Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Philippines and the UN Security Council

Copyright © 2010 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved.

On 1 January 2004, the Philippines assumed one of the elected seats in the United Nations Security Council for the term 2004-2005.

As a member of the Security Council, the Philippines will focus its attention and energy on the following objectives:

1.Strengthen the collective security mechanism established under the U.N. Charter.

2.Emphasize the importance of the rule of law in the maintenance of international peace and security. (Its components would include, among others: establishment of institutions to ensure safety and order in post-conflict societies; prevention of impunity by violators of human rights and international humanitarian law; and protection of civilians, their rights and freedoms).

3.Provide a strong basis for a multilateral consensus in pursuing the Security Council’s primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the principal organs of the United Nations (UN) and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action. Its powers are exercised through United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

The Security Council held its first session on 17 January 1946 at Church House, London. Its current headquarters and secretariat office is located in New York City.
There are 15 members of the Security Council, consisting of permanent members and elected members. This basic structure is set out in Chapter V of the UN Charter.
Security Council members must always be present at UN headquarters in New York so that the Security Council can meet at any time. This requirement of the United Nations Charter was adopted to address a weakness of the League of Nations since that organization was often unable to respond quickly to a crisis.

The Security Council's five permanent members have the power to veto any substantive resolution:

•People’s Republic of China



•United Kingdom

•United States

The five permanent members (also known as the P5) were drawn from the victorious powers of World War II, and at the UN's founding in 1946, the Security Council consisted of France, the Republic of China, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia. There have been two seat changes since then, although not reflected in article 23 of the Charter of the UN, as it has not been accordingly amended:

China's seat was originally filled by the Republic of China, but due to the stalemate of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, there have been two states claiming to represent China since then, and both officially claim each other's territory. In 1971, the People’s Republic of China was awarded China’s seat in the United Nations by UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, and the Republic of China (which had lost mainland China in the war and has been based in Taiwan ever since) soon lost membership in all UN organizations.

Russia, being the legal successor state to the Soviet Union after the latter's collapse in 1991, acquired the original Soviet seat, including the Soviet Union's former representation in the Security Council.

The five permanent members of the Security Council are the only nations recognized as possessing nuclear weapons under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, although some countries with nuclear weapons have not signed the treaty. This nuclear status is not the result of their Security Council membership, though it is sometimes used as a modern-day justification for their continued presence in the body. However, in the present case, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea possess nuclear weapons outside of the anti-proliferation framework established by the Treaty. India, Pakistan, and Israel, however, have actively refused to sign the Non-proliferation Treaty because it does not allow for any new countries to be added to the list of States allowed to possess military nuclear technology.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Great Power Rivalry and Foreign Policy (1815-2010)

Copyright © 2010 by Chester B. Cabalza. All Rights Reserved.

The stories and facts below make it easy to slip into assumption that the world has evolved into a fairly uniform system of Westphalian-type states differentiated from each other principally by the degree of power, the geographical location, and cultural backgrounds. But it is all too clear that the state level itself contains variables that play a major role in conditioning the how and why of security dynamics in any given region.

The broad-brush account suggests three significant dimensions of differentiations: a) a few states are great powers while most others are not; b) many states underwent colonial occupation while a smaller number of others either did not or were the colonizers themselves; and c) some states have been established for a long time and have deep roots while others are recent constructions of decolonization.

A. Concert of Europe/Congress of Vienna (1815)

In my discussion, following the exile of Napoleon Bonaparte to Elba, the victorious Allied powers began a series of committee sessions in Vienna to sort out the problems of Europe.

The Big Four were Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia, although the newly royalist France was invited to join later. The key thing in the minds of the Allies was to organize a peace that would bring stability to Europe and contain, but not punish, France.

In a bid to improve the status of Louis XVIII, the Allies decided to avoid imposing damaging reparations on France and allowed her to keep her former colonies. Within Europe, she was forced back to her 1792 borders, which effectively meant the loss of only the Low Countries.

While a workable peace was the ultimate objective, the Allies also wanted to restore the legitimate rulers of Europe to their pre-1792 thrones, but not at the expense of disrupting the balance of power within the continent. The issue of minor nationalities being able to decide their own fate was also an important consideration.

France's representative at the Congress was at his politically savvy best during the meetings and brilliantly worked on the distrust the Allies had for each other. His task was made easier by Prussia and Russia's plans for Saxony, which basically meant the former annexing the country in exchange for Russia, gaining three-quarters of the Duchy of Warsaw. Austria would be thrown the remainder.

This, of course, made Austria nervous of a far stronger Russia and so Vienna sought a secret military alliance with Britain and France while mobilizing its troops. The specter of renewed war in Europe, particularly between former allies, was enough to bring sense to the negotiations and they resolved the issues with more open minds.

Saxony was to remain independent under its formerly pro-Bonapartist King Frederick Augustus, although he had to give Prussia one third of his territories. The obvious distaste felt by the Saxon king can be realized in that it took three months for him to agree to the ceding of the lands. The Duchy of Warsaw became a subject kingdom under the Russian Tsar, Holland was created and incorporated Belgium, while Austria regained control of various Italian territories.

The return of Bonaparte and his triumphal move on Paris sped up the Congress's progress, although the final document was only signed nine days before the battle of Waterloo. While it dealt with the restoration of what was hoped would be stabilizing monarchies, by not dealing with the issues of nationalism, the Congress sowed the seeds of a new revolutionary period. And much of the Prussian distrust towards Britain in the 100 Days’ Campaign stems from London's secret alliance with France and Austria.

However, during this half-millennium, the first global scale of international system comes into being, and the European-style sovereign, territorial state becomes the dominant political form (Bull and Watson 1984; Buzan and Little 2000).

The European international system expanded until it became global. The new European national states reached out economically, politically, and militarily, creating both formal and informal empires in all quarters of the globe.

European settlers created overseas extensions of European powers, which, in turn eventually became entirely new states along European lines. In most of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, European power eventually dominated and occupied the existing social and international systems.

Europe during this period as a regional security complex, being composed largely of great powers, and being, in effect, the only one, it was of a very special kind. For the European imperial powers, the world was their region.

B. Treaty of Versailles (1918)

In my research, the Treaty of Versailles was the peace settlement signed after WWI that ended in 1918 and in the shadow of the Russian Revolution and other events in Russia. The treaty was signed at the vast Versailles Palace, near Paris, between Germany and the Allies. The three most important politicians present that era were David Lloyd George, Georges Clemenceau, and Woodrow Wilson. The Versailles Palace was considered the most appropriate venue simply because of its size where hundreds of people involved in the process and the final signing ceremony in the Hall of Mirrors could accommodate hundreds of dignitaries. Many wanted Germany, now led by Friedrich Ebert, smashed; others, like Lloyd George, were privately more cautious.

The Treaty of Versailles was divided into a number of sections: territorial, military, financial, and general.

In the territorial section, several territories were taken away from Germany, such as the following: Alsace-Lorraine was given to France; Eupen and Malmedy became part of Belgium; Northern Schleswig was taken away by Denmark; Hultschin was given to Czechoslovakia; and West Prussia, Posen, and Upper Silesia were turned over to Poland.

The Saar, Danzig, and Memel were put under the control of the League of Nations and the people of these regions would be allowed to vote to stay in Germany or not in a future referendum. The League of Nations also took control of Germany's overseas colonies.

Germany had to return to Russia land taken in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Part of this land was made into new states like Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. An enlarged Poland also received part of this land.

Unfortunately, Germany’s army was reduced to 100,000 men; the army was not allowed tanks. Germany was not allowed an airforce but was allowed only 6 capital naval ships and no submarines. The west of the Rhineland and 50 kms east of the River Rhine was made into a demilitarized zone (DMZ). No German soldier or weapon was allowed into this zone. The Allies were to keep an army of occupation on the west bank of the Rhine for 15 years.

Financially, the loss of vital industrial territory was a severe blow to any attempts by Germany to rebuild her economy after the WWI. Coal from the Saar and Upper Silesia, in particular, was a vital economic loss. Combined with the financial penalties linked to reparations, it seemed clear to Germany that the Allies wanted nothing else but to bankrupt her. Germany was also forbidden to unite with Austria to form one superstate, in an attempt to keep her economic potential to a minimum.
In general, there are three vital clauses suffered by Germany in retribution:

Firstly, Germany had to admit full responsibility for starting the war, stipulated in Clause 231 which was the infamous "War Guilt Clause".

Secondly, Germany was responsible for starting the war as stated in clause 231 and, therefore, responsible for all the war damage caused by the First World War. It had to pay reparations, the bulk of which would go to France and Belgium to pay for the damage done to the infrastructure of both countries by the war. Quite literally, reparations would be used to pay for the damage to be repaired. Payment was in kind or cash. The figure was not set at Versailles, however, it was determined later.

Thirdly, a League of Nations was set up to keep world peace.

C. Cold War and Decolonization (1945-1989)

During the second stage, from 1945-1989, the Cold War and decolonization created contradictory effects. On the other hand, the tidal wave of decolonization rolled back imperial power, created dozens of new states, and allowed regional security dynamics to start operating among these newly independent actors in most of Africa, the Middles East, and South and Southeast Asia.

The bipolarity of the United States and the Soviet Union subordinated most of Europe and Northeast Asia and penetrated heavily into most of the newly liberated regions. The two superpowers that dominated world politics after 1945 were both, for very different ideological reasons, opposed to the European and Japanese empires.

