(Published in Viewliner Publication Oct 27 - Nov. 1 2014 Issue)
Due to the recent news with regard to the killing of transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude allegedly by U.S. Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, the Visitng Forces Agreement (VFA) between the United States of America and our beloved Republic of the Philippines was once again put into the spotlight.
The ultimate question on the matter is, is the VFA really beneficial for our country? First of all, before I make any comment on the VFA, let me clarify that the reason why I am against the international agreement has nothing to do with the killing of Laude, or even the raping of a certain Nicole years back. Let me manifest my utmost belief that these mishaps are but isolated cases and has nothing to do with the inefficiency or the impropriety of the VFA. Assuming that the allegations of the crimes committed by the U.S. military personel are true, such cannot be the basis on judging the VFA as their individual acts has nothing to do with the international agreement between the two nations. Basing one’s hate for the VFA on these isolated cases, if examined clearly will actually fall as fallacious belief in the science of logical thinking.
Nevertheless, for the right reasons, I believe that the VFA is a flawed international document. The good thing maybe that these isolated cases has brought on the issue may be the fact that it made the VFA in the spotlight once again. Senate Committee on International Relations Chairperson Miriam Defensor – Santiago made good and sound commentaries on the matter, I couldn’t agree more to her. What she commented can be said to be a nutshell of a constitutional law lecture, it is well thought of, well said, and well timed as the issue is on the fore.
It is the opinion of the good Senator that under the VFA, the Republic of the Philippines has jurisdiction over the U.S. Marine suspect in the Laude case because the offense is committed within the Philippine territory and is punishable under our Revised Penal Code. However, she was also quick in pointing out the Article 5, Paragraph 6 of the VFA which says that: “The custody of the United States personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction shall immediately reside with United States military authorities, if they so request, from the commission of the offense until completion of the judicial proceedings.”
She likewise pointed that the said provision should be compared to another provision within the same paragraph of the VFA which states: “In extraordinary cases, the Philippine Government shall present its position to the United States Government regarding custody, which the United States Government shall take into full account.”
Upon one’s close reading of the provisions, the point of Senator Santiago will be crystal clear, there is a disparity. Our country initially have jurisdiction but, mere request from Uncle Sam, our law enforcement is required to immediately turn over the custody of the American suspects to them. Should the Philippine Government consider the crime committed as an extraordinary one and request to return the custory, the Unites States is not immediately required to grant it, it will only be taken into full account.
Most likely, Uncle Sam will invoke the terms of the VFA in the case of Laude, as what they did in the case of Nicole.
The agreement took effect here in our country back in 1999, I am still trying to think on why our Senators and President at that time allowed this mockery to our Nation to happen. With all due respect to our statesmen in 1999, but isn’t it that in international law the rule is ‘par in parem, non habet imperium (all States are sovereign equals),’ then why did we acknowledged in the VFA that we are inferior to Uncle Sam. As I recall, 6 of them are still in the Senate now, maybe they can tell us their reasons, or at least tell us that they voted no back then as in the case of Senator Santiago.
In a 2009 privilege speech by Santiago, she opined that the VFA should be terminated for it violates the present 1987 Constitution, that requires that the other contracting State should recognize the VFA as a treaty, not as a mere executive agreeement which has a lesser international value. At present, it is only the Republic of the Philippine that considers VFA as a treaty, in so far as Unites States is concerned, it is but a mere executive agreement.
Moreover, applying the legal rule on ‘void for vagueness,’ the VFA should be voided for it fails to define the terms “visit,” “temprorary,” and “activities.” According to the Senator, under the authority of the VFA, American military constitute so-called forward operating bases which are not limited to training and capacity building. They go further by allegedly providing “logistical and intelligence support.” This term is so broad that under U.S. interpretation, it allows actual joining in combat.
In the same speech, Santiago concluded that the VFA is a failure, because after years of its existence, the AFP has not modernized sufficiently to keep up with our Asian neighbors, and the terrorist groups are still active.
