Thursday, July 28, 2011

D.C. of D.C. in D.C. on D.C. is D.C.

Debate and Confrontation of Dysfunctional Congress in District of Columbia on Debt Ceiling is Disturbingly Critical!

For solution we may have to draw from the U.S. Constitution.

There is no argument that the debt ceiling should be raised. The consequences are so serious that even thinking of the possibility that it would happen is already creating bad economic effects. President Obama, Speaker Boehner, Senate Leaders Reid and McConnell all agree.

Failure to raise the debt ceiling would mean default in our obligations. Default leads to the downgrading of our credit rating. Downgrading would result to higher interest rate. High interest would mean higher cost to service our debt which is already about 40% of the total budget. This means increasing spending resulting to a higher budget deficit. This runs counter to the very goals of certain groups who want to substantially reduce the deficit or to balance the budget.

This is not even mentioning its effects on everyday Americans, be they old, young, poor, middle class or rich. Interest rates on mortgages, car loans, student loans and definitely credit cards which keep everybody in play even temporarily. Confidence and trust on America’s ability to pay its obligations would mean fewer investments to American projects that produce jobs. Just the fear of defaulting has been taking the stock market down. Can you imagine if it actually happens? Credit Suisse predicts stock downfall of at least 30%.

Those who are opposed to increase taxes would in effect get it under this situation.

United States has the largest economy in the world. Most if not all nations of the world are economically interdependent with the United States. A default by the latter therefore would have a devastating effect internationally as well.

Congress has the Constitutional power to budget or appropriate. Correspondingly, it is empowered to approve and obligate the government to source the funds to finance what they have obligated and which were actually incurred. Funds could come from revenues such as taxes or if not enough, borrowed.

But Congress, this time by statute limited itself to borrow or incur debts. So if the obligations are much more than the sources (revenues and authorized borrowing), the law requires that the limit to debt or borrowing should be raised.

The real issue is the payment of obligations already incurred. Will the U.S. renege on its obligations? Most people think that if the debt ceiling is not raised by August 2, 2011, the U.S. has no choice but to default, hence the devastating consequences.

There is another law that is relevant to this issue. The 14th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution which reads, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law… shall not be questioned,”

The appropriations, expenditures, and obligations already incurred are all public debts authorized by law. The Constitution clearly states that they are valid and cannot be questioned. No entity or institution, local law, state law or Federal statute can question it.

The President of the United States is therefore mandated by the Constitution to cause the meeting of America’s obligations and avoid impairing the obligation of contracts.

By authority of the U.S. Constitution under the 14th Amendment therefore, President Obama can raise the debt ceiling unilaterally if Congress fails to use its statutory power to do it. What you do not use, you lose.

Constitution trumps statute! Many legal scholars support this view. President Bill Clinton had considered using it during his term. For all its worth, I humbly support it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sana, SONA, South China, Saan Na

President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino won the presidential elections based on certain expectations by the Filipino people. I, for one, voted and endorsed him primarily because I was convinced that among all the candidates, he pretty much personified my vision of a leader who would bring honesty, humility, honor, and hope to the Presidency.

As I saw it, many Filipinos including my barber are in agreement with me in what we all want.

SANA: People’s Wish List

Sana we would have an Honest Government:Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap;
Sana we would have Humility or No Arrogance of Power;
Sana we would have Honor and National Pride; and
Sana we would have Hope for a brighter future.

It is against these wishes that we will try to assess the State of the Nation under President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino as he reported.


Honest Government: In his first year in office, P-Noy has started to remove the culture of corruption that has engulfed the Filipino society for generations. By putting together a team of “incorruptible” managers in many sensitive positions, he is indeed committed to build the foundation for good governance.

In his address he cited a sample of honest governance in the Department of Public Works and Highways under Secretary Babes Singson: “We are eliminating the patronage politics that had been prevalent in DPWH, and replacing it with a culture in which merit prevails. All projects must have work programs; we will require those involved in projects to submit well thought out plans for consideration, so that each project complements the other. We have also instituted an honest and transparent bidding process to provide equal opportunity to interested contractors.”

The Department of Justice under Secretary de Lima has been aggressive in investigating and filing anti-corruption cases. So has the Department of Finance under Secretary Purisima against customs duties violators and tax evaders.

The appointment of Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales as Ombudsman is a clear signal that P-Noy is serious in having “an honest-to-goodness anti-corruption office, not one that condones the corruption and abuses in government.

