National security down the line

National security down the line | Juan Manila

China telco player launches in VisMin

By Raadee S. Sausa

|   First of three parts   |


AMID GROWING public debate at home about the entry of the third telco player, which is linked to a state-owned Chinese company, President Rodrigo Duterte strongly upheld the 2016 arbitral ruling that nullified China’s “nine-dash-line” claim in the South China Sea at the UN General Assembly.

A recent Philippine Bar Association webinar examined this issue and looked into the geopolitical and national security implications of a China-backed telco operating in the Philippines.

Retired senior associate justice Antonio Carpio emphatically raised security concerns, now that the government allowed DITO Telecommunity Corp. partner China Telecom (ChinaTel) to install towers and facilities within Philippine military camps.

In an unprecedented move, DITO, the country’s third major player in the telecommunications industry heralded its entry into the market by announcing that it will be providing free calls and texts as well as broadband services to 3,000 front liners in 10 areas in the Visayas and Mindanao with the help of the local governments as a way of strengthening its commitment on nation building and partnership with the Filipino people.

This announcement, capped by a ceremonial turn-over to Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte Carpio and Davao City Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte as 300 front liners of the City were named as the first beneficiaries out of the 3,000 targeted frontliners became the highlight of the commercial launched on 08 March.

China’s law requires any Chinese citizen or corporation to cooperate with the state intelligence services of China and are bound to give any information they have to Chinese intelligence agencies.

In a recent statement, Chinese President Xi Jinping instructed the direct participation of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over private enterprises.

In particular, the United Front Work Department, the intelligence-gathering and influence-making arm of the CCP, has been linked to several espionage, disinformation, and infiltration schemes in other states. The grander Chinese strategy is to exploit cyber and digital platforms for CCP’s hybrid warfare.

With telecommunications the carrier of data and communications, ChinaTel’s ties to the CCP pose a critical national security problem, given the leeway it will now have in the Philippines to access Government and military information.

–   To be continued  –

Vatican slams gay union agenda, “God can’t bless sin”

Vatican slams gay union agenda, "God can’t bless sin" | Juan Manila


ROME – The Vatican came with a strong declaration and maintains its negative stance on same-sex union, that God “cannot bless sin.”

In its response to a question about whether Catholic clergy have the authority to bless gay unions, the Vatican’s orthodoxy office, which is the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, issued its formal response. A two-page explanation published in seven languages and approved by the Pope, the reply was “negative.”

The note made it clear that “such unions” are not part of God’s plan. It cannot be recognized by any sacrament as it will be confused with marriage, which it isn’t.


Intrinsically disordered

The Vatican holds that gay people must be treated with dignity and respect, but that gay sex is “intrinsically disordered.” Catholic teaching says that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and woman, is part of God’s plan, and is intended for the sake of creating new life.

Since gay unions aren’t intended to be part of that plan, the church can’t bless them, the document said.

God “does not and cannot bless sin: He blesses sinful man, so that he may recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him,“ it said.


Legal endorsements within civil sphere, not sacramental

Francis has endorsed providing gay couples with legal protections in same-sex unions, but that was in reference to the civil sphere, not within the church.

“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God.“

To families with gay children, he said: “You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.“

The head of the German bishops’ conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, says the new document would be incorporated into the German discussion, but he suggests the case is by no means closed.

“There are no easy answers to questions like these,” he said, adding that the German church wasn’t only looking at the church’s current moral teaching, but also the development of doctrine and the actual reality of Catholics today.

Bill Donohue, president of the conservative Catholic League, praised the decision as a decisive, non-negotiable “end of story” declaration by the Vatican.

“The Vatican left nothing on the table. The door has been slammed shut on the gay agenda,” Donohue wrote on the League’s website, calling the document “the most decisive rejection of those efforts ever written.”