Questioning the constituionality and validity of the VFA is actually not new. Back in 2000 the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, and other militant groups challenged the same before the Supreme Court, their petition was dismissed by the High Court then led by Chief Justice Hilario Davide. A second challenge was made, this time the militant groups was joined in their petition by more personalities in the likes of former Senate President Jovito Salonga, Senator Wigberto Tanada and lawyer Harry Roque. The case was decided in 2009, and again it was dismissed by the court this time led by Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Let me end in categorically stating on what I believe.
I believe that the present VFA is one-sided, prejudicial to our country men, and highly contrary to our nationalistic principles. In effect, the VFA is treating the Filipino people as second class race as it clearly shows that the U.S. has the upper hand. This should not be tolerated, especially by those people who we have put in power believing that they will work for the upliftment of the Filipino Spirit.
Now, should the VFA be terminated? I believe the word terminate is too strong. While we should keep our Filipino Spirits high, we should not be arrogant in thinking that we do not need and assistance from other States. I believe ‘review’ will be the proper word. Our Government should make draft of a VFA that will not mock the sovereignty of our country like what we have now, should the other party not accept our fair proposal, that is the only time that we should be arrogant and show the world what Filipino nationalism is all about.
The VFA should be reviewed by the Philippine Government.
(Published in my column 'From My Viewpoint' at Viewliner Weekly News October 20-26, 2014 Issue)
Next year, it will be a decade since the Philippine Men’s National Football Team adopted the moniker ‘Azkals,’ a move that gave birth to the filipino football revolution. That’s been ten years ago, and in a decade’s time many things have changed for the better in Philippine football, like how the pinoys made ‘Azkals’ a household term. In the game itself, our country gained a measurable improvements; from an underdog team ranked 191st to 134th as of this month. The highest they got in history was 127th which happened in 2013.
At present, the Philippine Azkals have the honor of being dubbed as the best team in South East Asia, yet, most Filipinos does not seem to appreciate. Unlike their basketball counterparts, the Gilas Pilipinas won the Most Valuable Fans Award in the recent 2014 Basketball World Cup, the Azkals are playing Manila home games in front of a nearly empty stadium.
Many believed that what is ought to be done is to transfer the home games outside Metro Manila, like in Bacolod or in Cebu, where there resides a huge chunk of Pinoy football fans. While I admit that the move may be noble, I believe it will not address the issue on the losing popularity of the national team and the sport in the entirety of the Philippine archipelago.
Football (officially ‘Association Football’ or ‘Soccer’ as known in the US) is the world’s most popular sport, played by 250 million players in over 200 countries. It is arguably the predecessor of other popular sports such as rugby union and american football. The game is governed internationally by the organization FIFA which organizes the Football World Cup every four years. It has a high level of popularity among our country’s Southeast Asian neighbors, yet here it is highly overshadowed by basketball.
Football had a glimpse of popularity in 2010 when the team qualified for the Asian Football Federation Suzuki Cup and was undefeated in the group stage and went on defeating then champions and hosts Vietnam, becoming one of the biggest upsets in the history of the tournament and underdog story in the sporting world. The Azkals eventually lost to Indonesia in the knockout stage, yet it won the respect of the football community in Asia.
And so the Azkals popularity began. Fans suddenly flocked in home games, mostly women screaming their hearts out for the national team. In an instant, team members became poster boys and the filipino football community became patriotic.
Many have put their faith in filipino football ... but not many have remained faithful, hence, this sad write up.
At present, it appears that the Azkals phenomenon was a mere good thing in the past. The cheering crowds waving Philippine flags in 2010 was replaced by empty seats. Filling the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium into full is next to impossible as the former faithfuls have lost faith to their country team and to the wonderful sport. Just recently, the Azkals had one of their biggest victories, a 5-nil against Papua New Guinea before a handful of Filipino supporters.
