POSTSCRIPT / January 5, 2017 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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Russian Navy is here. What next?

WE’RE HOPING President Rodrigo Duterte has his national security options neatly figured out as he opens the country to increased Chinese and Russian military presence with the waning of American influence on his administration.
President Duterte gave clearance Tuesday for two Russian warships to enter Manila Bay, just one kilometer away from the United States embassy on Roxas Blvd., for what was billed as a four-day goodwill visit.
The Russian anti-submarine vessel Admiral Tributs and the sea tanker Boris Butoma arrived with Rear Admiral Eduard Mikhailov, deputy commander of the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet, bearing among other things proposals for joint exercises with Philippine naval forces.
Days ago, China’s lone aircraft carrier Liaoning sailed in nearby disputed waters, raising a protest from Taiwan but not a word of concern from Malacañang.
Its J-15 fighter jets practised maneuvers over the Yellow Sea last month before heading into the Pacific with its escort flotilla of frigates and destroyers. Having flexed its muscles, it then turned back to prowl the South China Sea like a landlord looking after its vast property.
There are no significant counterpart movements reported lately of the US Seventh Fleet based in Yokosuka, Japan. The US Seventh is the largest of the forward-deployed American fleets, with 60-70 ships, 300 aircraft, and 40,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel.
Days ago, President Duterte recalled on TV telling US Ambassador Sung Y. Kim that he was willing to defend Manila’s maritime areas being militarized by China if the Seventh Fleet agreed to help fight trespassers. No reaction has been reported.
In Manila, Rear Admiral Mikhailov said the Russian Pacific Fleet want exercises similar to those they have been holding with other Southeast Asian countries. He said they want to demonstrate anti-terrorism capability and hold official discussions on other subjects.
The biggest problems facing the world, he said, are terrorism and piracy, against which the Russian Navy wants to show what it can do.
Duterte awaiting signal from Trump?

IT SEEMS it is not just joint exercises on the agenda. Beijing and Moscow have expressed readiness to help Manila upgrade its military capability with new weapons and other gear. Russia is offering to sell a submarine, drones and sniper rifles.
Duterte has announced his readiness to buy cheap (25 years to pay) Chinese rifles, except that most Filipino soldiers were reportedly hesitant to use guns made in China. Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua quickly clarified there was no firm offer yet.
While China and Russia have been busy on the diplomatic range, the hands of the US are tied by the long wait from the November elections to the January 20 turnover from Democratic President Barack Obama, a Duterte pet peeve, to Republican Donald Trump.
Duterte claimed after his seven-minute congratulatory phone conversation with Trump that they were now great friends. But we think he cannot be sure, yet, if the feeling is mutual.
He has announced his intention to scale down the Philippines’ security relations with its long-time ally the US while upgrading ties with China and Russia, with which he said he wanted to forge an “axis.” (He failed to explain what that “axis” was.)
Bristling with anti-US rhetoric laced with his trade-mark cursing, Duterte stopped short of serving his threatened notice of termination of Phl-US executive security arrangements — the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
Abrogating the older mother pact, the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, will be more complicated as its taking into binding effect had required the concurrence of the Senates of both countries. The President cannot undo a treaty on his own.
People who swear are more honest?
WE LIFTED yesterday from the site this article reporting that a research has shown that swearing a lot tells about how honest a person is. It was posted by Jessica Brown.
My saintly grandmother and her sister-nun, if they were alive, would disagree with the item’s suggesting: “You might want to rethink your New Year’s resolutions if you’ve pledged to swear less, because scientists have found the foul-mouthed among us are the most honest.”
The study said that researchers from the Universities of Hong Kong, Stanford, Cambridge and Maastricht found a link between profanity and honesty – “profanity” to include sexual references, vulgarity, offensive slang and anything else considered socially inappropriate.
The researchers first asked a group of 276 participants about their swearing habits, as well as how honest they were in different situations, and found the most honest people were also the heaviest swearers.
They also found that people were “much more likely to use swearing to express themselves and their emotions, rather than in an anti-social or harmful way towards others.”
In a second study, the researchers reportedly tested these findings in a more real-life setting, by analyzing the status updates of more than 73,000 Facebook users. They measured for honesty and profanity. Again, they found that honest people were more likely to use profane language.
They then used previous data to compare the integrity levels of US states with how often they swear – and found the same conclusion. They printed a chart showing by state the profanity-integrity rate of Americans.
The researchers said swearing is often used to express one’s feelings, which suggests people who do this more regularly portray themselves in a more honest light.
Note, however, that the article did not give details about the sex, age, education, economic status, ethnic roots, partisan color and such qualifiers for the individuals allegedly researched on.
Caveat: The Independent which is on top of Indy100 says that while they carry serious stuff, readers “just don’t always have to be so serious about it.”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 5, 2017)

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