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EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full news commentary)
FROM MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHT

EDITORIAL: TAKEN FOR A RIDE?


OCTOBER 18 -WHY the House justice panel has all of a sudden gone averse to pulling the trigger on Senator Leila de Lima by stopping short of recommending her prosecution for supposedly being the nucleus in the lucrative illegal drugs trade from inside the New Bilibid Prisons is subject to several interpretations, few of them flattering to the committee and its members. After all, the investigation pulled all stops to parade no less than 22 witnesses before national TV to offer some of the most scurrilous testimonies heard this side of the banana-eating Third World. The panel claims it has established facts that would pinpoint accountability. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - All-important trip


OCTOBER 19 -Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrives at a hotel in Beijing late Tuesday. | REUTERS BARRING any unexpected gaffe, President Duterte’s four-day visit to China might just reveal the soundness of his administration’s foreign policy shift and prove his doubters wrong. Much will be riding on the shoulders of the 71-year-old Chief Executive’s first major attempt at patching up fractured relations with Asia’s economic and military superpower even as the country’s allies of long-standing warily observe the goings-on. On that score, toting along a high-level business delegation serves as a reassurance that trade and economic opportunities are foremost in the President’s agenda with Beijing rather than a touchy discussion of political alliances. What economic officials and Filipino businessmen bring home from this trip in terms of trade commitments and loan packages will allay concerns about estrangement from one major power to another more than any verbal attempt at smoothing ruffled feathers. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Ellen Tordesillas - Jet ski hyperbole lesson: Don’t take his words seriously


OCTOBER 19 -By Ellen Tordesillas
DURING the election campaign, President Duterte regaled his rallies with his cinematic solution to the problem of conflicting territorial claims in the Spratlys with China. “I will ask the Navy to bring me to the nearest point in South China Sea that is tolerable to them and I will ride a jet ski. I’ll carry a flag and when I reach Spratlys, I will erect the Filipino flag. I will tell them, suntukan o barilan,” he would declare to the resounding applause of his supporters while holding a Philippine flag which was standard prop in all his rallies. He would then kiss the flag to underscore his patriotism. Last week, in an interview with Al Jazeera TV days before his departure for the much-anticipated visit to China (he visited Brunei first before proceeding to Beijing), he was asked why he has not done yet that promised jet ski ride to the Spratlys that inspired amusing pictures and illustration in social media. Duterte replied, “It was a hyperbole... You cannot expect me to ride (a jet ski), I don’t even know how to swim.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Political doublespeak


OCTOBER 24 -DECADES of American diplomacy have trained its diplomats to handle political doublespeak from leaders in various parts of the world but they have never contended with something like the Duterte brand. Adept in English and incorrigible user of long-discarded idioms, President Duterte surely knows the meaning of the word “separation,” and uttered in the context of Philippine-American relations vis-a-vis China, and in a speech while visiting Beijing and dining with Chinese leaders, it sure is more than warming up to the Chinese and shunning Uncle Sam. The term is just one degree less than “severance”. When Duterte announced a separation of economic and military alliances with the US, his meaning should be clear as day. Unless he was just playing to his hosts. It was therefore expected that upon his return on Friday after a four-day state visit to China, Duterte clarified to reporters that he only meant a “separation of foreign policy” but not parting of ways with the nation’s traditional ally, the United States, which hosts many Filipino migrants. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Taken for a ride?

MANILA, 0CT0BER 24, 2016 (MALAYA) October 18, 2016 - WHY the House justice panel has all of a sudden gone averse to pulling the trigger on Senator Leila de Lima by stopping short of recommending her prosecution for supposedly being the nucleus in the lucrative illegal drugs trade from inside the New Bilibid Prisons is subject to several interpretations, few of them flattering to the committee and its members.

After all, the investigation pulled all stops to parade no less than 22 witnesses before national TV to offer some of the most scurrilous testimonies heard this side of the banana-eating Third World.

The panel claims it has established facts that would pinpoint accountability.

READ MORE...

That point is not even debatable given the damning admission of some former ranking public officials of their complicity with narco-syndicates in allowing drug deals, the entry of contrabands, and sponsoring a hierarchy of power behind the prison walls.

What is galling is the realization that none of those who admitted such participation will have to face up to any crime because they have already secured immunity from criminal prosecution.

The Department of Justice and the House committee on justice gave them all a free pass.

All that would have been somewhat justifiable if the crimes imputed on the former DOJ Secretary and the rest who allegedly profited from the transaction would stand up in court and result in convictions for the guilty parties.

But the statement from Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales yesterday has already put a damper on any of that happening anytime soon. The Ombudsman is staying away from this one.

As far as the country’s top graft-buster is concerned, there were only allegations that provided no basis for it to start a formal investigation.

Which brings up the next point. Exactly what did the House investigation intend to accomplish?

We hope the lawmakers can come up with a plausible explanation. – PT.


All-important trip October 19, 2016


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrives at a hotel in Beijing late Tuesday. | REUTERS

BARRING any unexpected gaffe, President Duterte’s four-day visit to China might just reveal the soundness of his administration’s foreign policy shift and prove his doubters wrong.

Much will be riding on the shoulders of the 71-year-old Chief Executive’s first major attempt at patching up fractured relations with Asia’s economic and military superpower even as the country’s allies of long-standing warily observe the goings-on.