Confidence of critics and haters suddenly went into an all time high. Tonguelashing the Azkals who were unfortunately conceived with foreign genetics, and claiming that the sport is not for the Filipinos as it lacks excitement compared to others.
All of a sudden, there appeared from nowhere a multitude of reasons to give up and accept the fact that the filipino world cup dream is but a dream.
I refuse to give up.
The often criticism about the team is with regard to their ‘foreign players.’ With due respect to the haters, but they are actually not foreign but true blue Filipinos as naturalization while allowed in FIFA is not actually favored by most member coutries. It was never their fault to be born with a set of parents whose nationalities are different.
If you will ask me, they are actually the real patriotic ones. They turned their backs in their other country, only to play in an inferior national team that we have. And mind you, these people are not less skilled, to name a few, brothers Phil and James Younghusband are both from the famous Chelsea Football Club prior being in the Azkals, Neil Etheridge experienced playing for the youth team of England before deciding to play for the Azkals, Stephan Schrock is one of Germany’s best mid-fielders yet he decided to play for the Filipinos, and Fil-German Denis Wolf is actually a football star in Bundesliga league in Germany when he made a decision to play for his mother’s country.
They are the real heroes not only of the sport, but also of Filipino pride.
People especially filipinos have a lot to learn about football. Not only its rules and skills, but likewise also its discipline and emotion.
While all sports have passion for winning, the one in football is quite different from all the others. The difficulty of putting up a single score does redefine the term ‘goal.’ No wonder that in FIFA World Cup events, a football goal is a cause for a nation’s celebration.
In football, every single goal is a group effort for there can never be a one man play, and it is one reason why I refuse to believe that the sport is not for Filipinos. I know very well for a fact, that the word ‘bayanihan’ has no foreign translation, and the only way we can show the world its meaning is through our actions. Which sport then will best exemplfy the trait.
Even history disagree with the statement that football is not for Filipinos. One of the greatest legend in the sport is actually a Filipino in the person of Paulino Alcantara. He remains to be the youngest player to play and score for the european club Barcelona, he finished his career in the said team with 369 goals in 357 games.
The Azkals brought back our country in the football map in 2010, and we are actually still visible therein except for our countrymen. Sadly, the Azkals phenomenon has lost the intensity of its yesteryears, yet not all is lost for there are still people like me who shall remain believers of Filipino football. Philippines in the World Cup may not happen in our lifetime, but there is no reason for me not to believe it will be a reality.
For the love of the sport, and the love of the country. These are the reasons why I shall never give up on the Philippine Azkals. And when I say love, I refer to genuine love, not love motivated by a mere fad.
The Philippine Azkals is not the best team there is, but it is my only country team. And for the love of my country I shall remain faithful to the world cup dream. So help me God.
“An ungiven self is an unfulfilled self”
– Philippine Supreme Court (1997)
It has been said that love is a ‘gentle and universal emotion.’ Ergo, I cannot see any reason to wait for valentines to write about the topic or any improriety to relate the same to the wisdom of our magistrates in the Supreme Court. After all, those great judges are presumed to be the wisest among the persons in the practice of law, hence, they should be well adept to relate to all of us the arguably most difficult to comprehend among all law... the ‘law of love.’
‘Love hurts’ is a common expression of people who underwent the crucible of pain in romance. The Honorable Supreme Court could not agree more, in the case of Libi versus Intermediate Appelate Court (1992), They said ‘one of the ironic verities of life, it has been said, is that sorrow is sometimes a touchstone of love.’
Truly we cannot blame an individual for taking too much pain. Besides, we cannot even blame him or her for giving an all out passion for a single person. The Supreme Court in Figueroa versus Barranco (1997) expressed the same sentiment in this wise: ‘we cannot castigate a man for seeking out the partner of his dreams.’ In an earlier case entitled Chua-Qua versus Clave (1990), the Supreme Court was even more romantic in saying: ‘If the two persons eventually fell in love, despite the disparity in their ages and academic levels, this only lends substance to the truism that the heart has reasons of its own which reason does not know.’
