"Loose lips sink ships, the trite saying goes."
The President last Monday night ordered his officials to clam up on the West Philippine Sea issue.
“Refrain from discussing the WPS with anybody. If we have to talk, we talk and tayo tayo lang,” he told his Cabinet.
Loose lips sink ships, the trite saying goes. Loose talk complicates the conflict situation in what China claims as its territorial waters, versus our claims on our EEZ and the islets, rocks and atolls which are the subject of conflicting claims by us, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, not to mention China, which with its nine-dash drawing, claims virtually everything within.
So we should expect no talk between his spokesman, Harry Roque, and his foreign affairs secretary, Teddy Locsin, who have been exchanging different views publicly on the WPS issue, often with acerbic side comments on each other’s role.
We hope everybody in his official family will forthwith resist the urge to talk on delicate issues such as the WPS/SCS issue.
That presidential directive will of course not bind the likes of retired Justice Antonio Carpio, nor former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario, least of all former senator Antonio Trillanes, who former Senate Pres. Juan Ponce Enrile challenged to explain his sub-rosa though apparently authorized backroom talks with Chinese officials during the 2012 stand-off.
Truth is, WPS is an issue far from the minds of the countless millions of masa who are more worried about the Covid infections, the lack of or slow roll-out of vaccines, the rank inefficiency of our top DOH officialdom, and the resulting loss of jobs and livelihood.
But because of much loose talk, the heretofore “unimportant” issue has begun to seep into the national consciousness. And worse, it has been reduced into the more fundamental character issues of lying and joking, and even cowardice, as the opposition netizens have levelled against the President.
It is good that the President has invited 96-year old but brain-sharp Juan Ponce Enrile to shed light on the issue. In a battle of talk between Enrile and Trillanes, which we expect the latter will engage soon, guess who the public will believe.
Abangan ang more talk.
But no one can stop spox Harry from talking. That after all is his official be-all and end-all. Unable to speak further on the WPS issue and engaging the foreign secretary and even retired AJ Tony Carpio, he now goes into the realm of politics, the elections being just a year away.
Predicting that we will reach the much aspired for “herd immunity” before Christmas (sana!), Harry boasts that this would redound to the advantage of the administration candidates, without mentioning that he, Harry Roque of Bataan, Pasay, Makati, Subic and Baguio, will be one of its senatorial candidates.
“It’s because first, there is a pandemic (?); second, they can see that the government has done everything (really, Sec. Duque?); and third, it will really depend on the vaccine rollout (sana naman)”.
“And that is the problem of the opposition,” Roque harrumphed.
But one is surprised at the netizen’s generally negative reaction to Harry’s call, right after the Philippine General Hospital fire last Sunday. The presidential spox asked the public, in the spirit of “bayanihan” to help the patients and donate whatever they could.
That should have been a relatively safe thing to say, except that PGH being a government hospital, there should be ample funds, whether from Duque or the UP, or even the calamity funds, to immediately come to the premier state hospital’s succor.
Which is why most netizens dunned the presidential talker to task for the impertinence of asking from taxpayers what their taxes should be responding to via the national budget.
“Wala na nga kaming trabaho, naghihintay pa rin ng ayuda, hihingan mo pa kami?”, an angry netizen posted.
Government functionaries should take a leaf from a former senator, Genaro Magsaysay, the younger brother of a beloved president who died three years into his term.
Being a member of the Comite de Silencio in the upper chamber, he explained: “Much talk – many mistakes. Less talk – less mistakes. No talk – no mistakes”.
Another talking issue was that of the mega-vaccination facility that the Nayong Pilipino board and management wanted to deny businessman Enrique Razon from putting up, at his own expense, to be able to safely and effectively do mass vaccination. It is a facility similar to what many states in the US of A have effectively done to vaccinate more than a hundred million of its citizens thus far.
The Nayon management wanted to save the trees in the lot bequeathed to them at FVR’s reclamation area by GMA, in exchange for the closure of the obsolete Nayong Pilipino of Imelda Marcos which had become an air safety hazard beside our international runway.
I personally saw for myself the site which the Office of the President agreed to lend to Razon for the mega-vaccination facility. What I saw were ipil-ipil trees and talahib bounded by a sewerage and rainwater outfall beside the Okada gambling emporium.
Save those trees? Come on!
In exchange for the imagined “forest,” should we hamper efforts, privately funded at that, to rush the infrastructure for mass vaccination, which, except for some well-managed LGU’s like Manila and Taguig, have thus far been unable to implement quickly?
Or is Nayong Pilipino management worried about the “vested legal rights” of a now bankrupt Hong Kong firm which its predecessor granted two years ago, and which got the president’s ire?