POSTSCRIPT / June 18, 2019 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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‘Order ni Misis’: No meeting with Du30

UPON “Order ni Misis,” the captain of the fishing boat that suspected Chinese militia sunk on June 9 in Philippine waters off Palawan snubbed a Malacañang meeting set yesterday with President Duterte.

As caught on video by ABS-CBN News, Lanie the wife of fb GemVer captain Junel Insigne told her husband by phone to go back home. He was then about to fly to Manila where the President was waiting.

The video triggered a torrent of comments on social media, dominated on opposite sides by followers and critics of Duterte, with the crowd in-between having a hard time injecting sense and sobriety in the partisan exchange.

Using social media political content as indicator, we sense a deeply divided nation, torn between those who adore and those who abhor Duterte, with one side no longer listening to the other.

The main argument of those who did not want the meeting to take place was that the boat captain would just be pressured, if not bribed, by the President’s operators into recasting his narration of the ramming and sinking of his boat to move it closer to the version of the Chinese.

The pro-Duterte crowd, on the other hand, said the media and the “yellows” (anyone voicing criticism is daubed yellow) were manipulating Insigne and his crew of 21 to put Duterte and China in bad light.

The general public, by this time, should know how to spot and ignore partisan talk and propaganda. So we think the exchange can still help ventilate suppressed thoughts and clear enough space in the public mind for the truth.

The ABS-CBN caption of its video of the “Order ni Misis” (our own, not the network’s, tag for it) said: “Junel Insigne, captain of GEM-VIR1, did not push through with plans of traveling to Manila to meet President Duterte. The video shows his wife Lanie telling him to return to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.” (The boat’s name painted on its hull is f/b GEM-VER.)

“Order ni Misis” was a catchy line in the jingle of a popular brand of cooking oil decades ago. It played on the presumed tendency of Filipino men to follow the order of the wife. Although the menfolk will not readily admit it, Philippine society is matriarchal, IMHO.

Junel, who we presume is now in San Jose placating his “misis,” said in a TV interview the day before that he would ask the President in their meeting to: (1) help in repairing his boat, (2) ban Chinese from the Recto Bank area, and (3) prosecute the Chinese who damaged his boat and nearly killed the crew.

Against that list, we had planned to compare the outcome of their meeting. The snub set us back, as well as Malacañang’s think tank and the usual political kibitzers.

Since June 9, Duterte’s stock has been falling with each day that he remains quiet about the incident. Questions have been raised about his loyalty to his countrymen versus the Chinese as his partiality to China had been demonstrated not a few times already.

While he waits to be able to say his piece on the hit-and-run incident in the Recto Bank area, his PR handlers are having a hard time putting together a narrative that will hew close to the facts without offending Xi Jinping, his friend and benefactor.

 New BSP office for public affairs/investors

A NEW office dedicated to communications and investor relations has been created in the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas to fulfill the bank’s vision “to be recognized globally as the monetary authority and primary financial system supervisor supports a strong economy and promotes a high quality of life for all Filipinos.”

BSP Gov. Benjamin Diokno said the office, under a Managing Director, will handle communications, including investor relations, media relations and corporate affairs with the goal of raising the country’s sovereign ratings.

He said the new office will aim to “create and coordinate more robust enterprise-wide efforts to harness communications as a key policy instrument for achieving BSP’s strategic and operational goals and to facilitate more focused development of communications as an organizational competency.”

The BSP has a Corporate Affairs Office (CORAO) and an Investor Relations Office (IRO). Pending Commission on Audit assessment of some questioned activities in the two offices, their status is being reviewed. Meantime, the IRO head has resigned.

Insiders say that journalist Margaux Salcedo, a low-key campaign strategist, is being eyed to head the new BSP communications department. The news has been well received in media circles.

While Salcedo maintains a lifestyle persona and is respected as a food critic, she is known among news and public affairs writers as an expert communications strategist. Formerly a news anchor of GMA Network and host of the morning show Unang Hirit, she became campaign spokesperson of former President Erap Estrada.

After the 2010 elections, she was spokesperson of Stradcom Corp. when it had its crisis with the Land Transportation Office. In the past three elections, she steered the communications strategy of a senatorial candidate who landed in the Top 3 in 2013, handled the nationwide Voters Education Campaign of 2016, and the campaign preparations for a presidential aspirant in-between.

Her deeper background for investor relations includes her being a graduate of Ateneo Law School, where she was Senior Editor of the Ateneo Law Journal. She is also an Economics graduate of De La Salle University.

Salcedo worked for the firm of Cesar Villanueava, former chairman of the Governance Commission on GOCCs, and for Supreme Court Justice Josue Bellosillo, before becoming Estrada’s spokesperson.

We asked Salcedo about her reported heading BSP’s Office of the Managing Director — Communications and Investor Relations. She said she has not yet signed on, as she is writing two books and building a boutique publishing house that will focus on legacy books such as biographies and coffee table books for institutions.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 18, 2019)

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