Friday, December 23, 2016

Taking the Gold Mountain: Evading the Kremlin's Foreign Investment Ban at Montagne d’Or

Alexei Mordashov Prepares $400 Million Dollar Takeover of Canadian Goldminer – Hit and Run for Kremlin Foreign Investment Ban

by John Helmer - Dances with Bears

December 22, 2016

Moscow - Alexei Mordashov (lead image, top left), the mining and metals oligarch, promised President Vladimir Putin (centre) that in future he would stick to investing in Russia. “We did a great deal of work abroad,” he told the President, “but came to the conclusion that our future lies primarily in Russia, in the Russian market, and our production here is most efficient. We sold the North American division and are focusing almost entirely on our Russian assets.” That was on January 19, 2015.

Mordashov was back in front of Putin at the Kremlin this week, telling him on December 19: “I would also like to ask you not to reduce the level of your cooperation.” What Mordashov didn’t tell Putin was how much he has invested in Canadian goldmining over the past year, and how much more, according to Russian and Canadian sources, he is planning to invest next year. That may come to $400 million if a gold prospect in French Guiana, owned by a Canadian mining company, turns out to be El Dorado when a report Mordashov is preparing on the exploration results and gold value is due to be released next March.

The gold prospect, called Montagne d’Or (“mountain of gold”), is currently believed by its licence-holder Columbus Gold and its promoters in the North American mining market to be “one of the highest-grade open pit gold projects in the Americas.”

This past January, Mordashov paid $6 million to put his men in charge of the mine site, and keep its secrets secure. According to Erick Bertsch, spokesman for Columbus Gold, that outlay, plus spending “in excess of $30 million already on the project”, plus the delivery of a bankable feasibility study for the anticipated mine by March 31, by Mordashov’s goldmining company Nordgold will earn a stake of 55.1% in Montagne d’Or. Another $366 million in capital expenditure on building the mine will be required. For background on Mordashov’s Nordgold, a spinoff of his heavily indebted Severstal steel, iron ore and coal group, start here, and read on.

Columbus Gold currently holds 44.99% of the Guiana gold project. Columbus Gold is currently listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange at a market capitalization of C$66.5 million ($49.5 million). If Mordashov buys out Columbus Gold, and then starts mining, he will be obliged to spend at least $400 million. That’s $400 million Mordashov has told Putin he will not be investing outside Russia.

Putin and Mordashov, January 19, 2015; 

Columbus Gold started in Vancouver in 2004, and it is controlled by Robert Giustra, cousin of the well-known Canadian entrepreneur Frank Giustra. In 2010 Frank Giustra sold Mordashov a controlling stake in the Guinean goldmine operations of Crew Gold for $215 million, making Giustra a 124% profit on an 8-month investment.

Altogether, Mordashov paid about $500 million to buy Crew Gold into Nordgold. His takeover of High River Gold in 2012 cost about C$200 million ($148.3 million). This year’s takeover of Northquest has cost $22 million. At present, Nordgold has a market value of $1.3 billion.

With 5.7 million troy ounces of gold estimated in 2013, Montagne d’Or (also known as the Paul Isnard project) is the biggest asset Columbus Gold owns. It also has gold prospects it is exploring in Nevada and New Mexico in the US.

Frank Giustra is one of the largest contributors to the Clinton family 
foundation; right, Nikolai Zelenski, chief executive of Nordgold, with Robert Giustra

Since the late 19th century, the French and Guyanese have been mining gold in small-scale alluvial panning, dredging, and tunnel works in the area of the Montagne d’Or deposit. Between 2010 and 2013 Columbus Gold bought the French Guiana prospects of Auplata S.a., their French owner at the time. Giustra then agreed with Mordashov on a scheme for Nordgold to invest at least $30 million in prospecting, proving and developing the Montage d’Or deposit by March 2017. In return, Nordgold would earn its 50.01% stake in the project. At first, Columbus Gold directed the work at the mine site; from January of 2016 Nordgold took over project management, site security, and information on what’s underground. For details, read Columbus Gold’s Annual Information Form, filed in the SEDAR archive on November 17.

When Nordgold first announced its move into French Guiana, it said the project “fits Nordgold’s greenfield project criteria: Significant resource for open pit mining with upside potential; High grade non-refractory ores; Key infrastructure already in place to pursue rapid development.” The Russian company also estimated the gold in the ground at 4.15 million oz. Read the release here.

Mining engineers and geological consultants from the UK, South Africa, Canada and Australia have estimated the deposit might hold between 4.6 and 5.3 million oz. In April 2015 the SRK consultancy estimated the gold content of the mineral resource was 5 million oz. SRK added the qualification: “mineral resources are not ore reserves and do not have demonstrated economic viability.” With a market gold price of $1,200 per oz, SRK projected that a mine would generate revenue of $3.7 billion, with initial capital spending of $366.4 million; operating costs of $2 billion; and free cash flow after capital payback and taxes of $756 million.

But all of that is in the wishful future. According to Columbus Gold’s latest financial report, issued in November, in FY 2016 its losses came to C$3.9 million; in FY 2015 the losses totalled C$5.1 million. Columbus Gold says that so far in French Guiana it has invested C$65 million, of which C$25 million has come from Nordgold.


Mordashov’s engagement with Robert Giustra began with an option agreement in September 2013, finalized six months later. The deal provided Nordgold with “the right to acquire a 50.01% interest in the eight Paul Isnard mining concessions and the exploration permits. Nordgold can earn its interest in the mineral permits by completing a Bankable Feasibility Study and by expending not less than US$30 million in 3 years.” In January of this year Mordashov paid $6 million for an additional 5% stake in the project, but that too is tied to “completion of a Bankable Feasibility Study and… a minimum of $32,730,000 (US$30,000,000) in project expenditures.”

Mordashov’s representative, Oleg Pelevin (right), strategy director at Nordgold, took one of the five seats on the Columbus Gold board. At this week’s annual general meeting, 11.2% of the shareholders withheld their vote from Pelevin, a larger proportion than for any other director. These votes were withheld by State Street Trust, Northern Trust and other proxy holders for the institutions investing in Columbus Gold.

As chief executive and board chairman Giustra holds only 1% of the company’s shares, according to spokesman Bertsch. According to Giustra himself, the largest single shareholder is EURO Ressources, S.A., a wholly owned unit of IAMGOLD of Toronto, with no more than 10%. Through Nordgold, Mordashov appears to be the second largest shareholder with 8.5% of Columbus Gold, a stake currently worth C$5.7 million ($4.2 million).

For the time being, Giustra and his associates controlling the management and board of Columbus Gold have agreed with Mordashov to curb his takeover appetite. “During the Nord Option period,” a company paper says,

“Nord has agreed to a standstill under which it will not obtain 20% or greater of the outstanding voting securities of Columbus Gold, will not solicit proxies from Columbus Gold’s shareholders, will not attempt to engage in discussions respecting fundamental transactions involving Columbus Gold, and will vote any securities it holds in favour of management proposals put forward by Columbus Gold.”

The option period expires when Nordgold meets its spending obligation of $30 million – a condition Bertsch says has already been met — and when the bankable feasibility study is finalized by next March. At the current market cap, a takeover of the 91.5% of Columbus Gold shares Mordashov doesn’t yet own would cost about C$61 million ($46 million). With the 15% premium Nordgold offered in its final buyout of minority shareholders in Northquest early this year, the cost to Mordashov would be around $53 million. That, plus the $30 million required by the option agreement, plus at least $6 million in share-buying to date add up to between $80 and $90 million.

For Nordgold and Mordashov, Moscow spokesman Olga Ulyeva was asked how many shares Mordashov already holds and when he can start buying more. She did not respond.

Since Mordashov began buying into Columbus Gold in 2013, the share price has risen from about 34 Canadian cents to peaks of 60 cents in March 2014 and 87 cents in August 2016, but it is now down to 47 cents. Paper value for the company since Mordashov first showed his interest has ranged from a low of about C$43 million to a high of C$124 million. Its current market capitalization is C$66.5 million.

December 30, 2012, C$126 million; August 19, 2016, C$124 million. 

On December 2, Columbus Gold announced what it calls a rights plan for shareholders anticipatting that a takeover will come soon.

“The Rights Plan was not adopted by the Board of Directors in response to any offer or takeover bid. It is intended to ensure that all shareholders have an equal opportunity to participate in any bid for control of Columbus Gold and is not intended to prevent a takeover bid or secure the continuance of the management or the Board of Directors or to defer fair offers for Columbus Gold’s shares made by all shareholders equally.”

There has been vocal criticism, as well as bitter shareholder challenges and litigation in the Canadian courts, over earlier takeovers by Mordashov of High River Gold, Crew Gold, and Northquest. For the most recent story at Northquest, read this. For the longer history of Mordashov’s Canadian goldmine takeovers, start here.

