By José Abeto Zaide
“Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our country!” — Carl Schurz, 1872.
As a retired outsider looking in, I wonder how my professional colleagues represent our country abroad.
I have served four decades in our Department of Foreign Affairs, at the home office and in foreign postings abroad. One of the best and, at the same time, the most difficult stints in our foreign service postings was during the Marcos years – the early years when Ferdie and Imelda were the darlings of the Free World…and the later martial law years when the Philippines was treated as pariah by the USA and former admirers. The 21 years of Marcos and Imeda were the best and the most challenging years that tested the mettle of our professional diplomats. After the assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr., Marcos created a commission to investigate the Aquino murder headed by former Court of Appeals Justice Corazon Agrava. After almost a year of investigation and public hearings, the Agrava board submitted two reports to Marcos: a minority report penned by Agrava alone and the majority submitted by the other members.
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President Rodrigo Duterte is the new dramatis persona. Filipinos voted him above all others on the promise of change and peace and order – principally the promise to solve the scourge of drugs which has infested a large part of the population. His campaign pledge was that he would solve the scourge within six months.
True enough, even the Ampatuans are said to observe protocol and good manners and right conduct when they enter the confines of metropolitan Davao City.
Soon enough, PDu30 would discover that he had bitten more than he could chew – that being mayor was not the same as being president of 7,641 islands. He admitted that it will take all of his six years plus probably a little stretch after, to solve the problem.
We have had difficulty ingesting the words of President Du30 when he inveighed in the gathering of PNP officers that he wants them to rid the country of drugs… “Do your duty and if, in the process, you kill one thousand persons because you were doing your duty, I will protect you. And if they try to impeach me, I will hurry the process and we will go out of the service together.”
Déjà vu of President Manuel Quezon saying that he would prefer “A Philippines run like hell by Filipinos than a Philippines run like heaven by Americans.”
(Pundits say that our forefathers and those who came after took Quezon literally. And I am afraid that our PNP personnel may have taken PDu30 likewise, too.)
Now, we read President Rodrigo Duterte vow to punish police officers behind the killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos in an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City. If the death of Kian is the price of PDu30’s Meeting at Damascus, I join others in the prayerful hope that we have come to the end of a cure worse than the scourge.
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Premiere. We were privileged to watch at Shangri-la Theater on EDSA/Shaw Blvd. the premiere of Capt. Joy’ Roa’s feature of Israel, which will be shown on ABS-CBN TV at 8:30 p.m. on consecutive Sundays (“The Promised Land,” Aug. 27) and “Where Jesus Walked,” Sept. 3). ABS-CBN will repeat showings on the following Saturdays at 2:30 p.m.. Capt. Roa said that the two-part series is different from his staple Hot Air Safari TV features in that “there are no hot air balloons, no gorillas, no fast sports cars…but it is a wonderful peek into one of the most fascinating Biblical scenes.” Israel Ambassador Effie Ben Matityau enjoins us to watch the series and offers a prize to the first person who, after seeing both films, gives the correct answer to two questions: 1. Who was the most constipated person in the Old Testament? and, 2. Who was the first water engineer in the Old Testament? Send your answers to:firstname.lastname@example.org.
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