Humility in Government: P-Noy began his tenure by acknowledging who his real bosses are—the sovereign people. He identified the “Wang-Wang” as signifying arrogance of power.

In his own words, “Over the years, the Wang-Wang had come to symbolize abuse of authority. It was routinely used by public officials to violate traffic laws, inconveniencing ordinary motorists—as if only the time of the powerful few, and no one else’s, mattered. Instead of behaving like public servants, they acted like kings. This privilege was extended to their cronies and patrons, who moved along the streets as if they were aristocracy, indifferent to those who were forced to give way and were left behind. Abusing privilege despite promising to serve—this is the Wang-Wang mind-set; this is the mind-set of entitlement.”

He also drew our attention in his SONA to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. He said, “The politics there have been dominated by horse-trading and transactional politics. During national elections, whoever is in power in ARMM is free to manipulate the electoral machinery in his region, ensuring that non-allies do not get votes. That Mayor or Governor then demands payment for his services come the ARMM election, and it is the administration’s turn to manipulate the electoral machinery to secure the win of their candidate.”

Indeed, for public service to result in public welfare, honesty and humility in governance are necessary ingredients.

Honor and Pride: There are many things that Filipinos can be proud of nowadays. Pacquiao for one brought us on top of the world in sports. We have become the Text, Facebook, Twitter, and Call Center Capital of the world. This is despite the fact that Filipino access to the Internet is less than 30%.

He also enumerated examples of creativity displayed by Filipinos benefiting other Filipinos in his address. Constructing a monorail using a homegrown technology was specified.


I cannot however be prouder than when P-Noy expressed his willingness to stand up against the bullying of China on the issue of Spratlys, West Philippine or South China Sea. His approach of using International Law in resolving the dispute speaks well of his belief that RIGHT trumps MIGHT. His resolve to fight for our sovereignty over KALAYAAN, the island, or the RECTO bank in the same manner that we would protect or defend RECTO Avenue is indeed a courageous move worthy of praise and honor.

Globalizing the issue and bringing it up to the international community is the better approach. Knowing that the current leadership, including P-Noy’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs del Rosario, cannot be bribed or corrupted into signing agreements inimical to the interest of the Philippines—as what happened in the previous administration—gives us comfort, honor, and pride.

Hope: The fact that we own an island that has gas and oil deposits equaling if not exceeding those of rich Kuwait gives us plenty of hope for an energy and economically independent future.

Even today, there are plenty of things that give us reasons for hope. Our credit rating was upgraded four times within one year. As shown by the record highs in the stock market and GDP growth rate, our economy is better. P-Noy indicated that most recently “a new contract was signed for a power plant to be constructed in the Luzon grid, so that by 2014, our country will have a cheaper, more reliable source of energy.”

Growing up as a young boy in Pangasinan, I learned that we used to be the “rice granary of the Philippines.” Helping my parents during rice harvests gave me pride in contributing to the feeding of a nation. But I understand that we have been importing our rice needs for sometime now. “Malem manen awan pay bagas.” (It’s afternoon again but still no rice.) I used to hear this expression a lot.

P-Noy just reported that we have substantially reduced the importation of rice and that we have increased our rice production by 15.6%. Using more hectares of land for production and weather permitting, we now hope to be self-sufficient in rice in the immediate future.

Meanwhile, “Self-rated hunger has gone down from 20.5% in March to 15.1% this June—equivalent to a million Filipino families who used to go hungry, but who now say they eat properly every day.”

Saan Na?

Where indeed are we heading? A good foundation for good governance versus the culture of corruption is slowly but surely being built. A team is in place. A Freedom of Information law is expected to pass. If more Filipino men and women participate positively in the building of a nation, I am quite confident that success will come. Positivism, not negativism, would propel us to a prosperous Philippines.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gift of Time, Gift of Family

The Monumental Maynigo Gal-lang Family Reunion held in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 15-17, 2011 lived up to its billing. As I expected, it was a monumentally filling, fulfilling fattening, fascinating, felicitous, fatherly, and family-concentrated festivity.

Las Vegas is known for being the Entertainment City. Since it is also  famous for adult entertainment and gambling, it is also dubbed as the Sin City of the world. I was not surprised when the younger generation who composed the majority of our clan voted to have our reunion in the city.

Many Filipinos retire, vacation and hold family reunions in Las Vegas because of what I call the Gs – Games, Golf, Gambling, Good time, and Go-Go Girls. This was why, as part of the itinerary or program, family praying together led by the clan’s spiritual adviser, Fr. Victor Arenas Maynigo was included. GOD should always come into play for any family undertaking.

