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EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full news commentary)
FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

EDITORIAL: TELLING THE U.S. WHERE TO GO


SEPTEMBER 7 -WINSTON Churchill once said diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions. By this measure, President Rodrigo Duterte clearly fulfilled the first part of Churchill’s description but may have missed the second part when he tore into the United States for the atrocities that American troops inflicted on Filipinos during their brutal pacification of the Moros in Mindanao in the 1900s. Duterte’s angry remarks, coming on the eve of a scheduled one-on-one meeting with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the Asean summit in Laos, were triggered by a question about what he would tell the American leader, who has raised concerns about the growing number of extra-judicial killings in his administration’s war on illegal drugs. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Emil Jurado - We need a strong president


SEPTEMBER 7 -EMIL JURADO I agree with former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who said that President Rodrigo Duterte is a stronger president than she was, not because she is a woman and he is a man, but because Duterte likes to confront the challenges that come his way. In the war against illegal drugs, for instance, he has not buckled down despite condemnation from local and foreign groups, who point to human rights issues in the killing of 2,400 in the past few weeks alone. Mr. Duterte believes that if he backs down, sooner or later the country will become a narco-political state. Nobody can dispute the fact that the drug menace is destroying the moral fabric of our society and endangering the future of our youth. There is the fight to defeat the Abu Sayyaf group that has become a national security threat given its affiliation with IS. President Duterte has declared a state of national emergency because of lawless violence. And of course we know how US President Barack Obama canceled his meeting with President Duterte at the Asean summit in Laos. It was the first time I heard a Philippine president say he is responsible only to Filipinos, when asked whether he would listen to a lecture by Obama on human rights violations. I say that’s a strong Philippine president for you. Other presidents before him go to Washington on their first foreign trip to pay homage to the Great White Father. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Ranhillo Aquino - A course on pragmatics
[What President Digong needs to learn is first, from Wittgenstein: there are various language-games, and talking to heads of states on matters of international policy and relations is one kind of game that cannot and should not be confused with the language-game of talking to one’s underlings or drinking buddies. The other is from Habermas’ universal pragmatics: It may be the truth you are asserting, and there may be no doubt about your sincerity. But if you convey it in a form or a manner that contravenes the norms of propriety, then no matter the applause of a million sycophants, the speech-act just does not succeed!]


SEPTEMBER 9 -by Fr. Ranhilio Aquino
Shortly after a state of national emergency was declared, there was plenty of media chatter: intimations of martial law, concern about how long it would last, the availability of judicial review, and a fear that there would be a diminution of our rights. I think that our inordinate concern that liberties and freedoms not be diminished is a good indicator that we do need a strong hand! A people that is quick to assert rights and liberties but suspicious in respect to the exaction of duties is exactly what made Aristotle think a democracy to be dangerous proposition! I have said it before, and I will say it once more. The popularity of Digong, his bloopers and snafus notwithstanding, is proof that those who peddle the myth that martial law was imposed on a reluctant if not resistant nation are wrong. We have an infatuation with strong men because we are all aware of the excesses of which we are capable—and our teeth are on edge after biting into the bitter fruit that a harvest of the disproportion between the rights of citizenship and attentiveness to its obligations yields. ut many things went terribly wrong with President Digong’s debut on the world stage. One of the worst chapters in this anthology of woes was his barrage of insults aimed at President Barack Obama, who had not even said a thing about President Digong. Our President was nevertheless lured into his now familiar fulmination by an unprincipled journalist who just wanted to report gore and bile! READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - No rock stars


SEPTEMBER 10 -Every day we lose a little more respect for the people who temper the statements of our intemperate President, who this week showed off his colorful verbal skills before the world stage. We tell ourselves to get used to having a President who does not care about the repercussions of his words. As early as the campaign, we had known that President Rodrigo Duterte was a maverick who says rightly or wrongly, exactly what is on his mind. It is likely that his stark difference from his tactful predecessors was the reason for his 16-million-vote mandate in last May’s elections. We resign ourselves to the fact that for the next six years, this “colorful” former mayor will chart our course as a nation and be our face before the international community.We try not to cringe at how he seems oblivious to basic courtesies that make a statesman and a leader worthy of respect. Perhaps he is also still getting used to being a national figure. But we deplore Mr. Duterte’s allies who deny what happened, put the statements “in the proper context,” and blame the media for asking the questions they are supposed to ask and reporting what in fact transpired. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Telling the US where to go

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 12, 2016 (MANILA STANDARD) posted September 07, 2016 at 12:01 am - WINSTON Churchill once said diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions.

