PHL must brace itself for a total China invasion

“In a China total invasion scenario, the Philippines would have to defend itself from Chinese forces from within and from without,” Kingly Choi, a Hong Kong national and founding president of Hero Pass Limited, a trading company based in the former British colony.

“Worse, it would have to parry the onslaught of fighter jets made of super-alloys extracted by Chinese mining companies from the Philippines,” he stated.

Aside from conquest by air, the Philippines is host to more than three million Chinese workers. Bureau of Immigration data shows that from January 2016 to May 2018 alone, around 3.12 million Chinese entered the country.

Some of these Chinese workers are actually People’s Liberation Army card-bearing members. Sen. Richard Gordon observed that indeed some of the Chinese workers in the country are within the age range of military recruits.

The senator also suspected that the $160 million brought into the country by Chinese visitors from December 2019 to February 2020 may have been for the use of the “fifth column.” The term “fifth column” refers to a group of people working secretly for the enemy or an invading force.

“It is very clear that Beijing is using her Red Mafia to tap on the services of the ‘dark societies’ to infiltrate the Philippines,” Choi stated.

The term “dark societies” refers to organized crime syndicates operating in China and in countries where there are Chinese ghettos.

National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose said that he is witnessing a deja vu of sorts. He recalled that before the eruption of World War II, Japanese men were working as gardeners, store-helpers, and street vendors, but the declaration of World War II unmasked them as the advance party of the invading Japanese Imperial Army, that they were really soldiers whose mission was to immerse themselves in Philippine communities and serve as spies.

“The same thing is happening now, except that China is already a major influence in all facets of Filipino life,” Jose stated.

“The invasion of the Philippines by China is not a remote possibility,” he said. “China is just next door; it could overrun our puny Armed Forces in a matter of days. What will our response be?”

“We must understand China’s compulsion to expand. It has to feed its tremendous population of a billion and a half, lift them up from famine, disunity, and colonial hangover. The Communist Party which holds the country together knows it is ringed by American bases and a hostile world. It faces many internal problems – corruption, restive minorities, this pandemic itself. There is nothing like a war to make the populace united; this is so true even in ancient times – it could very well work today for leaders who see their countries breaking up or seeking reprieve from poverty. War also makes money for those who produce weapons,” he stated.

Choi opined that China has invaded the Philippines already economically, culturally, technologically, and although not yet militarily, but already physically.

He said crucial industries like power, trade, manufacturing, agriculture, mining, electronic, construction, and real estate development in the country are already being dominated by China.

“Even in the underworld, the Philippines is already dominated by illegal drugs, illegal gambling, prostitution, money laundering operated by Chinese dark societies,” he said.

“The Philippines is like a small mouse under the paws of a tiger, and that’s a perfect illustration of how much power China enjoys over your islands, your government, and your people,” said Choi.

Duterte’s lack of regulatory reform blamed for poor internet service

WITH everyday Filipino life moving online and the coronavirus pandemic magnifying the country’s internet connectivity problems, government critics underscored the urgent need for the Duterte administration to institute policy and regulatory reform in the country’s broadband sector to accommodate digital transition amidst the ongoing health crisis.

In a forum hosted by the Covid-19 Action Network (CAN), experts emphasized how the internet connectivity has become ‘indispensable tool’ in the country’s response to the virus and its move to the so-called ‘new normal’, where life is forced to move online.

CAN is a network of civil society organizations, individuals, and stakeholders from the government and the private sector working to fight the spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 or SARS-CoV-2.

Experts noted for many places in the archipelago, including much of the countryside, internet connection is either poor or entirely absent.

“Internet service in the Philippines is among the poorest in the world, and President Duterte will not be able to address and improve it by merely ranting,” CAN stated.

According to their data, over 40 percent of Filipinos, 52 percent of public schools, and 57 percent of households nationwide still have no access to the internet.

They attribute this problem to the lack of competition among service providers in the country, which is said to be caused by high barriers to enter in the market.

One of the arguably biggest barriers for players is the franchise system, said Wilson Chua of Project Bass, a non-profit app that monitors the performance of telecommunications companies.

For these players to operate and conduct business in the country, they must first secure a congressional franchise. Chua thinks removing this requirement can lower the cost and speed-up the deployment of broadband networks in places that need them, resulting in a surge of investments.

Having more players in the market also brings more infrastructure, helping meet the growing demand by different sectors for fast, stable, and affordable internet connection. Unfortunately, this has continued to be an obstacle face by government despite efforts to address the growing concern, which not only adversely affects business activity but the educational system as well.

