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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, February 23, 2018
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Twinkling
with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

What is a terrorist?

Ninfa Leonardia

Of course not. That was the expected rebuttal from Malacañang to the report that US intelligence had tagged President Duterte a threat to democracy. And it did not only say he was that to democracy, it also included human rights. Now, the President has a very glib and eloquent spokesperson, so he instantly came out by saying that the statement was “myopic and speculative”. No, said the spokesman, his boss has no “autocratic tendencies.”

***

But his boss has time and again admitted that he has dictatorial tendencies. And the spokesman also said media here are able to print and broadcast what they want. Aha! Rappler will surely rebut that. If that is true, why were they banned from the palace when a press conference was being held recently? Anyway, let's allow that to pass, and wait until the women of the world wake up and focus on the statements of his boss against women. That will be most interesting to hear or see. Mr. Spokesman had better be ready.

***

Meanwhile, let us see what will happen to the protest of the media agency, Rappler, to their being banned from Malacañang. Seems the Palace now does not believe in such recourses as libel suits, it only reports to banning, or silencing. But maybe it is because Rappler has an international audience. Local news agencies, or media entities like us, as the late Bishop Antonio Fortich used to say, “are only mosquitoes”, silenced with a slap.

***

My ears perked when I saw the report about Davao magnate Antonio Floirendo being issued an arrest warrant and having to post a P30,000 bail to avoid detention. I also found it very interesting that the news report on it could not resist recalling what many believe to have been the cause of his troubles now. And it brought Bacolod's MassKara Festival back in the limelight, because it was mentioned again that Floirendo, and now House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez used to be chums but fell apart because of their girl friends whom they had brought along, quarreled while President Duterte was guest speaker at the public plaza. Since then, they have never reconciled, and for sure malicious minds are linking the problems of Floirendo to that incident.

***

The Department of Tourism is exulting over its supposedly all-time high in the number of tourist arrivals in the country. I hope they are not including the returning overseas workers from Kuwait, together with those who arrive in wooden boxes, or, stretchers. Just think of it. For a long time, a lot of us had never been aware, or even suspected what was happening to our workers in that country. I hope the government is able to bring them all back. I take back now what I had ever written about the Kuwaiti people from my own meetings with them in their country.

***

Really, I had concluded that they were very nice people, accommodating and helpful to foreigners like us. But maybe the ones assigned to us were better educated, or instructed on how to behave, because they knew Filipino women are very independent, outspoken and consider themselves equal (if not superior) to men. At the time, which was in the late 70s or early 80s, I think, we weren't aware yet of our people being brought to those Middle East countries to do menial work. But even then, I noticed that the men there seemed surprised that there were so many women journalists in the Presidential party. Now I know better.

***

Now Kuwait has announced that it is extending amnesty to overstaying Filipino workers there and not rounding them up anymore. But I think they are doing it more for their own benefit because they are no longer getting domestic helpers they can treat as workhorses, starve and maltreat. Indeed, some of the domestics have claimed that their employers are not that bad, but I think they should all come home to emphasize our disgust with the way they have treated our fellow Filipinos. Let the President find them the jobs he has promised.

***

The President has declared the members of the New People's Army as “terrorists”. What exactly is the difference between a rebel and a terrorist? Will the tag give anybody impunity to kill them, or will that still be the responsibility of the military? Some readers have asked about that, and I had to confess I really do not know. Maybe the NPA had some patriotic purposes, and terrorists are just hoods and murderers? No wonder the NPA bigwigs in peaceful Netherlands are protesting.*

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