In September Thibaut Lepouttre, an analyst with Caesars Report, predicted that “if history repeats itself, Nordgold will try to acquire 100% of Montagne D’Or, and after checking up on the company’s financial health, we have no doubt the Russian company will be able to fund an acquisition of the remaining interest as the total price tag for the 44.99% stake will very likely be lower than the free cash flow Nord Gold generates in a semester.” He hinted that the new gold reserve and resource measurement for Montagne d’Or may be available as early as January 2017.

By lifting the price of gold to $1,300 per oz, cutting the mine costs and the risk discount, Lepoutre projected another $150 million in takeover value for Montagne d’Or. The Toronto stock market agreed for a week, but then the share price turned downwards. Gold was above $1,300 between June and October, and has subsequently dwindled towards the $1,100 mark.

Two Canadian mining analysts repeated the Nordgold takeover prediction in reports on December 5 and December 12. Three days later, the Streetwise Gold Report compiled them together in this bulletin. While readers watched this month, the share price has dropped 23% from 61 cents to 47 cents.

Market reports available on share trading by Columbus Gold insiders reveal that Giustra and director Peter Gianulis were sellers to Toronto and New York-based gold stock funds, including Van Eck.

Gianulis (right), a Vancouver-based investment fund operator, was almost as unpopular as Pelevin in the December 21 vote for Columbus Gold’s new board.

In Moscow, Oleg Petropavlosvky, an analyst for the BCS brokerage, said:

“The possibility of the full acquisition of Columbus Gold by Nord Gold is very high, because they already have a big share in it. I can’t predict how soon it will be as it depends on the results of geological exploration in French Guiana.”

Robert Giustra was asked if the Russian takeover scenarios reported in the market place have been discussed by the board. Nordgold must “earn its interest [in Montagne d’Or] first,” he replied. That will come in March of 2017.

“They have not made any offer to us. It’s not been the subject of any planning or strategy. Using reasonable assumptions I suspect there will be a dialogue at some point. It hasn’t happened yet.”

Money a la Modi: India's Demonetisation Devil in Detail

Demonetisation: The Sultan Of Sophistry

by Satya Sagar - CounterCurrents

December 7, 2016

It is early winter and a thick, grimy fog, black and white tinged with grey, hangs over Delhi much of the day. Morning visibility is bad, clears up a bit with a dull sun in the afternoon, before darkness descends again on the city.

A month after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his demonetisation policy, the gloomy weather in the national capital describes quite well the mood of the people here. Sullen but not angry, worried but not yet panicked, uneasy about the future but focused for the present on solving daily problems.

And yet somewhere deep down there is a growing feeling that we are witnessing the twilight of the Indian Republic – at least as we have known it for over six decades- a sovereign, federal, democratic nation, which with all its flaws, stumbles along intact. Few fully understand the real implications of 86% of the Indian currency disappearing overnight but there is foreboding it is a sign of many more drastic events to come.

UPDATE: Modi speaks to the masses on effects so far of his demonetization New Year's Eve. 

If something as fundamental as money in a system can be so casually overturned what guarantee is there that you or your family will be safe tomorrow? Why should any of India’s various regions and states take orders from Delhi and its upstart Sultan of Sophistry anymore?

With every passing day though the disaster wrought on the economy and lives of ordinary citizens by demonetisation is becoming starkly apparent. Industries, trade, farming operations and daily consumption of essential goods are collapsing due to the lack of sufficient cash to carry out the simplest of transactions.

The queues at the banks are only getting longer and more frustrating with a surge in violent incidents as the initial support for the government’s self-proclaimed ‘war on black money’ wears thin. After all it is not the rich and powerful who are lining up day after day to exchange their old notes or try and withdraw a paltry 2000 Rupees from the few ATMs that work here and there.

In the meanwhile, the elderly and weak die in the wait like only they can, tired and breathless at the heartlessness of it all. How much more suffering is in store and how many needless lives lost to this man-made disaster – nobody really knows.

There is very little talk now from the government of any windfall gains to state revenues due to demonetisation, as almost all the ‘black cash’ around finds its way back into the banking system. There are zero measures to tackle the far larger problem of ‘black wealth’, in the form of gold, property, foreign accounts revealing the fundamentally dubious nature of this ‘war on corruption’.

A desperate regime aids this conversion with marginally stiffer penalties on unaccounted money coming into the banks,making the current crusade just a continuation of previous voluntary disclosure schemes for tax evaders. Calculations made by respectable research institutions show the costs to the Indian economy of demonetisation will far exceed any benefits it brings.

The rhetoric has instead already turned to the cuckoo world of a ‘cashless economy’, where everyone will live happily tied to a digital grid, run by the government hand in glove with banks, payment gateways, e-commerce companies and other peddlers of seductive software. All you need is a secure identity, the Aadhar card, the number imprinted on which will open or close doors depending on your credit rating. (If Aadhaar cards get fabricated on a large scale- as they are perhaps already- the powers that be will insist on a special stamp with indelible ink on your forehead to certify you are allowed to exist on this planet!)

It would all be very laughable if not for the cruel implications in a country where a majority still struggle to eat, cannot read or write and survive on a daily basis without power or water. It is only a generation ago that the poor learnt to negotiate cash – itself a complicated concept- and here they are being told to abruptly go digital. It is as if the Earth opened up one morning and swallowed them wholesale.

Along with the poor the real target of demonetisation are thousands of small and medium businesses which thrive only on cash transactions and underpin Indian democracy itself through both their sheer diversity and ability to earn and live independent of state support. Once they are decimated it will be that much easier to establish total control over the Indian economy by a handful of large corporate monopolies, which will also facilitate political dictatorship.

Sure, informal enterprises avoid giving tax but then what exactly will the Indian state give them in return if they become compliant – good schools, infrastructure, quality health care, pensions? Why should anyone pay tax to a government that seems to use these revenues to fatten the bank accounts of politicians, bureaucrats and crony capitalists?

The educated, urban classes are the only ones cheering Modi on right now as they see in the digital economy a consolidation of their traditional power – after all feudalism was also a ‘cashless’ system – not even a signature was required to get things done. A mere wave of the hand was enough to get orders or even orderlies executed in Ram Rajya. ‘E-Brahmanism’ would be indeed be a more appropriate way to describe a society without any physical cash!

Is it really possible to impose such a ‘Uniform Commercial Code’ on such a vast and heterogeneous economy like India without sparking a revolt? Isn’t the Modi regime and the cabal of corporates playing with fire by pushing this ‘Big Bang’ reform?

When former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described demonetisation as a ‘monumental management failure’ he was essentially warning Modi not to bite more than he can chew. He should know, having been the architect of the original ‘Big Bang’ of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation over two decades ago. It was the tectonic forces he unleased on the Indian economy and society that gave impetus to Hindutva, helped the BJP rise to power and the phenomenon of Narendra Modi himself – all of which swallowed up the Congress party itself.

Of course there will be blowback and long after India recovers from the dire consequences of Narendra Modi’s monetary adventure, future historians will actually wonder what led a ruler, at the peak of his power, to attempt harakiri in this manner? For, it is not difficult really to see what has happened – the man is falling in front of our eyes on his own sword of hubris – the brash weapon that has humbled many a self-styled emperor before him.

Trying to understand the motives many have dubbed Narendra Modi a new Mohammad bin Tughlaq, the 14th Century ruler of Delhi, whose kingdom collapsed due to foolish experiments with new and poorly minted currency. There is some truth to this of course, as grandiose visions that lack of attention to detail and hasty schemes marred by low quality of implementation have indeed been his hallmark so far.

His harsher critics have compared Modi to the notorious Mir Jafar, who due to greed and ambition shook hands with the wily East India Company only to lose both arm and country.

Modi, an ordinary pracharak who rose to became Prime Minister, a chaiwallah who rubs shoulders with corporate bigwigs, does represent Mir Jafar’s burning quest for power at any cost.

The collective herding of 1.2 billion people into a ‘cashless economy’ is also nothing less than the return of Company Raj with loss of control over lives and livelihood for the Indian people. Mastercard, Visa, Facebook, Google, Paytm are the new Robert Clives of our times, manipulating intrigues in the Nawab’s palace to take over control.

There is even a Jagat Seth around, Mir Jafar’s financier, in the form of none other than Mukesh Ambani, whose business interests are poised to benefit most from the nature and timing of the demonetisation policy. Launching ‘Jio Money’, a payment gateway venture, in the first week of December, Ambani praised demonetisation in the same vein as a weapons dealer extolling the merits of war.

Coming back to Modi and the parallels with Tughlaq and Mir Jafar, they do indicate the way he thinks and behaves but do not fully capture what he is all about. In order to really get a more accurate picture of the man, there are two other essential ingredients that need to be added. One is the persona of a small town hustler of whom our Dear Leader has more than a heavy dose of and which is what lends him colour and explains his widespread popularity.

The dandy man in dark glasses, dressed in a white suit with flower sticking out his pocket, ambushing foreign Heads of State for a hug or posing like a tourist for selfies around ancient monuments – that is what endears him to the masses. All embellished by the legend that he is someone from humble origins who has made it big – something every poor man and woman admires and dreams of.

