US spy planes critical to Marawi

SPY BITS - The Philippine Star

Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, in particular the junior officers, are elated that the United States will be providing the Philippines with two “spy planes” to help in the fight against terrorism. These surveillance aircraft are critical to the ongoing military operations in Marawi as they can get aerial images on battlefield positions and other vital information that can be used to finally drive out the Maute terrorist group and their ISIS cohorts.

Aside from surveillance planes, the US also has other sophisticated equipment for gathering crucial intelligence information that will help save the lives of our troops as well as innocent civilians. US Ambassador Sung Kim said the two Cessna 208 aircraft will be available in a couple of weeks, giving his assurance that the US has been, and will always be, supportive of its longstanding ally. The Ambassador also said they are committed to help President Duterte rebuild and rehabilitate Marawi City.

Even the president himself acknowledges the deep-seated friendship between Filipino and American soldiers which has been forged over several decades. Just recently, US and Philippine naval troops held coordinated patrols in Sulu Sea – underscoring the maritime security cooperation between the two countries as members of the Philippine Navy exchanged best practices on board, search and seizure techniques with their American counterparts. 

Our Washington associates also confirmed that inside the White House and among the military top brass, support for President Duterte’s fight against terrorism is high, especially since extremism is also a major concern. “The United States is a proud ally of the Philippines, and we will continue to work with the Philippines to address shared threats to the peace and security of our countries, including on counterterrorism issues,” the US Embassy stated much earlier.

The fact is, Filipinos traditionally view the US as their closest ally, as seen in the most recent international survey conducted by the Pew Research Center that showed Filipinos being the greatest supporters of US President Donald Trump. The US president’s approval rating among Americans has been plummeting, though, with the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll showing him with a record-low 36 percent approval rating due to perceptions that US leadership has been declining. Not surprisingly, Trump questioned the accuracy of the survey, at the same time saying that the 36 percent is “not bad at this time.”

New climate change report shows Asia at risk

The latest report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) said the development gains by Asian countries could be put at great risk by climate change.

Titled “A Region at Risk – The Human Dimensions of Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific,” the report outlined the “drastic changes” that could happen, with predictions of more intense typhoons that could put low-lying areas at great risk of flooding.  Losses due to global flooding could also reach $52 billion a year by 2050 – much, much higher than the $6 billion recorded losses in 2005.  But while rainfall is expected to increase by as much as 50 percent in many parts of Asia, countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan could suffer from declining rainfall from 20 to 50 percent, the report said.

What is also disturbing is that by the end of the century, a six-degree Celsius rise in temperature is also projected over Asia, while Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Northwest China could be worse off with a projected eight-degree Celsius rise in temperature. According to the report, the increases in temperature would lead to “drastic changes in the region’s weather system, agriculture and fisheries sectors, land and marine biodiversity, domestic and regional security, trade, urban development, migration, and health. Such a scenario may even pose an existential threat to some countries in the region and crush any hope of achieving sustainable and inclusive development.”

 Aside from increased hunger due to food shortages brought about by rising temperatures, heat-related deaths especially among the elderly are seen to rise to 52,000 by 2050 according to data by the World Health Organization. Deaths due to malaria, dengue, and outdoor air pollution (which is already causing 3.3 million deaths every year on a global scale) is also projected to go up.

“Asian countries hold earth’s future in their hands. If they choose to protect themselves against dangerous climate change, they will help to save the entire planet,” remarked PIK director Hans Joachim Shellnhuber, noting that leaders have to find strategies to ensure prosperity and security under “unavoidable climate change.”

No doubt climate change is already upon us, and it is incumbent in every one of us to do our share in helping mitigate the potentially deadly consequences.

Village squabble

Dasmariñas Village in Makati is home to many prominent individuals, with several embassies/embassy residences also located within the very exclusive subdivision. However, two groups are claiming to be the legitimate and elected board of governors of the Dasmariñas Village Association (DVA).

It all started when several homeowners put up their own group to protest the presence of Globe cell sites within the subdivision several years ago. The long-festering squabble resulted in the decision of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board to nullify the April 2, 2017 elections. The HLURB then conducted new elections last July 9 which the “deposed” governors and officers are questioning, saying it was illegal because there was no quorum with only 58 votes cast – compared to the 964 votes in the April 2 elections.

A number of prominent residents are extremely disappointed – some are even disgusted – by the politics that is happening within the homeowners’ association. Some are ready to take matters in their own hands if the issues are not resolved amicably. The continuing squabble and divisiveness has disrupted the delivery of basic services to homeowners and residents.  

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Email: spybits08@gmail.com

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