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The new cold war is on

FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) - March 7, 2021 - 12:00am

The new cold war is on with differences we must be aware of. Whereas the 45-year cold war between America and the Soviet Union fought proxy battles all across the world, that cold war was in Europe, with the Soviets preventing their satellites from breaking away.

The contest between China and America, however, is different from that, the Economist says.

“For one thing, the two sides’ armed forces are not glowering at one another across any front lines – although in Taiwan and North Korea each has an ally in a tense, decades-long stand-off with the other. Even so, in the rivalry between the two powers, there will be a main zone of contention: Southeast Asia. And although the region has drawn up no clear battle lines, that only makes the competition more complex.”

This, the Philippines must keep in mind as a leader in Southeast Asia. The people of Southeast Asia must keep in mind that America and China are the two poles in a new cold war, “pulling their countries in opposite directions.”

“Those protesting against the recent military coup in Myanmar, for example, hold up angry placards that attack China for backing the generals and pleading ones that beg America to intervene. Governments feel under pressure to pick sides.

“In 2016 Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, loudly announced his country’s ‘separation from America’ and pledged allegiance to China instead. China’s claim that almost all the South China Sea lies within its territorial waters and America’s rejection of that assertion have sparked blazing rows in the main regional club, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which China has attempted to win over.”

The pandemic is being used as a battle of sorts in the cold war.

Although America and its western allies try to downgrade Chinese developed vaccines, the fact is that “the test results of the Butantan Institute proved the excellent quality of Sinovac vaccine, which is in sharp contrast with the negative evaluation of the AstraZeneca vaccine in South Africa.”

“Last month, Sinopharm’s CEO confirmed that the inactivated vaccines from Sinopharm could protect people from mutated variants discovered in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, and Cansino vaccine was also confirmed effective later for mutations, according to academician Chen Wei, who developed that Cansino vaccine. Ideological prejudice may influence public opinions for a while, but the political noise cannot distort scientific results in the long run.”

Vaccination officially kicked off in the Philippines last week with the arrival of the Chinese donated Sinovac vaccines. The Sinovac vaccines are now being distributed to different hospitals and set for mass inoculation as soon as it reaches the target facilities. The Philippine General Hospital’s director, Dr. Gerardo Dizon Legaspi, was the first recipient of the COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines.

Hopefully, more Filipinos will share the same news of getting inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine in the days to come.

Ambassador Huang Xilian, China’s ambassador to the country, said on the arrival of the Sinovac: “I am delighted that the Philippines’ vaccination program will kick off with the rollout of Sinovac vaccines. As the very first COVID-19 vaccine to reach the Philippines, this shows China and the Philippines’ resilient friendship will remain strong even during the toughest of times. I am confident that this donation will help many Filipino people as we all work together and move beyond this pandemic and make steps towards herd immunity. Today’s kick-off of the mass vaccination program is an assurance that the relationship between our two countries will always find new channels of cooperation that will lead to mutual progress.” (Expect a retaliation from the Western propaganda front which is a pity because it involves lives!)

With its picturesque charm, no one would think that Tapaz in Capiz, a first-class town in Western Visayas is often visited by violent weather disturbances that leave most of its residents scrambling for help without a safe and comfortable place to stay.

For decades, the farming municipality of Tapaz had no permanent facility to accommodate thousands of indigenous families from its upland communities, who are always forced to flee their homes during heavy rains or strong typhoons due to the dangers of soil erosion.

The long wait for an emergency shelter to utilize in times of calamities finally ended for the more than 70,000 residents of the town after the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) funded the construction of the much-needed Multi-Purpose Evacuation Center (MPEC), which broke ground on March 5, 2021 in Barangay Carida.

“It was an answered prayer. God heeded what we’ve been asking for. We may be categorized as a first-class municipality, but we don’t have enough funds to build an emergency facility to house all evacuees from our upland communities each time they need to leave their homes during calamities,” said Tapaz Municipal Mayor Roberto Palomar.

The local chief executive added that the state-of-the-art MPEC to be built in Tapaz will not only help cushion the effects of any future disaster that will hit the town but will also serve as an additional space where they will hold some of their special events and activities.

“This evacuation center will really be very helpful for us in so many ways. The people of Tapaz will treasure this aid from PAGCOR forever,” he stated.

The groundbreaking ceremony of the PAGCOR MPEC in Tapaz was graced by key PAGCOR officials led by the agency’s chief of staff Atty. Albert Regino Jr., Casino Filipino Bacolod acting branch manager Jose Marciano Bautista and assistant vice president for Community Relations and Services Ramon Stephen Villaflor.

Pagcor initially released P25 million to the local government of Tapaz to jumpstart the construction of the evacuation center.

With a budget of P50 million, the two-story MPEC to be constructed in the town has provision for kitchen area, storage areas for relief goods, toilet and shower rooms for male and female, lactating rooms for nursing mothers and a spacious badminton-court type area that may be used for sports events and other purposes when it is not being used as an evacuation site.

Apart from the MPEC in Tapaz, Capiz, the state-run gaming firm has also released the first tranche of funding of MPECs for San Andres, Quezon; Romblon; Zamboanga del Sur; Tagudin, Ilocos Sur; Tadian, Mountain Province; Legazpi City and Ligao in Albay; Ocampo, Tigaon, San Jose and Sagnay in Camarines Sur; and San Fernando and Floridablanca in Pampanga. The agency has allotted a total of P2 billion for the project.

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