So many things happened last week in the benighted land.
On the political front, everyone was shocked when, on its Wednesday session, the leadership of the HoR suddenly demoted the former president who PFRM Jr. describes as an “invaluable asset” in his foreign trips, from her perch as Senior Deputy Speaker to one of a dozen deputy speakers.
Thrusting the knife deeper into the chest of the former president, her replacement was her kabalen, Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales, who everyone in Pampanga politics knows to be not exactly friendly with the replaced.
One of the deputy speakers intimated to my source that they were called to a conference just before the session started, and were told that the former president will be replaced that evening. No explanations were given. Everyone was shocked, but just kept their mouths shut.
And so the decapitation proceeded without a hitch.
Speculation is that the Speaker learned of a coup plot against him instigated by the former president, which she of course denied. So the Speaker decided to make short shrift of her eminent position, recalling how she did it to Pantaleon Alvarez with utmost stealth in 2018.
The funniest post-facto explanation was given by the HoR majority leader who said they wished to “unburden” the former president of the heavy responsibilities of what in truth is a purely ceremonial function.
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The day after, in a terse but well-written statement replete with such nice descriptives as “execrable political powerplay,” the vice-president, who joined Lakas in late 2021, just before accepting to be the team-mate of then candidate FRM Jr. in what many say was a “match made in heaven” by the former president who was chairperson emeritus of the party, now gave short shrift to her membership.
The president a day later told us all not to read too much meaning into the tectonic political event, saying these things are “run of the mill” in the HoR.
So now we have a president without a political party of his own (does Partido Federal still exist, the one that Vic Rodriguez cobbled along with Tom Lantion in 2021?), and a vice-president who is also without one.
But then again, who cares?
Like I always say, political parties are mere flags of convenience for personal ambition in this benighted land.
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Expectedly, all the other parties coalesced under the Speaker reiterated their loyalty to his leadership and in the new seating arrangement at the HoR.
But of course!
Nobody wants to lose chairmanships in the various committees, nor diminish their perks and their pork.
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The parties, which are after all “owned” by the oligarchs who rule the economy simply had to accept the new political order, where blood is thicker than water (naturalmente), never mind that their political stars were favored by the moonglow from Ate Glow when she was president for nine years, five months and 10 days, the second longest reign in our history after PFM Sr. who ruled the country for 20 years, one month and 25 days.
There is no such thing as party loyalty in this country. There are only permanent personal interests.
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Some over-analyze and say last week’s developments are a prelude to 2025 and even 2028.
That’s the trouble with many of us who place politics over economics.
The common “tao” only cares about the price of rice and sugar, cooking oil and fish, sitaw at talong, baboy at manok, and the hindi mamatay-matay na “pesteng” sibuyas (with apologies to Sen. Robinhood for borrowing his description of those who link the extension of the tax amnesty to the first family’s estate tax).
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Meanwhile, senators and other politicos want to nationalize NGCP because of “national security” reasons, while the Left habitually wants to nationalize every economic activity in the benighted land.
When it was an American and a Dutch company that controlled the extraction of natural gas in the Malampaya concession, nobody invoked “national security.”
When NGCP was formed during PGMA’s term, where 40 percent of the capitalization (perhaps more, who knows?) came from the state power firm of China, everybody applauded, and no one criticized the deal.
Now because we are back in the “loving” arms of mother America, our senators wave the flag, and blame the Chinese for our expensively insufficient power supply, after 20 years.
Why not ask what the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission to explain why we have such an “execrable” power situation?
How then do we attract foreign investments, not only in energy development but in every other economic endeavor with messages such as these?
Mag-isip isip naman sana kayo, maski paminsan-minsan lang.
Mercifully, the president gave short shrift to the senatorial knee-jerk, and cautioned against revoking the franchise of NGCP but focus on what ails the power sector.
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Elsewhere in the world, the G-7 summit in Hiroshima issued a communique where they launched a new initiative to counter what they called “economic coercion” and warned that these would fail.
And while it did not mention China explicitly, it was clear that they were referring to China, whose huge trade with them they want to curb.
Meanwhile, as if to pooh-pooh the G-7 summit, Xi Jinping hosted a conference in the ancient capital of Xian, with China’s western neighbors in Central Asia – the “stan’s” which are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
A bit of trivia: “istan” means home or place in the Turkic and Persian languages. So Afghanistan is a home for the Afghans, and Uzbekistan a home for the Uzbeks.
The sparsely populated region (75 million for all five countries) with a huge 400 million hectares of plains, high snow-capped mountains and lakes (compare that to the Philippines with 30 million hectares where 114 million reside), is rich in natural gas and oil, gold, silver, copper and other minerals, particularly aluminum, iron and coal.
Turkmenistan for one has the fourth largest natural gas reserves in the world, and these Central Asian countries are also large producers of livestock, fruits, vegetables and grain, apart from cotton and fertilizers.
They became independent states after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and have become high middle income states except for Tajikistan which still largely relies on their migrant workers most of whom work in Russia.
China is expanding economic and security cooperation with these states, with a railway project that extends from Xinjiang to the Caspian Sea, from where it gains a footstep into Eastern Europe.
The oft-neglected region can also be a supplier of China’s hunger for oil and food.
So while the West and their Asian allies, Japan and South Korea were discussing the Ukraine fall-out and their redefinition of economic ties with China and Russia, Xi Jinping was expanding economic relations with its western neighbors after having consolidated ties with its south in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Cold War-Part Two, has begun, this time with most of Europe, the US, Canada and Australia on one side, and China, Russia, Iran, the Middle East and Central Asia comprising prospectively the other side.
Even ASEAN is divided into three groups: the pro-Chinese group of Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos; the non-aligned like Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei (although the latter is still closely linked with the UK); and the Philippines currently getting closer and closer to the embrace of its former American colonizers.
Will Pax Americana end and Pax Sinica reign, and when?
Hopefully, it does not happen with a Third World War preceding it.