By this measure, President Rodrigo Duterte clearly fulfilled the first part of Churchill’s description but may have missed the second part when he tore into the United States for the atrocities that American troops inflicted on Filipinos during their brutal pacification of the Moros in Mindanao in the 1900s.

Duterte’s angry remarks, coming on the eve of a scheduled one-on-one meeting with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the Asean summit in Laos, were triggered by a question about what he would tell the American leader, who has raised concerns about the growing number of extra-judicial killings in his administration’s war on illegal drugs.

READ MORE...

“You know, the Philippines is not a vassal state. We have long ceased to be a colony of the United States,” Dutere bristled. “I do not respond to anybody but to the people of the Republic of the Philippines. I don’t care about him. Who is he?”

“They invaded this country and made us their subjugated people. Everybody has a terrible record of extrajudicial killings. Why make an issue about fighting crime? Look at the human rights of America along that line, the way how they treat the migrants there. He [Obama] must explain to me why there are extrajudicial killings there. Can he explain the 600,000 Moros massacred in this island? Do you want to see the pictures? Maybe, you’ll ask him, and make it public. We have a recorded history of that sordid period of our national life,” Duterte said.

In his angry diatribe, Duterte said about a tenth of the Moro population of six million was wiped out in the American campaign to “pacify” Mindanao in the early 1900s. It is difficult to verify the President’s figures from historical documents , but most historians agree that the loss of Moro lives during the American campaign in Mindanao was particularly high.

To put things in perspective, the American campaign from 1899 to 1902 to “pacify” this fledgling state that had just declared its independence from Spain killed 20,000 Filipino soldiers—and more than 200,000 civilians perished as a result of combat, hunger or disease.

Responding to Duterte’s expletive-laced outburst, Obama had suggested earlier that the meeting might not push through.

“I always want to make sure if I’m having a meeting that it’s productive and we’re getting something done,” Obama said during a news conference, adding that he would bring up the issue of human rights if he sat down with Duterte.

Later on, the White House announced the meeting was canceled.

LACK OF FINESSE AND BRUTAL HONESTY

In attacking the United States on the eve of his meeting with Obama, President Duterte exhibited two traits for which he has become known. His lack of tact and finesse is the first; his brutal honesty is the second.

The sudden outburst was, after all, rooted in historical fact—the United States as a colonial power had subjugated a freedom-loving people when it replaced the Spaniards at the turn of the century, and its occupation here was often brutal. The resentment that remains, particularly in Mindanao, is certainly very real.

On the other hand, by his blanket condemnation of the US, the President seems to have forgotten that the Americans have time and again come to the country’s aid in times of need, or that there are strategic benefits—both in defense and the economy—of maintaining cordial ties with Washington.


OPINION:

We need a strong president posted September 07, 2016 at 12:01 am by Emil Jurado


EMIL JURADO

I agree with former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who said that President Rodrigo Duterte is a stronger president than she was, not because she is a woman and he is a man, but because Duterte likes to confront the challenges that come his way.

In the war against illegal drugs, for instance, he has not buckled down despite condemnation from local and foreign groups, who point to human rights issues in the killing of 2,400 in the past few weeks alone.

Mr. Duterte believes that if he backs down, sooner or later the country will become a narco-political state. Nobody can dispute the fact that the drug menace is destroying the moral fabric of our society and endangering the future of our youth.

There is the fight to defeat the Abu Sayyaf group that has become a national security threat given its affiliation with IS. President Duterte has declared a state of national emergency because of lawless violence.

And of course we know how US President Barack Obama canceled his meeting with President Duterte at the Asean summit in Laos. It was the first time I heard a Philippine president say he is responsible only to Filipinos, when asked whether he would listen to a lecture by Obama on human rights violations.

I say that’s a strong Philippine president for you. Other presidents before him go to Washington on their first foreign trip to pay homage to the Great White Father.

READ MORE...

Duterte blasted the US for the massacre of some 2,000 Moros at the turn of the century when the US colonized the Philippines.

My gulay, the Moros were never subjugated by any foreign power—not the Spaniards, not the Americans, not the Japanese.

I certainly want my leader to never consider a US president above himself. No other country can tell our president to do this or that. Even if he crosses the line, he is only answerable to the people who elected him to office.

We may be a weak and small country, militarily and economically, but we are still free Filipinos. We should be proud of it.

Incidentally, insofar as former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is now deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, is concerned, freedom must really translate to good health. She is not only sporting a new look. According to some journalists who have seen her, she appears “blooming.”

* * *

There’s a proposal advanced by former Supreme Court Justice Reynato Puno as chairman emeritus of the Philippine Constitution Association that the power to appoint members of the Judiciary (judges and justices) should be removed from the president. This is to avoid the Judiciary from being politicized.