The Soviet Union saw them as extension of capitalism and, therefore, as targets for socialist revolution. The United States saw them as extension of European neomercantalism and wanted them opened up to free trade and self-determination. Both superpowers quite quickly came to see that the third world was an important arena for their military and ideological rivalry.

Neorealists see this period primarily through the lens of the shift from multipolarity to bipolarity after 1945.

In Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, decolonization replaced a world of empires and unequal political relations with one of the national states, sovereign equality, and at least the legal acceptance of all peoples and races as possessing equal human rights. In effect, decolonization completed the remaking of the global political system into European (Westphalian) form of sovereign territorial states that had begun with the revolutions in the Americas.

Hence, the ending of the Cold War had three major impacts:

a)It lifted the superpower overlay from Europe and radically changed the pattern of superpower penetration in Northeast Asia. While the implosion of Soviet Union in 1991 brought new states and new regional security complex, into the game;

b)By removing ideological confrontation and Soviet power from the equation, it greatly changed both the nature and the intensity of global power penetration into third world countries.

c)The ending of the Cold War exposed and reinforced the shift in the nature of the security agenda to include a range of non-military issues and actors, which had been visible since the 1970s.

D. Post-Cold War Period (since 1990)

One-way of capturing an overview of the post-Cold War world is through the emerging neorealist consensus that the post-Cold War structure is unipolar (Kapstein and Mastanduno 1999). How this unipolarity is to be understood is still contested.

A strong version of US hegemony would, in many ways, run parallel to a globalist analysis in terms of favoring the dominance of the system level and the weaker version of unipolarity leaves room for the regionalist view hat the ending of the Cold War created more autonomy for regional level security dynamics.

Another influential interpretation of the post-Cold War world has been the idea that the international system has divided into two worlds: a zone of peace and a zone of conflict (Buzan 991; Goldgeier and Mcfaul 1992; Singer and Wildavsky 1993).

A relatively uniform picture of military-political security dynamics dominated by state actors gives way to multisectoral conceptions of security, a wider variety of actors, and sets of conditions and dynamics that differ sharply from one region to another.

Decolonization opened the space for regional military-political dynamics, and the ending of the Cold War enabled these dynamics to operate with much more freedom from high-levels of rival superpower military-political intrusion.

E. Emergence of Non-Traditional Security and Non-State Actors (21st century)

Financial Crises

The term financial crisis is applied broadly to a variety of situations in which some financial institutions or assets suddenly lose a large part of their value. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many financial crises were associated with banking panics, and many recessions coincided with these panics. Other situations that are often called financial crises include stock market crashes and the bursting of other financial bubbles, currency crises, and sovereign defaults.
Contagion refers to the idea that financial crises may spread from one institution to another, as when a bank run spreads from a few banks to many others, or from one country to another, as when currency crises, sovereign defaults, or stock market crashes spread across countries. When the failure of one particular financial institution threatens the stability of many other institutions, this is called systemic risk.

One widely-cited example of contagion was the spread of the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, which started in Thailand, and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis in 2008 which originated in the United States. However, economists often debate whether observing crises in many countries around the same time is truly caused by contagion from one market to another, or whether it is, instead, caused by similar underlying problems that would have affected each country individually even in the absence of international linkages.

Persistent Poverty

Professor Peter War of the Poverty Research Center deems that, over the last three decades, considerable progress has been made in reducing poverty but, in most countries of the region, it remains a central social problem. Efforts to reduce poverty have attracted increasing attention, both from domestic governments and from international institutions. Further, around 2/3 of the world’s poor or 720 million are in South Asia and Southeast Asia, earning less than $1 a day.

Energy Crisis

From the mid-1980s to September 2003, the inflation adjusted price of a barrel of crude oil was generally under $25/barrel. Then during 2003, the price rose above $30, reached $60 by August 11, 2005, and peaked at $147.30 in July 2008. Commentators attributed the price increases of this period to a confluence of factors, including reports showing a decline in petroleum reserves of industrialized countries, Middle East tension, and over oil price speculation.

For a time, certain geo-political events and natural disasters not directly related to the global oil market had strong short term effects on oil prices, such as North Korean missile tests, the 2006 conflict between Israel and Lebanon, worries over Iranian nuclear power plants in 2006, Hurricane Katrina, global recession, and various other factors.

Drug Trafficking

Illicit drug trafficking is another source of human insecurity haunting the Asia-Pacific region. The production and consumption of narcotic substances has a long history in East Asia (Opium War). But several disturbing new developments have forced narcotics trafficking onto the regional security agenda for the first time (Dupont 1999). Drug dependency in countries with no record of drug addiction in recent decades has been alarming. Hence, narcotics trafficking in the region is a new multibillion-dollar business; it was probably the only enterprise not affected by the recent economic crisis. Drug money is distorting regional economies and exacerbating corruption and political instability.


Piracy is a war-like act committed by a non-state actor, especially robbery or criminal violence committed at sea, on water, or sometimes on shore. It does not normally include crimes on board a vessel among passengers or crew. The term has been used to refer to raids across land borders by non-state actors.

More so, maritime piracy, according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982, consists of any criminal acts of violence, detention, or depredation committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or aircraft that is directed on the high seas against another ship, aircraft, or against persons or property on board a ship or aircraft.

Piracy can also be committed against a ship, aircraft, persons, or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any state. In fact piracy has been the first example of universal jurisdiction. Nevertheless, today the international community is facing many problems in bringing pirates to justice.

Non-State Actors

Non-state actors, in international relations, are actors on the international level which are not states. The admission of non-state actors into international relations theory is inherently a rebuke to the assumptions of realism and other "black box" theories of international relations, which argue that interactions between states are the main relationships of interest in studying international events, however they exist, and are influential in the international system.

Examples of non-state actors are Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) which are typically considered a part of the civil society; Multinational Corporations (MNCs) which are for - profit organizations that operate in more sovereign states; the international media; violent non-state actors, such as rebel opposition forces, militias and warlords, terrorist organizations, and criminal organizations. Religious groups, transnational diaspora communities, and certain charismatic individuals.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Brazil, Russia, India, China (BRIC)

By Chester Cabalza

If you happened to watch and see the blockbuster movie 2012 which accumulated a whooping gross of over $769 million worldwide, then you might had also noticed the strong presence of the BRIC (an acronym used by Goldman Sachs short for Brazil, Russia, India, and China, perhaps seeking a political club and alliance) however, with vivid smashed images and dying characters portrayed by multi-cultural actors in this Hollywood science fiction disaster film.

The BRIC according to an account, coined by Goldman Sachs in 2001, argued that since these emerging markets are developing rapidly, by 2050 their combined economies could eclipse the combined economies of the current richest countries (Group of 8 or G8) in the world. The giant fantastic four countries when put together currently secure for more than a quarter of the world's land area and more than 40 percent of the world’s population.

However, if indeed the premise of the film will come true that an earth-shattering occurrence would end the world from revolving in 2012 (the same forecast made famous by Nostradamus and the prophecy based from Mesoamericans long count calendar) should we still consider the BRIC as an important alliance in our current multipolar world economy?

Of course yes! Perhaps they will play greater roles in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of our earth. As the movie delivered in its end-of-the-world fatal scenes, even if nature takes over to wipe us out, humanity shall prevail. Amazingly, as what we have seen today, the geoeconomic and geopolitical clouts of these four emerging great powers are expanding so fast, shaking the four corners of the world with a boon! That’s why this movie 2012 impliedly gauged the BRIC’s entry in our future world affairs.

Back in the film, Brazil’s iconic and famous Christ the Redeemer statue, named as one of the New Seven Wonders of the world and considered the largest art deco sculpture in this planet, which stood atop Mt. Corcovado, overlooking the breathtaking panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro, used as one of the motion picture’s theatrical posters to give hype on this multi-million dollar popcorn show, only to be destroyed by a disaster. Beyond the boisterous advertisement and publicity brought by the movie 2012, it generally captured the ire of the Catholic Church of Brazil denouncing such usage and inciting copyright laws on the infringement made by the producers of the film primarily because the people there abhorred the scheme of seeing their prestigious statue shattered. Despite of the acclaimed economic vibes achieved by Brazil over the last decade and until now, being the largest Latin American market and the second largest aircraft producer in the world, Brazilian models scattered throughout the world and its formidable football superstars alike hesitated their country turn into a bubble of destruction.

Russians effectively portrayed comical egotism and antagonism in this film led by a Russian billionaire Yuri Karpov. In order to secure his dysfunctional family’s lives and the family of the raucous American protagonists (as usual!), the group secured an Anatov 500 aircraft, known as the largest aircraft in the world and pride of the erstwhile Soviet’s space program, to depart for China from the already ruined and disaster-stricken United States. In the film, the Russian billionaire pompously boasted his collection of luxurious automobiles only to be destroyed in a crash. It can be portrayed as so, with renewed confidence and assertiveness embraced by Russia today as it strived for its re-emergence in the international scene, capitalizing primarily on its geostrategic blackmail as an “energy superpower”! Thusly, Russia’s path to reclaiming its great power status by containing the West should be taken seriously thereby aiming to receive warm treatment as co-equal partner from the surging Western countries today.

