• The sweet and the sour this Christmas day

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    For this season of good cheer, the spectacular, though error-marred, triumph, of our very own Pia Wurtzbach in this year’s Miss Universe Beauty Pageant in Las Vegas, should have been the unexpected and welcome gift for our people and country to crown this season.

    Some will say that it would have been better if the pageant host did not stumble badly in reading out the names of the pageant winners, by declaring another contestant as winner first, before finally bestowing the honor on Pia. We sympathize with poor Miss Columbia for her sad experience.

    But he erratic climax had one redeeming point. It riveted the world’s attention even more on Pia and on her being from our beautiful land. It made Pia’s triumph more breathtaking and unforgettable.

    This boon to the nation was a great gift for our people to receive at this time, which we all thank Providence for sending our way.

    ISIS casts a shadow

    But sadly, this happy news has been shadowed also by disturbing and alarming news, that was first reported by the Daily Mail newspaper in London.

    The Mail reported online that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — which the Arabs prefer to call Daesh — has not set up a training camp in the Philippines and is looking to our country as a potential site for expanding its bases.

    The paper reported:

    • ISIS has released a new video showing jihadi training camp in the Philippines

    • Militant recruits were shown going through a basic assault course in the jungle

    • It is the first time ISIS-branded footage has emerged from the Philippines showing jihadi training activity.

    Malacañang was quick to issue a statement of denial that there is an ISIS training camp or camps in the Philippines.

    “What ISIS-linked personalities have done is to try to link up with local jihadist/terrorist groups,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.
    “Some of these ISIS-linked personalities, who are really few in number, have also sought refuge in the base areas of these local terrorist groups,” Coloma added.

    But oddly, Coloma’s message of dismissal appeared to raise more worries, rather than calm nerves. It was issued by the chief Palace propagandist, instead by competent authorities, like the National Security Adviser, or an officer of the AFP, who can speak more credibly and competently are on the subject of security threats to the nation.

    With the official assurance coming from Coloma, the public couldn‘t know who deserved to be given more credence — ISIS with its video and vivid pictures of people in training and holding weapons, or Coloma with only his bald statement.

    This is totally unsatisfactory and needs swift correction by competent authorities, who really know the facts of the matter.

    The Palace communications group and presidential spokesmen have developed the bad habit of treating in cavalier fashion serious matters of state. For empty propaganda points, they have issued statements right and left in order to contain adverse developments and issues potentially harmful to President Aquino’s public standing.

    The corrective to this situation is a professional approach to public issues and developments – treating issues in a cool and thoughtful manner, and allowing facts to speak for themselves.

    Had the ISIS video story been handled better, the nation would have felt less jittery and more assured that we are not about to be subjected to attacks similar to what befell Paris.

    Without this contrarian story, our people and our country could have enjoyed with undiminished joy Pia’s coronation as Miss Universe.

    On this day of days then, we say to all our readers and all our people:
    Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

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