The other component of his character and one that makes him immensely dangerous though, is that of a megalomaniac with the mind of a shrewd criminal. Nothing less that a wannabe Godfather. Someone, who is willing to do or say anything to get his way. With no loyalty to anyone except himself and his immediate benefactors – in the current case the corporate backers who financed his climb to power.

This makes him frightening to even those who helped him get where he has reached today – a man untethered to any principle, person or even the political party he leads. Remember Haren Pandya? The only consultation Modi seems to have done before embarking on the drastic experiment of ‘notebandi’ was perhaps in front of a mirror with himself – for it turns out none of the senior leaders of the BJP or even the RSS had a clue as to what he was upto- though all of them are lining up to praise his ‘brilliant’ policy out of fear today.

The reason why Modi is able to ride roughshod over his own party stalwarts is because he has cultivated a financial and popular support outside the traditional base of the organisation. If small and medium traders disappear with the digital economy, so be it – the future belongs to big corporations anyway. If the extreme Hindu right is upset with him how does it really matter when he can win elections with the support of corporate financed propaganda?

Nothing else – but this understanding of Modi as a mix of Tughlaq, Mir Jafar, petty hustler and gangster –explains the indifference to consequences with which the entire demonetisation exercise was thought up and implemented. Nothing else explains also the arrogance that Modi continues to display about his own abilities as a ‘visionary’ and the complete lack of remorse for the immense hardships he has subjected the Indian population to.

What we have got from the Prime Minister so far in response to criticism or complaint is an anecdote about a beggar somewhere with a swipe card machine. Is this supposed to be the new aspirational model for the country – jobless citizens asking for doles in digital currency?

And of course, that casual ‘Robin Hood’ statement too, urging poorer citizens with Jan Dhan accounts not to return any of the unaccounted cash deposited in their names by those trying to convert their black money into white.

Wow! Did he really mean that? If he did, then good for him! I am just waiting for the day the masses figure out that all ‘white money’ in this country is only so because successive regimes have helped ‘whitewash’ it through convenient laws. When that finally happens – taking cue from Modi’s statement about redistributing wealth – there will not be a single Ambani or Adani shop left anywhere in the country!

It is clear, that even by the gross standards of the Indian elite’s historical disdain for the fate of the nation’s marginalized Narendra Modi’s entire discourse around the impact of his demonetisation policy is obscene beyond belief. In any other country, far less poor than India is, by now there would be class war raging– a French Revolution scenario complete with guillotines and heads rolling on the boulevard around India Gate.

That’s an exaggeration of course, but at least there would be mass protests around the nation calling for resignation of the Modi regime, the sacking of the RBI Governor, for restoration of the old Rs.500 notes and other measures that can relieve the immediate misery caused by demonetisation. Instead, so sorry is the state of our Opposition parties- except for the brave Mamata Banerjee- that instead of hitting the streets all they want is a statement from the Prime Minister in Parliament!

Given the reality that there is no organised opposition to the ruling dispensation outside, a more likely scenario is perhaps a palace coup against Modi from within. There is no doubt, while Modi is trying hide his wounds and bluster his way through the mess he has created, it is only a matter of time before, not just the Indian public, but also his own political party and fans turn on him viciously.

Leading this plot will be the Peshwas who run the RSS – unhappy with Modi getting too big for his boots and anxious to consolidate power before he fritters it away. In that case we may even see the rise of a new, more rigid and rabid version of Modi in the days ahead as his own party men abandon him and move to the next level of their project to establish Hindu Pad Padshahi in the country.

The sad truth of all this is that if you thought Modi was bad, there are even worse characters lurking in the shadows, just waiting to take over.

Caveat: Narendra Modi is only incidental to the snaring of the Indian Republic by the powerful forces of global finance. He happens to be the right man at the right moment to do their bidding. There is no doubt any future dispensation will come under similar pressure from outside to handover the keys or encrypted passwords to the kingdom’s treasury.

It will take much more than bogus ‘Hindu Nationalism’ of the RSS Peshwas to resist the temptation to sell Indian sovereignty and independence for a few shining sovereigns more. Maybe it is time for those interested in saving the Indian Republic to revisit 1857 for clues as to what needs to done next. No, I am not comparing Mamata Banerjee to the Rani of Jhansi or Kejriwal to Tatya Tope!

Satya Sagar is a journalist and public health worker. He can be reached at

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Going Dark: Inside Passage Oil Tankers Dim Tracking Beacons

Disturbing New Development Regarding Alaska-bound Tug/tankerbarge Inside Passage Traffic

Ingmar Lee - 10,000 Ton Tanker

December 22, 2016

Friends, I am now reporting an extremely disturbing new development regarding the sordid issue of the Alaska-bound tug/tankerbarge traffic that has been exploiting the BC Inside Passage as a petroleum conduit between Kinder Morgan Burnaby, the Tesoro Anacortes refinery, and Alaska.

Photo: Pusher Tug Nathan E. Stewart on the bottom in Seaforth Channel

People on this list have been using AIS services like "" to keep track of the traffic of these Texas-based tankers as they ply up and down this coast, pushing, or towing petroleum barges loaded with up to 10,000 deadweight tons on more than 30 trips annually.

Up until the disastrous wreck of the "Nathan E Stewart" near Bella Bella in October this year, people were able to track that vessel, and other vessels belonging to the Texas-based Kirby Corporation using publicly available basic AIS services.

Not any more!

Since the wreck of the Nathan E Stewart, that traffic has disappeared from basic AIS coverage. People on this list have been wondering what had become of that traffic. It appeared as though the Kirby Corporation had disappeared from this coast.

Actually, as it turns out, it has been pretty much business as usual for Kirby Corp, and Alaska-bound tankers continue to ply the BC Inside Passage.

But they are now invisible to the general public, -unless you can afford thousands of dollars annually for premium satellite AIS service, you will NOT BE ABLE to track this dangerous traffic.

Here following is my recent email discussion with Pacific Pilotage Authority CEO, Captain Kevin Obermeyer:

Re: Alaska-bound tankers in BC Inside Passage

to Kevin
1 day agoDetails
Hello Kevin,

Something has certainly changed with the Alaska-bound BC Inside Passage tankerbarge traffic since the wreck of the Nathan E Stewart.

Other than the passage of the loaded ATB "Dale R Lindsey" and its tankerbarge which transited by here via Hecate Strait and Laredo Channel (after being delayed by storms for 4 days in Hardy Bay) more than a month ago, I have not been able to confirm any other trips north since the wreck.

There are suspicions that perhaps the business is continuing, but the tugs are exploiting a loophole in the tanker safety regulations which allow them to switch off their AIS position tracking beacons.

In my best optimist mindframe, for the safety of our beloved coast, I'd like to hope that changes are afoot, and the traffic is being readied to travel offshore in proper seaworthy ships, in the properly designated tanker lanes like all the rest of the tankers.

Would you mind helping me to understand what's going on these days with the Alaska-bound Inside Passage tug/tankerbarge business?

Thank you, - and may you have a Merry Christmas!


Kevin Obermeyer
to me, Isabelle
12 hours ago Details
Good morning Ingmar:

Kirby is presently doing the run with two pilots onboard as far as Pine Island and then the tug and barge head north in the non-pilotage waters which lie outside the inside passage waters. The other vessel that has done a few runs is the Dale R Lindsay.

There is no loophole in the AIS system. The PPA has leased one year of satellite based AIS tracking (trial basis) and there is nothing that we are presently missing. We have the tracks of every single vessel over 20m operating on our coast. In addition there is Radar in the south and now also in the north, so even those vessels under 20m without an AIS are seen as they enter from either end of the compulsory pilotage waters.

Have a great Christmas and a fantastic 2017.



To: Kevin Obermeyer
Subject: Alaska-bound tankers in BC Inside Passage

to Kevin, Isabelle
0 minutes agoDetails

Thanks Kevin, it is amazing, and very troubling that somehow KirbyCorp has been able to make their vessels invisible to me, and to members of my "10,000 Ton Tanker" Facebook page. There has been quite a lot of discussion about what happened to the Alaska-bound tanker traffic. Up until the wreck of the Nathan E Stewart, anyone with the basic MarineTraffic AIS plan could easily track these tankers. Now clearly, the Texas corporation is taking advantage of a loophole, and is disguising its business from the vast majority of mariners who cannot pay thousands of dollars a year for satellite AIS tracking. This is extremely concerning, and it is something I will be making an issue of.

Cheers, Ingmar

Frame Spotting: Propaganda, Disinformation, and Fraudulent Arguments on Aleppo

Spotting Propaganda, Disinformation, and Fraudulent Arguments on the Aleppo Front

by Kim Petersen - Dissident Voice

December 21st, 2016

Independent journalist Eva Barlett (fresh from a videotaped exchange in which she skewered a befuddled Norwegian Aftenposten journalist) was invited onto RT Live for a debate with Dilly Hussain, deputy editor of 5PillarsUK, about the situation in Syria, with a focus on Aleppo.