Hence, viewers saw in the movie an Indian scientist who alerted his American counterpart of the prophesied worldwide catastrophe by discovering that the neutrinos from the sun were heating up the earth core and ultimately destabilizing and causing chaos in our planet! However, Indians through blogs strongly were dissatisfied with their depiction in this film since the Indian scientist turned helpless and poor and could not even save his family from mammoth apocalyptic zealot. Thus, no Indians survived, despite the tremendous economic growth of India today, being the 12th largest economy in the world by nominal value and the 4th largest in terms of purchasing power parity. How sad that no Indian was able to buy the one billion euros golden ticket to ride the uber postmodern “Noah’s Arks” in order to save their race, despite of India’s having plenty of billionaires in the world based on annual surveys by Forbes.

China turned out to be the star in the movie 2012! When the world began to tumble due to hapless cataclysmic disorder, all roads led to China! The movie reflected China’s global role as a superpower with an impressive highlight on the massive and powerful People’s Liberation Army. As shown in the film, all of the ultramodern “Noah’s Arks” were Made in China! In effect, tens of thousands of people, including billionaires and tycoons, powerful politicians, queens and kings and their spoiled pets, who possessed the very expensive tickets rushed to China just to survive the global tragedy of megatsunami.

The United States will play a special role in the survival of the BRIC. Even in the 2012 movie, it showed how this fading superpower’s brainchild of saving the humanity, continuously exercised its police power over the world amid chaos and hopelessness, and the need for other states to bandwagon with them to survive a global catastrophe.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ethnic Conflict, Secessionism, and Terrorism in Southeast Asia

Copyright © 2010 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved.

“In any successful negotiation, everyone wins.
The objective should be agreement, not victory”

The issues on ethnic conflict, secessionism and terrorism have sprouted a plethora of theories and methodologies in most disciplines of social sciences which had significant contributions to history, anthropology, sociology, political science and area specializations of international studies and asian studies. Only by fleshing out issues and challenges could we see gaps concerning both the general nature of ethnic conflict and the political importance on ethnicity, which certainly will encompass major issues like secessionism and terrorism.

When does ethnicity crowd out other identities such as state, society, tribe or nation and trigger conflict? When does ethnic conflict become national identity and what is the relationship between the two? Why some ethnic conflicts lead to interstate war or clash of faiths and ideologies? Why some ethnic conflicts turn to secessionist movements? Why ethnic conflicts are sometimes linked to the global challenges of terrorism? Throughout the twentieth century until today, scholars from various disciplines of social sciences and area specialists focus their work in analyzing and answering issues as well as challenges concerning ethnic conflict, secessionism and terrorism.

This paper shall review theoretical, conceptual, epistemological and methodological views on security issues, highlighting empirical data and case studies for ethnic conflict, separatism, and terrorism in Southeast Asia.

Conceptual Issues

Richard Jenkins (1997) argues that sociologists and anthropologists traced back ethnicity from its ancient origin which means ethnos, referred to a range of situations in which collectivity of humans lived and acted together, hitherto, typically translated today as people or nation. But its early and influential sociological reference to ethnic groups can be found in Max Weber’s Economy and Society (1922). Also, Jenkins (1997), Ellen and Ikenberry (1999), Adelman (2000), and Rudolf (2003), agree that ethnicity can be lost, discovered, or simply invented, since ethnicity and ethnic identity are social constructs and ethnic identity is subjective based on beliefs about common ancestry or shared historical past. Furthermore, Ikenberry (1999) notes that the number of conflict between individual groups waving the banner of ethnicity has risen.

Thomas Spira (2003) claims that an ethnic group consists of people who identify themselves or identified by others in cultural terms, such as language, religion, tribe, nationality, and possibly race. Meanwhile James Kurth (2003) believes that ethnic conflict has wider scope that ranges from differences in cultural traditions and historical legacies, uneven socioeconomic opportunities which can stoke violence among ethnic groups, political disorder which create a security dilemma and religious differences. Nevertheless, ethnic conflict can evolve to become a secessionist movement and / or faction of terrorist bandits.

David Brown (2005) stresses that ethnic conflict is the political, social and economic environment of a certain state are only contingently related to ethnicity and that what is intrinsic to ethnicity is its ideological character as a psychological political kinship myth.

Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or political entity. Typically there is a strong issue difference that drives the withdrawal. The word derives from the Latin term secessio.

According to Sholehuddin A. Aziz, in the 1990s Southeast Asian Islam has been dubbed by leading international media such as Newsweek and Time magazines as "Islam with a smiling face". But today the region is increasingly regarded as being in a process of rapid radicalization with the rise of some militant groups; and worse still, the Muslim region of Southeast Asia is now perceived by some as a potential "hotbed of terrorism”

Although, the universal definition of terrorism is still contentious, it is better to comparatively discuss the contents used by some Southeast Asian countries. Terrorism according to UN’s Secretary General Kofi Annan is the use of “violence against civilians for political reasons”. In Singapore, regulations made under its United Nations Act avoid any reference to motive, looking only at whether the “use of threat is intended or reasonably regarded as to (1) influence the Government or any government; (2) intimidate the public or section of the public. On the other hand, in Indonesia it highlighted terrorism as the use of “violence or the threat of violence to create a widespread atmosphere of terror or fear in the general population or to create mass casualties, by forcibly taking the freedom…” Hence, in the Philippine definition, it is the “premeditated use or threatened use of violence or means of destruction perpetrated against innocent civilians or non-combatants…” Similarly, it is apparent that some Southeast Asian governments see that terrorist groups weave political objectives to their cause; violence is always a means; and ebb fear to citizens.

Theoretical Framework

Postmodernist like Bjorn Moller (1996) typically is in favor of widening and/or refocusing the security discourse. He deems that the concept of security should be less state-centric such as nations or ethnics or even individual, which can be applied to the concept of security of ethnic conflict, separatism and even terrorism. In fact, he argues that postmodernist theory has primarily been applied to theories of culture, and comparatively, it can be analyzed concentrating on the mainstream IR theory of Realism. His claims on postmodernism’s partiality in understanding conflicts and wars can be summed up, following his arguments that postmodernism advocates a de-essentialization of concepts, that have no correct meaning, for the simple reason that there is nothing outside the text, with which to compare them. Nevertheless, in his assessment he sees that postmodernists appear to have been posed themes such as identity, be it national, ethnic or religious, secessionism and terrorism.

Meanwhile, other paradigms used in studying security issues such as ethnic conflict, secessionism and terrorism can be attributed to the prestigious and renowned Copenhagen School that introduced society as a referent object (societal security) to complement the state. Collins (2003) deems that in the context of third world security, the elite usually determines what constitutes security, and more often than not, political stability, economic success, and social harmony are sought to achieve “regime security,” which the elite erroneously treats as synonymous with “national security”.

Empirical Data/Case Studies

A. Ethnic Conflict

1. The Chams of Indochina

The Chams of Cambodia have been suffering a long time discrimination in Indochina, after the fall of the first great Indianized kingdom – the Champa, even today its origin still happen to be debatable among scholars. In 192 CE came the earliest record of Champa by Chinese chroniclers. In these dynastic annals the people of Lin-yi, or Champa were described as having dark skin, deep-set eyes, turned up noses, and frizzy hair. At the peak of their power, about 12 centuries ago, the Chams controlled rich and fertile lands stretching from north of Hue, in central Annam, to the Mekong Delta in Cochinchina. Yet today Vietnamese cities like Da Nang and Nha Trang dominate these regions. Only mysterious brick temples, known familiarly as "Cham Towers", dot the skyline around Thap Cham and Po Nagar, Cha Ban and My Son, while in Cambodia the name of an eastern province and its capital, Kampong Cham, remain as mute testimony to the passing of a kingdom. The question arises, what happened? And where are the Chams - those that survive - today?

In fact, Phuong (2004) accounts that Cambodia’s two powerful neighboring countries, Vietnam and Thailand, have stretched their military prowess to the weakening Khmer civilization and the Chams suffered diasporas and exiled to the borders of Vietnam and Thailand. Consequently, Chams have been suffering second-class citizenship and massive repression from foreign masters who adopted their ways of living. In common parlance, Thailand became Cambodia's "father" and Vietnam its "mother". The struggle between Thailand and Vietnam for control of Cambodia in the nineteenth century resulted in a period when Vietnamese officials, working through a puppet Cambodian king, ruled the central part of the country and attempted to force Cambodians to adopt Vietnamese customs. Several rebellions against Vietnamese rule ensued. The most important of these occurred in 1840 to 1841 and spread through much of the country. After two years of fighting, Cambodia and its two neighbors reached an accord that placed the country under the joint suzerainty of Thailand and Vietnam. This practice, common in the history of Indochina, crippled Cambodia's ability to recover a semblance of its former greatness.

In their arbitrary treatment of the Khmer population, the Thai and the Vietnamese were virtually indistinguishable. The suffering and the dislocation caused by war were comparable in many ways to similar Cambodian experiences in the 1970s. But the Thai and the Vietnamese had fundamentally different attitudes concerning their relationships with Cambodia. The Thai shared with the Khmer a common religion, mythology, literature, and culture. The Chakri kings at Bangkok wanted Cambodia's loyalty and tribute, but they had no intention of challenging or changing its people's values or way of life. The Vietnamese viewed the Khmer people as barbarians to be civilized through exposure to Vietnamese culture, and they regarded the fertile Khmer lands as legitimate sites for colonization by settlers from Vietnam. Thus, these ethnocentric attitudes of the Vietnamese toward the Cambodians are intrinsic to any colonizing country.

