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Displaying items by tag: Politics

Tourism chief asks Robredo, media to 'tone down' statements on killings

BANGKOK, Thailand – Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo appealed to Vice President Leni Robredo and the media to "tone down" in its reporting of extrajudicial killings to make it easier for her to promote Philippine tourism.
"I have a great respect for VP (Vice President) Leni. Philippines is now becoming an alternate destination in Asia and Europe. Eh 'yung mga statements na ganoon, nahihirapan kami i-sell ang Philippines," said Teo on Wednesday, March 22.
(Statements like that make it hard for us to sell the Philippines.)
She was speaking at a press conference in Bangkok, Thailand, on the last day of President Rodrigo Duterte's official visit here.
"This does not only refer to VP Leni but also to media. Medyo i-tone down natin 'yung EJK (Let's tone down on statements on extrajudicial killings) because I'm always asked wherever I go, even in Asia and Europe, 'totoo ba ito?' (is this true?) and I would say it's safe in the Philippines and I would always ask them to come," she added.
Teo had been asked if Robredo's video message for a United Nations meeting, where she spoke of summary killings being linked to the drug war, has affected the country's tourism industry.
She said the effect can be seen in how tour operators from various countries have asked her if it's safe to travel to the Philippines.
Thus, Teo said it would help if media and officials like Robredo softened their statements on the summary killings of suspected drug personalities.
"I hope those statements can be toned down because we are having a hard time selling the Philippines. Just help us sell the Philippines," said Teo in a mix of English and Filipino.
The Tourism Secretary admitted, however, that there has actually been an increase in tourists travelling to the Philippines.
"Inspite of that, I still see that we have more tourists coming to the Philippines, especially in China, Europe, and Asia," she said.
The Duterte administration's drug war has so far been linked to the deaths of over 7,000 persons. Of this, some 2,500 are suspected drug personalities killed in police operations while 3,600 are victims in cases of "deaths under investigation."
The Philippine police says it has finished investigating the deaths of 922 individuals. – Rappler.com


A painful lesson from Letty Shahani (RIP)

The country lost a most able leader over the weekend with the passing of former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani.
She could have been president were she not the sister of Fidel Ramos. She certainly had the brains and the experience for the job. Sadly, while the country has had two presidents whose father or mother had been president before them, a brother and sister both being elected chief executive is not yet politically viable.
I had always admired Letty Shahani, except for what I saw as her one shortcoming. At her urging, one of her three kids entered politics and became a member of the House of Representatives, where he accomplished little except to flex his muscle by virtue of being the son of a senator as well as nephew of the president.
When Fidel and Letty exited Philippine politics, so did the spoiled kid.
That is neither here nor there. One of the things that Senator Shahani did was to have a study conducted to determine one thing: what was wrong with the Filipino?
Like it or not, there is something wrong with us. And no, I will say nothing about the current mess we’re in due to our wrong choice of president in last year’s elections. He wasn’t the first bad president we’ve had, and I don’t think he will be the last.
If anything, the Philippines seems doomed to have lacklustre, incompetent, corrupt and clueless presidents, vice presidents, senators, congressmen, mayors, etc. Did I mention congressmen? Yes, I did but that group of scum masquerading as human beings deserves special mention.
To quote US President Donald Trump and his perception of Mexicans, some I presume are good people.
We keep harping about how well Filipinos do when they leave for abroad. When they immigrate, they are driven to succeed. Most of the time, they do.
Indeed, Filipinos are a talented people. We can excel at practically anything we set our minds to, be it the arts, athletics, business and even politics. Filipinos are prized workers because they go the extra mile and do not mind working extra hours when needed.
Why then, Senator Shahani wanted to find out, do Filipinos constantly bring themselves and their homeland down at every opportunity? Why the crab mentality? And why our failure to rise to our full potential?
For so long, the Philippines with all its natural resources and wealth of talent had been bogged down by its leadership to the point that the country was deemed “the sick man of Asia”.
The Shahani study answered the question, and nobody liked what it concluded. The Philippines and ergo the Filipino people were a damaged culture, it said.
In the few instances whenever this is brought up, a false sense of nationalism usually surfaces.
Whether in an intelligent and serious conversation, or in idle talk over bottles of beer, I would hear arguments that “the Filipino is better than the rest.” And when the alcohol starts to hit, the argument deteriorates to “the Filipino is street smart.” The Tagalog term is “ma-abilidad.”
Yes, we sure can get one over them damn foreigners, huh? Even when we are living in their countries as guest workers.
Meanwhile, this mentality has made graft and corruption perfectly acceptable in government service, as long as one does not get caught.
You think senators and congressmen have only recently discovered the beauty of pork barrel? Think again. As far back as the 50s and 60s, media, civil society, the academe and the church has been pointing out the evil that is the Philippine pork barrel system, which goes by many names and incarnations, but it’s always the same thing.
Millions intended for projects and programs to benefit the public instead go to the pockets of the country’s elected leadership.
So a group of senators have dinner in Malacanang? Whatsoever for? Why for the perks and pasalubong that the generous host is sure to give when the night ends, of course.
Another now also departed lady senator once pointed to another reason for the culture of corruption that pervades Philippine politics and society. She blamed the Chinese.
She may have been right, but she very quickly retracted her statement.
Hers may have been a claim that may or may not have been spot on, but one that is impossible to prove. I am not mentioning her name because I am still angry at her for foisting the son of a despised dictator as her running mate. She lost badly but he almost won. See how damaged we are?
Everything that’s happening now can be explained by the Shahani report.
But one thing it didn’t say was if there is still hope for the Philippines. Sorry, I don’t have the answer to that one either.


Elected leaders who misunderstand their roles

It would seem that a number of our elected officials have no clear understanding of the roles they have to play under a democratic government.
Foremost of these are US President Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, as well as US House Speaker Paul Ryan and Philippine Speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez.
Messrs. Trump and Duterte both have issues with judges who disagree with their actions. For the American leader, his ill-fated Executive Order banning nationals from seven predominantly Islamic countries from traveling to the US was quickly shot down by federal judges last month. But he is so hell-bent on his anti-Muslim campaign that he has just released another EO that continues to limit nationals from six of the original seven countries from entering the US.
In the Philippines, meanwhile, Mr. Duterte has just said that local government officials such as mayors should not be subject to audit by the Commission on Audit, whose job is to make sure that public funds are spent legally. Speaking in the vernacular this week, Mr. Duterte said something to the effect that the men and women of the CA should just take over as mayors since they seem to know better.

It has been pointed out time and again that Mr. Trump’s lack of experience in governance is one of his biggest weaknesses. He simply does not understand that his heading the executive department does not mean he also heads the legislative and judicial branches of government, or that they are subordinate to him. He feels he is more empowered because he was elected, while everyone else in the two other branches of government are either appointed or promoted.
As for Mr. Duterte, he recently admitted – an apologized for – continuing to act like a city mayor, which he was for the longest time. As president of the Republic of the Philippines, he wields tremendous power and has appeared swamped by the responsibilities of office.
As SpiderMan was reminded by his Uncle Ben, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
As President, Duterte still does not comprehend his great responsibility to the Filipino people. Consider that some of his appointees like Mocha Uson (essentially a former bold starlet) and Cesar Montano (a faded matinee star) have been committing acts that show their failure to follow the rules at the local board of censors and a marketing arm of the Tourism department, respectively.
It will get worse in the near future as Mr. Duterte has promised to give a job to publicity hound Sandra Cam (a self-styled whistleblower), who is already acting like a big shot by claiming to be close to the president.

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