POSTSCRIPT / June 5, 2018 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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That kiss was gross. Beso-beso na lang!

THIS is unofficial, but the reputation of President Rodrigo Duterte as a great lover may have suffered after that kissing scene last Sunday at the Grand Hilton Convention Center in Seoul. He was in South Korea for a three-day visit.

At the end of a two-hour speech on the usual topics, Duterte picked two attractive women in the crowd to come up the stage to receive copies of a book about priests’ indiscretions. He then showed the better part of discretion by cajoling one of the women to kiss him on the lips.

The first woman got her copy of “Altar of Secrets: Sex, Politics, and Money in the Philippine Catholic Church,” followed by a safe beso-beso. The second woman, after receiving the book, thanked Duterte and lifted the back of his hand to her forehead in the traditional Filipino way of showing respect for elders.

But Duterte would not let her go with just an “amen-amen” (hand to the forehead) and her excitedly jumping up and down. He said he wanted a kiss.

When the woman hesitated, he leaned toward her and pointed to his waiting puckered lips. After an eternity, in slo-mo, their mouths met to the “kilig” (giggle) of the cheering crowd. The pair then embraced.

The TV footage released by Malacañang had the camera panning the crowd instead of showing the deathless “lips to lips” part, but videos caught by pesky smart phones have been uploaded on the internet.

In an interview, the Filipina whose name escaped me said she was married to a Korean and had two kids. There was no information, however, on how her husband — or Duterte’s common law wife Honeylet Avanceña — took the incident.

Grown blasé through the years, I would have let the incident pass had the President and the woman confined themselves to a beso-beso or a more relaxed abrazo. But somebody crossed a sort of nine-dash line on propriety.

There were aggravating elements. It happened in a packed well-lit convention center — not a dim night club or a beer garden – and on centerstage was the President displaying his amorous bent and kissing prowess. He had just delivered, btw, a speech spiced with his usual cursing and unabashed references to his womanizing.

No wonder social media is filled with critical comments despite the woman’s pleading that the encounter was just for the “kilig” of it and the President’s asking the public to “huwag nang dibdibin” (not to take it seriously).

I’m ready to gloss over the antics of lolos looking for fun. But I find not only awkward, but also gross the President’s leaning forward for a kiss while pointing to his pursed lips. (Did you notice if he had his eyes closed?)

 Phl soldiers prefer US-made guns

IN THE SAME speech spiced with expletives, Duterte called Canada “stupid” for having raised concerns that the helicopters the Philippines was buying from it for $233 million might be used against Filipinos who happen to be rebels.

The Philippines had wanted to buy 16 Bell 412EPI utility helicopters, but Duterte scrapped the deal in February after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ordered a review over fears of human rights abuses. Duterte said he might buy helicopters instead from South Korea.

He said it was stupid to acquire such helicopters if they would just be used for ferrying supplies and doing evacuation and mercy missions, but not for combat operations against rebels.

He asked: “How stupid can you… Why would you say that I cannot use it against my own citizens when there are citizens in my country who are trying to overthrow my government?” He was referring to the communist New People’s Army as well as to secessionists and terrorists.

Meanwhile, a random survey of officers and men of the armed forces shows that most (more than 75 percent) of them prefer using US-made weapons.

For infantry assault rifles, they favor the AR platform in 5.56 mm or caliber .223. However, snipers prefer the Barrett in caliber .50. As for sidearm, the favorite remains to be the caliber .45 model 1911A1.

The rifles given by China have not been issued, reportedly pending their undergoing field testing to ensure they will not be the cause of self-inflicted casualties.

Related to this, sources involved in the Marawi siege disputed claims that terror leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omarkhayam Maute were killed by snipers using China-made rifles from a kilometer away.

As for fighter planes, it appears that anything supersonic that the cash-strapped government can provide is welcome, although the pilots favor US-made aircraft. The Korean-made FA-50 being used by the Air Force is a clone of the US F-16.

The same preference is seen for combat helicopters, although the Air Force and the Navy now use Poland-made choppers and Augusta-Westland AW 109s.

American-made armored personnel carriers are still preferred owing to Filipino mechanics’ familiarity with US equipment.

The only non-US-made APCs that the AFP used were the English-made Simbas acquired during the Aquino-I administration and Portuguese-made clone of the V-150 “Commando” and V-300 “Piranha” bought at the height of the MNLF rebellion, when the US refused to sell weapons to the Philippines at the urging of Great Britain.

The government arsenal in Bataan produces 5.56, 7.52, caliber .45 and 9 mm ammunition. Supply is augmented by major service purchases through bidding. Bullets supplied by dealers must also undergo field testing.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 5, 2018)

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