Lost in translation

5

The whole is not always equal to the sum of its parts.

This rings true in the case of the conflicting reports about what President Rodrigo Duterte actually told President Joko Widodo of Indonesia regarding the execution of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino woman on death row in that country for drug trafficking.

A report by Indonesia’s state news agency Antara on Monday quoted President Widodo as saying, “President Duterte has given the go-ahead to proceed with the execution.”

If that was the case, the report made the Philippine President and his Indonesian counterpart appear like heartless men salivating at the scent of blood from a human being who has claimed innocence on the drug charges against her.


It seems unlikely the two Presidents are what such reports pictured them to be. The local media mostly reported that what Duterte told Widodo was “Follow your own laws.”

Initial attempts by Palace officials to clarify what really stands as an official stance on the Veloso case did not help erase public confusion on the matter.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, a member of the Philippine entourage in the Laos summit and Indonesian visit who was apparently trying to make sense of the report, said Duterte did not “greenlight” Veloso’s execution.

He knew it, he told radio dzMM also on Monday, because he was just “a meter away” from where the two Presidents were supposedly talking about the Veloso case.

Again, if that was the case, Pinol could not be the only Cabinet official who was present during the one-on-one between Duterte and Widodo and, therefore, could speak out on the controversy.

Pinol’s statement could have cleared the air but did not, because he was not the right Malacañang insider to speak about the issue.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr. made an effort the following day, Tuesday, to clarify the issue, saying there was no need to ask for clemency for Veloso because the execution had been deferred upon the Philippines’ request.

Pinol and Perfecto Yasay were one in saying that President Duterte would not interfere with the Indonesian justice system.

The last word on the controversy can best be said by no other than President Duterte himself.

On Tuesday, Duterte continued to talk about the law being the law, and he would respect whatever decision Indonesia reached on the case in the end.

“I just said, ‘We will respect the judgment of your courts, period,’” Duterte said in a speech before the members of the 250th Philippine Airlift Wing at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay. “It would have [left]a bad taste in the mouth to be talking about having a strong posture in drugs and here you are begging for something…. I’m sorry, I have nothing to apologize [for]because the law is the law,” he added.

Sed lex, dura lex was what Duterte was saying, whether it applied to the Philippines or Indonesia.

We are getting more familiar with the way our President talks, and we get it. But he does not belong only to the Filipino people. When he talks, whether on the international or local stage, other countries also listen, and he creates first impressions based only on the words that come out of his mouth. It would be a wise thing to be more circumspect in his next pronouncements, mindful that his words are alien to foreign ears and his real message could get lost in translation.

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5 Comments

  1. Sad to say, we, most Filipinos are IMMORAL inspite a CATHOLIC NATION!

    Remember, the two cases presented by D5: the Pasay (father and son) & Rizal (husband and wife) cases.
    In the first case, the wife knew that the husband is a user and at the same time a pusher, and so with his father. The wife did nothing to stop the husband.. In our part of the world and society, particularly my family can not eat food that are obtained from immoral and criminal activities. It is not a reason, dahil wala kami makain kaya kapit sa patalim. There are many ways to earn a living. He can be a sikad driver or a cargador to have a decent living.

    Since the husband does not have the means to raise a family, he should abstain from marriage life. Our religion teaches us, IF YOU CANNOT RAISE A FAMILY BETTER FAST! Also, husband and wife should practice family planning but it is contrary to the christian teaching hence these situations happened.

    In the second case, the husband and wife are Christians, and they knew their activities are IMMORAL and still continue the illegal trade of drug. The whole family including the children are involved in it although they knew it is IMMORAL and a CRIME.

    The lesson we get from these cases is to practice and strengthen our RELIGION. Believe me, the solution of our government, organization, especially our family, and each one of us is RELIGION!

    To be fair to ALL RELIGION;they are all good but the people are not practicing them.
    They are Christians but not practicing its teaching.
    They are Protestants but not practicing its teaching.
    They are Muslims but not practicing Its Islamic teaching.
    They are INC also not practicing their church’s teaching.

    All religions teach good:NO KILLING, NO CORRUPTION, NO INJUSTICE, NO KIDNAPPING, NO ROBBERY, NO RAPE…

  2. Many of our kababayans are so stupid and do not think that their lives are in danger just to get extra cash. There is a very big possibility that Veloso knows and she is just acting innocent. Up to now, there are still Pilipinos smuggling drugs provided by foreigners. You guys have to suffer the consequences of your actions.

  3. I don’t disagree with this opinion. However, isn’t there another part to this story? The reality is the average person depends on the media to provide the news. In many respects, the media is the eyes and ears of the people. Having said that, my observation of the television and print media suggests that the media sometimes is less interested in reporting the news and more interested in expressing a particular journalist’s opinion or another. And increasingly, there seems to be a need for more fact checking when dealing with sensitive issues.

  4. Myself and others who don`t really care what`s the interpretation all about, either he said it or he didn`t say it.

    A warning to our Bro./Sis. pls. don`t use this excuses e.g. pinadala lang di ko alam, siningit kasi sa bag ko and etc. for some extra cash? or what ?.
    Guys you are not kids who don`t know your surroundings and or don`t know anything going on around you.
    Our Gov`t always bail us out any way. Will this a different Pres. now who mean business you better guys had to stop this. If Pres. digong said that statement, it will serve a lesson….life sucks but that`s how it is.