POSTSCRIPT / September 13, 2016 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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‘Putang ina’ cuss is no minor issue

LET ME preface my column with a query from a reader who will be identified only as Dikong upon his request. He asked (edited slightly):

Sir, I need advice on a personal dilemma. They have not asked, but what do I tell my grandchildren if they ask me kung okay nang magsabi ng “putang ina? I come from what you might call middle class. My own kids won’t ask it, because they have been raised not to talk that way. But my seven apo – I’m worried about their being exposed to the gutter language spreading like epidemic in media. I’ve noticed that even you, Sir, have no more qualms about writing putang ina without replacing some of the letters to make it less offensive. Tila pati kayo, who I hold in high esteem, seem to have been infected with the putang ina virus, you now use the cuss word with abandon.”

Dikong has put me in a spot. I actually have the same problem seeing myself surrounded by respectable members of media falling all over themselves justifying the liberal use of putang ina by President Rodrigo Duterte in his public statements.

Whatever everyone around me says, however, my position is that: The President of the Philippines should refrain from saying “putang ina” or similar vulgar expressions in his public utterances. The simple reason is that he is the President.

The President’s expletives may excite or entertain some of his listeners or add folksy color to his speeches, but Rodrigo Roa Duterte is supposed to have metamorphosed, as promised, from mayor of Davao City into the president of the Republic of the Philippines.

Actually, the distracting expletives were not only unfortunate but also unnecessary. His message would still be delivered without his cursing.

That was why I suggested days ago on Twitter that one of his close aides should be given the singular task of reminding him now and then: “Ser, presidenti naka, Ser!” (Or maybe an item should be inserted in the Office of the President budget for a Senior Hypnotist to do that?)

The final test question is: Would you allow your daughter to say “putang ina” in front of you – even if she is talking into a microphone (like President Duterte was)?

• Drugs distract admin from other basics?

THE DUTERTE administration’s focus has been on illegal drugs, not yet the equally urgent problems involving basic daily needs of the greater number.

After 10 weeks, the score stands at almost 3,000 drugs suspects killed and some 700,000 detained. At that rate, can the police deliver the targeted 100,000 heads within Duterte’s six-month deadline?

Assume that 100,000 drugs personalities are executed. While this can improve peace and order, will it mean more jobs, higher wages, cheaper food, better dwellings and schools, improved traffic flow in urban centers – which are all basic expectations?

The rehabilitation itself of the half-million users and street pushers who have turned themselves in has become a problem because there are no ready facilities. Private groups have offered to help.

China and the US also have promised assistance for rehab. But the $32 million promised by the US is tied to a condition that human rights and due process be respected – the same issue that prompted Duterte to explode days ago with his infamous putang ina.

A bigger question is how President Duterte will sort out his options in the seething US-China rivalry threatening to transform territorial disputes in the South China Sea into a war-like confrontation.

Duterte appears to be warming up to China’s overtures while turning cold to the US. But what if Beijing fails to show good faith? What if it fails to deliver within the tight timetable filled with many campaign commitments crying for attention?

Panatag access pivotal to Fil-Sino ties

WHAT good will the railroad lines and rehab centers offered by Beijing serve if Filipinos will continue to be barred by the Chinese from their traditional fishing ground at Panatag (Scarborough) shoal?

Where is the good faith? Duterte himself has reported that China appears to have sinister plans for Panatag, including transforming it into an artificial isle with military facilities that would put Luzon within Chinese radar and missile range.

After his summitry baptism, President Duterte presumably now has a better view of the larger regional picture, as well as the balancing act that he has to perform in dealing with China and the US.

Actually the two superpowers need each other in a symbiotic economic relationship, although China resents the US attempt to install itself as the dominant power in what has long been Beijing’s turf.

Their merchants and investors have been active in both directions, with trade between them growing to over $562 billion in 2013. China has become the third largest market for US goods (after Canada and Mexico), and the US is China’s largest export market.

The Chinese People’s Daily has reported that the two were moving to conclude talks on an investment treaty under the Obama administration. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has vowed to review such regional pacts, may not look kindly on that.

In the recent G20 summit in Hangzhou, Obama may have dealt his last card when he served notice that the US stood by its treaty allies in the region and that Beijing must abide by international law and the ruling of the arbitral court at The Hague upholding the submissions of the Philippines.

China ignored that notice served by the US which, after all, owes it some $1.3 trillion, the biggest slice held by a foreign government in the US national debt of $19 trillion. (Japan holds $1.1 trillion, the second biggest.)

(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 13, 2016)

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