November 24, 2017, 5:10 pm
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Duterte-Trump meeting

WHEN he was campaigning for the presidency, then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte aka Digong boldly stated that if he wins, he will have no more than five members in his retinue when he goes on official travel abroad.
I didn’t take that literally because I knew that was hardly possible. But I took the statement to mean that only those cabinet members and officials of agencies whose functions are directly related to the matters to be taken up with the country to be visited will comprise the official delegation. Security, media and other essential personnel will, of course, be there as unofficial members of the presidential party.
Included in almost all of the official trips abroad of Digong as seen on TV and print media were people who could not have had any official function to perform by virtue of their position in government. 
For instance, in the latest trip to Japan, included were Senator Chiz Escudero and his actress wife (they were also there in a previous trip); Senator JV Ejercito; Congressman Luis Villafuerte; presidential adviser on something, musician “RJ” Jacinto; and most notably Liberal Party member (has he bolted the party?) and Noynoy Aquino friend, former Speaker Sonny Belmonte. 
Oh, someone told me he spotted Digong’s college roommate Perfecto Yasay, Jr. seated at the presidential table during the dinner hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. What was his role in the delegation to deserve such an honor? Yasay was rejected by the Commission on Appointments as Digong’s foreign secretary for lying about his American citizenship.
Through this space, I would like to request whoever is in charge of the implementation of Executive Order No. 2, also known as the Freedom of Information Order, for a list of both the official and the unofficial members, including hangers-on, of the presidential entourage to the last trip to Japan, as well as the total cost incurred by the government for their board and lodging, transportation, per diem, etc. The people have a right to know how their money is being spent.
Lest I am misunderstood, I remain a supporter of Digong and his policies. But, as I have stated in the past, I will not refrain from writing about promises he has broken and other things he does or doesn’t which, in my view, could erode the trust and confidence the Filipino people have vested in him, especially at this time when an SWS poll shows fewer Filipinos believe he can fulfill his promises.

THE OLIGARCHS
AND MANILA’S 400

“I am fighting a monster, the oligarchs. But believe me, I will destroy their clutches sa ating bayan.” – Duterte
Last week, Digong vowed to make the oligarchs in the country pay the proper taxes.
He was addressing himself to the so-called Manila’s 400 that comprises the country’s ruling elite whom he says he disdains “for enjoying the benefits of governance, protection and all, using public streets and not paying any money using government property”.
Digong also deplored the “condescending attitude” of the “400” who “use money and influence to get what they want but evade tax payments”.
“They do not pay taxes and they expect government to kneel down before them because they hold power. They have the publications and they have everything. So are the millionaires who contribute to the campaigns,” he said.
“Kasi kung ayaw talaga ninyong bumayad, noon siguro. But ngayon, sinasabi ko, ayaw ko ng corruption,” he added.

CHINESE PRESIDENT
XI JINPING

“He can be emperor for life – staying in power as long as his health allows,” said Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Center for China Studies.
He was referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping whose name and ideology (“Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era”) have been enshrined into the Communist Party constitution of China, thus putting him on the same level as the country’s founder Mao Zedong. 
Xi is now considered the “most powerful Chinese leader since Mao”.
“Xi Jinping Thought” will henceforth have to be studied not only by members of the ruling Communist Party, but also by schoolchildren, college students and workers in state factories.
According to a CNN report, Xi declared in his speech before the National Party Congress last week that China should “take center stage in the world”, that its brand of socialism offers “a new choice for other countries” and that “no one should expect China to swallow anything that undermines its interests”.

DIGONG-TRUMP MEETING

The Philippine Star yesterday quoted an unnamed official supposedly close to Digong as saying that the latter is very excited about meeting US President Donald Trump next week during the East Asian Summit.
“He is excited. And it is not only him but other officials who will be with him as well, when the two shall meet. He is overwhelmed,” the official reportedly exclaimed.
May I ask why?

RECIPROCAL VISA ARRANGEMENTS

Digong and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez have previously said they would like reciprocity on visa matters with the US. 
Right now, Filipinos have to pay US$160 (P8,160 at US$1 = P51) for a tourist visa to the US. Americans can visit the Philippines without one.
I ask again – is Foreign Secretary Alan Cayetano doing anything about this? Perhaps he should instruct our new ambassador to Washington to give this matter priority attention. 
Needless to say, reciprocal visa arrangements should also be pursued with other countries.
***
Today is the 187th day of the eleventh year of the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos, son of the late press icon and founder of this newspaper.
After the acquittal of Major Harry Baliaga, Jr., the only person formally charged with Jonas’ kidnapping, I guess what happens next is now up to Divine Providence.
***
From an internet friend:
An old, tired-looking dog wandered into the yard. I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home.
He followed me into the house, down the hall, and fell asleep on the couch. An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out. The next day he was back, resumed his position on the couch and slept for an hour.
This continued for several days. Curious, I pinned a note to his collar: “Every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.”
The next day he arrived with a different note pinned to his collar: “He lives in a home with four children – he’s trying to catch up on his sleep. Can I come with him tomorrow?”
***
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