Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Delivering Stories of Progress


FIRING LINE: Who’s listening to Bongbong?

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Clearly, President Marcos Jr.’s most significant achievement in his recent trip to New York was reciprocating the United States’ hand in friendship, as extended by President Joe Biden no less.

It might have been all that mattered, considering that all of the last six years of bilateral ties had been eroded by the spitballs of hate speech towards Washington by his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte.

Marcos did well to turn a new page in Phl-US relations. Perhaps, if given the chance to address the UN General Assembly again in the future, more world leaders would be around to listen to his speech.

*         *         *

Last Friday in New York (Saturday in Manila), President Junior addressed the Asia Society forum, calling for resolving conflicts in Ukraine and the Taiwan Strait and de-escalating nuclear arms.

It seemed part of his pitch to gain a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council even as he emphasized that the Philippines is not giving a square inch of its maritime territory to any foreign claimant – that’s read as China.

Domestically, though, Marcos Jr. should prove his resolve first by not giving a square inch of the Masungi Georeserve – a protected area belonging to the Republic of the Philippines – to trespassers posing as owners of part of this land at the behest of corrupt DENR officials who had signed in the early 2000s a supposed survey plan for the area.

Protect that. Go after the co-conspirators and protectors of this supposed poser “Major Layno,” who has put armed guards at the forest reservation. And then, we could probably start believing in your resolve, Mr. President.

*         *         *

Left and right, I’ve heard of classes in certain Grade levels of public schools here in Metro Manila being suspended for at least a week because of COVID-19 cases among students or their teachers.

Parents are complaining these incidents should not have happened if there had been strict management of crowd control at the gates, sufficient provision of cleaning and disinfectant supplies and washing stations for campuses, proper upkeep of toilets, and a “new normal” culture guided by the health protocols.

The actual situation on the ground is not what we’d expect of Vice President Sara Duterte’s leadership of the Department of Education (DepEd). You pushed for the return to face-to-face classes, Madam VP. So please keep it under control.

*         *         *

And while you’re at it, honorable DepEd Secretary, kindly heed the wisdom sent in by Firing Line reader Jun Gador. He wrote these three suggestions I rephrased in the English language:

First, “include in your teaching good manners and right conduct; no littering in rivers, esteros, canals, and streets because we don’t live in a garbage can – flowing water can’t find its way to Manila Bay;”

Second, “bring back textbooks instead of workbooks so that younger siblings could inherit them;” and

Third, “scrap K-12 because it didn’t serve the purpose of early employment. Firms still hire college level or graduates.”

*         *         *

SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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