Monday, October 3, 2016

Philippines - Let's Pray for the President

I want to help President Duterte by writing something good about his term, but whenever I am about to do so, he does or says something mindlessly disgusting. And I wonder: Why does the President have to always subject the Filipino people to so much anxiety and exasperation?

Just recently he said "do not keep complaining about my mouth because my mouth is not the problem. It cannot bring down a country." Someone has to explain to him rules like "unilateral binding statement of heads of state", comity-norms and protocols in international law and global commerce. Words are important. Yes, the President's "mouth" can damage the image of the country and endanger existing relationships. Somebody has to explain to him these things and say: "Mr President, please stop the rantings. It will not do us any good." And as Ralph Waldo Emerson advised: do not "fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that" you are "persecuted whenever" you are "contradicted." In making observations and criticisms, people just want to help.

The office of the Presidency is a sensitive position. It cannot be directed solely by emotions and spontaneous reactions. Many, including Filipinos, will be affected by the President's words and deeds.

For example, when President Duterte cursed the European Union (EU) "Fuck You", he might not have known that EU, in 2015 alone, gave the Philippines P15 billion in grants. EU was also generous to confer upon the Philippines the status of being the first ASEAN-member to be the beneficiary of it's General System of Preferences Plus (GSPP). This meant that the Philippines can export to EU member-countries some 6,800 products (processed fruit, coconut oil, footwear, fish, textiles etc.) WITHOUT tariff. We were the envy of Malaysia, Thailand and the rest of ASEAN which had to subsequently work hard to earn their own status.

GSPP saved and is still saving tens of millions of dollars in favor of Filipino exporters. Let us all hope that the "FUCK YOU" curse of the President directed at EU will not detrimentally affect the Philippine's bid for renewal of our GSPP status. More importantly, let us also hope that it will not deprive Filipino exporters of this benefit, which profited the Philippines billions of dollars in bilateral trade with Europe since 2013.

I dread the day when, without the nation desiring it, the President's blusterings will lead him, the country, the government and the people down with him into an irretrievable crisis causing irrevocable damage – when no amount of explanations, justifications or clarifications by him or his subalterns will alter the irreversible result. The people will suffer because of his "mouth". I hope this scenario does not happen.

I have never recently prayed for this country harder than in these present times. God help and guide our President, the country and all of us. Pray for President Rodrigo Duterte. Tonight I will again light my little candle in silent prayer for him and, yes, for his Presidency – for his future success or failure may also be our own.

Mel Sta. Maria

You can find older posts regarding ASEAN politics and economics news at SBC blog, and older posts regarding health and healthcare at IIMS blog. I thank you.

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