By Ricky Carandang
Seven countries claim ownership of the disputed Spratly Islands, just off of Palawan. China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malsysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines all claim to own part or all of the Spratlys. These overlapping claims have been a source of tension over the years since the Spratlys (we Filipinos call them the Kalayaan Islands) are believed to contain significant reserves of oil and natural gas. China was the most aggressive in pursuiung its claim. In 1999, the Philippines–under President Joseph Estrada– led an effort to prevent tensions by getting all the claimants to agree not to take actions to provoke other claimants.
But in 2003, the Philippines–now under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo– rocked the boat that it previously steadied when it signed an agreement with China to jointly undertake seismic studies of the Spratlys and explore for oil and natural gas. Naturally, the other claimants were angry. After getting them to agree not to rock the boat, the Philippines sucker-punched them with the China deal. China’s traditional ally, Vietnam was so angry they it had to be let in to the deal to appease them.
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An Endgame Scenario
By Antonio C. Abaya
When the scam was being investigated by the Senate, it was suspected that the P728 million were diverted to the campaign kitty of President Arroyo in the 2004 elections. It is possible the funds were also diverted to another scam. The Americans are interested because these were US taxpayers’ money given as aid and misappropriating them makes recipient foreign officials involved subject to arrest and imprisonment in the US
There is also some derogatory dossiers about PGMA that were stolen from the desk of VP Dick Cheney in the White House by the US-designated spy (against Arroyo) Fil-Am Marine Sgt Leandro Aragoncillo, who turned double-agent when his Philippine contacts convinced him to also spy for them in Washington.
Aragoncillo is serving a ten-year sentence for illegally possessing classified information (plea-bargained from ‘espionage’) , while his accomplice, Michael Ray Aquino (one of the lieutenants of former police general, Panfilo Lacson) is serving six years., both in federal prisons. The details are too many to even only summarize here, but my articles on the case, between September and December 2005, can be accessed in www.tapatt.org ...
Will the Americans play the Bolante and Aragoncillo cards soon? That remains to be seen. But the neo-cons in power in Washington DC, led by Vice President Cheney, did scheme, unsuccessfully, to remove PGMA from power in 2004-2005, indirectly through the ‘Hello Garci’ tapes and the resulting brouhaha. Again, the details of this plot are in my articles of from September to December 2005. archived in www.tapatt.org.
If the Americans reveal, through Filipino surrogates, what they know from Bolante and Aragoncillo, the resulting scandal could accelerate the downfall of President Arroyo, but the question will arise again: how will all this end?
While the Americans favored Estrada in 2005 to replace President Arroyo, he has been scratched from their short list because of his apparent involvement with Aragoncillo’s pilferage of those derogatory dossiers on Arroyo from Cheney’s desk in the White House. The Americans are no doubt looking for a suitable alternative.
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