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Like It Is

It’s up to us

/ 12:06 AM April 24, 2014

I had a couple of heartening responses to my column last week from friends in the Aboitiz family through their charitable donations, and from my good friend Jun Magsaysay. The golf tournament was a very successful event, graced by former president Fidel Ramos’ indomitable spirit (how he keeps going in such an indefatigable way I’m damned if I know). We raised enough funds to help seven families start a new life. The winner of the tournament was Nino Bandoquillo, with Sgt. Alex Dagooc as first runner-up (whatever happened to the second of my youth in sports?). Villamor Golf Club under Col. Oscar Calingasan did a great job of organizing and feeding.

To my readers: Why do we allow the general public to elect the bozos we now have in the Senate and reject fine people like Jun Magsaysay? Like his father, he’s an example of the best Filipinos can be. I think we all have to be much more active in 2016, to get out there, leave our comfort zones. Stick around your polling station all day and help people to vote wisely at the very least. But be out there earlier, too. Otherwise, we get what we deserve due to our inaction. Whether we will have a leader you can be proud of is up to you.

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The country is finally, finally beginning to get moving; the world is finally, finally beginning to notice. So who is chosen in 2016 will determine the direction the Philippines takes. It’s the fork in the road I talked about in a special report to my clients last December. We sustain 7 percent plus growth and genuine reduction of poverty and unemployment, or we revert to the corrupt, politicized practices of the past. So get involved now. It’s not too early.

Business has shunned politics, as it should, as taking sides is not the role of business. But having the right political leaders will determine the success and direction of business, so we must become involved. Maybe not in endorsing or rejecting individuals, but in setting standards that potential leaders must meet—genuinely, as part of their character, and not put on to win a campaign. And disseminating these nationwide.

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We must play “politics” to ensure the success of business and the jobs we create—those that aren’t being created enough now, but must be. The foundation is there; now it’s time to build.

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I don’t agree with some analysts and columnists that what Russia is doing in Ukraine isn’t a parallel for what China might do in Asian seas. I think it very definitely is. China’s hierarchy has made it abundantly and stridently clear that it owns all the disputed areas and won’t accept any decision of any international court to the contrary.

What Russia has shown so far is that it can get away with whatever it wants to do, with but a mild rap across the knuckles. Sanctions will eventually hurt, but beyond a timeframe Putin cares about. And China is very well aware that the world cannot impose any meaningful sanctions on it. There’s too much interconnection of trade and investment.

It is blindingly clear that China can do whatever it wants. So it all falls back to whether its leadership will act in a manner acceptable to the wider international community. China can take and develop all the contested areas if it wants to. The only question is: Will it? I believe the assumed potential of oil and gas and China’s ever increasing, ever more desperate need for those resources will leave it with no choice: It’ll take them.

But there is a choice it can make: Act as the friendly neighbor it claims to be (in a full-page ad on April 3 in another broadsheet) and jointly develop the resources and share the wealth. That’s what a true friend would do. So is China a true friend?

As Supertyphoon “Yolanda/Haiyan” showed, China can be shamed into acting outside its narrow interests. The measly $200,000 became $1.4 million after many, including this writer, complained about its miserliness. So let’s mount a campaign of social opprobrium not only within the public sphere but also within the various international organizations under the United Nations. It should be mutual development, as true friends would do, if it wants to parallel its economic dominance with similar political muscle. Do as the United States has shown. You do it by using that muscle toward building a better world for all, not a dictatorial leadership for one.

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I have a simple solution to the Catholic Church’s heartless opposition to contraception: Encourage people to marry later. Children—yes, children—in the provinces are married at 16, even 15. We have a 34-year-old maid whose eldest son is 18. Given the gestation period, she was 15 when she conceived. Our kids are in their early 30s and not yet married—that’s 16-plus years of not having babies in a perfectly natural, Church-accepted way.

Many of those 16-year-olds are forced into marriage by having a baby when they themselves still are one. Forced into it because they know nothing about sex, because no one had taught them. The Church’s position that that’s the role of parents is so laughable (and incredibly sad) I can’t believe it. What parent can talk openly about sex with their children? What parent is knowledgeable enough to discuss it intelligently? Except for doing it, most people are ignorant of human biology. Age-appropriate education makes all the sense in the world, and I fail to see how knowledge can be harmful. Encourage promiscuity? I think it does the reverse. It teaches you what it means if you do. It’s ignorance that encourages promiscuity.

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TAGS: Aboitiz, Catholic Church, charity, contraception, Jun Magsaysay, Like It Is, opinion, Peter Wallace, Russia, Ukraine
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