Keep your eyes on the China sellout

Cayetano bows down.jpg

Some people are just made to bow down to others.

Slippery sipsip Alan Peter Cayetano is obviously in way over his head as Foreign Affairs Secretary, but then again saying “Yes, Boss” to The Thug and bending over for China doesn’t really take much skill.

The recent news that he’s headed to Panda Land again comes as no surprise, unlike his secret previous trip as advance stooge of the Thug Regime.

But it will be interesting to see what transpires this time around.

The concern among regional allies is that the Philippines is quickly becoming another Cambodia in terms of carrying China’s water and undermining the collective interests of the ASEAN nations, which stand a much better chance of dealing effectively with China if they work together as a group rather than allow themselves to be cornered or sweet talked individually, bought off, and manipulated.

 

Is PDI really that confused?

The Philippine Daily Inquirer has long had problems with integrity, hypocrisy, demagoguery, plain shoddiness, and serious distortions.

But sometimes it also just makes no fucking sense.

It’s recent editorial on the potential impact that the Mess in Marawi could have on foreign tourist arrivals was puzzling, to say the least.

To be sure, the tourism impact is a very legitimate concern.  And it would be very unfortunate for international perceptions regarding Marawi to affect travel to the country’s many safer destinations.

But PDI went careening off the deep end with stupid statements like “Foreign media have made much about the issue, linking the Marawi crisis to the international terrorist group Islamic State. This is something that the government and the private sector should counter” to minimize the impact on tourism.

Well, first of all, there are plenty of indications that the Marawi militants are indeed linked to the Islamic State, and at the very least are attempting to emulate that group and win its approval and support.

Secondly, it’s obviously not just “foreign media” that have “made much about the issue.”

The PH military, President I-don’t-give-a-fuck, independent analysts, virtually all PH media, and certainly PDI itself have “made much about the issue” and drawn links to IS virtually every day since the crisis began.

In fact, just hours after publishing the editorial, PDI published a story stating that “Hundreds of gunmen flying the black flag of the Islamic State (IS) group occupied parts of Marawi on May 23, triggering bloody fighting that has claimed nearly 400 lives according to an official count.”

PDI has drawn similar links again, and again, and again.

And even the editorial itself ended with the quite reasonable assertion that “The crisis in Marawi has to end soon and martial law lifted if the Philippines’ tourism sector is to recover. No amount of public relations can paper over the protracted fighting between the Philippine military and the Maute extremists.”

But before getting there, the editorial made the admonishment that “The government cannot let the international media portray the Philippines as another Syria or Iraq or Afghanistan where extremists hold sway.”

Well, the PH government is not in any position to “let,” or not “let,” the international media do much of anything regarding its portrayals of an ongoing military and humanitarian crisis that has cost hundreds of lives, resulted in the imposition of marital law, turned thousands of residents into refugees, and left Marawi in ruins.

Rebels, bandits, separatists, and extremists do indeed “hold sway” in portions of the country, and have done so for many, many years.  And that’s not the fault of the nasty foreign media.

PDI is infamous for sanctimoniously cloaking itself in the mantle of journalistic righteousness when it gets criticized or called out for its many transgressions.  It’s also notorious for its childish habit of playing the “bad foreigner” card during controversies.

How ironic that it does so this time in the context of pleading for action to ensure the continued arrival of foreigners and their tourism dollars.

The really sad part is that the editorial had a legitimate point, and could have made that point quite effectively without trying to recklessly scapegoat the “foreign media” for the nation’s serious problems with safety, stability, and international perceptions.

PDI obviously still has a lot of growing up to do.

Weasel vs. weasel on stroke rumors

Weasels.jpg

It’s been quite a hoot watching the Despicable Shitrag and Malacañang piss all over each other — and themselves — regarding a report that the reason for The Thug’s recent hiatus from public view was a mild stroke that required medical attention.

Former Marcos minion Francisco “Kit” Tatad casually reported the stroke story in a backhanded Shitrag column the other day.

Thug Regime mouthpiece Ernesto Abella quickly denied the story in a press conference that the Shitrag was forced to cover.  Or did he?

Abella said Tatad “may just be creating fantasies” and “must be sourcing something that nobody knows about.”

That denial-of-sorts was made in such a weaselly manner that it left the door wide open for continued speculation.

Maybe The Thug was just busy stroking himself in the mirror?

And then Tatad went into full weasel mode himself and claimed he had never alleged that The Thug had suffered a stroke, but had merely reported that others had told of the stroke.

So positively Marcosian.

Tatad had written that The Thug “was reported to have suffered a mild stroke, which reportedly affected one of his arms, and brought him to Cardinal Santos Medical Center in Greenhills last Thursday, where he reportedly also underwent a ‘peritoneal dialysis.'”

