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

EDITORIAL: CONTAINING THE DAMAGE
(Duterte economic men off to Washington World Bank Meeting)


OCTOBER 7 -President Rodrigo Duterte remains popular in the Philippines, with his anti-drugs campaign receiving the support of the majority. But his continuing antics and recent tough talk against his critics have dominated the international headlines, casting a bad image of the Philippines and unnerving foreign investors and financial institutions. Top economic officials of the Duterte administration, on their way to attend the annual World Bank-International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington, D.C., have sought to calm the jitters created by Duterte’s outbursts and rhetoric. They are out to talk to international credit-rating agencies, US newspapers and investors to “counter adverse media reports” about the Philippines.


ALSO: By Lito Banayo - Christmas trees


OCTOBER 10 -by Lito Banayo
It’s 75 days before Christmas, and I noticed that some department stores in Makati have already started sprucing up their facades with Christmas lights. Starting the season early, but then that is the norm in a country where the year-end holiday season is celebrated the longest in the whole wide world. I will digress from the usual heavy stuff and focus on Christmas in this article. The other day, I read an article about how the Intramuros Administration under the Department of Tourism will begin the season by a Christmas tree lighting event on November 18. Many Metro Manilans look forward to the tree lighting ceremony at the Araneta Center, an annual tradition started by the owners of that Quezon City commercial hacienda. Through the years, they have fashioned a tree using various materials and designs, with the usual claim that it is the country’s tallest tree. There is hardly any Filipino home that has no Christmas tree for the holidays. Humble though the abode may be, even a small tree with a single strand of decorative lights cheer up the environment, with the kids waiting for the gifts that would surround it as they count the days before these are opened. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Rita Linda Jimeno - World peace and Korea


OCTOBER 10 - by Rita Linda V. Jimeno
World peace is walking on eggshells. And I am not saying this because terrorism has gripped the world since 9/11. Neither am I saying this because, on the domestic scene, the Philippines has been fighting many wars: the war against communist insurgency, the war in Mindanao, and now, the war against drugs as the rest of the world looks on and assesses how this could affect them. The precariousness of world peace came to mind when I attended the Global Peace Conference in Seoul, Korea last week. Korea is now the only divided country in the world and it is not by its people’s choice. In fact, if the people had their way, they would rather unify as the separation of the North and South has separated thousands of families who have not seen each other for decades. The continuing division of the Korean peninsula into North and South poses a serious threat to peace, not only in Korea itself, but in the whole of Asia and even the world. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Victor Avecilla - Duterte’s ‘Hitler’ remarks and freedom of speech


OCTOBER 8 - by Victor Avecilla
It’s been a week since President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial speech about his ongoing anti-drug campaign which mentioned Adolf Hitler, the Nazi German leader during World War II. After being criticized by Jewish organizations in the United States for allegedly comparing drug dealers and drug users to the Jews killed by Hitler’s troops in Nazi-occupied Europe during the war, Duterte took the heat like a national leader should, and apologized. Duterte declared that when he made the remark, it was not his intention to insult the memory of the Jews killed in that chapter of world history known as the Holocaust. As pointed out in last week’s essay, the context of President Duterte’s speech, which was his emphasis on the zeal of his anti-drug campaign, and the fact that the Philippines has no historical tradition of anti-Semitism (hostility towards the Jews as a group), negate any intention of being anti-Semitic on the part of the president. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Containing the damage

MANILA, OCTOBER 10, 2016 (MANILA STANDARD) posted October 07, 2016 at 12:01 am - President Rodrigo Duterte remains popular in the Philippines, with his anti-drugs campaign receiving the support of the majority.

But his continuing antics and recent tough talk against his critics have dominated the international headlines, casting a bad image of the Philippines and unnerving foreign investors and financial institutions.

Top economic officials of the Duterte administration, on their way to attend the annual World Bank-International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington, D.C., have sought to calm the jitters created by Duterte’s outbursts and rhetoric.

They are out to talk to international credit-rating agencies, US newspapers and investors to “counter adverse media reports” about the Philippines.

READ MORE...

The public relations mission comes amid the unflattering report of London-based think tank Capital Economics, which said Mr. Duterte’s talks had increased the potential downside risks to the economic outlook of the Philippines.

“What has unnerved investors is a string of inflammatory statements and erratic foreign policy changes which have raised questions about Duterte’s judgment and his commitment to the rule of law,” says Capital Economics. “His anti-drugs campaign, which has led to thousands of extrajudicial killings, has generated negative headlines across the world.”

