Bluff
FIRST PERSON - Alex Magno (The Philippine Star) - September 22, 2020 - 12:00am

The European Parliament passed a resolution threatening the Philippine government with the removal of preferential tariff arrangements for our exports if detained Sen. Leila de Lima is not released, the court’s conviction of Maria Ressa is not reversed and if Congress does not award a franchise to ABS-CBN.

On the face of it, this resolution is impolitic to say the least. It glosses over the fact that the judiciary and the legislature are independent branches of government.

Needless to say, this resolution is an abrasive assault on our sovereignty. It reeks of colonial chauvinism. It is uncalled for.

Imagine if the same “parliament” issued a resolution threatening the US with a trade war if Donald Trump proceeds with plans to name a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Baden Ginsburg ahead of elections. The European Parliament might not have even merited a serious response from Washington.

The reason it will not merit a serious response is that the resolution is a laughable action by a largely ornamental assembly.

The European Parliament does not make policy. This is why its resolution is merely a suggestion to the European Commission. Real power in the EU is in the hands of the Commission headquartered in Brussels where all 27 states are represented. It is the more sober organization, manned by a corps of grey bureaucrats who plot the course for the Union.

The European Parliament in Strasbourg is more like a useless talking shop. Leftists and greenies, politicians unable to win seats in their own national assemblies populate this parliament. Few voters participate in elections for the European Parliament, conscious of the dysfunctional nature of this assembly.

In a word, the European Parliament is some sort of asylum for misfits. These days, the politicians seated at this parliament appoint themselves the “conscience” of Europe. It is a talking shop that periodically issues resolutions largely ignored by the functioning governments.

La Salle’s resident expert in international relations Renato de Castro said the most intelligent thing about this latest resolution emanating from the European Parliament: it is nothing more than a bluff.

Worse than a bluff, if I may add. It is a grossly misinformed resolution very likely issued at the prodding of public relations operatives and leftist propagandists who try to engineer media events of little or no consequence.

For their own partisan purposes, our own politicians inflated the importance of this latest resolution emanating from the European Parliament. They are trying to use it as leverage to get de Lima out of jail, Ressa off the hook and ABS-CBN reunited with its beloved franchise. They warn our own government of tens of thousands of jobs we might lose if we ignore the imperious demands of an ornamental parliament.

In doing so, they become parties to disinformation perpetrated by leftist groups animated only by impotent propaganda goals and by expensive public relations outfits hired to do a hatchet job against a fully sovereign government.

This is why they conveniently avoid mentioning that this latest European Parliament resolution is a reissue of the one issued in 2018. That earlier resolution warned our government of dire consequences if the “extrajudicial killings” are not stopped. The resolution was based on fictional numbers about these killings.

Nothing happened with that earlier resolution. Nothing will happen with this latest one.

Its only goal, after all, is to produce a few unwarranted headlines. Actual EU policies are shaped by more sober agencies rarely swayed by propaganda operatives.

Dolomite

Last Sunday, a huge throng of people rushed to see and enjoy the “white sand” beach created by pouring a layer of crushed dolomite rock along the Manila Bay coastline.

The rush was unanticipated – although it should not be surprising. The commander of the Ermita police station was sacked for failing to enforce distancing rules among the happy crowd.

In the days preceding, a number of politicians tried to contrive controversy over this DENR project. First they warned the crushed dolomite was a health hazard. Corrected by the health authorities, they tried to foment opposition to the project by saying the money could be used for more urgent things such as helping feed poor families crushed by the pandemic.

When some dead fish floated in another section of the bay, leftist activists tried to pin the blame on the “beach nourishment” project. Other activists tried to project the unsustainable claim the project was overpriced somehow. These were baseless accusations.

Still others claimed the dolomite beach would be washed away during a storm or be filled with trash at high tide. But the project, conceived way before the health emergency, appears to benefit from proper engineering studies.

Of course this small patch topped with crushed dolomite will not clean up the bay. That is not its purpose. All it achieves is to provide us a glimpse of how beautiful this bay was before unbridled urbanization and weak environmental policies brought it to waste.

“Beautification” has become a bad word in our political dictionary. It became fashionable for our politicians to quickly condemn an enhancement project as wasteful, comparing it to many whimsical projects in the past that simply became unsustainable.

This is why the metropolitan area has become such an ugly urban jungle. Any attempt to aesthetically enhance our common areas can so easily become the target of political controversy.

It is now too late to speak of integrated urban planning for Metro Manila. But we can create appealing patches on the bay or small parks that will inspire our denizens.

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