Today there are 77,000 Chams in Vietnam, living mainly in the coastal provinces and at the Mekong Delta. They are divided into two quite distinct religious communities: the Hindu Chams and the Cham Bani or Muslims. In fact, one of the most important chapters in the history of ASEAN diplomacy took place during the Cambodian conflict. The ASEAN-sponsored resolutions at the UN General Assembly which called for durable and comprehensive political settlement in Cambodia, receiving consistent support from the international community.

B. Secessionism in Southeast Asia

1. The Cordillera People’s Movement (CPP/NPA)

The Gran Cordillera Central Mountains in northern Luzon is the homeland of several ethnic minority groups collectively known as “Cordillerans” or “Cordillera peoples”. In 1998, the Philippine government has formally established in the area the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). The Region is presently made up of six provinces, namely Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Abra, Kalinga, and Apayao. It was the underground Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP) that initiated the establishment of a pan-Cordillera movement for self-determination. As early as 1974, the CCP branch for the mountain provinces proposed the establishment of an “Igorot Liberation Army (ILA)”, allegedly because the peoples in the region found it difficult to identify with the national revolution being waged by the CCP and its armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA). The said Party branch believed that this difficulty stemmed from the fact that the people on the area, more particularly the Ifugaos, did not see themselves as belonging to the broader Filipino nation (Castro 1987:27).

According to Castro (2002) the ILA Proposal, however, did not take off the ground because the national leadership of the communist movement disapproved it. In 1981, the CCP initiated efforts for the establishment of the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF). The purposes of CPDF, however, were totally different from that of the ILA. These objectives were to win over Cordilleran intellectuals into the cause of the CCP and to attract other ethnic-based movements, such as the MNLF, into the fold of the CPP-NPA and its front organizations. Even before the CPDF was formally established, the communist movement suffered a setback when the entire armed company of the NPA in the Cordillera bolted out from its mother unit and founded the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA). The CPLA advocated for an independent socialist state for the Cordillera region as part of what is called “Federal Republic of the Philippines”. This new movement immediately gained influence especially among the indigenous members of the CPP-NPA who were also disenchanted with alleged ethnic discrimination within the communist organization. Most of the CPDF’s operations are coursed through its aboveground front organization – the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA).

Castro (2002) also stresses that the CPA has been at the forefront in the protests against several development projects in the Cordillera, which, it alleges, will adversely affect the indigenous peoples. This includes the opposition to the construction of the San Roque Multipurpose Plant (SRMP), a hydropower and irrigation dam, which is the biggest dam in Southeast Asia.

2. Bangsamoro People’s Struggle (MNLF/MILF)

In 1968, a Maguindanaon leader organized the Mindanao Independence Movement (MIM). The groups called for the establishment of an Islamic state in Mindanao. The Bangsamoro Liberation Organization (BMLO) succeeded the MIM. This time, the group organized by a Meranao datu (chieftain). The group sent ninety youths for military training in Sabah for eventual armed warfare in the southern Philippines. From this select group sprung the leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Buazon and Castro (2002) deem that the triumvirate leadership of the MNLF represented the three major Muslim groups in Mindanao: the Meranao, Maguindanaon, and Tausug. Led by idealistic youths, the MNLF later on repudiated traditional Muslim leaders for kowtowing to Manila. It called for the establishment of a Bangsamoro Republik. It organized the Bangsamoro Army (BMA) to launch military operations against the armed hostilities between the MNLF and the Philippine military. The Mindanao war ceased upon the singing of the Tripoli Agreement between the Philippine Government and the MNLF. This agreement called for the establishment by the Philippine Government of an autonomous government for thirteen provinces in Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan. In exchange, the MNLF-BMA agreed to surrender its arm and many of its armed fighters went back to the fold of the law.

The Marcos government, however, reneged on its promise to give home rule for Muslim Filipinos. Many of the MNLF fighters went back to conduct guerilla warfare. The post-1976 scenario was marked by several splits with the MNLF, first by the MNLF-Reformist Group and later on by the Moro Islamic Liberation front (MILF). There are other groups such as the MNLF Lost Command, the Pentagon Group, and the Abu Sayyaf. In 1991, the Aquino government conducted a plebiscite in Mindanao leading to the establishment of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). This was followed by a ceasefire agreement between the Ramos administration and the MNLF. MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari eventually became the Governor of ARMM. MNLF fighters have also been integrated into the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the government has undertaken generous financial packages for Muslim communities.

In September 1996, the Philippine Government and MNLF both observed an uneasy ceasefire until a peace process came about which culminated in the signing of the peace agreement. In 2001 ARMM election, the Arroyo government backed Parouk Hussin and won as a governor. Misuari boycotted the electoral exercises, leading to armed clashes between his loyal followers and the Philippine military. After Misuari’s forces were quickly quelled, Misuari left for Malaysia where he was taken into custody and detained by the Malaysian authorities. In early January, Malaysia deported Misuari to the Philippines and is currently facing rebellion charges while kept in a detention facility of the PNP in Santa Rosa, Laguna.

Buazon (2002) thinks that there are problems facing the implementation of the GRP and MNLF peace agreement, such as the 1) integration of the MNLF fighters into the AFP, 2) release of funds to finance livelihood activities, 3) infrastructure projects in ARMM. The reality remains though that the Muslims are themselves divided along ethnolinguistic lines. While the GRP-MNLF peace agreement is being upheld by the current ARMM leadership of Parouk Hussin, a breakaway faction of the Tausug-led MNLF known as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the members of which are Maguindanao Muslims, this group is presently waging a guerilla war against the Philippine military. There is a currently a ceasefire while a peace process is also being put in place by the government resulting in a formal agreement being signed in Jakarta, Indonesia late in 2001 to observe a cessation of hostilities. The peace process with the MILF involves tackling the issue of territories. The MILF wants the government to recognize certain areas in Mindanao under MILF control as legitimate territories already of the said rebel Muslim group. Another sticking point has to do with the MILF applying the Muslim Sharia (Islamic Law) court on criminals, and executing these criminals by firing squad, thereby defying the jurisdiction of the Philippine police authorities and the country’s judicial system in dealing with such matters.

3. Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM)

GAM’s strategy is to base their claims on a universally legitimized principle of national self-determination. The Achenese Sultanate represents itself as a legitimate sovereign actor in the international state system. The secessionist group also uses the ‘remedial theory of secession’, which states that the Indonesian state has lost the moral right to govern Aceh, but according to some political analysts, it only strengthens that Aceh was once part of Indonesian archipelago. Indonesia’s responses to these claims hold the belief that the military is given authority by the Government to say that Aceh is part of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia that must be maintained until the last drop of blood but after the South Asian tsunami in Aceh peace negotiations with Indonesian Government has mended their differences with the help of the Dutch government as the Third party mediator.

C. Terrorism in Southeast Asia

Collins (2003) argues that Southeast Asia has been regarded as important in the war on terrorism because it is home to a number of groups that resort to violence to further their cause and because Islam is the predominant religion in the region. This has led to an overly simplistic assumption that Southeast Asia is a hotbed of Islamic radicalism, where a number of Al-Qaeda operatives can function.

The terrorist threat in the Philippines, which is principally posed by the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Communist Terrorist Movement, with links to Jemaah Islamiya and Al Qaeda, is very real and imminent, according to FBI intelligence, which has been active in combating terrorism in the region. The porous borders of the Philippines, the mass transportation system on land, air and sea, crowded shopping malls and numerous populated centers make the country highly vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

In post-9/11 event, three out of five deadliest terror attacks worldwide occurred in Southeast Asia. These are the following: the 2002 Bali Bombing, the 2004 Superferry nine in the Philippines, and the 2005 Bali Bombing which amassed more than a hundred casualties. Two notorious terrorist organizations emerged into the international limelight because of deadly tactics and possible link to the feared Al Qaeda Network. The Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

1. Jemaah Islamiya (JI)

In 2002, Jemaah Islamiya (JI) caught the international limelight when its members bombed Bali, a premier resort in the region, since the September 2001 terror attack. JI seeks to establish a Pan-Islamic religion across Southeast Asia. In coordination with Al Qaeda and alleged local supporters across Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. JI can break down its command structure and allow terrorist cells to operate independently and spread out operatives in different parts of the region. Based on reports, the number of Indonesian JI members has dropped by 17% or from 40 in 2003 to 33 in 2004. Key arrest and neutralization of known JI personalities such as Taufik Rifqi and Fathur Roman Al-Ghozi, respectively. Until today, the prominent imam Bashir is till in jail, claimed by Indonesian intelligence to be the mastermind behind explosive terror attacks in their country.

2. Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)

The Abu Sayyaf Group, whose name means “Bearer of the Sword,” split from the Moro National Liberation Front in 1991. The founder and the leader of Abu Sayyaf until 1998 was Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani. The government’s all out war against the ASG has brought down the ASG’s membership from 1,269 in year 2000 to 420 as of year-end 2004 and also saw the decline of their firearms (see chart 2).

They made news in 1991 when their first major terrorist activity was a grenade attack in which two foreign women were killed. The following year, Abu Sayyaf militants hurled a bomb at a wharf in the southern city of Zamboanga where the MV Dolores, an international floating bookstore manned by Christian preachers, was docked. In 1994, Abu Sayyaf militants kidnapped three Spanish nuns and a Spanish priest in separate incidents. In April 1995 Abu Sayyaf carried out a vicious attack on the Christian town of Ipil in Mindanao. Gunmen razed the town center to the ground and shot 53 civilians and soldiers dead.

