the Filipino people.”

Hontiveros is not satisfied because “by allowing 100 percent foreign ownership, we are opening our phones, and all our internet-connected devices, appliances, and critical public facilities to a foreign state and non-state interests that may have malevolent designs on our national security.”

The Senate has more or less adopted the provisions of the same proposed law as approved by their House counterpart more than a year earlier, in March 2020 yet.

Even now when Pres. Duterte has not yet signed the bill into law, we know of Chinese-controlled public facilities that use Filipino dummies to justify their existence. A case in point is Dito Telecommunity Corporation, a major telecommunications provider with cell sites in — oh my God! — military installations.

So, what have the senators and congressmen to gain from their “generosity” to foreigners in general and the Chinese in particular? Ironically, were they not the same “nationalists” who heeded Duterte’s call to junk the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise on the pretext of being foreign-owned?

Oh yeah, but with both local and national elections in the offing, have they not been tempted into “selling” China a favor?

There are now millions of them here in the Philippines.  The really affluent ones rent houses in Multinational Village in Parañaque City at prices more than their construction cost.

If we can’t imagine them taking advantage of the impending law, then we have not learned a lesson from our smaller but wiser neighbor Singapore.

The Singaporean government no longer allows investors from mainland China and Hong Kong to engage in the real estate market, taking note that Chinese investments in Singapore had been harmful to Singaporean residents who decry the Chinese purchases of condominiums for fat resale or higher rental.

The Singapore natives are wary that the Chinese investors are trying to take over the Singaporean real estate market. Chinese buyers represented a quarter of all foreign property purchases in the first three quarters of this year.

The need for Chinese property investors to go out of communist China for better deals is an offshoot of what is now known as the “Evergrande crisis” or the collapse of the Chinese real estate giant Evergrande due to building glut and falling property prices have disabled the company from paying US $300 billion in debt.

Sooner or later, we could transform into strangers in our native land.

This should be food for thought for us who have yet to decide on the fate of senators and congressmen – including re-electionists and runners for higher posts — who voted for the controversial bill.



WE have heard Mayor Jerry Treñas lambast government and private establishments and personnel for inefficiency. But he is also all praises for those who run the extra mile in pursuit of public service.  Here, for example, is his short commendation for MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) for the quick restoration of electricity within 24 hours in the aftermath of typhoon Odette:

“I am very proud of MORE Power here in Iloilo City. It has almost immediately restored power to the franchise area. Insofar as Iloilo City is concerned, the performance of MORE Power as a distribution utility company is totally unprecedented. I am very grateful on behalf of the great people of Iloilo City. Madamo gid nga salamat!”

The mayor did not have to point out short outages that could not be avoided during rehab work where poles or wires had fallen down.

Kudos to MORE president Roel Z. Castro.