The country’s economic team has left to precisely address the negative reports coming out from the Philippines. Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia and his team—Budget secretary Benjamin Diokno, Finance secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor Amando Tetangco Jr.—are set to meet with Moody’s Investor Service, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s to counter the negative news about the country.

Mr. Duterte, despite his inflammatory statements, has not tinkered with the current economic program. His administration, however, must move fast to erase the negative perception of the foreign media and key foreign financial institutions.

The Philippines needs positive sentiments, not the negative ones, to keep the flow of investments and foreign funds.


Christmas trees posted October 10, 2016 at 12:01 am by Lito Banayo


by Lito Banayo

It’s 75 days before Christmas, and I noticed that some department stores in Makati have already started sprucing up their facades with Christmas lights. Starting the season early, but then that is the norm in a country where the year-end holiday season is celebrated the longest in the whole wide world.

I will digress from the usual heavy stuff and focus on Christmas in this article.

The other day, I read an article about how the Intramuros Administration under the Department of Tourism will begin the season by a Christmas tree lighting event on November 18. Many Metro Manilans look forward to the tree lighting ceremony at the Araneta Center, an annual tradition started by the owners of that Quezon City commercial hacienda.

Through the years, they have fashioned a tree using various materials and designs, with the usual claim that it is the country’s tallest tree.

There is hardly any Filipino home that has no Christmas tree for the holidays. Humble though the abode may be, even a small tree with a single strand of decorative lights cheer up the environment, with the kids waiting for the gifts that would surround it as they count the days before these are opened.

READ MORE...

But a Christmas tree in Intramuros? The administrators of that walled city (is there one already, by the way?) should be a bit more conversant with its history.

Intramuros was the citadel of our Spanish colonialists, while the Christmas tree came to these islands from the US of A, whose tradition of the tree was in turn influenced by Northern Europe. First adopted as a symbol of the yuletide season by the Germans, the tradition spread first among royalty in neighboring Scandinavia and later to Great Britain. King George III’s German-born wife Charlotte introduced it to Britons in 1800, and Queen Victoria as a child grew up with a Christmas tree in her room. When she later married Prince Albert, her German cousin, the custom became quite widespread.

When the Americans sashayed to Baguio to escape the terrible heat and humidity of our lowlands, and found to their delight that temperate trees grew there through what we now call the Benguet pine, they started pruning tall trees and using the tree tops for Christmas trees. In time, concretization replaced the pine trees of Baguio and the lovely scent that greeted us when we climb Kennon was replaced by noxious fumes. In utter defeat at how they despoiled the environment, Baguio City later built an anomaly—a concrete Christmas tree in the Session Road rotunda to symbolize the desecrated city.

The Spaniards were not Christmas tree practitioners, and kept to the tradition of the “belen,” depicting the birth of Infanta Jesus in a manger. Ubiquitously perched atop the belen was a star, the symbol of Noel, which spelled differently, is the French name for Christmas. For Filipinos thus, the symbols of Christmas or Pasko, from the Spanish “pascua”, became the belen and the star. That star was the origin of what we call the “parol,” which is “farol” or lantern in Spanish.

And how creatively our artisans designed and produced the “parol.” From papel de japon-covered bamboo strips, thence to colored cellophane, to the hardy polyvinyl of later days, to the longer-lasting capiz shells, Filipinos have made the most beautiful Christmas lanterns in the world. Pampangos particularly take pride in how they create the most artistic and the most ingeniously lighted Christmas lanterns in the world. It is in fact one potential export item we can, and should market to various countries.

A giant Christmas tree in Intramuros? Que horror, the doñas and the señoras ought to exclaim.

Perhaps a well-crafted belen at Plaza Roma, and all the streets lit up with Philippine-made parols would be best for Intramuros, which is about the only heritage attraction we have in all of Metro Manila.

And having said that, congratulations are in order for the joint efforts of former DoT Secretary Mon Jimenez, his Intramuros Administrator Marco Sardillo, and his TIEZA administrator Guiller Asido for improving Intramuros extensively during their watch. The redevelopment of Intramuros started with then secretary, now Senator Dick Gordon, thence carried on with meticulously detailed implementation by Sardillo, funded by TIEZA under Asido at the behest of Mon Jimenez.

This is one project that should be continued and seen to fruition by the new secretary, Wanda Teo and whoever she and the president will assign as her support administrators for TIEZA and IA.

But for beginners, please spare Intramuros from a giant Christmas tree this coming holiday season. Get San Fernando artisans to come up with their beautiful giant parols, and get Manila schoolchildren to make small parols for the lampposts and buildings within.

