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Syria, Razak and the ‘presidentiables’

It is unfortunate that the upcoming elections have made Filipinos blind to and unable to appreciate fast-developing world events.

The first is the deteriorating threat to international peace in Syria.

Trouble started in 2011 when as a result of the so-called Arab Spring uprisings, Syrian civilians turned to civil protests in demanding the resignation of the country’s President Assad. The world was shocked when in response thereto, the Assad regime ordered its troops to open fire at the protestors leading to an estimated casualty of at least 100,000. It took about a year before soldiers deserted the country’s armed forces to form an organized armed group to resist the Syrian government. Today, there’s a full-blown civil war in Syria with the USA and the UK belatedly deciding to finance and arm the country’s resistance movement.

Matters turned for the worse when the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) joined the armed fray. Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has thus far been paralyzed from dealing with the Syrian situation because Russia, a permanent member of the Council, has vetoed and threatens to veto any future resolution authorizing collective security measures.

Further trouble is brewing in Syria with the recent decision of the United States to directly conduct military operations against the Assad government. Russia, meanwhile, has decided to extend military assistance to the same government, purportedly to assist the latter in fighting the ISIS. So while Mar Roxas does an epal stunt here in Boracay where the country’s local councilors are having their convention, and while Grace Poe is unabashedly playing hypocrite, pretending to be still undecided about running for the presidency when Chiz Escudero has obviously decided on the matter, the situation in Syria has reached alarming proportions. It might lead anew to open military confrontation between traditional rivals: the United States and Russia.

Meanwhile, closer to home, our Malaysian neighbors, having learned and obviously deriving inspiration from us, are on the streets demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak. One account has it that even former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir was shocked to hear that the current PM has a cash deposit amounting to US$750 million! When queried about this, Razak said that this cash was: “intended for the Philippines.”

Huh? And for what purpose? Princess Jacel Kiram, who should be elected senator in 2016, posits that it must be to buy political support for the BBL!

This is not the first time that foreign money is said to have entered the country to finance the passage of the BBL. Veteran reporter Christine Herrera reported earlier in this newspaper that a Chinese fugitive was supposed to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars to members of the House of Representatives to pass the BBL. While this was denied by the administration, the fact remains that the Chinese fugitive was deported and presumably, no money found its way to Congress. Could this be why despite the BBL being this administrations topmost legislative priority, the proposed law has not seen the light of day? If so, thank goodness for freedom of the press. Obviously, it was Herrera’s world-class investigative journalism that pre-empted what could have been literally a sale of our country’s territory.

So what have the ‘presidentiables’ said about these developments? I can assure you that Vice President Binay would  get a thorough briefing from me on the implications of these current events to the country. How the possible military engagement in Syria may, for instance, lead to a spike in world prices of oil, how it is bound to result in further depreciation of the peso as investors rush to hang on to the US dollar and other currencies considered as safe havens; and how non-aligned nations should insist that all players to the conflict should adhere to the UN Charter in resolving the ongoing disputes in Syria, both as it relates to the atrocious Assad regime and the ISIS.

On the other hand, I will also brief VP Binay on the need to call for the continuing protection of human rights in Malaysia, as the country is witness to its biggest civilian protests. While the corruption of Razak is an internal matter, the fact that his dirty money is somehow linked to us here in this country is a matter, which should be investigated fully. What has the Anti-Money Laundering Council done on this much-publicized statement of Razak? And yes, since the protection of human rights is a concern for the entire international community, the Philippines should be vocal in calling that the right of the protestors, including the right of Malaysia’s main opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, should be protected.

Meanwhile, expect the advisers of both Roxas and Poe to continue just engaging in everyday politics. I don’t know about you: but I’ve had enough of both the so-called crooked “daang matuwid’ and the imported “bagong umaga.”

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