The Buffet of Buffets which allows you to “eat all you can” from 4 to 7 meals in 7 different hotels for $45.99 (with free Total Rewards membership card) in 24 hours was indeed monumentally filling and fattening. The Las Vegas shows and the entertainment provided by some of the clan’s talents made it fascinating.

I was particularly proud of the stunning performance of my 10 year old grand niece, Raven Maynigo Barbiran, daughter of my niece, Doctor/Nurse Rochelle Maynigo Barbiran and her spouse, Nurse Edwin. The Voice, as displayed by the clan’s bet for American Idol and /or America’s Got Talent in the future could be seen on You Tube ( Manang Teresing Cancino Maynigo, the proud grandma was with us during the reunion. Her late grandpa, Manong Manoling Maynigo must be very proud looking down from heaven.

The hip-hop dance performed by my nieces, Occupational Therapist Lillian Maynigo Espanola and Doctor/Nurse Rochelle Maynigo Barbiran and Raven were entertaining as well. They ably and positively answered my query, “So you think you can dance?” The message from the Philippines by my cousin, CPA Diosdado Maynigo was inspiring, funny and entertaining.

What actually made the reunion fulfilling, felicitous, fatherly and family-concentrated were not the “Gs” I described above, although they helped, but more because of GOD’s Gifts of Time and of Family as discussed by Fr. Vic in his inspirational message to the family.

Gift of Time

All human beings are equal. All are finite and all are allotted the same amount of time, the same number of hours (24) to spend, invest or utilize. It is God’s gift.

As we already know, our 24 hours is always full. Utilizing part of it for something new means dropping or reducing an already pre-determined activity. It is a very valuable asset. It cannot be stored or borrowed. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. You have no way of getting it back.

Paraphrasing the words of German Philosopher Schopenhauer, “Time = Life. If you waste your time, you waste your life. You master your time and you master your life.”

Making the most of our time is therefore making the most of our life. Using time to produce things that are useful to fellow human beings means you are living a productive life. But time is also required to maintain and consume the things produced.

Since time is finite and therefore limited, one may have to prioritize depending on how much one values a set of activities. It is better to work smarter than longer. Working smart and hard would lessen the amount of time needed for many of the life challenges we face.

Electronic organizers, gadgets and other new technologies were all created to save time. We pray for miracles and for the magic wand to save time. Case studies, medical, business, legal and other types of cases based on the experiences of others are documented and summarized for others to learn and obviously to save time.

Gift of Family

Fr. Vic’s inclusion in his message GOD’s Gift of Family was indeed fitting, felicitous, fatherly and timely. Family is not only sharing the same DNA but most especially sharing history, experiences, expertise, empirical studies, experiments, education, data, information, ideas and wisdom together.

That’s why there is great value to having family reunions. Investing time to attend it is in the long run saving time and money. Learning from the experiences of relatives would save you time by avoiding the bad ones and following the good ones. The expertise of relatives who are  educated in so many different fields of discipline lends immeasurable benefits not only for the present but most especially in the future. Many serve as inspiration and models for emulation by the new generation and those still unborn.

Family members who are working, bonding, enjoying, even patiently waiting and queuing together are actually praying together. It is indeed a blessing when you are with family- immediate, mediate, and extended. It is never a waste of time. It is a very efficient and effective use of valuable time.

The Monumental Maynigo Gal-lang Family Reunion is not much different from all other reunions of other cultures. What probably makes us a little luckier is that we have two in our family who were “called and chosen” by God - my cousin, Fr. Victor Arenas Maynigo and my nephew, the late Fr. Cornelio Casanova. Also, we have in our family professionals in several fields: Doctors, Nurses, Medical Technologists, Occupational and Physical Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers, Certified Public Accountants, Engineers, Systems and Information Engineers, Scientists, Computer and Software Engineers, Software Applications Developers, Army, Air Force and Navy Officers, Lawyers, Educators, Authors, Nutritionists, Teachers, Realtors, and more.

I needed a family and I have one. With great pride and honor, I share with them my time and my life. So should all those who belong to a family! It is a great gift from GOD!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Honoring Manang Ruth and Manang Loreto

Journalist writer Jane Howard once said, “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one”

I needed one and I have one. And that one I am joining with the rest of the members in Las Vegas, Nevada for what the clan’s younger generation described as “The Monumental Maynigo / Gal-lang Family Reunion”.

