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EDITORIAL: A whiff of fresh air

A GUST of fresh air has swept this archipelago during the past few days, turning even for a moment our otherwise muddled political landscape into something that will help our morning coffee taste better. We are referring to some bits of positive news that we learn about these days. First, there was this couple in Singapore who were ordered jailed Monday after they were proven to have starved their Filipina maid losing 20kg of her weight during her time working for the couple, who only allowed her to eat two meals a day -- usually few slices of bread and small portion of instant noodles. Trader Lim Choon Hong, 48, was sentenced to three weeks in jail and fined US$7,200, while his wife Chong Sui Foon, also 48, was jailed for three months. Prosecutors wanted stiffer sentences for both of them. In another news, government soldiers rescued boat captain Aurelio Agac-ac, a kidnap victim of the Abu Sayyaf Group, in Basilan. Agac-ac and his chief engineer were kidnapped Thursday last week. In the United States, Duterte arch critic and avowed VP Leni Robredo supporter Loida Nicolas Lewis wished the President many happy returns on the eve of the latter’s 72nd birth anniversary which was March 28. The greetings were made on suggestion of fellow Bicolano Marlon L. Pecson (of Daraga, Albay), a known Duterte supporter, during a dinner with Filipino friends in Manhattan. Also last Monday, two Japanese military surveillance aircrafts were delivered to Manila to help it patrol vital sea lanes in the South China Sea, despite Manila’s increasingly conciliatory stance to Beijing’s claims over the disputed waters. According to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Japan will also lease a total of 5 surplus Beechcraft TC-90 planes to the Philippines that will be deployed over Benham Rise and the South China Sea. “As we are faced with many security-related issues in the Asia-Pacific, including those in the South China Sea, our cooperation with the Philippines for the regional security and stability is now even more significant,” Japanese Defense Minister Kenji Wakamiya was quoted as saying during the formal turnover of the planes. Meanwhile, while China’s construction of artificial islands and military deployments in the area have unnerved its neighbors, Beijing has also tried to reassure Southeast Asia, with efforts such as talking up a code of conduct for the waterway. A senior Chinese diplomat said China and the countries surrounding the South China Sea should set up a cooperation mechanism to boost exchanges in efforts ranging from disaster relief to safety of navigation. In another twist of events, President Rodrigo Duterte, who caught global attention for his invectives against several world leaders, was reported to be the early frontrunner of Time Magazine’s online poll of 100 most influential people in the world. As of Monday (March 27), 78% of voters said Duterte should be on the “2017 Time 100.” That makes him to top the poll with 4% of total votes, surpassing Russian President Vladimir Putin, his American counterpart Donald Trump, Prime Minister Theresa May and Indian PM Narendra Modi, among several others. Another good news is that Sen. Manny Pacquiao has kept his mouth shut almost for a week now, sparing this country from his blithering idiotry. Are we dreaming? Or is it true that by some planetary re-alignments, populist type of leaders is becoming the trend in many countries today, including the Philippines, after their predecessors have experimented so much on so-called globalization (that runs counter to old-fashioned sense of territorial pride and patriotism), conservative views, and unending narratives of graft, elitism, and oppression of the masses. Undoubtedly, more unpleasant news will be unavoidable but let us for a change cherish the good news that we have so far as they blend well with our morning coffee.

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