In Philippine setting

Gay rights leader Danton Remoto opts to keep his composure and not go against an old institution. “We do not need any stress anymore from this church,” Remoto says.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) abides by the papal directive and stood firm that it cannot approve same-sex marriages.

Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP’s public affairs committee, says that it is only “logical,” as the Catholic Church does not accept same-sex relationships.

Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco points out that the Vatican is only affirming the teachings of the Catholic Church. (JSM/JuanManila)

PH loans, grants for COVID-19 total $14.29B

PH loans, grants for COVID-19 total $14.29B | Juan Manila


MANILA — The Department of Finance was able to secure loans and grants to subsidize COVID-19 totaling $14.29 billion (P696 billion) as of 17 March.

The DOF’s latest figures were “rebased to reflect 2020 average exchange rates.”

The data show loans and grants, excluding $500-million and the $400-million from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), respectively, for vaccination program..

These loans, totaling $900 million, are not yet in effect as lenders and the Government have not yet signed an agreement, which is scheduled this month. The ADB loan, meanwhile, will directly pay vaccine to suppliers when the agreement is signed, skipping any more procedures for money to pass through the Government says Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven.

Financing loans raised, which amounted to $13.35 billion (about P650 billion), by the DOF last year were included into the budget for priority programs and projects.

Budgetary support borrowings included five World Bank loans totaling $2.38 billion, plus $3.8 billion across seven ADB loans.

The Philippines has raised a total of $5.1 billion from two rounds of issuances of US dollar-denominated global bonds last year.

Meanwhile, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) of China also extended a $750-million loan for the Philippines’ COVID-19 response in 2020.

Bilateral partners are Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) approved two loans worth $936.78 million; Agence Française de Développement’s (AFD) two loans amounted to $285.22 million; and the Export-Import Bank of Korea’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund (Kexim-EDCF) extended a $100-million loan.

Except for two loans, these financing took effect or were injected to the budget last year. The World Bank’s $580-million beneficiary FIRST social protection project became effective in January this year, while the same lender’s promoting competitiveness and enhancing resilience to natural disasters subprogram 2 loan took effect in February.

In February 2021, Joven says the DOF planned to raise $23.71 billion (about P1.15 trillion) in foreign financing from grants, loans as well as offshore bond issuances in 2021, partly to finance mass vaccination.

Besides the World Bank and ADB loans for vaccines, the AIIB is also expected to shell out $300 million for the Philippines’ $764.17-million second health system enhancement to address and limit COVID-19 (Heal 2) project it was co-financing with the ADB and the national government. (JSM/JuanManila)

Hontiveros bats National Task Force

Hontiveros bats NTF with intentional malpractice for assigning Sinovac jabs on elderly | Juan Manila


MANILA — “Giving Sinovac to our senior citizens is intentional malpractice,” says Senator Risa Hontiveros in a statement. “It is infuriating that the National Taskforce against COVID-19 is still insisting on this.”

The senator calls out on Government officials who are going against Government regulators.

The Government should not go against its own regulators by vaccinating senior citizens with Sinovac doses, states Hontiveros, declaring the move reckless and contrary to national policy.

In an earlier report, Malacañan said it supports the recommendation of National Task Force Against Covid-19 Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr for the elderly to receive Sinovac jabs, despite the Food and Drug Administration advising against it.

The presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr said Sinovac only needs to turn in additional data to the FDA to revise the emergency use approval it issued for it.

President Rodrigo Duterte, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III have decided not to take Sinovac because of their age.

Hontiveros says the Government cannot put the lives of the elderly at risk.

“We will take even more steps backwards if we force the most vulnerable sector in the pandemic to take a vaccine that is not recommended for them,” the senator said. “Let’s start walking in the right direction before things get worse.”

Apart from the 600,000 doses of Sinovac that arrived in end-February, expected to arrive in April are some 1.4 million more. One million is part of the purchase from Sinovac Biotech while the 400,000 were additional donations from China. (JSM/JuanManila)

Featured image: /Manila Bulletin