The debate was extraordinary for the professionalism of Bartlett and Hussain’s lack of dignity and professionalism, as well as poor moderation by the unnamed RT personality.1

Why is Hussain unprofessional? Because he engaged in ad hominem attacks on Bartlett and also against the media outlet he was appearing on. He serially interrupted Bartlett while she presented her facts (and Bartlett, after pleading for the courtesy to make her points uninterrupted, finally — out of apparent exasperation — interrupted Hussain, albeit on far fewer occasions).

First, ad hominem should have no place in any discussion. It is irrelevant to the facts of the matter, and it should serve as a loud warning that the name caller has a poor grasp of the facts or, even worse, wishes to present a case he knows is contrary to the facts. Second, interrupting an opponent is not only extremely rude, but it is underhanded in that it serves as a device to throw off the opponent: causing a pause in the flow of an opponent’s argument, the loss of a train of thought, unnecessary repetition, or causing an unwary debater to become flummoxed and unfocused. These tactics of Hussain are rude, unethical, and speak poorly to his ability to persuade viewers with the command of his facts.

Early on Hussain cast aspersions at Bartlett and his host, RT:

It’s a shame that you brought Ms Barlett here who presents herself as a journalist. She’s neither independent and nor can she quantify or qualify as a journalist. She’s a grade A conspiracy theorist for the Assad and for the Russian regime.

Hussain does not state how Barlett lacks in quantity and quality to be a journalist. Hussain seems assured of his journalistic integrity since his bio tells of his NCTJ Certificate in Print Journalism in 2010. But what kind of journalist reveals an animus by berating a colleague, even if he refuses to recognize her as such? Moreover, if he lacks essential journalistic debating qualities, would his certificate have any substantive value?

The website, 5PillarsUK, where Hussain edits, claims to be independent:

We are financially independent and that means that we are editorially independent.

Everything so far has been financed from our own personal savings, reader donations and advertising.

… We do, however, aim to raise money for this site through advertising and through individual grants and donations which won’t impinge on our editorial freedom. [Italics added]

One wonders: how does accepting advertising money equate to financial independence? Academics Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky in their Propaganda Model posited advertising revenues as creating a conflict of interest. It is conceivable, however, that 5PillarsUK only accepts advertising that would not impinge on their journalism.

Early on, Hussain tried to bulldoze the debate over Bartlett; the RT moderator had also interrupted Bartlett once and stood back and allowed one guest for too long to try imposing himself over the entire debate. When the moderator finally spoke up, Hussain objected. This was shameful. Does fair play and any semblance of etiquette go out the window because it is a TV debate? Do viewers not deserve to hear, undisturbed, the arguments put forth by all guests equally?

Hussain’s frequent interruptions made me think of über-Zionist Alan Dershowitz and how he tried to monopolize all the speaking time in a debate with Norman Finkelstein who exposed Dershowitz as a fraud and plagiarizer. It appeared to this viewer that Dershowitz was running scared. Bartlett ostensibly recognized the same as she accused Hussain of “Zionist tactics.”

Hussain, who relies on Tweets from British aid workers and videos purportedly from Syria which he analyzes from his base in Britain, had the audacity to question Bartlett’s sources. Hussain would be wise to be more skeptical to NGOs. Médecins Sans Frontières has even been accused of being involved in people-smuggling.

Barlett who had been on the ground on four occasions in Syria, including Aleppo and had interviewed Syrians while there, named her sources. Bartlett, appearing very conversant on the situation, answered every query from Hussain.

The moderator, however, equated the British social media sources of Hussain with the on-the-ground Syrian sources of Bartletts saying, “… there are two very opposing perspectives and they are quoting different sources which are very hard to verify in all cases…” Really? Bartlett’s sources have names, so one assumes that one can go and find the person and check. It is a little harder to verify a Tweet, but Hussain did provide names later in the debate.

The moderator asked Hussain about media coverage.

Hussain’s reply:

I know when I see news about Russia, I mean about Syria from Russia Today or from Press TV, I know that they are merely pushing propaganda to protect the Assad regime…

When challenged by the somewhat indignant moderator, Hussain offered:

You’re misunderstanding my point; the point is that all media outlets claim to be impartial but they’ve got their agendas; they’ve got their loyalties where their interests lie…

This is a baffling statement from someone who identifies himself as a journalist. One wonders how that speaks to the points he made in the debate?

Bartlett, according to Hussain, has no trustworthiness. “She is an Assad regime apologist,” he charges.

There is a certain pathos in a person who derides another person’s credentials as a journalist while relying on Tweets and British aid workers. Douglas Valentine, an expert on the CIA, wrote, “… the modern AID worker is a highly indoctrinated fanatic.” Furthermore, “… AID programs provide cover for the CIA and are symbolic of the evil intentions that lurk behind the righteous US façade.”2

Tweets have a place, sure, and some NGOs might be untarnished. Yet Hussain claims a certainty in his sources. He uses words such as “unequivocally” and “absolutely,” as if such words verify his claims. But how do Tweets and videos stack up against speaking to people on the ground, people who live in the region, and witnessing for oneself what is transpiring?

Although the beleaguered moderator tried to steer Bartlett in another direction, Bartlett demanded to address claims made by Hussain. She then hoisted Hussain on hos own petard by pointing out that although he said UN statements ought to be taken with a pinch of salt, his own allegations of Russian massacres of Syrian civilians stemmed from UN officials.

Hussain tosses away any pretense to be a gentleman when he chides Bartlett: “Eva has no humanity, has no conscience.” Through all these attacks on her person, Bartlett kept her composure.

She also had to deal with a moderator who seemed to be saying that there could be two truths: one for either side. Again the moderator opined, “… basically you got two sides throwing around accusations, very pointed ones, and then also backing it up with very questionable sources…”

Hussain’s partiality comes through clearly to this viewer in his willingness to lambaste Saudi Arabia for war crimes in Yemen, but he does not lambaste Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, the US, Canada, Israel, Britain, France for their war crimes in Syria. His criticism focuses on Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, although he allowed that and everyone, including the US and Britain, has used Syria “as a chess game.” This is patently biased and consequently propagandistic. He claims that he sees no difference between Russia in Syria and the US and UK in Iraq and Afghanistan? What Hussain does not consider is that had the US, Qatar, Saudi Arabia not been instigating “regime change” in Syria in the first place, there would have been no reason for Syria to request help in defeating the mercenaries and terrorists. Colleague BJ Sabri and I put forth the argument:

It is also important to note that if the US regime and its anti-Assad instruments had not participated in the aggression against Syria, then there likeliest would have been no Russian involvement, and Syrians might have been able to settle the matter for themselves. Logically, any blame for casualties resulting from Russian military involvement must be directly attributed to the anti-Syrian regime coalition—it is the law of action and reaction. In the end, we see that the ultimate culpability for all those who died in Syria rests exclusively with those who initiated the violence in the first place.

As Bartlett pointed out: Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah were invited by the government of a Syria to assist in combatting terrorism. A legitimate response for any sovereign nation. That was not the case in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. The US and UK engaged in “regime change” in those countries. Russia and Iran are not seeking any change of government in Syria.

RT presents viewers with the four times on-the-Syrian-ground Eva Bartlett and sitting-in-Bedford-UK Dilly Hussain. And we are asked to choose between the sources of these two people. It seems a no-brainer. For this viewer, Bartlett put another journalist in his place, although in this case, Hussain did much of the damage to himself.

To conclude, Hussain appears duplicitous on critical issues. His suspicious ambivalence on Saudi Arabia, his adversarial stance toward Russia and Syria without valid reasons, his boorish attitude toward Bartlett, as well as poor arguments suggest that he is driven by an agenda whose origin is not clear. I do not want to be harsh, but from watching the way he tried to impose his views on the debate, he appears to be a classical opportunist seeking undeserved fame. Effectively though, whatever he thinks of himself, Hussain appears to lack the essential command of facts. Consequently, spotting the fraudulent arguments that he was defending should be a priority for all those who follow the American-Saudi-Turkish-Qatari war on Syria.

I would be surprised to see Hussain back on RT again.

I inquired of RT regarding the moderator’s name on 17 December but did not hear back before publication. Douglas Valentine, The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World, Clarity Press, 2016: p 370.
Kim Petersen is a former co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: Twitter: @kimpetersen. Read other articles by Kim.

Giving Duterte the Business: Western Press Dummies Up Philippine President's Image

President Duterte of the Philippines for Dummies

by Andre Vltchek - Dissident Voice

December 22nd, 2016 

Manila and Davao When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ascended to power in 1999, almost no one in the West, in Asia and even in most of the Latin American countries knew much about his new militant revolutionary anti-imperialism. From the mass media outlets like CNN and the BBC, to local televisions and newspapers (influenced or directly sponsored by Western sources), the ‘information’ that was flowing was clearly biased, extremely critical, and even derogatory.

A few months into his rule, I came to Caracas and was told repeatedly by several local journalists: “Almost all of us are supporting President Chavez, but we’d be fired if we’d dare to write one single article in his support.”

In New York City and Paris, in Buenos Aires and Hong Kong, the then consensus was almost unanimous: “Chavez was a vulgar populist, a demagogue, a military strongman, and potentially a ‘dangerous dictator’”.

