Offline: In praise of BBM, sort ofOffline:

I never thought I’d ever do this, but I’m at least sure I will do this once and only once. There will be no take two. Never.

So here goes: I must praise Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for how he has handled the China issue so far.

 Because of his actions, the Philippines is safer now than it was during the previous regime 

Marcos did what was sensible, which was to gather the Philippines’ true friends and create a solid front against China, specifically Xi Jinping 

In my view, China would have continued to encroach on Philippine territory until it made its way to the mainland of Luzon.

Don’t say it hasn’t happened before because it has. Tibet was once an independent country until Mao Zedung decided it was actually a Chinese province.

Chinese forces took Tibet with the rest of the world ignoring the invasion. Because of that unfortunate event, the Dalai Lama is a leader without a state.

If Xi had invaded the Philippines, the Dutertes would have been installed as permanent leaders of the Philippines, not unlike what happened in North Korea.

Instead of murdering Filipinos by the tens of thousands as Digong Duterte did with mostly poor young men suspected of being drug users or pushers, ordinary Filipinos who rejected the puppet government would have been the targets.

To this day, the Dutertes have shown how beholden they are to Xi as proven by Vice President Sara Duterte’s “no comment” reaction to China’s constant assault on the Philippine Coast Guard and Filipino fisherfolk in the West Philippine Sea.

By his actions, BBM has shown that he has enough guts to defend Philippine territory in the most practical way possible  —  let the big boys face Xi’s forces.

This week, those big boys, namely the US, Japan, and Australia, had their ships join the Philippine Navy in a patrol of the West Philippine Sea.

I only wish that the navies of India, New Zealand, South Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia had taken part in that patrol. It would have sent an ultra powerful message to Xi that enough is enough. Your pretensions to being the next Mao are not going to work.

Since the US just said more patrols could be expected, and Marcos has also stated that he continues to discuss the China problem with other friendly nations, the Philippines is now in a good place.

So again, kudos to BBM.

And with that out of the way, I can now speak my other truths. What Marcos has done so far where China is concerned is commendable, but that’s about it. He has yet to prove that he’s the real deal.

Marcos still takes too many foreign trips, most of which were unnecessary. As his critics have pointed out, some of the country’s neighbors like Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia are able to entice more investors than the Philippines and their leaders do not travel often.

The fact that Malacanang’s spin doctors have to always claim that their boss has gotten millions or even billions in promises are pure nonsense.

Promises are not commitments, so the Palace should stop it and just say that Marcos enjoys riding in planes, first class of course, all at the people’s expense.

He has also appointed a number of questionable “executives” to government owned corporations.

Most disturbing is the latest news that the appointed board of the Maharlika corporation  — remember Maharlika? – have given themselves extra high compensation without being fully operational yet.

This sucks.

Perhaps no one would mind if the Maharlika board were to deliver the goods bigtime. Then, they could reward themselves with hundreds of thousands in bonuses and other compensation. Millions, even.

There are other appointees of Mr. Marcos that are seemingly unwise, with their only qualification being donors to his presidential campaign.

It’s clear that the presidential palace does not vet a lot of appointees. Like the husband of that screaming banshee of an actress-cum-TV host. He was terminated, but only after he had done damage to the president’s image and reputation.

Another of Marcos’s sins is his big talk on protecting the environment. Nice words, actually, but there is a lack of action to back up the talk.

The Chocolate hills controversy is another issue that a serious president would have settled quickly. Why a resort was built inside a protected area is unthinkable, yet there’s not just one but two or three others, it seems.

Military men are also supposed to have built their own resorts in another protected site, and this is a report that no one wants to touch.

Getting a socialite to handle the environment portfolio is one of Marcos’s big mistakes, but not the biggest. About half of his Cabinet appointees are less-than-fully qualified for the juicy posts they were granted.

For his sake, I am hoping that Marcos does not follow in the footsteps of his dictator-father, who liked to name government projects after himself or his wife.

He should also show that he is aware of the lessons of history, which he failed to do this year when he removed the Edsa revolt commemoration from the official calendar.

I could go on and on about what I see as Marcos’s many weaknesses and shortcomings, but I will hold further comment. To be fair, he was never fully prepared for the presidency based on his past record.

He never accomplished much as a lawmaker, and was a tolerable local executive at best.

Maybe he’s still learning how to be an effective chief executive. He does have a number of good men and women in his Cabinet. Now if only he had the cojones to rid his official family of the deadweight that attend his Cabinet meetings.

So for now, he only gets high marks for how he has handled Xi and China, so far. I can only hope that none of the Dutertes ever have his ear, as they will almost certainly try to convince him that China is a better ally of the Philippines than the US.

Heck, even his sister, Senator Imee Marcos, appears like she prefers to toe the Duterte line where China is concerned.

I will continue to wish Marcos well unless and until he makes the fatal mistake of retweaking towards China. He at least knows which countries the Philippines can trust, and which to avoid like the plague. Or the coronavirus.