PUBLIC officials should think carefully before making public statements. And media organizations should likewise study the statements carefully before publishing or broadcasting them.
We are constrained to issue this cautionary note because of the proclivity of Filipino public officials to issue careless public statements to the media, and the media’s complaisance in using them.
Public statements are for the record. They have official character and could be consequential.
Consider first the statement of equanimity of Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque over China’s reported move to give Chinese names to five underwater features of Philippine Rise, over which the Philippines has undisputed sovereign rights.
Roque reasoned that there was no bad faith involved, so it was all right for China to arrogate naming rights in the area.
He tried to pirouette from his gaffe: “Giving names does not mean the Chinese are claiming Philippine Rise. China recognizes that they have no rights in the area, and they recognize our sovereign rights.”
“The naming does not entail sovereign rights because sovereign rights [are the]exclusive right to explore and exploit, conduct scientific research, lay submarine cables and build artificial islands,” he said.
Then he offered lamely that the Philippines will not use the Chinese names and use Filipino ones instead.
At a press briefing, Mr. Roque said the Philippines will assert its sovereign rights over Philippine Rise and would give Filipino names to each underwater feature found there.
The fact is China earlier named four seamounts as: “Jinghao, “Tianbao”, “Haidonquing”, and Jujiu; and the Cuiqiao Hill. The Cuiqiao Hill and Jujiu Seamount form the central peaks of the Philippine Rise undersea geological province.
Roque drowned farther in his gaffe, when he expressed the hope that China will not take it against the Philippines if the Filipinos will not use the Chinese names. This is ridiculous. The Chinese must be rolling in laughter.
We convey the same cautionary note on public statements to Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who recently castigated President Duterte for “making thoughtless, reckless and irresponsible statements at the expense of public health.”
The senator was reacting to the president’s comments on family planning and contraception, wherein he argued against the use of condoms as a family planning option because it is “not pleasurable.”
Hontiveros declared without thinking: “It’s not delicious if there’s a condom? President Duterte seems to be overly concerned with pleasure. There is nothing pleasurable or funny about the rise in our cases of HIV and teen pregnancy.”
Had the senator paused a moment to think, she would have realized that in her statement, she was arguing the contrary to DU30’s assertion, claiming that in fact, with the use of condoms, sex is still pleasurable.
It is not reassuring to see one of our women senators arguing about sexual pleasure in public. It is unseemly to watch.
The irony here is that Senator Hontiveras wanted to make the point that public disapproval of condoms would put the burden of family planning wholly on women.
“The President’s statement is a virtual insistence that women should continue to carry the burden of family planning alone,” Hontiveros said.
Alas, the deed is done. This will be remembered in the same league as Sen. Leila de Lima’s statement about “the frailties of a woman,” upon the exposure of her adultery.