FIRST PERSON - Alex Magno - The Philippine Star

As expected, the historic trilateral summit held this week in Washington strengthened security cooperation between the US, Japan and the Philippines. The communique issued after the meeting specifically denounced Beijing’s “aggressive actions” in the South China Sea. Both the US and Japan committed to expanded economic support for the Philippines in addition to defense assistance.

Those opposing this emerging security alliance between the US, Japan and the Philippines suggest that Manila will be on the losing end because we face diminished trade and investment flows from China. But this is not inevitable – although China has built a record of applying economic pressure to get its way.

The Philippines needs this security alliance. We are fully committed to it. Without security guarantees, we have seen, the country is vulnerable to aggressive action by more powerful neighbors.

To be sure, robust economic relations with China is precious to us. The investments and financing flows from China will enable us to sustain our current rate of expansion.

During the Noynoy Aquino administration, approved foreign investment from China rose to $43 billion. During the Duterte administration, the pandemic notwithstanding, approved foreign investments of China ballooned dramatically to $164.64 billion. This represents a 382 percent increase over the previous administration.

The dramatic increase is casually attributed to the more accommodating stance of the Duterte administration towards the economic powerhouse next door. It must be pointed out, too, that the growth in investments reflects the growing trend among Chinese enterprises to diversify their businesses abroad.

As a matter of policy, the Duterte administration pursued project financing deals with Beijing and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The financing deals included: the Metro Manila Flood Management Project assisted by the World Bank; the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, the Kaliwa River Dam project, the Samal Island-Davao City bridge project and various health programs to enable us to deal with the pandemic.

To sweeten the pot, so to speak, Beijing gifted us two bridges: the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge and the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge. The gifts enlarged the total grant amount coming from China.

Beijing tried to reciprocate the Duterte administration’s more accommodating stance through various support packages to help victims of natural calamities such as those of Typhoon Odette and the Taal eruption. Beijing contributed to help in the rehabilitation of Marawi, the provision of new school buildings and the distribution of farm implements.

Over the next few years, we expect to benefit from inflows of tourists from China and even more investments in manufacturing. We import much capital goods from China.

Manila must now work double time to decouple our security arrangements and our economic cooperation. The pursuit of one, as we see among our neighbors in the region, need not mean the loss of the other.


Golf is such a lonely game, pitting the player against himself in an endless quest for perfection. This is the reason why the golfing community tends to be mutually supportive and constantly cheerful.

Many golfers are saddened that controversies now beset the National Golf Association of the Philippines (NGAP). These controversies involve the recent election of the NGAP’s officers. In particular, several members of the association have lodged complaints against NGAP president Martin Lorenzo, secretary-general Bones Floro and members of the nomination and election committee (NOMELEC).

It turns out, the last annual meeting of the NGAP was held at Alabang Country Club even as the by-laws require such meeting to be held at the association’s office at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex. The usual venue was fully functional and members question why the meeting was moved to a distant location.

The NOMELEC is likewise accused of invalidating 31 proxies and allowing only 34 members to vote for the set of officers. Members requesting participation via video conferencing were denied.

Section 52 of the Revised Corporation Code gives members and trustees the opportunity to participate by electronic means. NGAP’s NOMELEC provides a lame excuse, claiming there was lack of prior notice to accommodate requests for remote participation.

Just as lame, the NOMELEC justifies its rejection of 31 proxy votes by saying they did not conform to the “prescribed proxy form.” Prescription of such a proxy form was arbitrarily imposed by the NOMELEC. The NGAP does not have a “prescribed proxy form.”

The Revised Corporation Code’s Section 57 puts down only the minimum proxy requirements. Any form fulfilling those requirements should be considered valid. The SEC, in a long line of opinions, prescribes that if the by-laws of a corporation do not provide for a specific proxy form, none can be prescribed other than as provided for under Section 57.

The decision to move the annual meeting to a distant venue, the refusal to provide for remote participation and the invalidation of proxy votes because they were not in the arbitrarily prescribed form all smack of orchestration. One cannot blame some members for suspecting the elections were railroaded.

And, in an association where members politely yield to their peers, railroading the elections suggests a faction is trying to cover up something. They are now raising impolite questions about the huge sum paid the handicap systems provider.

All these should not be happening. Golf is a sport where honesty has a premium and where the highest standards of sportsmanship are constantly upheld.

As a golfer myself, I certainly wish the current leadership of the NGAP will satisfactorily address all the complaints raised about the recently concluded elections.

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