Tatad certainly didn’t question the veracity of the alleged report, but amplified it by reporting further that “highly informed sources said Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. briefed some members of the Cabinet about it on Friday.”

The kicker is that fellow Shitrag scribbler and aspiring toady Antonio P. Contreras had just thrown a hissy-fit about tour guide Carlos Celdran acknowledging a rumor that The Thug was comatose.

Contreras claimed that Celdran “posted in social media that the President was in a coma.”  Actually, Celdran had merely posted a claim that someone else had made, and acknowledged that the claim remained unverified — a disclaimer that Tatad had not included in his version.

Contreras hasn’t weighed in yet on the Tatad-Abella piss-a-thon.  And we’re betting that he won’t.

Oh, the irony.

And, of course, the bottom line is that it is very likely true that The Thug was out of commission because he needed medical attention for one malady or another, and that neither he, his minions, nor his craven apologists are being open and honest about it with the public.

The rumor we heard is that The Thug was rushed to a proctologist after Mocha got a little too enthusiastic with him during a fisting session.  But that’s unconfirmed, mind you.

Duterte   Mocha fist.jpg

Meanwhile, Marawi City is still burning while Mindanao remains under martial law.

Whitewashes, impunity, and distortions

The Washington Post did an excellent job of circling back and following up on the secret jail scandal at Police Station No. 1 in Tondo, blown open by the Commission on Human Rights two months ago.

The takeaways:

  1.  It appears that police were extorting money from relatives of people who were illegally detained at the secret jail.
  2. The Commission on Human Rights has done a really shitty job of protecting the people who were illegally detained.
  3. The police and thug administration are in the process of whitewashing the whole mess and blaming the media for making it an issue.

Meanwhile, it looks like the usual impunity will reign regarding the blatant police rubout of a Leyte mayor who was shot to death in a jail cell.

Charges of murder have been inexplicably downgraded to homicide, allowing the police suspects to be released on bail.  It sure looks like this case is destined to quietly fade away like so many others.

And CNN and other media are engaging in some journalistic shorthand that casually rewrites history and paints a very distorted picture of the ongoing siege of Marawi City.

CNN reported that “Philippines soldiers have been mired in grinding urban warfare with ISIS-aligned fighters ever since a surprise attack on Marawi on May 23,” and that “Militants stormed the city, clashing with government troops and prompting Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao.”

But the truth is that the conflagration began with a botched attempt to apprehend alleged terrorist boss Isnilon Hapilon.  Only after that operation was initiated did swarms of militant reinforcements respond with a massive counterattack that resulted in the ongoing siege.

It certainly appears that government forces badly underestimated the level of resistance they were in for, did not have adequate forces and supplies ready to meet the threat, and led their troops straight into a hornet’s nest.

So who’s really in charge of this mess?

Duterte confused

It was pretty astounding when The Thug went butt-snuggling in China and comically announced that the Philippines was dumping the yanquis and eagerly bending over for a parade of randy pandas.

But it was even more astounding that after the shit hit the fan on Mindanao, the U.S. military was eventually called in to assist with aerial surveillance — without The Thug even knowing about it.

As the deadly fiasco enters its fifth week,  with no end in sight, he’s begrudgingly “accepted the situation at this stage.”

That’s good, because it really doesn’t seem like he has a choice, or that he’s even really in charge of anything besides making dubious staged apologies for the conflagration while simultaneously making blustery threats about carpet-bombing Marawi City.

This whole mess seems to have spiraled out of control without any real leadership or control of President I-don’t-give-a-fuck.

So who, exactly, initiated this whole debacle, which began with a botched attempt to capture a terrorist bandit with a price on his head?  Did The Thug even know of the operation that set it all off?

And who, exactly, called in the Americans to help clean up the resulting mess?  And what is the protocol for something like that?  Does military assistance from a foreign ally normally require presidential initiation or approval?

Or is there a tacit military understanding that The Thug doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing anyway, so military leaders will do whatever they deem necessary?

If The Thug had not “accepted the situation,” what would really happen next?

And now that he’s been bitch-slapped by China a few times, is he still in a big hurry to join Cambodia as a prostituted vassal state bent on undermining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to expedite Chinese regional hegemony?

Has he even thought any of this through?

Is he really even in charge?

 

Attacks of the toady press

Tiglao

Right on cue, and as predictable as the rise of a hot-air balloon, slimy brown-nosed propagandist Rigoberto Tiglao has launched another silly attack on Rappler as a reprisal for its recent aggressive reporting on The Thug’s costly overseas junkets.