On that score, toting along a high-level business delegation serves as a reassurance that trade and economic opportunities are foremost in the President’s agenda with Beijing rather than a touchy discussion of political alliances.

What economic officials and Filipino businessmen bring home from this trip in terms of trade commitments and loan packages will allay concerns about estrangement from one major power to another more than any verbal attempt at smoothing ruffled feathers.

READ MORE...

Virtually nobody paid notice, but the country is already reaping the immediate benefit of the Duterte government’s friendly overture toward Beijing through the abatement of concerns that the West Philippine Sea situation could become a flashpoint of hostilities among competing claimant states.

In tangible terms, that means a decreased urgency to spend scarce resources on military upgrades for a credible defense against further foreign incursions into disputed territories. Money that would otherwise have gone into the purchase of expensive weapon systems that we will try hard not to use anyway can instead go into more urgent needs like more social services.

Already, the local tourism and gaming industries have voiced optimism that the government’s new tact will bring in a much-needed boost in inbound traffic of Chinese visitors.

If the President can bring back firm commitments of investments in infrastructure and mass transport systems, he will silence a lot of critics, at least about his diplomatic moves. – PT


Jet ski hyperbole lesson: Don’t take his words seriously By Ellen Tordesillas October 19, 2016


By Ellen Tordesillas

DURING the election campaign, President Duterte regaled his rallies with his cinematic solution to the problem of conflicting territorial claims in the Spratlys with China.

“I will ask the Navy to bring me to the nearest point in South China Sea that is tolerable to them and I will ride a jet ski. I’ll carry a flag and when I reach Spratlys, I will erect the Filipino flag. I will tell them, suntukan o barilan,” he would declare to the resounding applause of his supporters while holding a Philippine flag which was standard prop in all his rallies.

He would then kiss the flag to underscore his patriotism.

Last week, in an interview with Al Jazeera TV days before his departure for the much-anticipated visit to China (he visited Brunei first before proceeding to Beijing), he was asked why he has not done yet that promised jet ski ride to the Spratlys that inspired amusing pictures and illustration in social media.

Duterte replied, “It was a hyperbole... You cannot expect me to ride (a jet ski), I don’t even know how to swim.”

READ MORE...

He warned of the dangers of that activity: “If it overturns you lose a president.”

The latest turn in Duterte’s jet ski tale should be taken as a lesson not to take his words seriously. Or at least wait for a few days before you react. By that time he must have changed his position.

Just like his threat that he would withdraw Philippine membership in the United Nations after UN officials including Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressed concern over the rising number of those killed (some 3,000 in three months) in Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.

He said he would form another organization with China and some African countries.

A few days after, he said he was just joking.

Then there was also his announcement that he would review the legality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA that allowed back American military presence in the country after US military bases in the Philippines were closed down in 1992.This contradicted his declaration in his inaugural speech that he will honor treaties and international obligations that the Philippine government had signed.

Immediately after, he said the won’t honor the Climate deal signed by 150 countries including the Philippine in Paris last April.

A few days ago, prior to his China trip, Duterte said the military alliance of the Philippines with the US will continue. We are not sure if this is the last of Duterte’s pronouncement on the issue.

In the Al Jazeera interview, Duterte said he made the jet ski hyperbole “to stress a point that we will not, we will not give up anything there.”

Addressing the concern of many about how he will handle the issue of Scarborough Shoal and the Spratlys when he meets Chinese President Xi Jinping, Duterte said, “Nobody’s going to give up anything.”

Let’s wait and see.


Political doublespeak October 24, 2016

DECADES of American diplomacy have trained its diplomats to handle political doublespeak from leaders in various parts of the world but they have never contended with something like the Duterte brand.

Adept in English and incorrigible user of long-discarded idioms, President Duterte surely knows the meaning of the word “separation,” and uttered in the context of Philippine-American relations vis-a-vis China, and in a speech while visiting Beijing and dining with Chinese leaders, it sure is more than warming up to the Chinese and shunning Uncle Sam.

The term is just one degree less than “severance”.

When Duterte announced a separation of economic and military alliances with the US, his meaning should be clear as day. Unless he was just playing to his hosts.

It was therefore expected that upon his return on Friday after a four-day state visit to China, Duterte clarified to reporters that he only meant a “separation of foreign policy” but not parting of ways with the nation’s traditional ally, the United States, which hosts many Filipino migrants.

READ MORE...

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella was in his usual forthright self when he declared that the government would not turn its back on deals and treaties that have been agreed upon, but was only exploring new alliances.

This assurance is even reinforced by the fact that Duterte himself said he would consult the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the police “and everybody” before he even tweak the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US.

The President’s hostile words against US President Barack Obama, the United Nations, and the European Union are thus unmasked for what they really are – theatrics.

During the last presidential election, Duterte was known for dilly-dallying and obfuscation. He has consistently maintained this trait.

The White House was correct in observing that there were too many platitudes and conflicting statements coming from the President and Malacañang, but nonetheless welcomed the apparent about-face.

Without any official communication or document being submitted, such as a formal notice that the annual joint military exercises had been officially scrapped, the US now knows that the pronouncements coming out of Duterte’s mouth do not hold water.

We have a President who likes to talk so let him be. What is needed from us is to be circumspect and listen with caution.


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