Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 23 March 2019


A hundred million thank you’s to Conchita Carpio Morales and Albert del Rosario. For taking up the cudgels for more than a hundred million Filipinos who have stood helplessly by as China made inroads into Philippine territory and sovereignty over the past 20 or so years.

The irony, nay, the tragedy of it all is that China has been succeeding by leaps and bounds the past three years with the help of our own President. And when apprised of the Morales-Del Rosario move, he gave them no gesture of support or solidarity. Rather, he hastened to assure his China counterparts of his support and solidarity, even planning a trip to China next month to give these assurances in person.

Morales and Del Rosario are no fly-by-night ambulance chasers or publicity seekers.  They have done their homework with all the necessary documentation. They are doing, in fact, what the government should have been doing—protecting the Philippines, the now-and-future Filipinos in general, and the Filipino fishermen in particular who can only ply their trade in our shores with the express permission of the Chinese—against what is clearly a Chinese challenge to our sovereignty. The least the President should do, if he thinks he cannot support our defenders, is not to say anything that would give solace to China.

I find it amazing. Consider the contrast: On the one hand, we have a President who doesn’t have the nerve to take on China even with a favorable ruling from an international tribunal, who is ever so fearful, cautious, who tiptoes about, who fawns and constantly reassures China that we are its friends. He rationalizes this obeisant attitude by saying he doesn’t want to go to war with China. Nonsense. China doesn’t want to go to war with us either. Why should they, after all? Without firing a shot, they have gotten what they wanted. You get the picture, Reader. A man who is afraid of his own shadow, where China is concerned.

Let’s look at the other hand, where we have a President who is fearless: He curses the Pope, an incumbent American president, the European Union, the whole United Nations. The fearlessness, in fact,  extends to God Himself, who the President makes fun of, as well as of the crucifixion of His Son.

So who is the real President? The fearful one, or the fearless one?

If fearless, then why the blind spot for China? SWS surveys for the past 20 years have shown consistently that China is not trusted by Filipinos. It is at the bottom of the list, in fact. The same surveys show the United States, European countries and Japan at the top of the list. So the trust toward China is definitely very un-Filipino of the President. So what has China got over the President? I do not know. If you have a clue, Reader, pray tell me.

Now, let’s turn the spotlight on ourselves. We Filipinos.  We seem to have blind, soft spots for the President. I can explain some but not others. Take for example the surveys that we have great trust for the President, but we do not approve of extrajudicial killings (EJKs), which he seems to approve of. How to explain? Simple, really. We don’t like drugs, so we approve the “war on drugs.”  But EJKs are not the way to go about it. Thus, the satisfaction, and also the dissatisfaction.

What is inexplicable is our attitude toward his seeming disrespect for the triune God. Why did we not roundly condemn it? The country is about 92-percent Christian (81-percent Catholic), and yet, we were as still as mice when our God was dissed. Contrast this with our behavior toward Carlos Celdran, whose offense was to dress himself as Jose Rizal, stand up during a lull in the services at Manila Cathedral, and show the sign “Damaso.”  What happened to him? He was convicted of “offending religious feelings”—an offense that carries the penalty of two months to one year in jail. And the conviction was affirmed by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.   I didn’t hear any dissent from the Filipinos.

Then again, Reader, we may not have a blind, soft spot for the President. We may just be afraid of him. Or want his favor—like many candidates in the coming elections. You think?