Like most romantics (and even hopeless romantics), the Supreme Court too believes that love is powerful, encompassing and a force to be reckoned with. In Padilla – Rumbaua versus Padilla (2009), they said ‘love happens to everyone. It is dubbed to be boundless as it goes beyond the expectations people tagged with it. In love, “age does matter.” People love in order to be secure that one will share his/her life with another and that he/she will not die alone. Individuals who are in love had the power to let love grow or let love die – it is a choice one had to face when love is not the love he/she expected.’
Aside from defining love, the Supreme Court too made a tip to married couples on how to keep the fire burning. In Chi Ming Tsoi versus Court of Appeals (1997) they said: ‘Marital union is a two-way process. An expressive interest in each other’s feelings at a time it is needed by the other can go a long way in deepening the marital relationship. Marriage is definetely not for children but for two consenting adults who view the relationship with love amor gignit amorem, respect, sacrifice and continuing commitment to compromise, conscious of its value as a sublime social institution.’
But love is not always a happy ending. We cannot turn a blind eye to broken homes and loveless marriages. The Supreme Court too acknowledges the said reality, in the case of People of the Philippines versus Takbobo (1993) they said: ‘The nuptial vows which solemnly intone the matrimonial promise of love for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part, are sometimes easier said than done, for many a marital union figuratively ends on the reefs of matrimonial shoals.’ In Antonio versus Reyes (2006), the Supreme Court pronounced their dissapointment to the sad reality by saying: ‘ statistics never lie, but lovers often do, quipped a sage. This sad truth has unsettled many a love transformed into matrimony. Any sort of deception between spouses, no matter the gravity, is always disquieting.’
It is not only the Philippine Supreme Court who expresses thoughts on love in their wise decisions. The United States Supreme Court too has their share of quotable love quotes, to cite a few there is the old case of Maynard versus Hill (1888) wherein the U.S. Supreme Court said that Marriage is ‘the most important relation in life’ and ‘the foundation of the family and society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress.’
Another is the 1965 case of Griswold versus Connecticut, wherein they said that “we deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights – older than our political parties, older than our school system. Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commerical or social projects. Yet it is an association for as noble a purpose as any involved in our prior decisions.’
In 1967, the State of Virginia passed a law that prohibits marriage between persons of different race. The said law was questioned before the U.S. Supreme Court and hence the doctrine in the case of Loving versus Virginia (1967) was born: “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the olderly puruit of happiness by free men.’
Upon survey of ‘love decisions’ of supreme courts in the internet both here and abroad. I have reached a thinking that the Philippine Supreme Court is probably the most romantic Supreme Court in the world.
The excerpts mentioned herein are but a fraction of the many instances that the High Court succumbed and acknowledged the law of love. To conclude, let me leave to you a quote by 6th century philospher Boethius: ‘who would give law to lovers? Love is unto itself a higher law.’
(Published in my column 'From My Viewpoint' in Viewliner Publication October 6 - 12 2014 issue)
I am a strong believer of democracy, particularly in the Philippines. The democracy here in our country can be traced not only in 1899 during the Malolos Congress wherein our forefathers drafted the first Filipino Constitution but to the pre-hispanic settlers on Las Islas Filipinas who sailed to freedom from tyrannical monarchs to organize themselves into barangays, named after their boats that conveyed them to their new homeland where the nurtured democracy by governing themselves through compromise and consultations led by their datu or sultan.
The Philippines after undergoing a tyranny in the hands of foreigners, the barangays continue to build the legacy of people’s burning passion for freedom and liberty. Lapu-lapu, Sulayman, Dr. Jose Rizal, Gat Andres Bonifacio, General del Pilar, Jose Abad Santos, the GOMBURZA, Dagohoy, Emilio Jacinto, Diego and Gabriela Silang, the martyrs and heroes of Bataan, Cavite and even of EDSA, and the countless heroes of the Fiilipino Race including the modern day heroes and statesmen that are on struggle to keep the flame of democracy alive are testimonies that Juan dela Cruz is by nature a free man and not born to bondage.
