Wenceslao: Poe’s foreign policy, Duterte’s boast

THE one and only time I joined an audition for a broadcaster's job was when I was a college student and a participant of a short course offered by the now defunct Broadcast Production and Training Center (BPTC). I actually didn't intend to join but my fellow participants in the broadcaster's course were all agog in going to the old dyRE station in Mandaue for the audition.

The audition was handled by the late Tony Avila. When it was my turn, I was ushered into the studio and made to stand alone in front of a microphone. Avila, who was behind a wall partly made of glass then presented to me a scenario: a fire had broken out and I was to do my report live. I hadn't done a live report in my life and the fire was something I had to imagine. I blacked out and couldn't say anything. After a few minutes of silence, Avila mercifully ended the audition.

I remember that scene during an episode of the second presidential debate held last Sunday at the University of the Philippines campus in Lahug, Cebu City. I am referring to the “kandidato vs. kandidato” segment when PDP-Laban standard bearer Rodrigo Duterte was allowed to ask Grace Poe of the Partido Galing at Puso a question. Duterte's question: “What would be the first steps that you would do if, in the middle of the night dalawang Coast Guard cutters natin pinasabog ng China?”

Poe: “Syempre pag-presidente kailangang bumangon ka (But of course!). Di ba? Di naman pwedeng mamaya na yan, mamaya nang alas singko, mamaya nang alas sais. Mabilis na babangon ang presidente (But of course, again!) at itatawag ang head ng AFP at ang head ng DOTC sapagkat nandyan napapailalim ang Coast Guard...kaya lang napakahina at napakabulok ng ahensyang ito. Kaya nga dapat mag-uusap kung ano ang gagawin. Ngayon, meron tayong Visiting Forces Agreement, meron tayong kasundoan sa ibang bansa kun paano tayo didepensahan. Totoo, ayaw nanting umasa sa kanila pero kung tayo lang di natin kaya. Kung ano ang pwede nating gawin sa pagkakataon na yun, depensahan natin ang ating bansa pero ang totoo, kailangan rin natin nang tulong ng ibang komunidad para tayo madepensahan pero hindi nangangahulugan na hindi natin palakasin ang ating military.

I took time to transcribe that portion of the debate so we will be enlightened of what kind of president we will have in Poe, if ever, and how she will run the country's foreign affairs. That answer was actually preceded by Poe attempting to outline her foreign policy using a mixture of ideas picked up from the six o'clock news, the most significant of which was her insistence that the country should buy surface-to-air missiles.

Of course, Poe is not auditioning for a reporter's job but for president of this country. And she might get the job. Then we will have, for the first time, an amateur as head of government and head of state.


Rodrigo Duterte's mantra of eradicating all evils in this country—from corruption to criminality to everything else—in six months has become so repetitive it has almost become a joke. In the debate, he was asked to explain how he would do something that he could not even do in his turf, Davao City, where he was mayor for several three-year terms. Duterte first defended the case of Davao then prefaced his answer by contrasting the arrest of shabu peddlers in Davao and those in Manila:

Yung doon sa Malabon, hinuli, buhay. Yung akin sa Davao nahuli, patay. Kasi I will wipe them out. Sabi mo how can I do it in three to six months? Ibahin mo ako. Gagawin ko yung ginagawa ko sa Davao...

Did Duterte answer the question? Can the impossible be explained?

(khanwens@gmail.com/ twitter: @khanwens)

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