Tiglao has made something of a hobby out of attacking Rappler’s reportage in an effort to distract attention from his patron’s constant missteps.  (And, of course, the Despicable Shitrag that now masquerades as the Manila Times has bent over as quickly and obsequiously as possible since The Thug was tragically elected, absolutely precluding itself from ever establishing a shred of credibility.)

This time, Tiglao tries to cast doubt on the figures Rappler used to examine The Thug’s junketing bills and compare them to those of previous regimes.  He doesn’t really make any convincing points, so he quickly segues into unquestioning applause of The Thug and his incoherent foreign policy debacles, such as sucking up to China (and getting nothing out of it so far besides a few quick stabs in the back from China while leaving observers aghast).

What the China Charade has really “accomplished” is to make other nations in the region view the Philippines as erratic, dangerous, totally unreliable, and definitely not to be trusted.

Toadlao then attempts to equate The Thug’s simplistic pandering to OFWs in various locations with raising the nation’s stature abroad.  Never mind that his gum-snapping, pot-bellied, slouching, rolled sleeves, late-for-everything persona has had the exact opposite effect, making the Philippines look like a nation of impressionable fools led by a tacky jackass.

These pathetic attempts to muddy the waters aren’t fooling anyone who does much thinking.  Frankly, we don’t know anyone who knows anyone who takes the Despicable Shitrag seriously to begin with, although it does annoy a few people with its constant and shameless abuse of press freedoms and exponential devaluation of Philippine journalism.

Golden toad

Hats off to Rappler for digging into government spending

Rappler has published plenty of silly half-assed bullshit over the years, but lately they have been doing some very solid work.

Their recent reporting on the high cost of The Thug’s foreign junkets was based on Freedom of Information requests, which is the kind of aggressive reporting and scrutiny that we rarely see.

Media stories about government spending are usually based either on self-serving government news releases or self-serving “exposés” by political opponents of an administration or specific elected or appointed official.

Rarely do reporters dig in to see the numbers for themselves and then ask the tough follow-up questions that are necessary.

So it’s very refreshing to see Rappler doing some hard work and scrutinizing the spending of government funds — which are the public’s money, after all.

The administration’s response to Rappler’s findings was predictable and lame.

When asked if the administration makes efforts to save on expenses during trips abroad, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella just about shit his pants and couldn’t provide a coherent answer.

“I will find out about that but definitely part of the trips is really investing and making sure we are able to gain back our interest in investments,” said Abella, according to Rappler.

Let’s just stop right there for a moment.

The administration typically rattles off a bunch of big numbers about “deals” made in a foreign nation as a big show of how “successful” an official trip to that nation was.

But those “deals” rarely receive even perfunctory media scrutiny.  And the entire premise is bullshit from the start.

Does anyone really believe that a president and his entourage can just blow into another country and secure billions of pesos worth of grants, loans, or private investments?  It just doesn’t work that way.

First of all, many of the “deals” are nothing more than superficial agreements to pursue potential actual deals later.  They’re just agreements to talk some more.  Secondly, many of the deals that are actual binding agreements are between private companies, were worked out long before, and would have moved forward even if The Thug was sitting on his thumbs at the North Pole.  Including those agreements in announcements regarding presidential trips is strictly ceremonial propaganda.  Or fake news, to put it another way.

And many of those agreements are subcontracts between government contractors and foreign firms that are brought in to do the work that the prime contractors don’t have the expertise to accomplish themselves.  The contractors basically just act as middlemen who corner a contract and take a cut of the action.  Or they receive easy credit to purchase equipment from a foreign company, which will be used for a government contract that will ultimately pay for the equipment.  Sometimes that’s a great deal for all concerned, but not always.

The bottom line is that those “deals” typically just reflect a government contractor paying a foreign subcontractor to do some of its work.  That’s no windfall for the nation.  It’s a contractor shoveling the nation’s money over to foreign companies.

It’s like saying you received some money and went to London to shop at Harrod’s for products they don’t carry at Shoemart in Manila.  You might spend lots of money, and might buy some fabulous stuff, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you got a good deal.  And you sure didn’t get it for free.

There needs to be a lot more scrutiny and some clear distinctions drawn, rather than simply lumping a bunch of “deals” together to arrive at some big grand total that many people assume represents foreign aid of some sort.  Really, it just means a lot of money was spent.  Rappler is doing some good work cracking this reality open.

Aside from receiving very little scrutiny when announced, these “deals” very rarely receive a shred of follow-up scrutiny later on.

The end result is that the public typically never knows whether the numbers that were announced in connection with a foreign trip had any basis in fact whatsoever, or whether somebody just pulled them out of his butt to provide a rationale for a wasteful junket and create the illusion of success.

Let’s hope there is much more of this kind of energetic reporting that keeps the administration honest and helps the public understand what’s really going on.