Hence I believe that the teaching of democracy must be included in the educational system of the youth. The perpetuation of the flame of democracy must be done in this land of liberty in Asia, the Republic of the Philippines.
The Philippines is known throughout the world as a Christian nation. But are the Filipinos Christian enough in adhering to the mandate of their faith as one Nation?
The emphasis of early Christianity was an element of the primary assumptions on which democracy developed its faith in the indispensable impartiality of all men. Catholic theologians St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas upheld liberty as rights of the members of a commune.
The Christian idea of equality which can be traced from the Jewish tradition and the diction of the Messiah himself and elaborated by his apostle Paul, was that all men are equal before God, being descended from the same first parents, who were created by God, and being redeemed by the death of the Son of God, and hence are all brothers and can boast no distinction one over the other because of fortune, race or other accidental inequalities.
This makes me remember the much-quoted dictum from one of the most celebrated Pope of the Roman Catholic Faith, Pope Gregory; “All men are by nature equal.”
In these times, bearing in mind the history and culture of the Filipinos and the teachings of the Christian faith in general (both Catholics and Protestants), democracy is the political scheme that is most in consonance with the Christian faith of most Filipinos, among others, for the reason that mutually democracy and Christianity struggle for the preponderance of truth, human rights and the moral and socio-economic expansion and well-being of the individual.
How can democracy get its kick-off in a nation which has never known it?
There comes the role of education in democracy. The education of the Filipino youth must, as a vital primary step, locate itself and the purpose of its instruction in the proper cultural setting. By this I mean that education must take into realization the fact that ours is a Christian society which must be instilled by democracy rooted on Christian values.
While I discuss the role of education, let this not be a limit on the term “education” as referring to the role of the degree conferring Schools, Colleges and Universities in the Philippines. What is contemplated on the term “education” is the role that we ought to perform in rearing the youth of today, this may happen not only in the academic set up but also in the comforts of the family home, in an intimate discussion with the youngsters and as a preaching or sermon in Church.
Yes, in Church.
The Filipino Christian Churches (Catholics and Protestants) never failed to adhere to its mandate in making disciples of every nation and propagating the faith probably because it is one of the obvious purposes of being a Church, however most Churches seemed to overlook a mandate…the mandate to teach democracy and instill nationalism on their respective congregations.
On the palace of the Viceroy of India there inscribed a motto: “Liberty will not descend to a people; a people must raise themselves to liberty.” Democracy cannot succeed until a people agree to it and inscribe its precepts in their minds and hearts. It must become a part of their nature, their culture, their everyday living and that takes generations and there is no time to start than now.
To start the education on Christian democracy, let us start by accepting that democracy is a process and not a set form. It is in a way a continuous revolution. It never lays claim as a perfect system for it is not a fixed system but a procedure.
You, bearing these in things in mind as regards to democracy are my hope that you will continue to nurture the education on democracy. The influence of religious congregations that believes in the teachings of Jesus Christ must be taken advantage in advancing this political system.
Christians, let us be vigilant in protecting and perpetuating this wonderful gift we received from the Fountain of justice and wisdom Himself, the gift of Democracy.
God bless the Filipino People.
(Published in my column 'From My Viewpoint' in Viewliner Weekly News, Sept. 29 - Oct. 5 2014 Issue)
The Philippines considers the maritime industry as a vital component in economic progress. Since time immemorial, the maritime industry has been instrumental to political and economic expansion and progress.
For this reason, President Aquino since 2013 has been urging lawmakers to amend the “Cabotage Law” (embodied in Sections 902 and 1009 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, which was incorporated in Republic Act 5173) in order to help maintain the growth and the momentum of the country’s economy and help to lower the cost of transportation for the agricultural sector and most industries. For many the word “cabotage” is a concept beyond the realm of ordinary understanding.