★★★★★

Today is the National Day of Taiwan, the famous Double Ten celebration.

Our felicitations to the people and the government of Taiwan, and its representative in the Philippines, Dr. Gary Song Huan Lin, who heads the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office.


World peace and Korea posted October 10, 2016 at 12:01 am by Rita Linda V. Jimeno


 by Rita Linda V. Jimeno

World peace is walking on eggshells. And I am not saying this because terrorism has gripped the world since 9/11. Neither am I saying this because, on the domestic scene, the Philippines has been fighting many wars: the war against communist insurgency, the war in Mindanao, and now, the war against drugs as the rest of the world looks on and assesses how this could affect them.

The precariousness of world peace came to mind when I attended the Global Peace Conference in Seoul, Korea last week. Korea is now the only divided country in the world and it is not by its people’s choice. In fact, if the people had their way, they would rather unify as the separation of the North and South has separated thousands of families who have not seen each other for decades. The continuing division of the Korean peninsula into North and South poses a serious threat to peace, not only in Korea itself, but in the whole of Asia and even the world.

READ MORE...

Dr. Inteck Seo, the president of Global Peace Foundation Korea, said that Korea’s destiny is necessarily connected to the world’s destiny. How so? First, the question: how did Korea come to be divided, anyway? Korea was unified as one country for centuries under the Joseon Dynasty. Its people shared the same culture and language. Korea’s troubles began in 1910 when Japan colonized it.

As World War II drew to a close in 1945 and with Japan’s defeat, the Allied Powers knew they had to take over Japan including its occupied territories such as Korea and the Philippines. Since the United States was set to take over Japan and the Philippine territory, it was initially reluctant to administer Korea as well. Thus, when the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the Soviets declared war on Japan too and sent amphibious troops that landed along the coasts of Northern Korea. Five days before Japan’s surrender, US officials delineated the US occupation zone in East Asia.

Without consulting the Korean people, they arbitrarily cut Korea roughly in half, with the capital of Seoul and the Southern portion falling under US administration while the North fell under USSR’s. A nationwide election was supposed to have been arranged by the trust administrators to reunify Korea but neither the US nor the Soviets trusted each other. The US wanted the entire Korea to be under a democracy while the Soviets wanted it to be communist. South Korea declared itself a nation in 1948 while the Soviets appointed Kim Il-sung, a major in the Soviet Red Army, as the leader of the North. Kim quelled political opposition and tried to reunify Korea under a communist regime by invading South Korea. This sparked a three-year war where the Philippines even sent troops to help liberate South Korea from Communist invasion. Since then, with the North firmly held by three generations of the Kim family, peace in Korea has been shaky.

North Korea has been flexing its muscles and threatening peace in the region by building nuclear arms and firing nuclear missiles every so often.

Why should the division of the two Koreas and its ongoing war concern us and the world? The Philippines and the nations surrounding Korea are close enough to suffer devastation should a nuclear war erupt. The rest of the world too cannot remain uninvolved as history tells us that World Wars began with seemingly local and isolated events. WWI was sparked by the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in Serbia. Austria demanded that the perpetrator be handed over. When this didn’t happen, Austria invaded Serbia. Then, Serbia’s ally, Russia, ran to its defense. About the same time, Germany invaded Belgium and headed for France. Because Britain, France and Russia had a mutual defense pact, as did Germany and Austria, the hostilities between Austria and Russia drew the other allies in.

In the case of WWII, the Germans invaded first, Czechoslovakia, and then Poland. Britain and France had given guarantees to Poland and had no option than to declare war on Germany. Then Germany invaded Denmark and Norway and attacked France, Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg, starting the real world war, with all allies and interested parties participating.

Given history, Korea’s problem is every one’s concern. If war breaks out yet again in Korea, we can all be sure that the world’s superpowers and their allies will again take sides, drawing many nations in. This is an event we—the peoples of the world—should not allow because a nuclear war can eliminate populations and peoples in just hours or even minutes. It is imperative that everyone—nations and peoples—to exert pressure on North Korea and its allies toward reunification.


Duterte’s ‘Hitler’ remarks and freedom of speech posted October 08, 2016 at 12:01 am by Victor Avecilla


 by Victor Avecilla

It’s been a week since President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial speech about his ongoing anti-drug campaign which mentioned Adolf Hitler, the Nazi German leader during World War II. After being criticized by Jewish organizations in the United States for allegedly comparing drug dealers and drug users to the Jews killed by Hitler’s troops in Nazi-occupied Europe during the war, Duterte took the heat like a national leader should, and apologized. Duterte declared that when he made the remark, it was not his intention to insult the memory of the Jews killed in that chapter of world history known as the Holocaust.

