Regional geopolitics or just local politics?
POSTSCRIPT - Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star) - April 7, 2019 - 12:00am

President Duterte is suddenly singing a different tune on China’s land-grabbing spree in the West Philippine Sea – an issue he had dismissed as just part of the “greater game of regional geopolitics” – apparently because it is now hurting his candidates in the midterm elections.

Until the votes are cast on May 13, expect Duterte to recite patriotic lines about defending Philippine territory, especially Pagasa island in Palawan, reviewing China contracts, looking after workers displaced by Chinese, fishermen being harassed at Panatag, et cetera.

Do not expect his friends in Beijing to noisily take offense – they know the charade will last only five weeks – as they have to help the Mayor stay in Malacañang as long as is necessary.

A survey conducted Dec. 16-19 showed that most Filipinos (44 percent) do not agree that “what China wants to happen in the Philippines is good for Filipinos.” Only 27 percent agreed that China has good intentions.

China’s aggressive activities in Philippine waters and its luring the administration into signing onerous deals have had social media bristling with negative comments on the perceived partiality of Duterte to Chinese.

With that traitorous bias – compounded by gut economic pressures – threatening to jeopardize the chances of his senatorial and other candidates, he now has to revise his talking points.

So in Palawan on Thursday, the Davao friend of President Xi Jinping was suddenly telling him (China) against occupying the island-barangay of Pagasa in the Spratlys or risk starting a war!

That was a startling departure from Duterte’s usual gambit of not saying anything that might trigger a war that, he claimed, the Philippines could not win. He used to warn of Filipinos being massacred and of Chinese missiles hitting Manila in seven minutes. (Not 8.8 minutes?)

The President declared: “This is not a warning, this is just a word of advice to my friends, since we are friends, China. I will not plead or beg, but I’m just telling you – lay off Pagasa because I have my soldiers there!”

(Pardon his “my soldiers.” We have a President who regards the armed forces [as well as the/”my” police] as some kind of personal Praetorian bodyguards.)

The foreign office protested the swarming by hundreds of Chinese militia boats around Pagasa island, the biggest in the cluster of isles comprising the town of Kalayaan in Palawan. It said that such activity, noted since January, is illegal and a clear violation of Philippine sovereignty.

Foreign Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. chimed in on Twitter: “When a country let’s its countrymen swarm into foreign territory and does nothing to drive them out, it is deemed to have endorsed and in effect adopted that aggressive act against a foreign country.”

China’s aggressive activities in Philippine waters and its luring the Duterte administration into entering onerous deals have had social media bristling with negative comments on his slavish devotion to China.

Is his new-found voice against Chinese intrusions really part of a geopolitical game he is playing or just local election rhetoric like the unfulfilled promises of 2016?

Or – a Game Changer! – has Uncle Sam grabbed the inside track to a Duterte growing impatient with Xi’s seducing him with a lauriat of promises that have remained as hollow as Chinese “buchi” (Jian dui) served after a meal?

• When Duterte calls ‘Gintong Ina’ a whore

Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David has taken to Facebook to defend his late mother after President Duterte called her a “whore” in a speech in Malabon on Tuesday. He said in part:

“Bienvenida Siongco David (1922-2000) is the woman the President called a whore. He called me a son of a whore for allegedly attacking him from the Church pulpit – which I have never ever done. The pulpit is never for that purpose. Unless he thinks that calling him to end violence and extrajudicial killing in my diocese is tantamount to attacking him.

“He called my mother a whore at the launching of the candidacy of Vice Mayor Jeannie Sandoval, who was shown on camera laughing along with the crowd. For the sake of my mother whom the president insulted, let me tell you a little about her.

“She survived the Japanese occupation and married my father at the age of 23, before the war ended. Although she was consistently at the top of her class from grade school to college, she was not able to finish a degree because of the war. Instead of going back to school after the war, she did everything she could to make sure my father would finish law and practice his legal profession.

“Because my father stubbornly resisted corruption in his work – first as provincial prosecutor of San Fernando, Pampanga, and later as assistant city prosecutor of Manila -- my mother did all she could to help make both ends meet, given my father’s meager salary as a public servant. (Until he died, my father was unable to buy himself a car. He did not mind taking public transportation.)

“My mother augmented our education in public schools by tutoring us in-between the house chores. She made sure that, even after she was widowed at age 58, she would be able to get all 13 of us through college and to practice our professions decently as productive citizens.

“She succeeded in raising one sociologist, one architect/urban planner, two lawyers, one civil engineer, one real estate broker, one banker, one medical technologist, one critical care nurse, one bishop, one nutritionist, one dentist, and one economist. Her efforts did not end in vain, not one of her children became a liability to the country.

“She was given the ‘Gintong Ina’ award in the late 80s. She passed away as the millennium came to a close in December 2000.

“Our family does not expect anyone in government to give her a recognition for her immense contribution to nation-building. But we do not expect anyone, either, to insult her memory and call her a whore. She does not deserve it.”

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Advisory: Postscripts are archived at Author is on Twitter as @FDPascual. Email feedback to

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