In South Korea and the UK, in Qatar and Turkey, people who could hardly place Venezuela on the world map, were expressing their ‘strong opinions’, mocking and smearing the man who would later be revered as a Latin American hero. Even many of those who would usually ‘distrust’ mainstream media were then clearly convinced about the sinister nature of the Process and the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’.

History repeats itself.

Now President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines is demonized and ‘mistrusted’, ridiculed and dismissed as a demagogue, condemned as a rough element, mocked as a buffoon.

In his own country he is enjoying the highest popularity rating of any president in its history: at least well over 70 percent, but often even over 80 percent.

“Show me one woman or man who hates Duterte in this city”, smiles a city hall employee of Davao (located on the restive Mindanao Island) where Duterte served as a Mayor for 22 years. “I will buy that person an exquisite dinner, from my own pocket … that is how confident I am”.

“People of the Philippines are totally free now to express their opinions, to criticize the government”, explains Eduardo Tadem, a leading academic, Professorial Lecturer of Asian Studies (UP). “He says: ‘they want to protest? Good!’ People can rally or riot without any permit from the authorities.”

Like in the days of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, in the Philippines, the press, which is mainly owned by right-wing business interests and by pro-Western collaborators, is now reaching a crescendo, barking and insulting the President, inventing stories and spreading unconfirmed rumors, something unimaginable even in a place like the U.K. with its draconian ‘defamation’ laws.

So it is not fear that is securing the great support of the people for Duterte in his own country. It is definitely not fear!

I visited some of the toughest slums of the nation; I worked in the middle of deadly cemeteries, just recently battered by crime and drugs, where people had been literally rotting alive, crying for help and mercy in absolute desperation. I also spoke to the top academics and historians of the country, to former colleagues of Duterte and to overseas workers in the U.A.E. and elsewhere.

The louder was the hate speech from abroad and from local mass media outlets, the stronger Duterte’s nation stood by its leader.

Men and women who were just one year ago living in total desperation and anger were now looking forward with hope, straight towards the future. Suddenly, everything seemed to be possible!

In my first report this month I wrote:

There is a sense of change in those narrow and desperate alleys of the Baseco slum in the Philippines’ capital Manila. For the first time in many years a beautiful, noble lady visited; against all odds she decided to stay. Her name is Hope.

I stand by my words, now more than ever.

However, I also feel that I have to explain in more detail what is really happening in the Philippines and why.

My only request, my appeal to all those people all over the planet who know nothing or very little about this part of the world in general and about the Philippines in particular, would be:

Please do not pass judgments based only on what you read in your own language and especially in English, and from the sources that have been, on so many occasions, so thoroughly discredited. Come by yourself, come and see and listen. Like Venezuela many years ago, what is taking place in the Philippines is ‘an unknown territory’, an absolutely new concept. Something different and unprecedented, is developing, taking shape. This is like no other revolution that took place before. Do not take part in ridiculing it, do not help to choke it, do not do anything damaging before you come and see for yourself, before you face those pleading eyes of the millions of people who were defenseless and abused for so long and who are all of a sudden standing tall, facing life with great hope and pride.

Do not participate in depriving them of their own country. For the first time, after centuries of brutal colonialism, it is truly theirs. I repeat: for the first time. Now!

Do not deprive them of hope: it is all that they have, and it is much more than anything they ever had in decades and centuries.

Fidel Castro used to say: “Revolution is not a bed of roses.”

Revolution is a tough, often very hard job. It is never perfect; it could never be. To destroy any deeply rooted evil system takes guts, and inevitably, blood is spilled.

Duterte is not as ‘poetic’ as Fidel. He is a Visaya, a brilliant but rough, candid and an outspoken man. Often he is hyperbolic. He likes to shock his listeners, followers and foes.

But who is he, really? Who is this man who is threatening to close down all US military bases, to reach permanent peace with the Communists and Muslim insurgents, to realign his foreign policy and ideology with China and Russia, and to save the lives of tens of millions of poor people of the Philippines?

In search for the answers, let’s listen to those who really matter – the people of the Philippines.

Let’s silence the toxic waterfall of insults and selected pieces of ‘information’, coming from defunct Western media outlets; let’s silence it by adopting Duterte’s outrageous but honest lexicon: “You propaganda media of the West, you animal, fuck you!”


Who Is President Duterte, Really? Why Does He Swear So Much, Why Does He Insult Everyone, From President Obama To Such Mighty Institutions Like the U.N., the EU, Even the Pope?

“He comes from the South”, explains Ms. Luzviminda Ilagan, a former member of the Congress, and one of the country’s leading feminists:

He is a Visaya. In Luzon, they speak Tagalog, they are ‘well-behaved’, and they look down at us. Politically, here we say ‘imperialist Manila’. Ironically, Mindanao contributes greatly to Manila’s coffers: there is extensive mining here, there are fruit plantations, rice fields; but very little is shared with us, in terms of the budgets…. And suddenly, here comes a Mayor from Davao, from the South, and he is even speaking the language that they hate. He is angry at the situation in his country, and he is swearing and cursing. It is cultural; after all, he is Visaya! In Manila and abroad, it is all misinterpreted: here you don’t swear at somebody; you just swear, period. Yes, he is different. He tells the truth, and he speaks our language.

Why should he not be angry? Once the richest country in Asia, the Philippines is now one of the poorest. Its appalling slums are housing millions, and further millions are caught in a vicious cycle of drug addiction and crime. Crime rate is one of the highest on the continent. There is a brutal civil war with both Muslim and Communist rebels.

And for centuries, the West is mistreating and plundering this country with no shame and no mercy. Whenever the people decide to rebel, as it was the case more than a century ago, they are massacred like cattle. The US butchered 1/6 of the population more than a century ago, some 1.5 million men, women and children.

‘Dynasties’ are ruling undemocratically, with an iron fist.

“In the Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate, some 74% of the seats are taken by members of local dynasties”, explains Prof. Roland Simbulan. “This is according to serious academic studies”.

Before President Duterte came to power, most of the social indicators were nearing the regional bottom. The country lost its voice, fully collaborating with the West, particularly against China.

An angry man, a socialist, President Duterte is outraged by the present and the past, but especially by the ruthlessness of Western imperialism.

He talks but above all he acts. He takes one decisive step after another. He pushes reforms further and further, he retreats when an entire project gets endangered. He is steering his ship through terrible storms, through the waters that were never navigated before.

One error and his entire revolution will go to hell. In that case, tens of millions of the poor will remain where they were for decades – in the gutter. One wrong move and his country will never manage to rise from its knees.

So he swears. So he is moving forward, cursing.

Why Does The West Want To Overthrow Duterte?

First of all, how could the United States and Europe not hate someone who is so out-rightly rejecting imperialism and the horrid colonialist past to which the Philippines was subjected for the centuries? To the past, however, we will return later in this essay.

A legendary academic, Prof Roland Simbulan, from the Department of Social Sciences of the University of the Philippines, explained, during our daylong encounter in Manila:

Duterte reads a lot, and he admires Hugo Chavez. He is actually holding very similar positions as Chavez. He is strongly critical of Western imperialism in such places as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. He cannot stand how the West is treating his own country.

He was always persistent in his anti-imperialist policy. Even as Mayor of Davao he banned all US-Philippine military exercises. The US negotiated; it offered plenty of money. It wanted to build a huge drone base in Mindanao, but Duterte refused.

As ‘punishment’, two bombs exploded in Davao: one at the pier, one at the international airport.

Lately, he ordered to stop all US-Philippine joined military exercises and he keeps threatening to close all US military facilities on the territory of his country.

A couple consisting of leading Philippine Academics, Eduardo and Teresa Tadem, have no doubts about direction of Duterte’s foreign policy:

The trend is clear: away from the West, towards China and Russia. We think that he will soon reach a territorial agreement with China. Plenty of goodwill is now coming from President Xi Jinping. Things are done quietly, but some great concessions are already visible: our fishermen are allowed to return to the disputed area. China is pledging foreign aid, investment, and it is promising to make our railways work again.

All this is a nightmare for the aggressively anti-Chinese foreign policy of the West, particularly that of the United States. Provoking still the militarily weak China, eventually even triggering a military conflict with it, appears to be the main goal of Western imperialism. If the Philippines reach a compromise with China, Vietnam will most likely follow. The aggressive Asian anti-Chinese ‘coalition’ hammered together by the West, would then most likely collapse, consisting only of Taiwan, Japan and possibly South Korea.

“Duterte is just being sensible. What China is doing is defensive. The West is behind the confrontation”, explained a leading historian Dr. Rey Ileto:

Just to put this into perspective: Gloria Arroyo – she visited China ahead of the US. She moved closer to China. They got her indicted for corruption! Only Duterte released her…

To the West, Duterte’s Philippines is like a new Asian contagious disease; a virus that has to be contained, liquidated as soon as possible. Countless independent (at least on the paper) but in reality controlled and humiliated nations of the region could get otherwise inspired, rebel, and begin to follow Duterte’s example.

