Almost a year after President Duterte assumed office, people have learned to accept his off the cuff, surprising and startling decisions. As usual his officials scramble to explain, downplay or brush off any negative results of those statements. Some boot- lickers even suggest that his declarations are good for the country regardless of what he said.
As expected, people are confused though some take it lightheartedly and say, “he’ll change his mind” and prepare for the worse.
The recent tiff with the European Union is another case when government agencies and officials come out with conflicting opinions and contradictory assessments of the impact or results. Some had to swallow their pride.
Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernest Pernia hopes that the President would change his mind. Businessmen were more circumspect. They said they thought over this declaration and they think there will be no impact because “the President will change his mind” eventually.
The businessmen have much to lose with the cool EU-Philippine relations. The Union is one of our biggest trading partners next to the US. It is not one country but several and a dampened business relation will hurt.
Of course the President is banking on making Russia take over the EU slack but Russia is a different society with a different economic environment. It is nothing compared to the combined buying power of the EU. While Russia’s dictatorial regime might be to Duterte’s heart and inclination that is not so with Filipinos.
President Duterte was irked by the EU insistence on human rights that strikes directly at the heart of his anti-illegal drugs campaign. The president sees this opinion as interference in Philippine affairs. He sees this concern about human rights as conditions attached to EU aid to the Philippines and so he rejected it outright.
The top financial advisers of the President have different versions. Pernia said he and two others in the finance team, were not consulted and on how to proceed with the loss of grants. He said he was surprised about the decision. On the other hand, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said he recommended this rejection of EU aid. So, who’s telling the truth?
The nation wants to know because the EU aid is not peanuts even if peanuts downtown have become pricey these days. The aid for various projects particularly for Mindanao stands at US$278.7 million. At this time when Congress is even contemplating to tax salt and sugar to raise money, that EU money is more than its face value.
But “no, thank you”, President Duterte declares because that money comes with a tag – respect human rights.
This is funny because while the President riles at those who disagree with his counter-illegal drugs campaign that netted several thousand deaths, his new Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano says there is no such thing as state sponsored killings. If that were so, why is the President so incensed? If there is no truth to the EU observation, should not the best way to prove there is indeed none is for government to conduct investigations and even ask the EU to help?
People, nevertheless are hoping the President will change his mind and his advisers will be able to see a way out without loss of face.
On the other hand, there is another matter that we can say, “no thanks”. This refers to the planned implementing rules on the new law.
We want to see the Land Transportation Office to change its mind about removing the Holy Rosary handing on the windshield and miniature images of saints and Christ on the dashboard. LTO going too far.
The Ant-Distracting Driving Act has given some LTO officials a kind of anti-religion and even satanic idea as if the rosary hanging in front of the driver distracts. It does not, in fact, it reminds the driver to be more careful.
We can agree that those big placards on the windshield restrict the view of the driver but not the rosary or the tiny images. Toy animals in front and rear do restrict because of their sizes but surely not the rosary beads.
LTO should avoid an overkill because there are more distractions than a rosary and small images or stickers like those of the LTO.
Most major distractions are the LED video and static billboards advertisements that line the streets and highways. Gyrating, skimpily-clad women distract, not the rosary.
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