• ‘Mon ami, you’ve to start somewhere’



    THE February 10, 2018 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer bannered: “DU30 to Int’l Court: Why start with me? President Duterte questions the ICC [Int’l Criminal Court] decision to start its preliminary examination of alleged crimes against humanity in Asia with him when `massacres’ are occurring in many other countries in the region.”

    Why do Frenchmen kiss a woman’s hand? In 1986, in a breakfast meeting we had at the Manila Hotel with US Secretary of State George Shultz, he recounted this answer of a Frenchman: “Mon ami, you have to start somewhere.”

    The defense of selective prosecution, unequal protection or invidious discrimination will only work, if shown that “justice” is maladministered with an evil eye and an unequal hand.

    Mount credible defense

    But for Digong, there’s always the risk of winning of course, by mounting a credible vigorous defense.​

    It is no defense though ​to say that so many robberies are occurring anyway so why single out suspect John Doe?
    ​And​ here, there may be other damaging facts.

    Only last August, 32 were killed in one day, in Bulacan, in the anti-poor war against drugs. An ecstatic Malacañang, perhaps concerned over our population explosion situation, said Kill-Pa-More. Digong is the only one in the region bragging about his population production program, which no one has copied in dealing with a drug problem going back beyond a century [not only during PNoy’s watch, believe you me].

    Digong’s​ idol, Marcos, would deny, deny, deny. Or at least, dissemble. Macoy knew that fish is caught by its mouth but he lost anyway in Switzerland, Honolulu and Seattle. Billions were returned as ill-gotten wealth after the July 15, 2003 decision of the Supreme Court, which inexplicably did not order the prosecution of the “ill-gotteners.” The Marcoses are now where they are, working furiously for their Restoration, emboldened by Macoy’s transfer to the LMB (damaged and downgraded in my view to Libingan ng mga Mandarambong at Berdugo).

    As PNP head Bato de la Rosa, equally very talkative, said, his men would now be “more responsible,” after being pulled out from the back burner. Was the abandoned original Tokhang “responsible” at all? Why the pull-out then (which could also harm Digong in the ICC)?

    To me, unlamented by the Church and the human rights community, and perceived as “irresponsible,” bloody and messy, the failed policy indicates why it was abandoned, reacting to local and global outrage. The PNP (Pulis Na Patola) was told to back off. Too many of the poorest of the poor had died. Now the ICC has taken notice, and not improperly, from where I sit.

    A state-sanctioned crime against the poor is not a crime against humanity?​

    The revised PNP program is an admission that the bloody messy program of dealing with a century-old problem, which no country has aped, has been a colossal failure, resulting in the death of the poorest of the many who are poor. Now, I shift to a friend who is not poor but whose heart is very much in the right place.

    Unwelcome in Davao City

    Again flavor of the week is my very dear friend, Loida Nicolas-Lewis, a pal ​of my youth. Last Monday we had lunch at Vicky Garchitorena’s place. Tatti Licuanan, Lirio Covey, Yoly Fenix, Bert Fenix, Sonia Malasarte-Roco, and Ditas Rivera-da Silva attended.

    (​The next night, some reassembled at Solaire, to dancexercise in the hotel’s Eclipse.)​

    Our thoughts were with Loida, who is unwelcome in Davao City. Personae non gratae,​ along with Sen. Sonny Trillanes.​Why? Knowing her, she fights intensely for what is right and prevails by the force of reason, not by reason of force. EJKs don’t amuse her.

    Presidents have to thrive in a hardy climate, and ​not be balat sibuyas.

    Loida has been a friend since college days. Then it turned out that Reggie Lewis, her would-be husband, and I, were in the same Harvard Law graduating class in 1968. In 1998, Loida funded my traveling and joining our 30th anniversary reunion (full disclosure). I am incredulous at what Digong and Davaoeños have thought and done to her, and Senator Sonny. Yup, personae non gratae. No fair.

    We should have room not only for brown-nosing Mocha Usons but also for those whose thoughts we may disagree with, and indeed even despise, in a robust democracy. More democratic space, not less.

    In 1967, my only sister finished at UP (two engineering degrees) and I attended the graduation rites in Diliman. Among the graduands were best friends Loida and Violy Calvo (gone, the first wife of Sen. Frank Drilon).

    Former serious Student Catholic Action stalwarts would not go out of the law to oppose. Loida credibly denies Digong’s charge that she was behind the ICC case against Digong.

    Killing them softly

    I have reason to believe that all of us now into our second adolescence are respectful of human rights and against extrajudicial killing. Maybe even judicial killing. Or even killing one, softly.

    SSS chief Dean Amado Valdez and Commissioner Pompeela Viña deserved better than being killed softly, fired unceremoniously. Infighting? I see nothing wrong with creative tension in itself. But the way Digong arrogantly mishandles dismissals is sad, leading to misperception​.

    He has to try to be kinder and gentler. A little ceremony recognizing the two for having done their tasks well would have been better. Tatti Licuanan’s departure could also have been done in a better way. Too many foreign trips? It looks to me she has justified each one.

    Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo may justify her many foreign trips but, with a make-up artist (per the Star)? However, with a courageous and influential brother in Mon Tulfo​, she won’t get the Tatti treatment.​

    While the other day was special (Ash Wednesday and Valentine)​, I’d prefer to cite Digong’s repetition of the demand to return the Bells of Balangiga. But now, two US Congressmen object unless there is some improvement in the situation posed by the bloody, messy anti-poor war against drugs.

    What can I say? Digong, Bato, you have to start somewhere. At Mass the other evening in spacious San Isidro in Pasay, I saw emblazoned “Huwag kang papatay.” An apt writing on the wall. Nice to have a sweet comic funny Valentine but not to forget that dust we all ​are, and to dust we all ​shall return.


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