I VISITED Davao City during the weekend to attend the Manila Times Business Forum, which was held at the Marco Polo Hotel on Friday, February 10.
The forum is annually organized by The Times, and focuses on a single theme of national interest and importance.
The forum topic this year was “The Philippine outlook for 2017: Peace toward sustainable prosperity.”
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte no less was slated as the keynote speaker.
DU30 was joined by a motley panel of speakers, viz, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez; Ambassador Zhao Jianhua of China; Richard Bolt, country director of the Asian Development Bank; Corazon Guidote, vice president of SM Investments Corporation; and Alex Cabrera, chairman, PWC Philippines.
The non-government speakers spoke in the morning of the conference. They each took a turn at discussing the Philippine economy and its prospects for growth, each one expressing something different from the institutional keyhole in which they viewed developments. SM’s Guidote spoke of the country’s economic potential, and I could see many more malls rising across the archipelago. Bolt talked about ADB’s special ties with the Philippines, as it marked its 50th anniversary last year in the land where it saw the light of day.
Ambassador Zhao painted an interesting mosaic of how the PH economy will fit into the “belt and road” initiatives of China, which will stretch all the way to Europe, making land travel possible.
Our hosts served a delicious and interesting networking lunch, right at the table where we sat.
At about 1 p.m., we were all asked to vacate the ballroom, because it would be sanitized by the Presidential Security Group, in preparation for President Duterte, who would speak in the afternoon. After the inspection, guests returned and underwent inspection and frisking.
When DU30 arrived, he was presented the Manila Times Man of the Year Award by Mr. Dante A. Ang, chairman emeritus of the Times.
After receiving the citation, DU30 reciprocated by citing the Times for its credible reporting. He did not so much keynote the forum, as close it.
The choice of Davao City as venue for the forum was predictable after DU30’s rousing victory in the May 2016 election. He campaigned on a platform that pledged among others to end the dominance of imperial Manila and release the energies of the rest of the country.
This has been a revelatory week for me. I haven’t been to Davao since I visited in the 1980s to serve as an inducting officer to a media club. The city is literally transformed. People there believe that they are the capital of something.
If Manila is the capital of all the Philippines, and Cebu City is the capital of the Philippine heartland in the Visayas, Davao City is indubitably the capital of the Philippine South (Mindanao and Sulu).
Ground zero of Davao bombing
I hope I do not disparage the forum when I write here that the most enlightening part of my visit was a stroll outside the Marco Polo Hotel.
I had wondered idly about the bombing of the night market in Davao City, and I thought of visiting it while in the city.
As is my wont I strolled around the hotel to look for shops and eating places.
I looked up the Ateneo de Davao University.
In the late afternoon of Friday, I noticed in one avenue people setting up what appeared to be market stalls. I surmised that, as in many cities in the archipelago, they would be cooking street food. I went back to the hotel and resolved to return to the avenue to look at their foodstuffs. I returned to a street that was literally swarming with people, vendors and customers. It was a veritable food fair. Most of the food were barbecued and grilled items, chicken, pork and seafood.
Amidst the noise and smell of cooking, I decided to take my dinner out there, instead of dining at the hotel in a more ambient setting. I also bought a kilo of pomelos, which are a Davao specialty.
In the morning, while chatting with the driver of the shuttle that would take me to the airport, I asked him about the night market that had been bombed.
He told me that the market was on Roxas Avenue, the street fronting the hotel. As he spoke about the market and the bombing, it gradually dawned on me that the market I had visited the night before was ground zero of the bombing incident.
Three days after the bombing, said the hotel driver proudly, the night market was back in business. The vendors and customers were all there. And it’s been alive and well ever since.
Was I ever in any danger while visiting the night market? Were terrorists watching close by? It’s better not to know, lest I scare myself.
Malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance
I’ve been fascinated for the longest time by this trio of legal terms, which confirm the saying that interesting things come in threes (in oratory, as in comedy, there is a famous rule of three, see below for explanation).
I now have a reason to discuss malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance, thanks to former first sister Kris Aquino, who has applied her wiles to stall a new investigation of the Mamasapano massacre.
I was despondent like the widows, parents and children of the martyred SAF 44,because of President Duterte’s decision to defer his plan to appoint a special commission to investigate the massacre, and hold former President Benigno Aquino III to account.
Kris Aquino, it appears, caused the change of plan. She got the inspired idea of texting President Duterte to plead with him to refrain from sending Noynoy to jail. Voila! DU30 reconsidered his plan for the commission.
But wait. As a bunch of us were ruing that Aquino III would get off scot-free in the Mamasapano tragedy, a lawyer-friend told us, hold your horses! It’s not over. The special panel will eventually be formed. It will surely find Aquino guilty of malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance – at least one feasance. Maybe all.
Wow. Eagerly, we listened to him explain one by one these pyrotechnics of the law.
Malfeasance, he explained, is “the performance by a public official of an act that is legally unjustifiable, harmful, or contrary to law. Malfeasance applies especially to an act that is in violation of a public trust.”
Misfeasance, he continued, “is the wrongful performance of a normally lawful act.”
Nonfeasance, finally, “is the omission of an act that ought to have been performed.”
The word feasance means the performance of an act.
Aquino did so many things wrong in the Mamasapano operation, he transgressed every feasance in the law books.
By the time the lawyer was finished, we were all hooked.
In assigning a suspended PNP general to organize Oplan Exodus, Aquino III was surely guilty of malfeasance.
In failing to order the rescue of the SAF 44, he clearly committed a “nonfeasance” because it is his duty as commander in chief to save the lives of his men. He is responsible.
But what about misfeasance? The entire Mamasapano operation was a misfeasance. Aquino did a lawful act as Commander in Chief in ordering the Mamasapano mission, but he did it in a way that was injurious and fatal to the SAF commandos. He virtually fed them to the lions.
The rule of three
One of the secrets of powerful and memorable oratory is the use of “the rule of three.” Descriptive phrases, lists, and adjectives are more memorable when they travel in threes. The first two set the pace, the last brings them home.
“That this nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from this earth.” Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address.
So great is the ear’s affection for triplets, that it altered Winston Churchill’s most famous line. People remember Churchill as having said, “blood, sweat and tears.” But he actually said, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.”