This has been one of the advocacies that should be considered by a Constituent Assembly in the amendment of the 1987 Cory Constitution.

In the 1935 Constitution, judges and justices were nominated by the Supreme Court, after which they had to pass through the wringer of the Commission on Appointments of Congress, patterned after that of the United States.

When the Cory Constitution was framed, a known legal luminary proposed the creation of a Judicial and Bar Council to nominate judges and justices, which in turn would be appointed by the President from a shortlist.

But since member of the JBC —except representatives from Congress and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines—are appointed by Malacañang, politicization of judges and justices became worse.

This is why I advocate a return to the 1935 constitutional provision—to maintain the independence of the Judiciary. In fact, corruption in the Judiciary worsened because of this.

The JBC, in fact, has become a “tayo-tayo” club. Friends and proteges stood a better chance of getting appointed.

The result: a weak Judiciary where at times temporary restraining orders are sold and even bid out. Even the autonomy of the Supreme Court is being compromised.

* * *

Whether the agency deserves it or not, the Bureau of Customs has become notorious for being one of the most corrupt government entities, neck-and-neck with another Department of Finance agency, the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

I know this for a fact. I covered Customs for many years when I was a young journalist and business editor of the defunct Philippines Herald. But I know too that there are still some honest people there who are trying to uphold the honor and integrity of the agency.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales released a report in March this year which placed Customs as just no. 10 in the 2015 Corruption List of the Office of the Ombudsman. It was a surprising reversal of the widely-held public perception that the bureau was always at the top of the list of most corrupt agencies.

This report could be a prelude to better things to come for people dealing with the agency, especially since the Duterte administration has been positively responding to the clamor for change. And it seems that government agencies, including the much-beleaguered BoC, are riding this wave of change

One indication of these dramatic developments is the appointment of Deputy Commissioner for Enforcement lawyer Arnel Alcaraz, a career official of the BoC. He has served his office with quiet efficiency. While past administrations may overlook the tireless, behind-the-scenes workers in favor of more media-savvy individuals, Alcaraz perfectly fits the mold of the Duterte administration’s no-fanfare, get-it-done approach. Of course it helps that within the agency, Alcaraz has also earned a reputation for his honesty and competence.

Barely a week in his new post, Alcaraz intercepted P3 million worth of the deadly party drug ecstasy, doing so without having to ask for any update of the BoC equipment. All he did was simply to follow protocol. Shortly after that, his division had two more high-profile busts intercepting more than two kilos of cocaine in Clark, and most recently, seizing millions of pesos worth of credit cards, skimming machines, and counterfeit paraphernalia at the airport. Santa Banana, this fellow’s seat isn’t even warm and already the smugglers are feeling the heat!

I asked some oldtimers of the bureau about Alcaraz. They attest to the fact that he is one Customs official who doesn’t compromise nor bow to any political pressure. He holds a law degree from the Ateneo de Manila University and also took an economics course for lawyers at the University of Asia and the Pacific. He started out as a trial attorney of the BoC, and it wasn’t long before he was promoted as assistant chief of the Manila International Container Port.

Alcaraz was also named deputy collector of Naia, but it was in 2005 when he got the more high-profile designation as head of the Run After the Smugglers (RATS) program of the DoF.

At various times, he was acting district collector of the Port of Batangas, Port of Subic and the Port of Manila. It was at the latter capacity where he slapped a deficiency tax on two steel firms for infraction of Customs laws. He also seized more than two million liters of diesel fuel, three barges and two container tankers owned by a prominent businessman. Prior to his new position, Alcaraz was with the Compliance Monitoring Unit of the Office of Commissioner and before that, the Customs Policy research office of the DoF.

It can truly be said that Alcaraz is one of the shining beacons of integrity amid the murky reputation of Customs.

While many may think that the bureau is so rotten, I believe that there still exist good men and women who can resist temptations to get rich quick.


OPINION - A course on pragmatics posted September 09, 2016 at 12:01 am by Fr. Ranhilio Aquino


by Fr. Ranhilio Aquino

Shortly after a state of national emergency was declared, there was plenty of media chatter: intimations of martial law, concern about how long it would last, the availability of judicial review, and a fear that there would be a diminution of our rights. I think that our inordinate concern that liberties and freedoms not be diminished is a good indicator that we do need a strong hand! A people that is quick to assert rights and liberties but suspicious in respect to the exaction of duties is exactly what made Aristotle think a democracy to be dangerous proposition!