The word cabotage, taken from the Spanish cabotaje, is rooted from the word cabo meaning cape, peninsula, or headland. Cabotage in Spanish refers to sailing from “cape to cape.” It is a policy adopted by nations allowing the exclusivity of domestic coastwise navigation in rendering maritime transportation services.
In short, the Cabotage Law forbids foreign vessels to ply inter-island routes. Therefore, when a 20-foot cargo container enters our ports (like the Port of Manila or Port of Subic), this is transferred to a local ship if it needs to go to the Visayas, Mindanao or anywhere in the archipelago.
The cabotage principle traces its roots on the intention of each country to protect their local maritime industries. In the modern world, the United States Federal Government, for instance, tried their best to create legislation that would discourage foreign maritime industries to penetrate their domestic market. Thus, the Jones Act of 1920 was conceived, serving as the bulwark of cabotage regulations in the United States. Up to this time, the Jones Act keeps up to its purpose, preventing foreign maritime transport industries from engaging in Uncle Sam’s domestic coastwise shipping.
On the other hand the Aquino administration is very much convinced that by completely liberating the market to the free world, our local industries would develop a sense of competitiveness. Hence, the President is suggesting to his co-equal (the Congress of the Philippines) to amend the Philippine law on cabotage so as to open the industry to foreign trade.
In response to the call of the Chief Executive, legislation was proposed to the effect of lifting the cabotage law, two version of the bills are now pending in the Senate and authored by Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Antonio Trillanes III (The bills are currenlty under review by a committee whose chairperson is the cousin of the President, Senator. Bam Aquino).
The expectation for the lifting of the cabotage regime would allow, among others, for the implementation of lower trade costs due to the advent of participation of foreign-flagged vessels in the domestic coastwise navigation and the improvement of the marine industry to keep up with the international standard of maritime navigation. Authorities perceived it as liberalization and deregulation of the maritime transport industry heading into the direction of greater participation in ASEAN economic integration.
The said proposition was met by huge objections raised by domestic corporations and groups. Largely, the main objection was anchored on the untimeliness of the lifting of the cabotage; domestic corporations being unprepared to meet the challenges posed by the participation of foreign competitions, who are, in comparison with the domestic industry, in a better position as they are comparably more equipped with advanced technology.
The country’s ports lack the facilities like warehouses and silos to speed up the process of loading and unloading bulk cargo, thus causing delays. And we all know that delays cost fortune.
Our ports need more equipment like cranes, conveyor belts, bulldozers, and many other specialized gear and apparatus to speed up loading and discharging operations of bulk carriers. port (I have been told by a friend that only one out of three cranes in the Port of Manila is actually fully functional).
For example, to load 5,000 tons of corn in Mindanao will take 10 days; whereas if there were a silo, the same amount could be loaded in a day. Due to the absence of silos, ship owners are penalized for the remaining nine days. Conversely, if we had modern suctions or grabs, discharging could be done in a day or two.
The shipping costs for general cargoes, just like bulk carriers, whether foreign- or Philippine-flagged, is the same. The problem, however, also lies with ports. Our ports lack the modern facilities and equipment to load and discharge cargo effectively.
There is also the case of loaded containers being discharged at a local destination port, but because the containers go back to Manila without anything in them, an imbalance of trade happens. Hence, this becomes another reason why there is a higher cost in shipping.
Another case is that container vessels are beset by the problems of double-handling. When a foreign vessel unloads in Manila, and a domestic container vessel loads the cargo in Manila, and then unloads it in Davao, there is double handling, and consequently, higher cost.
All other reasons, therefore, illustrate that domestic shipping companies cannot be entirely blamed for the high cost of inter-island trade. Therefore, it is important that the government, in preparing to amend the existing Cabotage Law, should have a firm understanding of the transport economics.
To capriciously introduce reforms that will disregard the recent investments made by local shippers could lead to the death of the industry, and induce a situation just like what happened in Indonesia when the industry almost died when foreign vessels were allowed to enter smaller ports.