Five years later, this time ASG turned to kidnapping activities again, but not anymore the locals but instead victimized most foreign tourists to popular tourist destinations. In April 23, 2000, an ASG faction kidnapped 21 persons, including 10 foreign tourists, from a resort in Malaysia. That night when ten (10) Western tourists and eleven (11) Malaysian resort workers were abducted in the island resort of Sipadan; ASG fled across the sea border to their Jolo island stronghold. In that series of events, three-member French TV crew, a group of Philippine evangelists and an American, found themselves as unwilling guests of the Abu Sayyaf. On 27 May 2001, the ASG kidnapped three US citizens and 17 Filipinos from a tourist resort in Palawan, Philippines. Several of the hostages, including one US citizen, were murdered.

Supporting Points

The issue on ethnic conflict, secessionism or separatism, and terrorism together boil up the issue of creating ‘imagined’ nation-states. An extension of colonialism, in which a ‘nation’ or the people resist foreign and outside powers from their own territory, thus, insinuating their own independence and also uplifting their integrity. Lifting Thackrah’s definition of the term ‘nationalism’ that is, ‘the sentiment founded on common cultural characteristics that unites a population, usually producing a desire for separatism and sometimes resort to terrorism. Such perception definitely has bearing to what a ‘nation’ is. In the case studies mentioned above, apparently, religious affiliation, ethnic identity and territorial expansionism are root causes of conflicts in the region. According to Ernest Renan’s entitled book “Qu’est-ce qu’une nation?” (What is a Nation?). He stated that a nation, being a spiritual principle, is not born out of commonality especially in ethnicity, language, and religion. To quote him, “a nation is a spiritual principle, the outcome of the profound complications of history; it is a spiritual family not a group determined by the shape of the earth. We have now seen what things are not adequate for the creation of such spiritual principle, namely race, language, material interests, religious affinities, geography and military necessity.”

Comparing Thackrah’s definition of a nation-state to Renan’s is rather opposite. The first intellectual deems that the western thought puts ethnicity, language and religion as primary bases in identifying the sense of belongingness of people while Renan’s thinking advances that it is aspiration, not and regardless of these cultural elements, that unifies. Furthermore, Renan’s idea equates to unity in diversity by integration while Thakrah’s view is suggesting secessionism meaning disintegration per se.


The otherwise general peace and security being experienced by the nations in Southeast Asia is punctuated by the threats or tensions arising from ethnic tensions, separatist insurgencies, and terrorism. But there are bright prospects to enhance security in the region: one is the increased cooperation and aggressive dialogue between and within concerned parties through negotiations to resolve issues. Second, several peace processes to end conflicts are moving forward to possible successful conclusion. Lastly, there must be a concerted international cooperation and efforts to fight terrorism in the region.


Adelman, H., 2000. The Synergy of Culture and Realpolitik in Ethnic Conflict – From Culture to Ethnicity to Conflict: An Anthropological Perspective on International Ethnic Conflict, The International Migration Review, New York: Winter.

Bercovitch, J., 2003. Managing internationalized Ethnic Conflict – Evaluating the Role and Relevance of Mediation, World Affairs Washington: Vol. 166, Iss. 1, p 56.

Buazon, Leslie E., 2002. The Philippine Nation-state, Minority Culture and Globalization, in Aguilar, Carmencita (ed.) Political Culture and Globalization, International Federation of Social Science Organizations, Manila: CSSP Publication.

Castro, Nestor T., 2002. The Internationalization of Ethnic Minority Movements in the Philippines, in Aguilar, Carmencita (ed.) Political Culture and Globalization, International Federation of Social Science Organizations, Manila: CSSP Publication.

David Brown, 2005. The State & Ethnic Politics in Southeast Asia. ISEAS, Singapore.

Ikenberry, G., 1999. From Culture to Ethnicity to Conflict – An Anthropological Perspective on International Ethnic Conflict, Foreign Affairs, New York: July/August 1999. Vol. 78, Iss. 4, p 130.

Jenkins, R., 1997. Rethinking Ethnicity, Journal of Peace Research, Oslo: January 1997, Vol. 41, Iss. 5, p 342-399.

Moller, B. 1996. Ethnic Conflict and Postmodern Warfare – What is the Problem? What Could be Done? Copenhagen Peace Research Institute, October: 1996. Vol. 89, Iss. 3, p 305-399.

Phuong, Tran Ky. 2004. Vestiges of Champa Civilization, The Gioi Publishers, Hanoi.

Renan, E., 1990. Nation and Narration, Routledge, London.

Thackrah, J., 1997. Twentieth Century History Basic Facts, Glasgow, Scotland: Harper Collins Publishers.

Yinger, M., 1999. Ethnicity – Source of Strength? Source of Conflict? Social Forces Chapel Hill December: 1999. Vol. 75, Iss. 2, p 744-745.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Friends Without Borders (Short Story by Chester Cabalza)

Copyright © 2010 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved.

I ARRIVED IN BANGKOK around nine o'clock in the morning and immediately called up my elder brother Kim to fetch me at the sprawling Suvarnabhumi airport.

“I love Thailand!” Kim pompously admitted.

He brought out his tongue and maneuvered it up and down, the way a naughty child licked his ice cream. He shouted merrily. Stretched in the air his hands with a clenched fist and shook his robust body. Bit danced on his seat and expressed a blissful behavior, inside the tuktuk, a local tricycle around Bangkok. Either he whacked his body or rolled his hands and followed the fresh crisp rhythm of Thai pop music that emanated from the mini sound system of the trademark transport around the city.

He mingled once in a while to the driver who just scorned him but he evasively detected my brother’s rude gestures. Kim looked like a native to the driver because of his small tiger-eyes. Then we stopped in front a cozy motel. Directly he went up to a room. His petite nude Burmese girlfriend already lied in white linen bed and awaited him to wallow in over her fragile body. He asked me to proxy him at the forum. Of course, with my oddness as a wannabe physician delegate, I accepted the deal. And so, I hurried off to Thammasat University for the AIDS Conference, annually held in this so-called, “Amazing Kingdom.” By then, I was late for the first talk. I gallingly surrendered when the tuktuk I was riding, sandwiched by two opposing cabs.

“Manila, Manila…” my mind protested in comparison. By then, looking harassed at the situation. I called up Kim, again. At that moment, he already savored the day. Perhaps at the climax of his arousal, as he turned off his cellular phone, so I would not spoil his performance. Perhaps, moaning over and over again while I turned into a fugitive in the bump accident.

As I entered the carpeted conference room, a sweet voice dominated the semi-dark room. This time a gorgeous lady eloquently expounded in English her powerpoint presentation in front of distinguished guests and broad range of health specialists. Eavesdropping to her voice marvelously struck my senses. It was a nightingale’s tone with Thai accent. My heart palpitated. Frozenly standing when I stared at her. My mind's eye flew me away to Phuket in my trunks while she was in her white bikini. She appeared juicy to my thawing eyes.

That was it - I am my brother’s brother...

The presentation ended and ensued by open forum. I walked to the center. I grabbed a microphone and feigned as an expert. I did not know if some felt I was a bogus.

“By the way, I’m Peter from the Philippines,” they stared at me. They wanted to scrutinize my facade. I breathed deeply. And then I resurfaced my apparent huge smile. Prudently asked the lady’s name but psyched experts would chuckle at me as if reminding ‘Does he has to ask her name again?’ but I defended I came late. So I wanted to know her name quickly for the record.

“Pae!” she broached herself in a tonal accent.

“Your name, please?” I pursued again, looking funny around the circle of educated guests. Then she reiterated her pseudonym.

“Well, thank you Ms. Pae,” and smiled gorgeously at her.

“Ah, I just want to comment about your beautiful presentation,” my accolade, “I believe we should really help the AIDS victims. There must be a round of support from our governments. Umm, you know AIDS is one of the biggest dis-as-ter, I me-an, agonies the humankind is suffering, and…” going around the bush made me even vague as she listened diligently. Perhaps she tried to comprehend my philosophy.

I felt numb at that moment. I did not know what I was doing in front of them. I had no more words to utter when the moderator thanked my baloney comment. Uncomfortable in my seat, reflected how unintelligent I was, made me ashamed of myself.

But my heart continuously throbbed for Pae.

That turned out to be so uneasy for me.

I let off myself from the hall and looked myself at the mirror, emerged fizzled, and bothered by my odd sensation inside the toilet. Then I exhaled a breath releasing my apprehension.

When I returned to the circle, men and women conversed with wit during munchies. I rang again Kim to rescue me from hell but I could not reach him. With my disappointment, I shook my fingers with consternation; moved around with mixed anxiety, drank a cup of tea with milk and bit some chips from the platter.

Turning one 180 degrees, Pae seriously chatted with a Pakistani participant. The Pakistani’s eyes consuming her, as if devouring his sight to a cute petite Thailander. As soon as the South Asian man talked, he burst into words, louder so that everybody could hear him.

I wanted to near her and strangle him and maybe to take her away from that onion-scented chap. Because I craved for her precious time; daydreamed that I was talking alone with her but I could not. I had to have a fighting spirit overcoming a faltering strength. So, I stretched my back and slowly moved towards her. But my strength vanished when guys hastily packed around her to receive her calling card. Frustratingly I got none.

Lunchtime, Kim drove a rented car as we reached a modest café across the Grand Palace. Sighted the gold coated walled kingdom, an area of 218,400 square meters, and surrounded by walls built in 1783. Major tourists were mostly Japanese, Malaysians, and Caucasians. They exuded amazement at the 17th century Royal Palace.