The West is in panic. Its propaganda machine is in full gear. Different strategies on how to unseat the ‘unruly’ president are being designed and tried. Local ‘elites’ and the NGOs are collaborating shamelessly.

Is Duterte Really A Socialist?

Yes and no, but definitely more yes than no. He is actually a self-proclaimed socialist, and for years, he has been forging extremely close links with the Marxists.

Prof. Roland Simbulan explains:

When Duterte was a college student, he joined KM, the leftist student organization. He understands the ideology of the left. He also understands the roots of the insurgencies in his country, both Communist and Muslim. He keeps repeating: ‘you cannot defeat the insurgency militarily: you have to address socio-economic problems that has led to it.

He invited Marxists into his administration, even before they asked him to join. He is gradually releasing political prisoners, who were captured and locked up during the previous administrations.

Professors Teresa and Eduardo Tadem agree:

Social reforms are part of the peace talks. The fact that a Communist leader used to be Duterte’s professor is also helping. Duterte introduced a moratorium on land conversions, so the land of the peasants could be preserved for agriculture. Labor is also enjoying many good things. He is bringing an end to short contracts, to so called contractualisation. Basically, the government is trying to make sure that after people get hired, they get benefits, immediately.

There are many positive changes taking place in such a short time: environment, social issues, social justice, education, health, housing, science…

Duterte recently sent his Health Secretary to Havana, to study the Cuban model. The visit was so successful that he is now planning to fly an entire government delegation, including the ministers, to the revolutionary island.

However, while he is certainly putting great accent on social justice and independent anti-imperialist foreign policy, there are still finances, trade and economic policies firmly in the hands of the pro-market ministers.

“When Duterte was a mayor”, explains Prof Simbulan, “he acted as a pragmatist, valuing harmony above all. However, one thing has to be remembered: whenever there arose some irreconcilable conflict between labor or indigenous people or the poor and big business or plantation owners, at the end he’d always take the side of the ‘small people’. This is how he managed to convince the left that he is one of them.”

In the brutal Baseco slum, built from rotting metal sheets and containers around the docks and shipyards, everyone seems to agree that the new President brought both hope and long overdue changes.

“Now people have free education here”, explains Ms. Imelda Rodriguez, a physiotherapist employed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development:

There are also free ‘medical missions’ in this settlement, where people can get all sorts of check-ups and consultations. We also get certain cash allowances. The government creates jobs. Of course much more still has to be done, but there is undeniably great progress, already.

Social progress is evident in the city of Davao, where Duterte served for 22 years as a mayor. Once a crime-ridden hellhole with collapsed social structure, Davao now is a modern and forward looking city, with relatively good social services and improving infrastructure, as well as new public parks and green areas.

“So many things got better for the poor people here”, explains the driver, taking me from the Municipality to my hotel. “In just two decades, the city became unrecognizable. We are now proud to be living here.”

At the City Government of Davao, Mr. Jefry M. Tupas showers me with the information and data I came to request: the resettlement areas for the poor and homeless people, the public housing for the rebels who recently surrendered, ‘slum improvement resettlements’; the number of projects is endless.

Like in the revolutionary countries of Latin America, the enthusiasm of the people involved in the ‘process’ is contagious and pure. At the medical centers doctors and nurses speak proudly about new immunization plans, free medicine for diabetes and high blood pressure, treatment of tuberculosis and family planning centers.

Now we also hope that things will improve economically as a whole, if we don’t depend on the US, anymore”, says Ms. Luzviminda Ilagan. “If we now open up to much friendlier countries like China and Russia, there is great hope for all of us! Before, in Mindanao, we only had Western mining companies: from places like Australia and Canada. As a result, all profits went abroad, and Mindanao people are still dirt poor. Under President Duterte, all this is dramatically changing!

Is Duterte Really A Mass Murderer?

If you read (exclusively) the Western and local right-wing press, you could be excused if you start to believe that Duterte is ‘personally responsible’ for some 5.000+ ‘murders’ in what is now customarily labeled as his ‘war on drugs’.

However, talk directly to the people of the Philippines, and you’ll get an absolutely different picture.

The Philippines before Duterte were overwhelmed by crime rates unseen anywhere else in Asia Pacific. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in 2014 the homicide rate of the country stood at a staggering 9.9 per 100.000 inhabitants, compared to 2.3 in Malaysia, 3.9 in the United States, 5.9 in Kenya, 6.5 in Afghanistan, 7.5 in Zimbabwe and not much below war-torn countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (13.5).

Drug gangs used to control the streets of all major cities. Very often, the military and police generals and other top brass were actually controlling the gangs.

The situation was clearly getting out of control, entire communities living in desperation and fear. For many, the cities were turning into real battlegrounds.

A driver taking me to the South Cemetery in Manila recalled: “In my neighborhood, we just had a horrid killing: a teenager got decapitated by a drug pusher…”

Profs Teresa and Eduardo Tadem explained:

In Davao, the crime rate was horrible. Generally, in this country, people are so fed-up with crime that they’d support anything … Duterte encouraged the police to act. He is a lawyer, so he tries to stay within the legal limits. He says: ‘If they surrender, bring them in, if they resist, shoot!’ More than 5.000 died so far, but who is doing the killings? Often it is vigilantes, motorcycle gangs …

Prof Roland Simbulan clarifies further:

Many killings are taking place … We can never be sure who actually kills whom, whether for instance some rival drug lords do the killings in order to destroy their competition. In the Philippines we have terrible corruption, and even officers and generals are involved in the drug trade. Police periodically conducts raids, and then recycles captured drugs. Even the BBC interviewed gangs that confirmed the police gave them a list of whom to murder. What makes Duterte so vulnerable is his language, his strong words. What he says is very often misinterpreted.

In the slums and cemeteries inhabited by the poorest of the poor, an overwhelming majority of the people would support much tougher measures than those implemented now. As I am told by the South Cemetery dwellers:

Here we hate those who are investigating so called extrajudicial killings. They only care about the rights of the suspects. But we, good citizens who have been suffering so much for decades, weren’t protected at all, before this President got elected.

In Davao, Ms. Luzviminda Ilagan is standing by her President, determinately:

It is totally understandable why the President is waging a war on corruption and drugs. And if the opposition talks about the extrajudicial killings, it should be obliged to prove that they are actually committed on the orders of the authorities… Could it be proved?

The situation is complicated, of course people are getting killed. But look at the numbers: they are much lower now than those during Benigno Aquino: during his administration, farmers, indigenous people and the urban poor were constantly murdered – people who were fighting for their basic human rights … And under Gloria, mining companies were actually given permission to enter the country and to kill those who stood in their way … Under the previous administrations, things got even worse: the military received an exceptional permission to deliver ‘security services’ to the mining companies’. All this is now changing!

Even the most vitriolic critics of President Duterte, who are claiming that ‘his war on drugs’ killed over 5,000 people, now have to admit that the ‘itemization of the killings’ is ‘slightly’ more complicated. As reported by Al-Jazeera on December 13, 2016:

Police records show 5,882 people were killed across the country since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office on June 30. Of that number 2,041 drug suspects were killed during police operations from July 1 to December 6, while another 3,841 were killed by unknown gunmen from July 1 to November 30.

So around 2,000 people died during battles between poWP Super Cachelice and drug gangs, which are the deadliest and the most heavily armed in the entire Asia Pacific. Fair enough. Who are those ‘unknown gunmen’ and why is the mainstream press immediately pointing fingers at the president, relying only on the statements coming from his archenemies like Senator de Lima?

Isn’t the coverage of the Philippines by Western mainstream media becoming as ridiculous, propagandist and one-sided as that of Aleppo and Syria, as well as of the Russian involvement there?

Also, are Philippines local narcos being just mercilessly slaughtered, or should a little bit more be added to the story? Isn’t there something being constantly left out?

Peter Lee writes on the ‘rehabilitation’ of drug addicts and on China’s help:

Another area of potential Philippine-PRC cooperation is PRC assistance in a crash program to rehabilitate the Philippine drug users who have turned themselves in to the police to avoid getting targeted by the death squads.

Though virtually unreported in the Western media, over 700,000 users have turned themselves in.

Let me repeat that. 700,000 drug users have turned themselves in.

And they presumably need to get a clean “rehab” chit to live safely in their communities, presenting a major challenge for the Philippines drug rehabilitation infrastructure. Duterte has called on the Philippine military to make base acreage available for additional rehab camps and the first one will apparently be at Camp Ramon Magsaysay.

Duterte has turned to the PRC to demand they fund construction of drug treatment facilities, and the PRC has obliged. According to Duterte and his spokesman, preparatory work for the Magsaysay facility has already begun.

There’s an amusing wrinkle here.

Magsaysay is the largest military reservation in the Philippines. It is also the jewel in the diadem, I might say, of the five Philippine bases envisioned for US use under EDCA, the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement that officially returned US troops to Philippine bases. It looks like the US military might be sharing Magsaysay with thousands of drug users…and PRC construction workers.

Duterte And Marcos

What shocked many recently was Duterte’s decision to re-bury former dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the ‘Heroes’ Cemetery’.

