POSTSCRIPT / October 29, 2017 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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New US travel rules don’t cover Phl, yet

WHILE hordes of global travelers entering the United States on more than 2,000 flights each day feel harassed by new security screening imposed since Thursday, US-bound Filipinos still enjoy a sort of reprieve till next year.

The stricter US rules supplement those issued earlier by the Trump administration that, among other procedures, imposed rigid screening and banned laptops in the cabin of some airlines emanating from targeted Mideast cities.

Filipinos flying from Manila to the US have gotten used to check-in pressure. They know they have to be at the airport 3-4 hours before departure, and consider the traffic mess further delaying their going to the airport.

One enhanced security measure that has helped speed up the passenger processing at Terminal-2 of Philippine Airlines was its installation in July of an Explosive Trace Detection (ETD) device on large Portable Electronic Devices (PED).

Wire reports have it that in some airports abroad the new US rules involve passengers being interviewed before check-in or their filling out forms asking for more information about them. The imposition has irritated not a few passengers.

One welcome news is that US authorities have postponed until next year the implementation in Manila of the stricter screening. The rule will apply to nonstop flights where Manila is the last origin point before the US port of entry. So all PAL flights to the US are covered except the one going to New York via Vancouver.

Philippine Airlines has 40 US flights per week, 36 of them nonstop from Manila — 14 to Los Angeles, 10 to San Francisco, five to Honolulu, and seven to Guam. There are four flights to New York via Vancouver. Each year, the flag carrier flies roughly 840,000 passengers across the Pacific to and from the US.

The so-called high seasons are from April to August for the Philippine-based and US-based summer travel market, and December for balikbayan holiday travel to the Philippines, January for their return to the US. Low months are February, October and November.

Meanwhile, note this excerpt from a report in “There seems to be some confusion as airlines around the world gave various statements to CNBC about what the measures would entail and how they would be rolling out.

“In Dubai, Emirates has begun searching carry-on bags and questioning passengers about their luggage, trip origin, and liquids. Xiamen Airlines in China said they will only interview passengers that show a ‘certain degree of risk.’

“Singapore Airlines’ website says passengers may have to undergo security questioning during check-in and boarding. Some airlines have permission to delay implementing the additional protocols until January 2018.” (The same permission had been granted PAL.—fdp)

In Hong Kong, a passenger flying to Los Angeles described the new procedure: “They asked me if I packed my own bag, where I packed it from, where I came from, they looked at my itinerary, verify where I was, who I was, where I came from.”

 Must Panelo advertise sexual prowess?

ASSUMING chief presidential lawyer Salvador Panelo is really good in bed and performed like an 18-year-old when he was a bachelor, we think there is no need for him to advertise his sexual prowess, this being extraneous to his sensitive job in the Palace.

Panelo drew brickbats yesterday for sexual jokes he cracked during an interview with Karin Wenger of the Swiss National Public Radio and Television and freelance Filipino journalist Ana Santos.

Still looking groovy at 68, he told the two journalists that he was “better in bed” and had been told that he “f**ks like an 18-year-old” when he was still single.

After negative reactions rained on him, Panelo explained he was just interplaying words to make his interviewers laugh. (They did not, but went ahead and reported his joke which he later said the duo took “wrongly to suit [their] anti-administration sentiment.”

That last remark fired up some members of the working press. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines lambasted Panelo and described his accusations as “deluded as his appreciation of his comic talents.”

The guild said: “It is bad enough that chief presidential legal counsel Panelo should blame the unwilling recipients of his — to put it very, very kindly — utterly tasteless humor for failing to discern what, to him anyway, passes for wit.”

In an interview with ANC’s Headstart, Panelo clarified his remarks and said he did nothing wrong in cracking jokes:

“It should be, ‘I pack my clothes, P-A-C-K.’ They spelled it incorrectly and apparently they didn’t get the joke… When you pronounce ‘pack’ with an F, that’s the joke.,, I told them, ‘I’m telling you this to make you laugh,’ but apparently these writers are obviously anti-administration. They didn’t write about the essence of the interview.”

The NUJP countered: “How then can he explain this in the context of his being ‘better in bed’? Because he ‘packs like an 18-year-old’? How does that even begin to make sense?

“So, yes, Mr. Panelo, you are right in saying Ms Wenger and Ms Santos didn’t get the joke. Neither do we. And we stand with our two colleagues in denouncing your crass display of lechery and misogyny.”

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar was also criticized days ago for saying that European Union officials who are critical of President Rodrigo Duterte just have too much sex (“ma-iyot”).

On Twitter, @lahingpnoy recalled these tasteless remarks of administration officials (whose identities you can guess): “Kulang sa iyot,” “Putang ina ninyo,” “Mag child pornography kayo,” “Mayor muna mauna,” “I f*ck like an 18-yer-old.”

To which @FDPascual reacted: “Dragging down official discourse to its lowest level of vulgarity!”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 29, 2017)

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