I expected my bohemian brother would spend more time with me; either to tour me around the metropolis or treat me to a Thai restaurant. But he was outspoken of his ecstasy yesterday. Kim narrated his illicit affair with his mistress while at the same time we conversed about some ordeals in Burma. Like the rising number people getting infected by AIDS killed in that poor nation. Later that afternoon, we hanged at a simple restaurant near the Royal Palace. Suddenly, a lady drew to our table and interrupted our intellectual talk. Kim stood up and directly shook hands with her.

“Mr. Peter from the Philippines, right?” she sighed.

“My youngest brother,” Kim said and she smiled at me.

“Call me Peter. Common, say it Kim!” I challenged him as I bashfully looked at her confused face.

“Peter Pan!” my brother joked.

“Just call me Pae,” she courteously said, “do you want to explore the Grand Palace?” her hospitable offer to Kim.

“No. Thanks. I have seen it thrice,” recanted my naturalized American brother.

“I want to go and see it. Is it okay with you?” I promptly said.

“How about the appointment? Our appointment!” Kim reminded her. “We can discuss it while touring the palace. Right, Pae?” I said.

‘There you go again…” Kim grinned at me.

I winked at him. I obtained his permission and he allowed me to sightsee the famed palace with the gorgeous lady. I immediately stood up and invited the Thai beau. Still in perplexity whether to accompany me or not because of Kim’s apparent distress painted in his face by naturally deforming his lips.

Ultimately my brother sent his pathetic consent for us to date at the old Siam. Though, he stayed alone drinking his Singha beer. So, Pae and I explored the Grand Palace. Her expanse knowledge about the kingdom could confer her a diploma in Thai Art and History, being the best guide I ever had.

In our tour, I feigned listening to her stories behind the architectures and histories of the Chapel Royal of the Emerald Buddha, the Mahāmontien and the Čakri structures that were built and resided in by King Rama V. We also passed by the Boromabimān building, the venue when King Moŋkut ascended into the throne and where his concubines lived.

But I lavishly stared at her photogenic face. Laughing sometime at myself when my playful mind scrolled to events strangely, and I as the King while she was my Anna. An infallible love story which some Thai historians controvert. I chased her graceful paces as we entered an astounding temple. Its silence troubled by thousands of visitors that day.

She blessed me with bud of lotus immersed over the holy water. And horde of Buddhist novitiates silently passed by their trodden path.

As we left the palace, she scanned details about my brother’s health NGO based in Manila; financially supported by the World Health Organization. She was investigating things that really mattered to her.

On the other hand, I evaded and diverted to some Thai history but she was elusive as ever. Instead we talked about my brother. I would say she was expert in human relations. Witty handling such kind of circumstance when one fooled her around. In other words, she was intelligent yet sensible.

She was perhaps already irritated with my inattentive behavior after she gained few details about my brother’s NGO work. So she immersed and regained my foci and shifted to matters that interest me.

“I certainly agree with your comments this morning?” she initiated.

I blushed. I knew she was just teasing me but I ceased to reply.

“You know thousands of Thai, Burmese, and Lao families die of AIDS every year...” she opined and appeared quite serious. She gradually seduced my thoughts so I could share some opinions with her.

“Thailand must have a lot of AIDS victims in Asia?” I probed.

“It’s the world that we care. It must be prevented...” her add-on.

Nighttime, a queue of bar girls ramped on blinking stage. They sleazed their sizzling bare bodies. Only silk bikini and a pair of glossy stars wrapped them. I imagined them as Middle Eastern belly dancers. They seduced bald Caucasian foreigners (oversex caused baldness? I thought) and slander Asians alike in their tempest shindig. During the show, a lovely girl frolicked her flawless body behind silver bar forming letter S upside down. Then she crawled, tumbled, acrobat around stunning beauties. And after her solo performance, she came down excitedly to our table and sat on Kim’s laps. I never thought my brother would be sexually attractive to a Burmese sex worker. I felt he was cheating his American wife. That same instance, I thought of values my parents imbibed to him.

He was such a deviant.

“Scarlet, meet my virgin brother,” commenced playboy Kim.

“Look who’s talking,” I retorted with embarrassment.

“Kka-mu-ssta...” she greeted in her mangled Tagalog.

I smiled at her. Kim kissed her neck, her lips like a venomous snake did. But I skipped looking at them rather bounced my head to the tune of rhythmic techno music.

Later I got tedious watching those girls. They did not even come down in our table unless tip is offered. I toured around the night market outside the long-stretched bars and left them in their hanky-panky. But it rained. Tourists ran to shielded stores until it stopped. Midnight when we reached Kim’s rented condo unit. Scented incense nursed his painful head. He was already drunk and knocked down as I dropped him on his bed. And then, I lied down in my own soft bed; still alive waiting for sun to shine.

Whenever I could not get my sleep, my eyes would wander and glance at an attractive nude painting, hanging alone like a princess inside my small room. It was a beautiful realist painting. A sexy unclothed Mulatto would always stare at my curious eyes. Her breasts erect and pout so attractive. Lust espoused my thought. Unzipped my khaki pants and masturbated. As I moaned, Pae surprised my desire. In Phuket, she appeared sexy in her thong and pair of glossy stars. She swayed stylishly her body and danced seductively and proffered me a relaxing Thai massage.

The three of us met again. They discussed and signed tie-up programs for their organizations inside a fine-dining restaurant. She sipped a hot tomyang. And then glibly implied her vivid ideas on how people could empathize with HIV/AIDS victims. Those victims she said many times had been a subject to widespread social stigma and other forms of discrimination.

That lunch, Kim was in a hurry, pardoned to depart early and left us in a shallow conversation. He would accompany his girlfriend up to Chiang Mai. At least two days in the cold city would perhaps warmth their love, if true love really exists between them.

Pae was so silent. She chewed very well her food before swallowing it. But her enigmatic presence sometimes intimidated me.

“So you were born in Songkla? I love the beach in the south,” I said.
“Yes,” her simple response.

“I was born in Happy Valley,” I said.

“Is it a beautiful place?” She asked.

“It’s a great place my grandpa owned!” I happily replied.

But she looked at sliced mangoes on the other table.
“I really miss mangoes. Mind you, Philippines has the best mangoes in the world,” I enthused.

“Really?” and she nodded.

Silence enveloped us again except for the mellow instrumentals. I waited a word from her. But she did not bite a word. Then dessert was finally served. A mouth-watering slices of watermelon, pineapple, and mango.

“Among the fruits I love on this plate is mango,” she delighted and picked a slice of mango using her shining fork.

“Because of its heart shape or flavor?” I savored it.

“Yummy!” she jumped into conclusion.

Her phone inside a leather handy bag rang thrice before she answered it. While talking to someone it made me uneasy. Qualms entered my filthy expectation and perhaps that someone could be her husband, or fiancé, or the Pakistani who surely had a crush on her. Petty as it could turn out to be but every suspicion could also lead to speculations. Switching off her phone, she courteously excused and left me to meet someone in her office. We stood up. And I thanked her. This time I wanted to hug her but I could not do it. When I sat down, frustrated but once more replenished by my hope that I would be seeing her again. She had forgotten her pink hanky on the table. And that gave me a greater chance to meet her deliberately. Quickly, I smelled its sweetness yet intrigued with words knitted on it - Friends Without Borders, which my lips read it wordlessly.

That night gave a unique experience for visitors of the city of angels. Dusts in carefree roamed the scratches of busy streets. Traffic jams in wee hours. Temples fascinated sightseers. The ferries that crossed the fabled river brought friendly passengers to their destinations.

My high-spirited mood shoved. Wondering what moved me to a beautiful wooden house. Its exterior carved with wooden murals of trees; traditional costumes of Thai men and women, revered elephants and monkeys. All murals perhaps connote historical importance and architectural symbols designed conventionally. A spirit house laden in the yard decorated around healthy plants and flowers. Suddenly, an aged lady saw me at the gate and I asked for Pae.

“Lampoo, Lampoo someone is looking for you?” yelled her aunt in Thai as she entered the house.

“Oh, Peter. Come inside,” such a hospitality.

I smiled handsomely at her. Inside the house were gamut of antique collections. Thai relics marvelously appeared into my massive thawing eyes. As I strode around the living room, seemed like a museum to me, wondrously amazed at every objects, suddenly, a photo of two ladies struck me, especially a mid-forties woman and at the back a message in Thai penmanship wrote. She came closer and read it for me:
Today, I am ready to open up my heart. To open up my heart is to share my sorrow with others and hope that society will also open up its mind and its arms to me and to all my friends living with HIV – Fongchan.

“That is my sister Jiab with Fongchan. Oh, I miss her so much,” said Pae while I was bewildered with the black and white photo.

“Jiab works for a volunteer group called Friends without Borders,” she softly stated, still looking at the photo. She was proud of her sister’s heroic deed. Spent her life in Burma and provided guidance to many people. It truly lifted her spirit while helping people living with HIV and AIDS.

I quivered at where I stood up and perhaps in aphasia. I was about to tell her something but changed my disposition. Politely, I returned her hanky without saying anything.

“Oh, thank you Peter. Want some tea or lemon juice?” she asked.

But my phone rang and I answered softly.

I turned my back at her. My brows met as I listened to every words of Kim. After his brief instruction, I bowed my surly face. But it shivered Pae’s reaction. I walked off in a hurry. She came with me and we went to a nearby hospital. We searched for my brother who was in trouble.