Coordinated by my niece San Diego native Mary Euleen Maynigo Torres Napper, and actively assisted by her cousins Lillian Maynigo Danao Espanola, and Rochelle Maynigo Barbiran, and her brother Dean Maynigo Torres, the reunion promises to be momentous and guaranteed to be monumentally filling, fulfilling and fattening depending on how each one would face the challenges.

Now advised and fully supported by my youngest sister, Mila Maynigo Denton Goldberg, they came up with an exciting program. From Friday (15th) night to Sunday morning (17th), it would be “All You Can Eat”, “Eat All You Can” or “Buffet of All Buffets” depending on your perspective. Of course, in between meals would be Shows offered by Las Vegas Entertainment and by clan members who plan to show that the family has talents and hope to be the new idols. Golf, games, and gambling are inevitably included but as a family, GOD is never excluded.

A Catholic mass will be offered and officiated by a clan member and the family spiritual adviser, Father Victor Arenas Maynigo on the second and principal day of the reunion. Main feature in the mass is the offering of prayers for the souls of members who have joined the Lord. A special tribute for the late Manang Ruth Maynigo Danao and Manang Loreto Maynigo Bernabe will also be made.


Manang Ruth was a very smart, beautiful, humble, wise and honorable lady. As a young boy growing up, I used to think of her as the First Lady of the Maynigo clan. She was the first lady in the family to attend an American university, the University of Washington, as a Full Scholar after briefly teaching English at the Rosales Municipal High School, Pangasinan. She was the first lady founder of the school organ, The Rosal and the first lady writer of the lyrics of the school song. She was also the first to coach a cousin, Manang Nelly Maynigo Rabara for her winning oration in high school.

When I came to America as an American Field Service Scholar, I had to live with an American family while finishing my Senior year. Prior to my arrival, she wrote a letter to my foster parents introducing herself as my cousin describing to the latter the kind of family I belonged to and how good a boy I was expected to be. They had to use a magnifier to read her letter as the words were written so small. They were so impressed not only on how the contents were structured but most especially on how perfect her English was. They had never seen someone from a foreign land who wrote English the way she did. It was indeed a very good intro for me.

While in Huntington Beach High, I won a few oratorical contests which earned me a feature in the Philippines Free Press Magazine as a Champion Orator. I was very proud of one original oratorical piece which brought me to the Southern California Finals. The title was, “Moral Integrity: Imperative for Survival”. Prior to the finals, I happened to visit her and Manong Greg in Reno, Nevada. I got the benefit of her editing and coaching prowess resulting in an eventual First Place trophy finish.

A few years later I attended the first United Nations World Youth Assembly in New York as a delegate of the Philippines. Invited as a speaker in another conference of revolutionary movements that included Gloria Steinam’s Women’s Liberation Movement and the Black Panthers’ Party, I met Eldridge Cleaver who invited me to  his office in Oakland, California. On my way back to the Philippines, I visited the home of Manang Ruth and Manong Greg in Daly City. Of course, I requested that they bring me to the headquarters of the Black Panthers’ Party and Manong Greg did. Little boy Danny came along. In hindsight, that experience made me realize two things. One was that it was dangerous to go to the Black Panthers’ headquarters at that time. Second, I was escorted by a retired member of the Navy Seal Manong Greg who was instructed by Commander-in-Chief Manang Ruth to accompany me. The fact that Manong Greg parked several blocks away and stayed in the car was just a precaution.:)

When my youngest sister Mila got married in California, the main sponsors were Manang Ruth and my father-in-law, former Philippine Senator and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Raul Manglapus. In one of our conversations a few years later, the latter was telling me how impressed he was with Manang Ruth. For somebody who was used to meeting and conversing with Kings, Heads of States, high-powered politicians and intellectual giants, Manang Ruth impressing him was a real feat.

The last time I saw her was when I visited her in Las Vegas on my way to the Philippines. She was battling cancer. I brought with me a draft copy of Traci’s book that she wrote while a junior at Yale. She started reading and browsing for a little while then she gave back the book staring and virtually telling me, “Editing not needed”. I  just felt that it had to pass through her.

I know she was a great mother. Just look at how her children Lillian and Danny were raised and have become. Lillian has a B.S. in Occupational Therapy and is happily to married to Edgar Espanola. Danny, the little boy who went with me to the Black Panthers’ Party HQ, has two Masters Degrees (Business Administration and Business Management) to go with his B.S. in Commerce.  I am sure she is proudly looking down at them from heaven.. I know she was a great wife to an equally great husband. While the life of Manang Ruth and Manong Greg together was not as long as expected, it was definitely full, joyful and fulfilling.