I have said it before, and I will say it once more. The popularity of Digong, his bloopers and snafus notwithstanding, is proof that those who peddle the myth that martial law was imposed on a reluctant if not resistant nation are wrong. We have an infatuation with strong men because we are all aware of the excesses of which we are capable—and our teeth are on edge after biting into the bitter fruit that a harvest of the disproportion between the rights of citizenship and attentiveness to its obligations yields.

But many things went terribly wrong with President Digong’s debut on the world stage. One of the worst chapters in this anthology of woes was his barrage of insults aimed at President Barack Obama, who had not even said a thing about President Digong. Our President was nevertheless lured into his now familiar fulmination by an unprincipled journalist who just wanted to report gore and bile!

READ MORE...

His supporters—those who will think him always right no matter how wrong he is—who number in the millions, will insist: “Tama naman yung sinabi niya ah…”.

Of course, that cannot refer to the “son of a whore” expletive, because that cannot be true! And, in the Philippine setting, among the uncouth—and even among those who ought to speak with more finesse—p****na, has, unfortunately, evolved from being a description of one’s mother to being an almost familiar, quixotically friendly introductory or conclusory verbal appendage. It is rather common among many to begin a sentence or end one with this rather impolite expression without ever meaning anything about anyone’s mother! Sadly, it seems to be part of the language-game of familiarity.

But truth, fellas, is not a defense, nor is it a satisfactory explanation for the failure of what could have been very important communication between Digong and Barack. After all, even as we speak, China’s abusive and illegal activities in the South China Sea continue unabated, and turning to Putin with friendly overtures in the hope that he will take America’s place is foolish. There are hardly any Russian interests in the Philippines!

Habermas’ universal pragmatics is the analysis of speech acts and among its key points is that when anyone says anything, no matter how innocuous the statement or utterance, there are simultaneously four (implicit) claims one makes: You can understand me. What I say is true. You can depend on me on this. The relation I seek to establish with you by telling you this is normatively correct.

In the terms of universal pragmatics, these are the claim to intelligibility, the claim to truth, the claim to sincerity and the claim to correctness. Of course, much of what Digong says is true. But talking in such fashion either to or in reference to the President of the United States is never normatively correct. And that is not because we are a suppliant state. It is simply because heads of states, precisely on account of the myth of sovereign equality, do not talk to each other with such disregard for refinement and spite for being proper.

What President Digong needs to learn is first, from Wittgenstein: there are various language-games, and talking to heads of states on matters of international policy and relations is one kind of game that cannot and should not be confused with the language-game of talking to one’s underlings or drinking buddies. The other is from Habermas’ universal pragmatics: It may be the truth you are asserting, and there may be no doubt about your sincerity. But if you convey it in a form or a manner that contravenes the norms of propriety, then no matter the applause of a million sycophants, the speech-act just does not succeed!


EDITORIAL - No rock stars posted September 10, 2016 at 12:01 am



Every day we lose a little more respect for the people who temper the statements of our intemperate President, who this week showed off his colorful verbal skills before the world stage.

We tell ourselves to get used to having a President who does not care about the repercussions of his words. As early as the campaign, we had known that President Rodrigo Duterte was a maverick who says rightly or wrongly, exactly what is on his mind. It is likely that his stark difference from his tactful predecessors was the reason for his 16-million-vote mandate in last May’s elections.

We resign ourselves to the fact that for the next six years, this “colorful” former mayor will chart our course as a nation and be our face before the international community.

We try not to cringe at how he seems oblivious to basic courtesies that make a statesman and a leader worthy of respect. Perhaps he is also still getting used to being a national figure.

But we deplore Mr. Duterte’s allies who deny what happened, put the statements “in the proper context,” and blame the media for asking the questions they are supposed to ask and reporting what in fact transpired.

READ MORE...

For example, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano said the administration was the victim of the media’s imagination and that it was the international and local press that created the excitement about whether Duterte would sit between US President Barack Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at an Asean dinner.

It turned out it was the Palace itself that had distributed the press release about the seating arrangement. Communications Secretary Martin Andanar later on clarified that the arrangements may still change.

Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, referring to the President’s cursing at Obama, said that Mr. Duterte was not attacking anyone by his words and was just emphasizing that a head of state should be given due respect.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol questioned the media’s translation of the President’s curses and said the uproar over the “son of a whore” comment against Obama would not have happened had the media not blown it up.

The nation needs to talk about real challenges in the next few years, specifically economics and peace. Millions of Filipinos are oblivious to this ado about words, and are waiting for the change that had been promised them.

These officials should not waste their time undoing the effects of Mr. Duterte’s words. They should instead advise him how to deliver his message.

He needs to be seen as a serious, sober national leader and global player—certainly not a rock star, a jester, or an unhinged thug.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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