To lower the barriers to entry, CAN is proposing for several policy and regulatory reforms.

Experts suggest adopting an open access network, which will allow different players to enter different segments in the market to compete and interconnect with each other.

An Open Access bill has already been drafted, urging the government to use this framework to aid in rolling-out broadband networks across the country. However, there’s no movement as of yet and apparently, the move has not been prioritized by the President Rodrigo Duterte’s pool of think tanks.

Experts also propose the signing of a new executive order that grants internet service providers access to satellites and allow them to build networks using that technology to serve areas that do not yet have internet connection.

The group also recommends a passive infrastructure sharing policy that lets network providers coordinate with different departments of government in the installation of fiber optic cables, cellular towers, and other infrastructures.

Lastly, they advise the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) to review the licensing and permitting requirements of local government units (LGUs) and national government agencies (NGAs) that obviously hamper the deployment of internet facilities. These requirements, CAN said, are sometimes the cause of unnecessary delay.

DepEd urged to use assets to prevent suicide among students amid pandemic

A mental health professional urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to utilize and maximize its mental health professionals, particularly the guidance counselors to address the growing cases of suicide among students.

The advice came after yet another case of suicide involving a Grade 11 student in Tupi, South Cotabato was reported earlier this week, ahead of the observance of World Mental Health Day (October 10).

Francis Ray Subong, a mental health professional and guidance counselor, said that the ‘3rd wave’ of COVID-19 or the mental health crisis is alarming, as while there are suicide cases among students that are reported, there are also those that remain unknown.

Subong pointed out that the DepEd could have prevented this from worsening if mental health professionals and guidance counselors are properly tapped by the agency to provide mental health and psychosocial support services to teachers and students amid the challenges brought by the online and blended learning scheme.

He added that mental health professionals in the country are instead “undervalued” and “underutilized,” emphasizing that the DepEd should “truly understand the essence” of guidance counseling.

Subong noted that the DepEd has no “real or concrete” mental health program even if it is mandated by the Republic Act 11036 otherwise known as the Mental Health Act of 2018 and Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular Number 4, Series of 2020, titled Mental Health in the Public Sector.

Teachers, students, and parents have been expressing their sentiments on social media about the burden and difficulties they need to address themselves when it comes to online classes, with mostly saying that the situation has been taking a toll on their mental health.

Labor groups, tutol sa plano ng DOLE na ipagpaliban ang pagbibigay ng 13th month pay

Kontra ang mga grupo ng manggagawa sa Pilipinas sa plano ng Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) na payagan ang ilang kumpanya na naapektuhan ng pandemya na huwag munang magbigay ng 13th month pay sa kanilang mga empleyado.

Ayon sa Associated Labor Unions (ALU), ang 13th month pay benefit ng mga manggagawa ay “earned” at “accrued” o ‘accumulated’ na kaya hindi tama na magbigay ang DOLE ng order na ipagpaliban ito.

Dagdag pa ni ALU National Executive Vice President Gerard Seno, and 13th month pay benefit ng mga manggagawa as isang “basic labor standard” na hindi maaaring balewalain.

Iginiit niya na nararapat lamang na makatanggap ng 13th month pay ang mga manggagawa lalo na’t sobra rin ang kanilang sakripisyo dahil sa working adjustments dala ng pandemya.

Dumaranas ang maraming manggagawa ng mas mahabang oras ng trabaho bagama’t bawas ang nakukuhang sweldo dahil sa job rotation at reduced benefits.

Ayon kay Seno, ang ilang business owners at employers ng mga micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) ay nakakuha ng small business wage subsidy cash assistance mula sa gobyerno para dagdag puhunan at pondo ngayong may pandemya.

Nanawagan si Seno sa mga employers at business owners, lalo na sa DOLE, na huwag ituloy ang hindi pagbibigay ng 13th month pay dahil dagdag pasakit lamang ito para sa mga manggagawang Pilipino na malaki ang pangangailangang pinansiyal ngayong may COVID-19.

Samantala, ayon naman sa Kilusang Mayo Uno, responsibilidad ng gobyerno ang tulungan ang mga MSMEs sa mga panahon ng emergency kagaya ng pandemya. Idinagdag ng grupo na ang isa pang gustong mangyari ng DOLE na i-extend ang six-month floating status ng ilang temporary displaced employees ay labag sa batas.