As pointed out in last week’s essay, the context of President Duterte’s speech, which was his emphasis on the zeal of his anti-drug campaign, and the fact that the Philippines has no historical tradition of anti-Semitism (hostility towards the Jews as a group), negate any intention of being anti-Semitic on the part of the president.

READ MORE...

Moreover, since there is no reason for Duterte to harbor any hatred for Jews in the first place, the conclusion that he compared the Jews killed by the Nazis to the drug dealers and drug users being hunted down by Duterte’s administration appears to be largely impulsive—possibly a knee-jerk reaction to an unexpected utterance of Hitler’s name by the president of a Southeast Asian country with no experience of Nazi brutality.

Since President Duterte had no intention of offending the feelings of the Jews worldwide when he delivered his speech, it would have been enough for him to make the clarification. No, he swallowed his pride and apologized for any wounded feelings his remarks may have inadvertently caused. That act of humility is statesmanship by any standard, enough to make up for whatever shortcomings he may have unwittingly demonstrated when he gave that controversial address.

Sadly, the president’s critics were quick to condemn him, but blind to his remedial virtues. Indeed, high office has its share of unpleasantries.

Anyway, it’s time for some observations which many may not agree with. For the record, however, this discourse is not an endorsement of Hitler or anti-Semitism.

The oath of office taken by the President of the Philippines does not contain any waiver of his constitutional rights, and there is no provision in the Constitution which mentions any such waiver. In other words, the president does not shed off his constitutional rights the moment he assumes the highest office in the land. Those rights include freedom of speech.

President Duterte’s speech is an exercise of his constitutional right to speak. His speech may have mentioned Hitler and the Jews killed during the Holocaust, but it enjoys constitutional protection. It is well within his rights to do so, particularly because he had no intention to insult the Jews in the first place.

Free speech includes “hate speech” or speech which embodies one’s strong disdain for a certain group of persons, even for the flimsiest of reasons. As long as the “hate speech” remains in the realm of thought and expression, and does not ripen into violence, no prior restraint may be imposed on its delivery by a government operating under a Bill of Rights.

Thus, even if it were to be assumed that President Duterte’s speech was in the nature of “hate speech” directed at the Jews, it would have been entitled to constitutional protection nonetheless, there being no overt steps taken by the president towards violent action against the Jews.

It cannot be denied that Adolf Hitler is, notoriously though, a part of world history. His reign of terror is in history books, and in cinema and television. A discussion of World War II in Europe is impossible without mentioning him. Even today’s youth who did not experience the horrors of a world at war know his name. Accordingly, to chastize a person for mentioning Hitler in his speech, or in any expression of his thoughts and ideas, is to criticize that person for exercising his constitutional right to express himself.

History has a way of surprising contemporary critics of Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Not too many know that Nazi Germany introduced to the world the autobahn (the prototype of today’s modern expressways), and the Volkswagen (the prototype of the affordable, durable, air-cooled people’s car). Nazi businessmen produced Adidas and Puma, two of today’s leading athletic brands. Uniforms worn by Nazi military personnel were designed by Hugo Boss, a popular label today.

Thus, one who hints at, or openly praises, Hitler and the Nazis for what they accomplished outside the war zone, cannot be prevented from doing so because the constitution affords him that right. In other words, even a speech embodying one’s admiration for the Nazis and their despotic leader, no matter how unpopular, misplaced or mistaken, is speech protected under the Bill of Rights.

For reasons unexplained, many of those who criticized President Duterte for his “Hitler” speech were silent about international figures from the past who were identified with the Nazis. For instance, Kurt Waldheim, the United Nations Secretary-General (1972-1981) and President of Austria (1986-1992), was a Nazi military intelligence officer during World War II. Another famous example is German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. He was a member of the Hitler Youth and served in the Nazi military towards the end of the war.

Both international celebrities were the subject of some criticism for what they did during the war, but they were not as vilified as Duterte was in the hands of the latter’s local and foreign critics.

This discussion is not for the purpose of criticizing Waldheim or Benedict XVI. It is, however, rather unsettling to note that while Duterte’s critics didn’t seem to mind that the former peacemaker of the world and the ex-leader of the Roman Catholic Church had ties with the Nazis, they impulsively condemned Duterte for a speech which happened to mention the Nazi leader as a reference point. Good grief!


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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