When I saw him, he sobbed alone outside the emergency room. It disheartened me. That was the only moment I saw him in despair; he was at the lowest point in his life. I slowly neared him. He trembled furiously but no more tears expressed his emotion.

The trip to Chiang Mai was a disaster. Supposedly, they will cross the border and visit his girlfriend’s home in Burma. Scarlet wanted to surprise her parents after discerning she would volunteer to my brother’s health project. Actually, she was about to disclose her infection to her family. It was a communicable disease that the media in Thailand made it seem terrible. Her father admonished her once, if she got the disease he would shoot her but she defied his reprimand. The plan turned hapless when thieves robed all passengers’ belongings in the bus they had ridden. Scarlet tried to hide the necklace Kim recently gave it to her when a devious thief saw it and grabbed from her. She fought forcefully and ended up shot in her chest.

“Please, don’t take her away from me. She was a good friend to me,” he sobbed, “tell to God that she was a great person. Please! Please!” he beseeched his faith, feeling sorry for her fate. That time, he even forgot being a physician, but like a helpless man I clasped my brother.

It reminded me of one simple thing. Life is so short.

Kim often told me that life is like a woven cloth into which one has to pour his heart in order to weave each thread into a beautiful piece of clothing.
Sometimes, I belittled him knowing he did not know how to love dearly, trying to preach love when he could not practice himself. But my chauvinism went badly wrong. Hours had been spoiled that night - midnight and came sunrise. And then, the doctor delivered the results of the operation.

“I’m willing to donate blood. I’m O negative,” said Pae struggling to convince me so Kim would consider her offer. The blood type was rare that only few Asians have it.

Kim was still immersed in dilemma, but as he emerged, he became stronger enough to face the risks and asked humbly Pae’s consideration. He walked slowly away from the corridors, as if searching for answers to his questions. As he descended the stairs, a couple burned incense at the spirit house, making a deal with their God, that if a loved one would survive, perhaps they would love her better and would do good things in return. In that way his troubling heart would be healed.

After that tragedy, I went home to my country with lots of wisdom. I learned true life experiences. From people I had encountered in foreign lands. And traveling was my window of first-hand discovery of unusual cultures and worldviews.
My brother Kim finally returned to New York after his shaky ordeal with Scarlet. He left to Pae all the programs they had to present to the WHO. He hoped their advocacy would be heard and implemented.

Before I left Bangkok, Kim told me he wanted a divorce from his American wife. But his trauma changed him to become a better person. And perhaps promised himself to alter his karma after his girlfriend survived. Had he now realized how much he loved his pregnant wife Michelle? He must have learned something, as well.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

She Says Skyscrapper and Sunset (Memories from my Wedding)

Celebrating our wedding day last April 8, 2006.

"Why skyscraper and sunset?" I ask simply my beautiful wife.

She beams and sips quietly her fruit juice while mom and I discuss with our gorgeous wedding coordinator petty errands for the reception, outside a cozy café down Raffles building in Ortigas.

In her haste retention, she deems that tall buildings make a perfect scenery for sunset. Perhaps searching for symbiotic existence of the two symbols - of heaven for heights and of everlasting for sunset. Simply Everlasting. Everlasting what? Sounds apocalyptic to us young couple to seek for the right word to pair with that proverbial yet mysterious word, EVERLASTING?

Then she stares at me again, caresses her tummy, and perhaps assuring our baby inside it that everything goes well as I eavesdrop to our coordinator’s suggestion. In my mind, her tranquility means that I should agree with her simple request. A reception atop tall infrastructure overlooking skyscrapers and bare mountains flanked by establishments and busy roads. From blue to orange painted sky magnified by the glaze of sunset. And when night blankets the sky, lights of buildings will glitter around us. Windy yet full with gleeful guests; seeing good people and hearing testimonials; laughing and sharing inspiring tales; bonding and meeting new friends. For her, that setting would be a romantic place to be and a lovely view for families and relatives.

I guess her desire atop skyscraper screams each time she reaches heights and yearns that tall buildings become our backdrop for our wedding banquet. She beams beautifully as I catch happiness radiates in her eyes when I discern to bite her request. And when we reach that penthouse in Prestige Tower, her unceasing enthusiasm has not faltered. She keeps holding me tightly, making me appear happier for entrusting it all to me.

Few sleepless nights have gone by before our big day. Although, we think that our coordinator will take care of it all, still, she insists to take part in every detail of the wedding. Seems all brides are gifted with that charming aptitude for details while I continue with work and study in the graduate school at the same time. In her dreams, she remembers how she walks the aisle and how lovely and graceful she should be…

‘Til that day has come. At our suite at the hotel, while she and some ladies of the entourage have been dressed up and makeover; in my sudden haste, I rush to the hotel’s gym and sauna to let the butterflies in my tummy fly. As I restore my composition, leaving that spell of nervousness, and be in my best appearance, later I make my way to the parish of St. Francis of Assisi in Ortigas. I personally choose that House of Worship because it was named after my fave saint. While she’s still at the hotel being taken photos inside her luxurious suite overlooking tall buildings - her fancied view.

As I enter the massive door of the church, welcomed by my proud parents and supportive brothers, and handshakes simultaneously by amicable godparents and warm-hearted relatives and friends. Hastily, a bridal car appears to my sight and inside it, her saccharine smile hooks me up. Later, as she walks down the aisle, I recall her dream of walking beautifully and lovely towards me. We know the dream is happening now. It feels like heaven since both of us love each other. Call me Mr. Romantic? To my wife, I am her Mr. Romantic! It happens and we keep it flaming! We keep praying to cherish that flaming love….Everlasting!

*** You can see us in Philippine Daily Inquirer dated April 9, 2006 (turn to Lifestyle page)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Heirs of Sandejas vs Alex Lina

Chester Cabalza recommends his visitors to please read the original & full text of the case cited. Xie xie!

Heirs of Sandejas vs Alex Lina
G.R. No. 141634
February 5, 2001


The facts of the case, as narrated by the Court of Appeals (CA). On February 17, 1981, Eliodoro Sandejas, Sr. filed a petition, in the lower court praying that letters of administration be issued in his favor for the settlement of the estate of his wife, Remedios Sandejas, who died on April 17, 1955.

On July 1, 1981, Letters of Administration were issued by the lower court appointing Eliodoro Sandejas, Sr. as administrator of the estate of the late Remedios Sandejas. Likewise on the same date, Eliodoro Sandejas, Sr. took his oath as administrator.

On November 19, 1981, the 4th floor of Manila City Hall was burned and among the records burned were the records of Branch XI of the Court of First Instance of Manila. As a result, he filed a Motion for Reconstitution of the records of the case on February 9, 1983. On February 16, 1983, the lower court in its Order granted the said motion.

On April 19, 1983, an Omnibus Pleading for motion to intervene and petition-in-intervention was filed by Movant Alex A. Lina alleging among others that on June 7, 1982, movant and administrator Eliodoro P. Sandejas, in his capacity as seller, bound and obligated himself, his heirs, administrators, and assigns, to sell forever and absolutely and in their entirety the following parcels of land which formed part of the estate of the late Remedios R. Sandejas.

It showed that there was receipt of money with promise to sell and to buy with the sum of P100,000.00


a) Whether or not Eliodoro P. Sandejas Sr. is legally obligated to convey title to the property referred to in the subject document which was found to be in the nature of a contract to sell where court approval was not complied with?

b) Whether or not he was guilty of bad faith despite the conclusion of the CA that he [bore] the burden of proving that a motion for authority to sell had been filed in court?

c) Whether or not undivided shares of Eliodoro in the subject property is (3/5) and the administrator of the latter should execute deeds of conveyance within thirty days from receipt of the balance of the purchase price from the respondent?

d)Whether or not the respondent's petition-in-intervention was converted to a money claim and whether the [trial court] acting as a probate court could approve the sale and compel the petitioners to execute [a] deed of conveyance even for the share alone of Eliodoro P. Sandejas Sr.?


The Petition is partially meritorious.

Obligation With a Suspensive Condition

Petitioners argue that the CA erred in ordering the conveyance of the disputed 3/5 of the parcels of land, despite the nonfulfillment of the suspensive condition -- court approval of the sale -- as contained in the "Receipt of Earnest Money with Promise to Sell and to Buy" (also referred to as the "Receipt"). Instead, they assert that because this condition had not been satisfied, their obligation to deliver the disputed parcels of land was converted into a money claim.

The agreement between Eliodoro Sr. and respondent is subject to a suspensive condition -- the procurement of a court approval, not full payment. There was no reservation of ownership in the agreement. In accordance with paragraph 1 of the Receipt, petitioners were supposed to deed the disputed lots over to respondent. This they could do upon the court's approval, even before full payment. Hence, their contract was a conditional sale, rather than a contract to sell as determined by the CA.

When a contract is subject to a suspensive condition, its birth or effectivity can take place only if and when the condition happens or is fulfilled. Thus, the intestate court's grant of the Motion for Approval of the sale filed by respondent resulted in petitioners' obligation to execute the Deed of Sale of the disputed lots in his favor. The condition having been satisfied, the contract was perfected. Henceforth, the parties were bound to fulfill what they had expressly agreed upon.