“Has the President gone mad?” asked some. “Is he joining some right-wing cult?” exclaimed others.

None of the above! President Duterte is a left-wing revolutionary, but he is also perfectly well aware that in the morally debased society controlled by vicious political clans and corrupt military and police officers and generals, one has to be a great chess player in order to survive, while pushing essential reforms forward.

“The move was not at all ideological”, clarifies Prof. Rolan Simbulan:

It was clearly a pragmatic move. He took some money, and he openly admitted that he took some money for his election campaign … Then, in exchange for some votes he promised the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the ‘Heroes’ Cemetery’. Marcos Junior wanted to run as his Vice-President, but he lost to Leni …

Dr. Reynaldo Ileto, a leading historian, adds: “the Cemetery has bayani or the ‘hero’ name, but in fact it is a cemetery for almost all former presidents … The focus of the opposition on the Marcos burial is deliberate, it is to avoid real and important issues.”

“Duterte is stubborn”, Eduardo and Teresa Tadem told me:

He made his promise to the Marcos family and he kept it … Does he admire Marcos? If he admires him for anything, it is only for being strong and uncompromising. Marcos brought the country to ruins, but after him, things never improved, and so he is judged positively by some sectors of society. But overall: Duterte’s decision to bury him at Bayani Cemetery was a gross miscalculation.

“What is this never-ending obsession of so many people in the Philippines with Marcos?” I asked a leading left-wing journalist and thinker Benjie Oliveros. “Could it be compared to Peron in Argentina?”

“Oh yes”, he replied. “That seems to be a good comparison.”

“Duterte, a supporter of Marcos?” Luz Ilagan rolls her eyes:

During the martial law, he was a prosecutor in Davao. He always protected the activists here. ‘Release them to me!’ he often ordered. He saved lives. His father served as a minor minister in Marcos’ government, before the martial law, but his mother played a very important role in the protest movement. She was a vocal, a fearless woman … She had huge influence on her son.

Does Duterte Really Despise Women?

Again, it has to be remembered that Duterte is a Visaya man. He is outspoken, often graphic and definitely ‘politically incorrect’.

Duterte made comments about the attractiveness of the knees and legs of his Vice-President Leni Robredo, and he accused his vocal critic Senator Leila de Lima of sleeping with her driver (it was later proven that the liaison really existed).

In this staunchly Catholic country, Duterte annulled the marriage with his first wife (they parted amicably), had several affairs, and now lives with his common–law wife.

Luz Illagan (Photo by Andre Vltchek)

All this is too much for some, but surprisingly, he is actually admired by most of the women.

“When he makes jokes about women, in Manila they can’t take it”, laughs Luz Illagan, who is one of the leading feminists in the country, “But we always compare his words to his deeds, to what he has done for our women. He always helped; he always protected us. His Davao got awards for being a women-sensitive city. He created the ‘integrated gender development office’, the first one in the Philippines, and other cities are now copying the concept. Every year, before the Women’s Day celebration, women evaluate the performance of the office, and they submit a new agenda. Everything is very transparent.”

In an international hotel in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, I spoke to a group of women workers from the Philippines. What do they think about their new president?

While answering (and they did not hesitate to answer for one second), I realized that two of them had tears in their eyes:

For the first time in our lives, we feel proud to belong to our country. Duterte gave us our dignity back. He gave us hope. To say that we support him would be to say too little. We love him; we feel enormous gratitude. He is liberating us; he is liberating our country!

Duterte And The Past Of The Philippines

President Duterte is not only outraged about the present, he is furious about the past.

“American scholarship in the Philippines – it created an entire mindset”, explained Dr. Reynaldo Ileto to me in Manila. “The America-Philippine War is a non-event; people don’t know about it. Everything was ‘sanitized’”.

“We still have not recovered from the hangover caused by US colonialism”, sights a novelist Sionil Jose.

US colonialism was nothing less than genocide.

Filipino casualties on the first day of war

Alfonso Velázquez wrote:

Between the years 1899 and 1913 the United States of America wrote the darkest pages of its history. The invasion of the Philippines, for no other reason than acquiring imperial possessions, prompted a fierce reaction of the Filipino people. 126,000 American soldiers were brought in to quell the resistance. As a result, 400,000 Filipino “insurrectos” died under American fire and one million Filipino civilians died because of the hardship, mass killings and scorched earth tactics carried out by the Americans. In total the American war against a peaceful people who fairly ignored the existence of the Americans until their arrival wiped out 1/6 of the population of the country. One hundred years have passed. Isn’t it high time that the USA army, Congress and Government apologised for the horrendous crimes and monstruous sufferings that were inflicted upon the peoples of Filipinas?

Gore Vidal confirmed:

The comparison of this highly successful operation with our less successful adventure in Vietnam was made by, among others, Bernard Fall, who referred to our conquest of the Philippines as “the bloodiest colonial war (in proportion to population) ever fought by a white power in Asia; it cost the lives of 3,000,000 Filipinos.” (cf. E. Ahmed’s “The Theory and Fallacies of Counter-Insurgency,” The Nation, August 2, 1971.) General Bell himself, the old sweetheart, estimated that we killed one-sixth of the population of the main island of Luzon—some 600,000 people.

Now a Mr. Creamer quotes a Mr. Hill (“who grew up in Manila,” presumably counting skulls) who suggests that the bodycount for all the islands is 300,000 men, women, and children—or half what General Bell admitted to.

I am amused to learn that I have wandered “so far from easily verified fact.” There are no easily verified facts when it comes to this particular experiment in genocide. At the time when I first made reference to the 3,000,000 (NYR, October 18, 1973), a Filipino wrote me to say she was writing her master’s thesis on the subject. She was inclined to accept Fall’s figures but she said that since few records were kept and entire villages were totally destroyed, there was no way to discover, exactly, those “facts” historians like to “verify.” In any case, none of this is supposed to have happened and so, as far as those history books that we use to indoctrinate the young go, it did not happen.

It was reported that in September 2016, at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit which was also attended by President Obama, Duterte produced a picture of the killings done by American soldiers in the past and said: “This is my ancestor[s that] they killed.”

I visited several bookstores in Manila, including National and Solidaridad. In both places the staff looked baffled when I asked about books dealing with the massacres committed by US troops on the territory of the Philippines.

All this may change now, soon. Duterte is openly speaking about US colonialist wars and invasions, about the massacres in Luzon and Mindanao Islands.

For decades, the US was portraying itself as the ‘liberator’ of the Philippines. Now, Duterte depicts it as a country of mass murderers, rapists and thieves. According to him, the countries of the West have no moral mandate to criticize anybody for violations of human rights. He described President Obama as a son-of-a-bitch. He shouted ‘Fuck you!’ at the European Union. He has had enough of hypocrisy.

In this part of the world, such emotional outbursts could ignite rebellion. I have worked in Southeast Asia for many years, and I know what a thick blanket of lies covers the history of the region.

Southeast Asia lost tens of millions of people in the midst of outrageous, brutal European colonialism. It lost millions in Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) during the so-called ‘Vietnam War’ (or ‘American War’ as it is known in Vietnam). Between 1 and 3 million Indonesians vanished during the US-sponsored coup in Jakarta in 1965/66, and the genocide in the Philippines took nearly 1.5 million fighters-patriots, but mostly civilians. The East Timorese lost around one third of its entire population, after Indonesia invaded, backed by the US, UK and Australia.

Such history is as explosive as dynamite. I have spoken to hundreds of people in this part of the world. They keep quiet, but they remember. They know who the real murderers are, who their real enemies are.

President Duterte is not only playing with fire. He is also re-writing and changing the entire twisted Western narrative. The whole region is watching, breathless. Both horror and hope are detectable in the air, and so are the strong smells of blood and dynamite.

PH Not A Vassal State: Duterte

“I am anti-West. I do not like the Americans. It’s simply a matter of principle for me.” That’s how President Duterte sees the world: it is simple, reduced to the essence. He further clarifies:

The PH is not a vassal state, we have long ceased to be a colony of the US. Alam mo, marami diyang mga columnista they look upon Obama and the US as we are the lapdogs of this country. I do not respond to anybody but to the people of the Republic of the Philippines. Wala akong pakialam sa kanya. Who is he to confront me, as a matter of fact, America has one too many to answer for the misdeeds in this country.

He said to Chinese officials, during his visit on October 20, 2016:

I announce my separation from the United States, both in military but economics also. America has lost now. I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow. And maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.

A deafening applause followed.

Duterte actually talked to President Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting in Lima, Peru, in November 2016.

The new era for the Philippines has begun: cooperation with China, Russia, Cuba, and Vietnam. A growing distance between this huge and important archipelago, and the West.

He calls Americans “sons of bitches” and “hypocrites”, and he tells the superpower straight in the face:

We can survive without American money. But you know, America, you might also be put to notice. Prepare to leave the Philippines, prepare for the eventual repeal or the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement… You know, tit for tat. It ain’t a one-way traffic. Bye-bye America.

What About Trump?

