President Rodrigo Duterte’s making the cancellation of the US visa of the former enforcer of his murderous “war on drugs” the basis for the revocation of the Philippines’ Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States may be as absurd and as mindless as the rest of his so-called policies. But among its unintended consequences is the opportunity it provides for the country to seriously look into its foreign relations as a domestic concern. The public attention Mr. Duterte’s unashamed decision to make the interest of one person the basis of the Philippines’ dealings with another country will hopefully also knock some sense into his stubborn constituency and encourage the engagement in the debate over public issues of some of the uninformed millions who make up the majority in this benighted land.
Olongapo City prosecutor Emilie Fe de los Santos declared the other day during the preliminary investigation of the murder charge against Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton of the United States Marine Corps that “there is no gender issue” involved in the killing of Jennifer Laude. “The issue,” she said is simply that “someone got killed.”
Was de los Santos saying that Jennifer Laude would have been killed anyway even if she was born a woman, and that her being a transgender is immaterial to the question of motive? Isn’t motive a fundamental issue in establishing the guilt or innocence of anyone accused of a crime?
INTERVIEWING University of the Philippines student Marjohara Tucay, editor of the UP student newspaper The Philippine Collegian, GMA7 TV’s Howie Severino implied in so many words that by expressing his opposition to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) during a GMA7 TV event with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Tucay was in violation of the ethics of journalism. Severino asked if what Tucay did was reflective of the kind of journalism his generation was being taught. Severino argued that the journalist’s task is merely to cover events, to be “objective” and not engage his or her subjects in debate.
And yet that was what Severino was doing. While demanding “objectivity” on the part of Tucay, Severino was being so “objective” he was haranguing the latter in favor of his own views — and over his own network, which also described Tucay as the student editor who disrupted (nanggulo) the GMA7 event. Was the media spectacle GMA7 and Severino put in place in behalf of Clinton indicative of what his generation has learned about journalism?
A hundred thousand pesos nowadays will buy you 1/20th of a two-bedroom house in a cheap suburb of Manila, and less than 1/10th of a previously-owned 2004 Series Three BMW sedan. The same amount should just about cover the insurance for both purchases.
It’s not much — about US$2,000 — given today’s prices. But that’s what US Marine Daniel Smith is supposed to have paid Suzette Nicolas, the “Nicole” of the November 1, 2005 Subic rape case, who now says, in so many words, that she wasn’t quite sure if Smith raped her. And yet she was raped was what she had been saying for three years. Branch 139 of the Makati Regional Trial Court believed her enough to convict Smith, though not to condemn him to death as Ms. Nicolas earlier told the media she wanted.