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ON TARGET

Duterte cited for ‘rare kind of leadership’

/ 05:33 AM February 13, 2018

The President’s order to close down Boracay to tourists if the sewage and garbage problems on the island are not solved within six months has been hailed by many people in South Korea.

The news about Koreans greeting Mr. Duterte’s order with enthusiastic approval was relayed to this columnist by Moon Jong-gu (aka Richard Moon), a South Korean residing in the country.

South Koreans comprise the largest group of tourist arrivals in the Philippines.

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According to Moon, South Korea views as very admirable the President’s concern for the health of tourists.

Incidentally, Mr. Duterte will receive the Man of the Year award from the Asia Journalist Association (AJA) in Seoul during his state visit to South Korea in May.

The award, which will be handed to him by the previous winner, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, honors the President for his “rare kind of leadership.”

I was a witness to the President’s rare kind of leadership—as AJA puts it—during a visit to Malacañang on Wednesday.

A Palace on-call pianist, Nonong Avila, whom I haven’t seen in years, told me his contract to perform at all casinos owned by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. was terminated abruptly in 2013 after he refused to sign a document saying the government-owned agency owed him P100,000 in entertainment fees, when the amount involved was only P10,000.

“The entertainment manager, Bong Quintana, said the P90,000 was ‘for the boys’ but I didn’t want to steal money from the government,” Nonong told me in tears.

During dinner, I brought up Nonong’s sad experience with the President, who called him to our table.

After hearing Nonong’s story, Mr. Duterte called for Special Assistant to the President Bong Go and told the latter: “Have the entertainment manager dismissed and replaced by this man,” pointing to the pianist.

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And then turning to the flabbergasted Nonong, the President said: “Thank you for not being corrupt.”

Going back to Boracay, the problem lies with stakeholders who refuse to connect their pipes to the main one at the
island’s sewage treatment plant.

The Ayala-owned Boracay Island Water Co. Inc. won the bid to set up the treatment plant in the tourist paradise in 2009.

Of the 500 or so tourist hotels, restaurants and other establishments on the island, only a handful have hooked up their pipes to the treatment plant.

During dinner at Malacañang, the President told me he would compel Pilipinas Shell Petroleum to pay the P113 billion in back taxes and duties it owed the government.

The oil firm has appealed the matter with the Supreme Court.

However, the high court has been vacillating on Shell’s
appeal.

The case is in the division of Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

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