These days, to be a friend of the West is a terrible liability. A leader from a colonized country could be easily discredited by just one friendly phrase, one friendly gesture towards some US or UK official, towards the Western regime, or its corporation.

The Western mass media is well aware of it.

That is why, when President Duterte spoke on the phone with President elect Donald Trump, it immediately began reporting that the two men are on a similar wavelength.

Hardly! Once Mr. Trump begins his reign, President Duterte’s close ties with China, Cuba and other socialist countries will soon reinstate his name on the extended hit list of the Empire’s regime. He already is on it, under Obama’s administration (even the coup attempts plotted from the US were already exposed and stopped). It would be a miracle if the racist and anti-Chinese/anti-Asian Donald Trump would actually decide to spare an anti-imperialist Southeast Asian leader.

Duterte and Trump are still talking politely. Duterte even offered a compliment to his US counterpart: “”I like your mouth, it’s like mine”. Well, hardly a proof of warming-up of the relationship between two countries.

My Filipino colleagues kept warning me: “Please do not read commentaries of the pro-Western media. If you want to judge, demand the full transcript of the conversation … Is there actually any transcript available?”

In the meantime, Washington is sugarcoating the obvious bitterness of the relationship between the US and the Philippines. The new US envoy, Ambassador Sung Kim, a Korean-American, is all smiles and ‘respect’:

For me the most meaningful, the most fundamental is the deep and extraordinary warmth in the peoples of the two countries …

What could President Duterte reply to this? Definitely not: Fuck you, son of a bitch!” In Asia, courtesy is met with courtesy. However, no matter what, each week, the Philippines are moving further away from the West, as planned and as foretold.

Who Hates Duterte And Who Is Afraid Of Him?

As we established earlier, the West hates him, and especially those there who are trying to trigger wars with China and Russia. Duterte admires both countries, saying that China has “the kindest soul of all”, while openly admiring Russian President Vladimir Putin. “(Russians) they do not insult people, they do not interfere,” Duterte declared.

Big multinational corporations hate him, particularly those huge mining conglomerates that were operating in the Philippines for years and decades, murdering thousands of defenseless Filipino people, plundering natural resources and devastating the environment. President Duterte is putting a full stop to such, feudal, fascist lawlessness.

He is hated by the mass media, at home and abroad, for ‘understandable reasons’.

He is hated by many local and international NGOs, often because they are simply paid to hate him, or because they mean well but are badly informed about the situation “on the ground” (in his country), or simply because they are accustomed to using the Western perspectives to judge occurrences in all corners of the world.

Some victims of the Marcos dictatorship hate him, but definitely not all of them. Many present-day ‘activists’ have actually too close ties with the West, at least for my taste. Ms. Susan D. Macabuag, who is in charge of Bantayog ng mga Bayani (A Tribute To Martial Law Heroes and Martyrs) and a person whom I met on several previous occasions, is not hiding her antipathy towards the President:

It is pity it is Duterte who is saying things that he says about the US … If another person would say it, it would go a long way.

She then made several statements illustrating her dislike of China. Later she added:

My son lives in the US. Many of us have families in the United States. We are very concerned about the situation …

For a while, I was trying to figure out what exactly she meant, but then I decided to let it go.

At a small but iconic intellectual bookstore Solidaridad, I met the most respected living novelist of the Philippines, F. Sionil Jose, who was just celebrating his 92nd birthday. For a while, we spoke about Russia, about Indonesia, about the modern literature. Then I asked him point blank: “Do you like President Duterte?”

“I like him, and I don’t like him”, replied an iconic author, evasively, while smiling. “But I have to say: he is a narcissist.”

Ms. Leni Robredo, Duterte’s vice-President (and former MP and HR lawyer), hates her boss. Constitutionally, he couldn’t fire her as a Vice-President, so he at least blocked her from attending his regular cabinet meetings earlier in December. (‘He doesn’t trust her, anymore.’ He believes that her party tries to depose him). Later she resigned from her position as a chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), and began gathering forces against Duterte’s administration.

“There are so many of us against the policies of the president. I hope I will be able to portray the role of unifying all the discordant voices,” Robredo told Reuters in an interview at her office in Manila’s Quezon City.

Ms. Robredo is an important figure in the “yellow” Liberal Party. As early as on September 13, 2016, Inquirer reported:

Without directly mentioning the LP, Duterte on Monday accused “yellow” forces of mounting moves to impeach him by highlighting the issue of human rights violations under his administration.

Let’s not fool ourselves. Do you know who’s behind this? It’s the yellow,” the President said, referring to the LP’s political color.

On December 5th, I met historian Dr. Reynaldo Ileto in Manila, who said: “Leni is tugging the same (Western) policy on the South China Sea…”

We discussed the “color revolutions” triggered by the West, and the pattern: Ukraine, Brazil, Argentina, and Arroyo in the Philippines, after she dared to move closer to China. Will Robredo try to do to Duterte what Temer did to Dilma? Is there going to be yet another ‘revolution’ in the name of some ‘anti-corruption drive’ or ‘human rights’?

Dynasties, powerful political and business clans, also hate President Duterte. Of course, they do! In the past, I got to know them, gained ‘access’ to some. I was shown how they operate: shamelessly, brutally and with total impunity.

The dynasties had been killing and raping those who stood in their way. They have been plundering the country for centuries. Like in Central America (the Spanish and US colonialist legacies) they never hesitated to sacrifice thousands, even millions of ‘peons’.

The top military brass, educated in the United States and elsewhere in the West, hates him. It actually hates him passionately.

He is hated by millions of Filipinos living in the United States. He has to be careful while dealing with some of them. Recently, in the city of Davao, President Duterte declared:

Better be careful with the word ‘we separate or severed, severed our diplomatic relations’. (It) is not feasible. Why? Because the Filipinos in the United States will kill me.

In fact, he is hated by so many from the ‘elites’ and by so many in the West, that it appears to be a miracle that he is still alive and in charge.

The coup plots have been exposed. Entire Western mainstream propaganda apparatus has been employed in order to weaken and to discredit him.

He does not care. He is now 71. His is in poor health. He does not believe that he will make it till the end of his term. He is a warrior. He never kneels in front of the former or present colonizers. Recently, he said:

I do not kneel down before anybody else, except the Filipino in Quiapo walking in misery and in extreme poverty and anger.

That is what Chavez, Morales or Fidel would say. That is what gets people murdered by the Empire, by the Western regime. As simple as that!


The Empire knows what is at stake. The Philippines is a nation with more than 100 million inhabitants, strategically located on some of the most important maritime routes. It used to be one of the most obedient, and resigned countries in Asia Pacific.

It is no more! Its people are suddenly waking up, defiant and angry. The West has been killing, plundering and humiliating them for centuries. The education had been twisted to glorify invaders. The culture was stripped of its essence, and injected with deadly doses of Western pop.

Again and again I was told that if President Duterte is killed or deposed, the country would explode. There would be a civil war. Once rebellion ignites millions of souls, no way back is possible.

Unless some people have failed to notice by now, this is a genuine revolution. It is an extremely slow and painful revolution. It is not a ‘beautiful’, or operatic revolution. But a revolution it is.

“If Duterte moves too fast, he will be overthrown by the military”, uttered Prof Roland Simbulan.

Duterte says “Bye-bye America!” He is cancelling common military exercises, while he is also talking to Donald Trump, politely. The atmosphere is extremely tense. Anything could happen at any moment: an assassination, a coup … It is a minefield all around him, almost right there, under his feet.

He is aware of it. This is how history is written; with blood, with one’s own blood.

What is taking place in Manila now is not a board meeting of some Western-sponsored human rights NGO. It is a striking, shocking image of a huge, scarred, tortured nation, getting up from its deathbed, still covered by blood and puss, but suddenly daring to hope for survival, angry and defiant but determined to live, to prevail.

In order to live, it will have to dare, to fight, perhaps against all odds.

In the middle of the horrid cemeteries inhabited by the wretched human beings, I witnessed hope. I testify that I did. Those who don’t believe me, those who do not understand, should go and see with their own eyes. They should go to the horrendous Baseco slum, and to the city of Davao. Then they can speak. Otherwise, they should be quiet!

I testify that the Philippines is a country in rebellion, galvanized by one man and his tremendous determination and courage.

Is he a saint? No, he is not. He himself says that he is not. Anyway, I don’t believe in saints, do you? Duterte cannot afford to be a saint. There is more than one hundred million men, women and children behind him, clinging to his back, right now … most of them very poor, most of them robbed of absolutely everything.

If he gets through the storm, most of them will survive, will benefit. Therefore, exhausted and injured, he is marching forward. His fists are clenched, he is cursing. He has no right to fail or to fall. He has to, he is obliged to get through: in the name of one hundred million of his people.

As he hears insults, feels punches, as he envisions assassins waiting for him all along the way, most likely he keeps repeating in his mind what his great hero, Hugo Chavez used to shout until the very end: “Here No One Surrenders!”

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are revolutionary: novel Aurora and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: Exposing Lies Of The Empire and Fighting Against Western Imperialism. View his other books here. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. After having lived in Latin America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.
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