Court approval is required in any disposition of the decedent's estate per Rule 89 of the Rules of Court. Reference to judicial approval, however, cannot adversely affect the substantive rights of heirs to dispose of their own pro indiviso shares in the co-heirship or co-ownership. In other words, they can sell their rights, interests or participation in the property under administration. A stipulation requiring court approval does not affect the validity and the effectivity of the sale as regards the selling heirs. It merely implies that the property may be taken out of custodia legis, but only with the court's permission. It would seem that the suspensive condition in the present conditional sale was imposed only for this reason.

First Collateral Issue: Jurisdiction of Settlement Court

Petitioners also fault the CA Decision by arguing, inter alia, (a) jurisdiction over ordinary civil action seeking not merely to enforce a sale but to compel performance of a contract falls upon a civil court, not upon an intestate court; and (b) that Section 8 of Rule 89 allows the executor or administrator, and no one else, to file an application for approval of a sale of the property under administration.

In the present case, the Motion for Approval was meant to settle the decedent's obligation to respondent; hence, that obligation clearly falls under the jurisdiction of the settlement court. To require respondent to file a separate action -- on whether petitioners should convey the title to Eliodoro Sr.'s share of the disputed realty -- will unnecessarily prolong the settlement of the intestate estates of the deceased spouses.

Second Collateral Issue: Intervenor's Standing

Petitioners contend that under said Rule 89, only the executor or administrator is authorized to apply for the approval of a sale of realty under administration. Hence, the settlement court allegedly erred in entertaining and granting respondent's Motion for Approval.

Third Collateral Issue: Bad Faith

Petitioners assert that Eliodoro Sr. was not in bad faith, because (a) he informed respondent of the need to secure court approval prior to the sale of the lots, and (2) he did not promise that he could obtain the approval. However, Eliodoro Sr. did not misrepresent these lots to respondent as his own properties to which he alone had a title in fee simple. The fact that he failed to obtain the approval of the conditional sale did not automatically imply bad faith on his part. The CA held him in bad faith only for the purpose of binding him to the conditional sale. This was unnecessary because his being bound to it is, as already shown, beyond cavil.

Fourth Collateral Issue: Computation of Eliodoro's Share

Petitioners aver that the CA's computation of Eliodoro Sr.'s share in the disputed parcels of land was erroneous because, as the conjugal partner of Remedios, he owned one half of these lots plus a further one tenth of the remaining half, in his capacity as a one of her legal heirs. Hence, Eliodoro's share should be 11/20 of the entire property. Respondent poses no objection to this computation.

On the other hand, the CA held that, at the very least, the conditional sale should cover the one half (1/2) pro indiviso conjugal share of Eliodoro plus his one tenth (1/10) hereditary share as one of the ten legal heirs of the decedent, or a total of three fifths (3/5) of the lots in administration.

Petitioners' correct. The CA computed Eliodoro's share as an heir based on one tenth of the entire disputed property. It should be based only on the remaining half, after deducting the conjugal share.


The proper determination of the seller-heir's shares requires further explanation. Succession laws and jurisprudence require that when a marriage is dissolved by the death of the husband or the wife, the decedent's entire estate - under the concept of conjugal properties of gains -- must be divided equally, with one half going to the surviving spouse and the other half to the heirs of the deceased.25 After the settlement of the debts and obligations, the remaining half of the estate is then distributed to the legal heirs, legatees and devices. We assume, however, that this preliminary determination of the decedent's estate has already been taken into account by the parties, since the only issue raised in this case is whether Eliodoro's share is 11/20 or 3/5 of the disputed lots.

WHEREFORE, The Petition is hereby PARTIALLY GRANTED. The appealed Decision and Resolution are AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that respondent is entitled to only a pro-indiviso share equivalent to 11/20 of the disputed lots. SO ORDERED.

William Golangco Construction Corp. vs Philippine Commercial International Bank

Chester Cabalza recommends his visitors to please read the original & full text of the case cited. Xie xie!

William Golangco Construction Corp. (WGCC) vs Phil Commercial Intl Bank (PCIB)
G.R. No. 142830
March 24, 2006


William Golangco Construction Corporation (WGCC) and the Philippine Commercial International Bank (PCIB) entered into a contract for the construction of the extension of PCIB Tower II on October 20, 1989. The project included, among others, the application of a granitite wash-out finish on the exterior walls of the building.

PCIB, with the concurrence of its consultant TCGI Engineers (TCGI), accepted the turnover of the completed work by WGCC in a letter dated June 1, 1992. To answer for any defect arising within a period of one year, WGCC submitted a guarantee bond dated July 1, 1992 issued by Malayan Insurance Company, Inc. in compliance with the construction contract.

The controversy arose when portions of the granitite wash-out finish of the exterior of the building began peeling off and falling from the walls in 1993. WGCC made minor repairs after PCIB requested it to rectify the construction defects.
In 1994, PCIB entered into another contract with Brains and Brawn Construction and Development Corporation to re-do the entire granitite wash-out finish after WGCC manifested that it was "not in a position to do the new finishing work," though it was willing to share part of the cost. PCIB incurred expenses amounting to P11,665,000 for the repair work.

PCIB filed a request for arbitration with the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission (CIAC) for the reimbursement of its expenses for the repairs made by another contractor. It complained of WGCC’s alleged non-compliance with their contractual terms on materials and workmanship. WGCC interposed a counterclaim for P5,777,157.84 for material cost adjustment.

The CIAC declared WGCC liable for the construction defects in the project. WGCC filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals (CA) which dismissed it for lack of merit. However, its motion for reconsideration was similarly denied.
There is a question of certiorari in this case.


Whether or not petitioner WGCC is liable for defects in the granite wash-out finish that occurred after the lapse of one-year defects liability period provided in Art. XI of the construction contract?


The court ruled in favor of WGCC. The controversy pivots on a provision in the construction contract referred to as the defects liability period:


In Article XI on Guarantee - the CONTRACTOR hereby guarantees the work stipulated in this Contract, and shall make good any defect in materials and workmanship which [becomes] evident within one (1) year after the final acceptance of the work. The CONTRACTOR shall leave the work in perfect order upon completion and present the final certificate to the ENGINEER promptly.

If in the opinion of the OWNER and ENGINEER, the CONTRACTOR has failed to act promptly in rectifying any defect in the work which appears within the period mentioned above, the OWNER and the ENGINEER may, at their own discretion, using the Guarantee Bond amount for corrections, have the work done by another contractor at the expense of the CONTRACTOR or his bondsmen.

However, nothing in this section shall in any way affect or relieve the CONTRACTOR’S responsibility to the OWNER.

Although both parties based their arguments on the same stipulations, they reached conflicting conclusions. A careful reading of the stipulations, however, leads us to the conclusion that WGCC’s arguments are more tenable.

Autonomy of Contracts

The autonomous nature of contracts is enunciated in Article 1306 of the Civil Code.
Article 1306. The contracting parties may establish such stipulations, clauses, terms and conditions as they may deem convenient, provided they are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public policy.

Obligations arising from contracts have the force of law between the parties and should be complied with in good faith.

The adoption of a one-year guarantee, as done by WGCC and PCIB, is established usage in the Philippines for private and government construction contracts. However, the contract did not specify a different period for defects in the granitite wash-out finish; hence, any defect therein should have been brought to WGCC’s attention within the one-year defects liability period in the contract.

The inclusion in a written contract for a piece of work, such as the one in question, of a provision defining a warranty period against defects, is not uncommon. This kind of a stipulation is of particular importance to the contractor, for as a general rule, after the lapse of the period agreed upon therein, he may no longer be held accountable for whatever defects, deficiencies or imperfections that may be discovered in the work executed by him.

Unfulfilled Obligations

PCIB calls our attention to Article 62.2 which provides: Notwithstanding the issue of the Defects Liability Certificate[,] the Contractor and the Owner shall remain liable for the fulfillment of any obligation[,] incurred under the provisions of the Contract prior to the issue of the Defects Liability Certificate[,] which remains unperformed at the time such Defects Liability Certificate is issued[. And] for the purpose of determining the nature and extent of any such obligation, the Contract shall be deemed to remain in force between the parties of the Contract. (emphasis ours).


The lower courts conjectured that the peeling off of the granitite wash-out finish was probably due to "defective materials and workmanship." This they characterized as hidden or latent defects. WGCC does not agree with the conclusion that the alleged defects were hidden.

First, PCIB’s team of experts (who were specifically employed to detect such defects early on) supervised WGCC’s workmanship. Second, WGCC regularly submitted progress reports and photographs. Third, WGCC worked under fair and transparent circumstances. PCIB had access to the site and it exercised reasonable supervision over WGCC’s work. Fourth, PCIB issued several "punch lists" for WGCC’s compliance before the issuance of PCIB’s final certificate of acceptance. Fifth, PCIB supplied the materials for the granitite wash-out finish. And finally, PCIB’s team of experts gave their concurrence to the turnover of the project.

The purpose of the defects liability period was precisely to give PCIB additional, albeit limited, opportunity to oblige WGCC to make good any defect, hidden or otherwise, discovered within one year.

Contrary to the CA’s conclusion, the first sentence of the third paragraph of Article XI on guarantee previously quoted did not operate as a blanket exception to the one-year guarantee period under the first paragraph. Neither did it modify, extend, nullify or supersede the categorical terms of the defects liability period.

Under the circumstances, there were no hidden defects for which WGCC could be held liable. Neither was there any other defect for which PCIB made any express reservation of its rights against WGCC. Indeed, the contract should not be interpreted to favor the one who caused the confusion, if any. The contract was prepared by TCGI for PCIB.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 41152 is ANNULED and SET ASIDE.