Restraint in Difficult Circumstances

The incident occurred at Reed Bank is, indeed, a tough time for the Philippines and the Filipino people. President Duterte remained calm several days after the incident since one wrong move can cause significant damage to the country and its people.

The recent incident involving a small fishing boat carrying 22 Filipino fishermen and an alleged Chinese fishing vessel at Reed Bank, lying off the coast of Western Palawan on the South China Sea, the details of which are still unclear at this point despite the mainstream media giving virtual 24/7 coverage on overdrive, has sparked an interesting mix of reactions. There are those who demand immediate swift action from the Duterte administration, putting definite blame on China and demanding that the Philippine government hold its counterpart responsible. However, there are those who are more level-headed, believing that the investigation should be finished first and all of the details of the incident established before making the next set of moves.

President Duterte himself remained calm several days after the incident occurred, only giving a brief side statement on the topic after delivering his speech during the anniversary of the Philippine Navy at the Sangley Point Naval Base in Cavite. Calling what happened "a little maritime incident," he called for calm. He added that it should not be blown out of proportion and should be investigated, and that the side of the Chinese should also be heard.

The calm and seemingly cool demeanor of the President goes in sharp contrast with some of his officials, the political opposition and the mainstream media. One Cabinet member gave a strongly worded statement, condemning the Chinese vessel for sailing away from the small fishing boat. The opposition, in its usual form and tact, demanded that the President downgrade the country's relations with China, citing its aggressive actions in the disputed waters of the South China Sea as the basis for undertaking such course of action.

I must say that admire President Duterte for his current stance on the incident at Reed Bank. He was never overrun by emotions unlike some of his officials and the opposition, as well as some people who only see things on the surface without having a clear understanding of what is at stake. As a lawyer and a one-time prosecutor, the only time he would act is when the investigation is done and all facts are completed.

It is for this reason that I believe a person who uses his head more than his heart should lead a nation. One wrong move can cause significant damage to the country and its people, something that, in the case of the Philippines, cannot and should not happen. The leader should be shrewd, cunning and smart enough to know how to act, when to act and whom to deal with when it comes to addressing difficult situations facing the country and making key policy decisions that will affect the fate of the nation and its citizens, while, at the same time, has empathy towards his constituents, knowing the kind of lives that they live, their economic status and their needs in order to come up with well-crafted courses of actions.

The incident at Reed Bank is, indeed, a tough time for the Philippines and the Filipino people. What is needed now is for every Filipino to remain calm and let the government do its job by proceeding with the investigation and coming up with the best course of action, and ignore the saboteurs who are trying to douse gasoline on the delicate situation to achieve a particular self-serving agenda. Restraint in difficult circumstances is the one needed at this point and President Duterte is exactly doing that.

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About the Author
Benedict is an agricultural economist, academician and writer. He has gained experience and expertise in various fields of economics, business, political science and public relations after through professional ventures in the academe, and in the public and private sectors. He has authored or co-authored key publications on topics ranging from agriculture and food security to global affairs and politics.
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