By Raïssa Robles - Now that it's officially summer, what better time to revive “Halo-Halo”, my gossip column about everything and anything. First off, the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) had an unexpected invitation from US Ambassador Philip Goldberg to see him and his embassy staff for cocktails last Thursday. I must say, I did not expect Goldberg to place everything off-the-record. I guess I had been spoiled by previous invites from the ambassadors of France and even from China before (notably Ambassador Liu Jianchiao) who has long been transferred to Indonesia.
Ever since I can remember, my hubby Alan has always been reading books on military history and battles in various countries if he's not playing a war strategy game on his PC. And our library is stuffed to the ceiling with such books. Part of our dates were spent playing Panzer Leader and the Arab-Israeli war board games. This was how I learned a little about tactics during battles. At times, I even won :), but that was rare. Perhaps because of this, I know that what he says about military operations makes a lot of sense. I am therefore sharing the many questions he has been asking aloud ever since news broke over the death of the police commandos in Mindanao.
Vietnam has suddenly joined the Philippines in arbitration court to contest China's claim over nearly all of South China Sea. The Philippines has been long wooing Vietnam to do just this. Perhaps China's aggressive action this year made Hanoi finally make up its mind to join the international suit against its former colonial master China.
Philippine Vice-President Jejomar Binay and Interior and Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas were spied on last year by the United States National Security Agency (NSA), according to the prestigious French newspaper Le Monde. The spying lasted for a month but Le Monde did not say which month.
The state dinner for POTUS was delicious. The guest list was something else. It was so weird that my hubby Alan just had to write it for South China Morning Post. Here is his story: Guess who came to dinner: Obama's Philippines reception featured a colourful cast - By Alan Robles
Just my opinion - By Raïssa Robles - I eagerly awaited what US President Barack Obama would say about the Philippine dispute with China over the Spratlys. I was glad to hear ABS-CBN reporter RG Cruz asked Obama the question: "Will the US defend the Philippines in case the territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea become an armed conflict?"
Analysis by Raïssa Robles - The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs has just released the briefer below, following the signing of the new pact between the Philippines and the United States. The pact itself has yet to be released to the media or the public. It's an interesting way to sway public opinion - release a briefer first without releasing the pact itself. In the hope that the public would not bother to read the pact itself.
By Raissa Robles - Manila and Washington are CLOSE to signing an agreement that will see more American troops, more planes and warships but no nukes coming into the Philippines in what both sides euphemistically call “expanded military presence.” Today, after the eighth round of talks – a far cry from the acrimonious talks that were held in the 1990s to renew the presence of US military bases – both sides agreed to “key points.”
By Raissa Robles - Globe Telecom issued the statement below in response to my piece about a passenger on a plane hovering around Ayungin Shoal receiving a text message on his mobile saying "Welcome to China".