I never told her, but I always thought that Manang Loreto was the smartest among all of us in our  immediate family. She was Valedictorian, Editor-in-Chief and a dynamic leader. A Certified Public Accountant who became the head of the Economic Research Department of the Central Bank of the Philippines, she travelled several times to Germany, United States, Singapore and other countries to study the Federal Reserve and Monetary Systems as a paid scholar.

Aside from fulfilling the duties of  a department head, she  handled the books of  one of the Banks employees’ credit union whose members were mostly accountants.

In Sampaloc, Manila was a small house which my mother bought so that students amongst our family, other relatives and town mates would have a place to stay while pursuing college and professional degrees. Until its expropriation to give way to a highway, that house produced  several dozen professionals that included doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, accountants, teachers, police officers, national bureau investigators and many more.

As a student maintaining her college scholarship until she became a professional, she managed that boarding house with competence, great efficiency and effectiveness that all of us enjoyed the orderliness and comfort of a home for economically and sometimes academically struggling students. I was the last in our family to graduate and  to finish my law degree while living in  that house. By then, it was already expropriated and my mother duly compensated. So, strictly speaking, I was a squatter until I  moved to plushy Urdaneta Village in Makati after I got married.

There are many other things that Manang Loreto could be remembered and honored for. She was the able President of the Rizalinian Civic Association (RCA) in our town. She also organized and founded, together with our Auntie retired Judge Lolita Gal-lang, the first conference of the Rosales National High School Alumni Association. But for me, she should be honored and remembered more for leading the efforts to finance the construction of an Alumni Building in our Alma Mater. With the help of her friend, Congressman Ranjit Shahani, funding was appropriated to add to what some alumni have raised for the building. Naming the building as Loreto Maynigo Bernabe Hall would certainly do her justice.

She was not only the smartest; she was also the real politician in our family. At the wedding of her eldest son, Carlo, relatives like me, sisters Perla, Nelly and Mila, cousins Judith Miguel Yoro, Mila Miguel, Dado Maynigo and Bello Maynigo Casanova stood as sponsors. But also marching as sponsors were political giants that included former Senator and then Secretary of Education Raul Roco, Former Senator and then Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Sonny Alvarez, former Quezon City Mayor and now House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, then Congressman Ranjit Ramos Shahani (nephew of President Fidel Ramos), among others. She was also close friend and classmate of Cielo Macapagal, the other but "good daughter" of President Diosdado Macapagal.

Only someone who knew how to use political muscle and connections would actually convince political leaders like the above to march at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila.

I also know she was a great mother to three great sons: Carlo, a graduate of San Beda College who now works as a special adviser to the Quezon City Mayor; Jun, also a graduate of San Beda was sent by the Central Bank to the University of Illinois to finish a Masters Degree in Banking and Finance  and also a CPA, he is now employed by the Central Bank of the Philippines; and Aron who works in a Physical Therapy office in San Diego. She was also a great wife to an equally great husband. The reason she achieved so much in her lifetime was because behind her was a very understanding and supportive husband, Manong Yoyong.

Manang Ruth and Manang Loreto: two women in our family with the strongest moral fiber, highest intelligence and highest achievement motivation. They were God’s gifts to our family. For their achievements on earth, they were our family’s gifts to God.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

B (Bully, Bribery, Bilateral Pacts, Bodyguard) S (Spratlys, Sino Saber-rattling, Sling Shot, Sea Law)

Let me start this article by publicly admitting my bias. I am a Filipino-American international lawyer with a Master of Laws Degree in International Law.