Indonesia subsequently went back to its old maritime arrangements to defend their local industry. In the Philippines, local ship owners are also concerned that the modern facilities and strong financial capabilities of foreign ship owners will induce a rate war that would kill them.
The Philippine Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) has been cautious about the move to change the Cabotage Law, citing the Indonesian experience. Aside from the massive investments by local shipping companies, thousands of local workers stand to lose employment.
Contrary to the proposition that it would engender a lower cost of coastwise trade and navigation, the lifting of the cabotage law and the grant of authority to foreign flagged vessels to participate in coastwise navigation would put the local industries to disadvantage.
The free access of foreign vessels may also serve as means to breach national security and the enjoyment of peace in our country. The openness of ports in receiving foreign vessels would cause difficulty in the regulation of entry and exit of passengers and cargos.
Smuggling of contraband, human trafficking, and illegal entry of aliens are some of the evils which are sought to be avoided by the cabotage law as there are only a handful of international ports which are more equipped to regulate the entry and exit of persons and goods. It is not that the evils sought to be avoided are far from reality, but the lifting of one of the nation’s safeguards would create an avenue for such situation to become malignant.
Though optimistic of the positive returns which the lifting of the cabotage law will provide, we are daunted by the reality that there are numerous threats at the moment, both political and economic. Lifting of the cabotage hastily will have the greater possibility of obliterating the domestic coastwise trade and navigation industry rather than shaping them into better competitors.
The price for globalization and liberation of such market, if done untimely and inappropriately would do more damage. True, that it is only through globalization that we would be able to increase our opportunities, but it is humbly submitted that the domestic shipping industry needs more rearing at the moment. Just the same, we cannot allow big players in little leagues for it would be an undue advantage. It is like putting a wolf among a flock of sheeps.
The Cabotage Law simply seeks to protect the young or fragile institution of maritime industry in the Philippines.
Assuming for the sake of argument that I am wrong in stating that now is not a good timing for the lifting of the cabotage law. Let us then focus our attention to the statutory and constitutional policies that bans foreigners to operate public utilities such as the shipping industry.
I cannot see how can the passage of a law that will take away the Philippine cabotage system be consistent to existing statutory policy and the Constitution, the highest law of the land.
Act No. 2761 of the Philippine Legislature required that local companies wholly owned by locals, shall be the only ones authorized to operate vessels in the Philippine domestic trade. This was similar to the pre-Jones Act provision of American law that required vessels in the domestic trade to be operated by US citizens or by companies wholly owned by citizens of the United States.
The provisions of Public Service Act of 1936, as well as the Tariff and Customs laws institutionalized by the Philippine Commonwealth, were drafted from the Jones Act of 1920, rendering exclusive to Filipinos the engagement in the trade within the archipelago.
To this date, the 1987 Philippine Constitution supports the cabotage principle through Article XII, Section 7, to wit:
“no franchise, certificate, or any other form of authorization for the operation of a public utility shall be granted except to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or associations organized under the laws of the Philippines, at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens.”
Section 902 of Republic Act 1937, known as the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, also provides for the cabotage principle, wherein it is explicitly provided that the right to engage in Philippine coastwise trade is limited to vessels carrying a certificate of Philippine registry.
Republic Act 9295, known as the Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004, also serves as a vanguard in keeping with the protectionist tradition. It mainly encourages the participation to the domestic coastwise trade and transport by giving tax incentives, as well as excluding the foreign-flagged vessels in the engagement of coastwise navigation, with consideration to exceptional circumstances.
People of the Philippines, let me pose this question to all of you: will the passage of the law that will lift the cabotage principle uphold our duly instituted sacred Constitution?
Or will it be another chapter in the life of our Nation where once again the Rule of Law is taken aside (Remember how the Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that the mining industry can be operated by foreigners?).
Wag naman sana, kawawa naman ang Bayan.
Often recalcitrant, but always principled.