POSTSCRIPT / January 30, 2018 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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All investors, not just Indians, warned

TOO BAD the advisory of President Rodrigo Duterte for Indian investors to avoid Mindanao registered as a general alarm for all foreign businessmen to keep away from that troubled island, including Davao City.

That happens when the President, addressing a crowd abroad, sallies forth without a prepared speech and rambles on with his Freudian slip showing.

His warning to keep away could be taken to cover the entire Philippines. Such negative remarks from no less than the country’s leader could dampen the interest of foreign investors shopping around for more secure locations in the region.

That may not be the alarmist intention of the President when he addressed Indian businessmen Friday on the last day of his visit to New Delhi, but that could be the likely effect on all investors.

He told the businessmen: “Avoid Mindanao. There’s still martial law there… But it’s a martial law that’s not really a martial law… It is a martial law for the enemies of the state.”

He then added scary details: “But in the implementation against the enemies of the state, ISIS, for example and the rebellious Abu Sayyaf, who are fond of decapitating foreigners, kidnap in front of you know, there’s something there in the south that is quite virulent.”

Although he may have alarmed some foreigners – mentioning the recurring issues of his bloody drug war, his derision for human rights advocates, and what to him is American imperialism — he assured his Indian audience that they were welcome:

“If you are just an ordinary guy there (in Mindanao) with a business, you can hardly even notice… there are no soldiers around, only policemen.”

As regards his home city of Davao, touted as among the world’s safest places, the President assured businessmen that it is “relatively safe.” He presumably meant “safe” compared to the rest of Mindanao.

Duterte also mentioned the supposed “42 virgins” waiting as rewards in the afterlife for Islamic martyrs: “The come-on is that if you die a martyr, you go to heaven with 42 virgins waiting for you. Well, if I could just make it a come-on also for those who would like to go to my country.”

After his unfortunate ad-lib drew criticisms, his spokesman Harry Roque clarified that he was just joking. He failed to say, btw, if Duterte’s “42 virgins” were in lieu of the “80,000 servants and 72 wives” that other accounts mention as heavenly rewards.

Whatever, it was in bad taste for the President to seemingly offer Filipina virgins as a come-on to tourists and investors. The remark only betrayed his obsession, at age 72, with sex and a seeming low regard for women.

One tweeter, @BoomBuencamino, noted on Twitter: “While Trump was in Davos selling American business to the world, Duterte was in India offering sex tours featuring Filipina virgins.”

Attending the World Economic Forum of rich and powerful nations at the Swiss resort city, Trump announced last week that the US is now open for business. Striking a conciliatory tone, the isolationist president said that his “America First” slogan does not mean “America Alone.”

 Dennis Uy not eyeing Phl Rise

ANENT our Postscript of Jan. 21 about businessmen from Duterte Country now active in corporate acquisitions and business expansions, the STAR received a letter from a spokesman of Dennis Uy, one of the Davao capitalists mentioned in our column.

Lawyer Adel Tamano, vice president for corporate affairs of Udenna Corp., the holding company of Uy, said in a letter to our Editor:

“Referring to our founder and chairman, Mr. Dennis Uy, the column read in part: ‘Reports are rife that Uy is now poised to enter the Benham Rise, a 13-million-hectare fishing sanctuary said to hold manganese and other heavy metals on top of its rich fishery resources, and possibly oil and gas deposits.’

“We would like to clarify that we do not have plans of exploring Benham Rise.

“Udenna is a fast-growing conglomerate with diverse interests in industries with high impact and that are vital to the growth of the economy. At this point, we remain focused on opportunities that will expand our existing businesses and bring in more synergies, including sound partnerships and strategic acquisitions.

“We assure partners, investors and other stakeholders that any investment we will make will be studied carefully and thoroughly to make sure each will add value to our existing businesses.”

 Hazards of tweeting too fast

STILL on feedback, we posted Jan. 27 on Twitter an apology to Vice Ganda, host of Showtime on ABS-CBN one of whose segments is “Miss Q&A” where gays and transgenders compete by answering questions posed to them.

A tweeter noted that another Alert Level may be needed for the “relocation” of Mt. Mayon from Albay to Naga, apparently referring to PCOO Asec Mocha Unson’s incorrectly saying the volcano is in Naga in Camarines Sur. (She has since apologized for the error.)

I jumped in with: “… and what Alert Level should it be when Vice Ganda says (as he did today in his Showtime Q&A contest) that Mt. Mayon is in Camarines Sur?”

To check, I replayed the ‘Miss Q&A’ segment to listen to Vice’s complete question, and confirmed that I was wrong in anticipating he was asking where Mt. Mayon is. My mind was probably still on Mocha’s slip that Mayon is in Naga, in Camarines Sur.

Discovering my mistake, I hurriedly tweeted: “Sorry, Vice, you were asking pala where Naga is (not where Mt. Mayon is, as I mistakenly anticipated!). And the correct answer is Camarines Sur, as you said. My apologies to you and those misled by my tweet.”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 30, 2018)

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