Whatever views I express  on the issue at hand, therefore, should be understood that it is coming from that perspective.
The Spratlys Islands is a chain of several hundred islands and reefs located in the busy maritime commercial path of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). These islands are known to be rich fishing grounds and believed to have vast deposits of oil and natural gas estimated to be about 17.7 billion tons. This is supposed to surpass even the reserves of Kuwait.
The Philippines has claims of ownership and jurisdiction over some parts of the Islands. So do China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.
Most recently, there were reports in Beijing about China’s planned installation of its most advanced oil rig in the West Philippine Sea.
“BULLY” and Sino Saber-rattling
During  Foundation Day to celebrate the 113th year of the Department of Foreign Affairs, P-Noy had this to say on the Chinese re the Spratlys Islands; "If we allow them to bully us, the next generation of Filipinos will find themselves squeezed into just one island. If we let them push us around, our 7,100 islands will dwindle into just two digits. It is not fair for others to claim what is clearly ours.”
The fact that the President described the Chinese behavior and approach as “bullying”, before a crowd of Philippine diplomats could actually mean a Call to Action for the latter to go ahead and “take the bully by the horns.”
In almost the same period, another Call to Action was made by Filipino-American Billionaire lawyer Loida Nicolas Lewis over the reports of Beijing’s planned installation of its most advanced oil rig in the West Philippine Sea.
Of course, Loida is doing this in her private capacity and as Chair of the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG). The fact that she is a known supporter and friend of P-Noy is irrelevant. She had this to say in a You Tube broadcast; “This is an invasion, this is an intrusion, this is  an appropriation of land and oil that belong to the Philippines…..China is a bully. China is about to steal oil in our territorial waters.”
Quoting from the Philippine National Anthem she said, “Sa manlulupig, di ka pasisiil.”  Then proceeded, “Here is a manlulupig, here is a bully, China who is about to rape our country, Mother Filipinas….. This is a Call to Action to all Global Filipinos……Let us fight with placards, let us fight with words. We are like David. Let us sharpen that stone and hit it to Goliath China.”
The broadcast ended with the following words from the same song, “Aming ligaya na pag-may nang-aapi, ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo.”
As a supporter of both P-Noy and Loida, I know that they are sincere; they mean what they say and usually “put their money where their mouth is.”
China is a Goliath indeed by virtue of its vastly superior military forces of 2.17 million soldiers, extensive financial and economic resources and undisputed political influence in the community of nations. However, I am not so sure if it is as stupid as the Goliath that David was dealing with. We better have a sling and a stone that could not miss, penetrate Goliath’s defenses without difficulty and immobilize him so as to “bully” no more.
P-Noy also said during the DFA Foundation Day, “ the territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands at West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) became complicated because the Arroyo administration included other countries in the exploration of the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.”
Why would GMA allow it? It is alleged that in exchange for the grant of concessionary loans of $2 billion / yr or a total of $8 billion for 4 years which were easily sources of corruption, GMA had to give some concessions as well. These Arroyo concessions are costing the Philippines irreparable damage and could be within the realm of or as Ricky Carandang described as "Treason."

The best shot for the Philippines is International Law. This is the closest thing to Loida Lewis’ call to “fight with words” All the States involved in the Spratlys Islands dispute are all signatories to the Law of the Sea Convention. The position of all these States on maritime jurisdiction begin and end with the provisions of the Convention. As Maritime expert Professor Ian Townsend-Gault said, “there is nothing vague or speculative about the basic principles applicable in the South China Sea. The dotted lines indicated on Chinese and Taiwanese maps, the Philippine Kalayaan lines, and even the Vietnamese petroleum blocks designation, are now relegated to being merely of historical interest. “
The provisions on Exclusive Economic Zones (200 nautical miles from baselines) are quite clear and the doctrine of the continental shelf is a settled law. The International Court of Justice determined it in the North Sea Continental Shelf Cases of 1969.
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the Seabed Disputes Chamber were set-up precisely to deal with disputes.  There is Customary international law based on more than 65 ocean boundary agreements; jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice; and ad hoc courts of arbitration on maritime boundaries.
China, whose baseline is more than 900 nautical miles from the Spratlys is basing its claim on a map supposedly made during the Sung Dynasty on the 12th Century. International Law does not clearly support this assertion but China is a powerful member of the UN Security Council and it is determined to assert and enforce its claim.
BODYGUARD and SEA (Southeast Asia
U.S. State Sec. Hillary Clinton, DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario,  Ambassador Cuisia
To neutralize a bully, you may have to call on a bodyguard. The Philippines has a mutual defense treaty with the United States. That’s why the former now wants a reassurance from the latter.
It is also a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations which believes in the right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion; and in the settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful manner.
Working with the group to deal with China using peaceful, diplomatic and legal means would be the wiser move.
The Philippines had concluded several bilateral agreements with China. More than 80% of them were made during  the Arroyo Administration under suspicious circumstances. P-Noy might want to pursue renegotiation of these agreements  for the mutual benefit of both.
 Laws  are made for the service of men. International laws are made for the service of Nations and men. China may want to display its MIGHT. But the Philippines can always assert its RIGHT!.