THE merriest season of the year will once again breed abundance for the merry gentlemen in Congress. Sen. Ping Lacson claims the P4.1-trillion proposed national budget for 2020 is riddled with pork barrel. One of the most glaring is the P3.17 billion earmarked for flood control projects, with P60 million each assigned to eight of them. Lacson asks, “Do the rivers in these areas have the same size?”
The congressmen will do whatever it takes to pad the GAA with their parked pork because, as the word has since gotten around, various favored contractors already advanced the commissions to the joyful congressmen. It seems the spirit of Christmas is not strong enough to rouse them from thievery to integrity. Or would an actual and powerful earthquake that demolishes the Batasan Pambansa building provide them a change of heart?
The family of 65-year-old political detainee Benito Quilloy, who is stricken with acute pneumonia, would like to thank Sen. Bong Go for helping with his much-needed hospital treatment. Quilloy’s papers for temporary discharge from the Butuan City Jail in Surigao del Norte had been delayed for two weeks, despite his worsening condition. He has been suffering from the disease for over three weeks. Quilloy’s lawyers from Karapatan were able to secure a court approval for a one-week hospital confinement but this was received only three days before its expiration by Jail Warden Diovin Auza. Quiloy’s relatives had been deeply worried because he was frequently gasping for breath and there was no oxygen tank available in the jail.
The family approached this columnist who sent the urgent request to Go. The wife of the detainee was moved to tears when she learned that it was the senator who intervened to ensure the immediate hospital confinement of her husband.at the Butuan Doctors’ Hospital.
She knew that there was no love lost between Go, an alter ego of President Duterte, and the CPP/NPA and its leadership. People call it nobility, a character that his big boss has miserably failed to nurture. The loathing of certain police and the military officers for suspected NPA official Quilloy seem common in numerous jails in the country where NPA detainees, especially those notorious for bloody encounters, are left to their own devises to languish and die.
Ordering the military to crush the NPA rebels which President Duterte still regards as terrorists is undoubtedly not a confidence-building measure for the resumption of the peace talks. He has assigned DOLE Secretary Sylvestre Bello III to again open negotiations with the leadership of the CPP/NPA/NDF. With their arms and men effectively diminished by the constant and vicious operations of a fattened military and their leaders falling one by one, the rebels do not seem to be on the run and manage to still carry out ambushes. It would seem to be a pathetic and desperate recourse to go out in “a blaze of glory.”
The President should bend backwards some more instead of presiding over a pestering conflict whose closure may be more intensely social and deeply emotional. He should be intently serious to undertake confidence-building measures, such as setting aside the condition of CCP Chairman Joema Sison coming home before the peace talks are restarted here.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote that “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” How about the President taking his eyes away temporarily from the armed forces he so pampered and to fill in the shoes of the cadres, so insufferable and battered by time and fate? We wonder if the President may yet be softened not by the brutality from both sides of the insurgency war, but by the lives and families sacrificed on the altar of ideology and democracy.