‘Healthy relations and mutual respect’

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

“Just landed in Beijing, it’s scary.”

That was a text message sent to my friend by a member of the entourage of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is in China for a state visit.

The message my friend shared with me says it all, it seems.

Thousands are dying in Beijing daily due to the attempt to achieve a “zero rate” concerning the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

It seems the authoritarian government of Xi Jinping has not been successful in containing the disease.

While most of the world, including the Philippines, has COVID-19 under control, China is still battling the deadly virus. 

*      *      *

Let’s hope our President, who has a weak constitution, doesn’t get infected.

BBM nearly died of COVID-19 after a vacation in Spain at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

If I may digress, a Chinese friend gave Lisa Marcos a “miraculous” herbal tea for BBM. That tea also probably saved the life of a Supreme Court justice seriously affected by COVID-19.

In July 2022, shortly after he was inaugurated, BBM was infected with COVID-19 for the second time. He was bedridden for several days and had to be isolated.

And because our President has a frail body, he might be infected with the disease again – heaven forbid! – no matter how effective the protective “bubble” the Beijing government has put up for BBM and his party.

His advisers should have dissuaded BBM from visiting China at this time.

Oh well, what can you expect from “yes” men?

*      *      *

Let’s hope BBM’s state visit to Beijing will encourage healthy relations and mutual respect between the Philippines and China.

BBM should tell Xi Jinping in no uncertain terms to respect our sovereignty without sounding offensive.

Junior’s talks with Xi should be on equal footing.

China should be put on notice that the harassment of our boats by its coast guard in our territorial waters will no longer be tolerated.

It should be clearly communicated that China’s continued bullying will make it a pariah in the community of nations. 

*      *      *

The technical glitch that caused a shutdown of operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport should not be blamed on Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista.

Bautista’s tenure started only on June 30, 2022, after the election of President Bongbong Marcos.

The shutdown of operations should be blamed on his predecessors at the Department of Transportation, who didn’t properly upgrade the antiquated air traffic control system.

One of Bautista’s predecessors spent money beautifying the country’s premier airport instead of installing modern air traffic control equipment.

It’s like a person buying expensive clothes and scrimping on food: looking beautiful but with an empty stomach.

All of Bautista’s predecessors should be summoned by the Senate should there be an investigation into the fiasco. 

*      *      *

I went to my friend, whom I hadn’t visited in several years, who lived in a barangay in Tanza, Cavite, for a pre-New Year treat.

I nearly got lost. I had a hard time finding my friend’s house.

The once sleepy and rustic barangay has been transformed into a noisy and heavily populated village.

The rice fields, mango orchards and miniature forests are gone, replaced by bungalows, two-story houses and business establishments several stories high that dot the landscape.

The chirping of birds and humming of crickets could no longer be heard. A cacophony of roaring tricycles and vehicles of all kinds, shouts of children playing and the shuffling of feet by a mass of humanity going hither and thither filled the air.

Big realty developers with voracious appetites have taken over the ownership of farms, mango orchards and clumps of trees from old residents.

The developers – we know their names – have not even thought of preserving the trees and rice fields to make for a healthy ecosystem.

Their greed for money is insatiable. 

*      *      *

How true are hush-hush reports that an official of the Philippine delegation that took part in the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam sexually harassed or assaulted a female Vietnamese liaison officer?

The sports official was not charged with sexual harassment or assault after he allegedly paid off the poor woman with a handsome amount, according to my sources.

Why is it a penchant among Filipino officials who go abroad to get involved in sex scandals?

During BBM’s official trip to Thailand, a member of his delegation also sexually harassed or assaulted a Thai woman, sources said.

The sex fiend and his wife were reportedly offloaded from the plane bearing the President and First Lady Liza Marcos, allegedly upon the request of Thai authorities.

The wife allegedly resigned from her position in government out of shame.

Here are some hints on who these sexual predators are: One sounds like a synonym for messing things up, while the other sounds like the name of a store selling lechon. 

*      *      *

How true is it that officials of the V. Luna Medical Center used business-class flight accommodations while on trips to the United States and Germany?

Government personnel on junkets are prohibited from taking business class.

Exceptions to this prohibition are department secretaries, undersecretaries and assistant secretaries – but they must have permission from the Office of the President.

If those V. Luna officials who used business-class accommodations didn’t go on official trips to the US and Germany, who financed their fares?

If a supplier or private contractor that does business with V. Luna paid for their fare tickets, that’s even worse; it’s graft.

It’s easy for the Office of the Ombudsman to determine if the V. Luna officials’ trips to the US and Germany were official; and if so, how their plane tickets were paid for.

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