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Church and State



BY Jimmy Cabato


Charlie Apostol, aka Carlo Apostoli on fb, who passed away in the States, was finally laid to rest yesterday. He was 74 something. And it was only then that I came to know, a college classmate of mine, Victor at the then Mindanao Regional School of Fisheries, is Charlie’s and Mike’s brother. Also learned, a sister - Nelly, surnamed with a letter “B” - I forgot, it was years ago - was one of our instructors in the same institution.

May God grant him eternal rest.

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President Duterte showed greater determination to sustain his campaign against illegal drugs - In the face of fresh criticisms from Catholic bishops - even at the risk of going to hell, he said.

The President warned Catholics they may all be hell-bound if they support his resolve to put an end to the country’s drug problem.

Speaking in Pilipino, he parodied, “Catholics who believe what the priests, bishops say, go ahead. Side with them. If you want to go to Heaven, side with them,”

Such was the President’s reaction to the pastoral statement issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) which was read in all churches Saturday and Sunday, in lieu of the priests’ homily.

“Now if you want to end the drug problem at the risk of going to hell, join me,” Duterte added.

He made the statement before the media in Cagayan de Oro City where he visited the wake of three soldiers who were brutally killed by New People’s Army rebels.

Bishops, however, remain unfazed. Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez said they will continue to speak especially on issues involving morals.

“If it’s a matter of morality we will speak. I have been speaking here in the diocese against EJK... we will speak. Even if they call us hypocrites, that’s okay,” he said.

In supporting the stand of the Church against killings done wantonly, Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos said it is precisely because of the people that they are speaking.

And the Liberal Party (LP) leadership joined the CBCP yesterday in denouncing the alleged summary killing of persons linked to the multi-billion-peso illegal drug trade and the strong government push to re-impose the death penalty.

The LPs surely must be longing to go to heaven, and to shun hell.

If Duterte’s theory is correct, WS is for kill. Friends, where do you stand – heaven or hell?

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President Duterte will now talk with Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison and the other rebel leaders only “until they come to their senses.”

And here’s a later aside. Read on – “Communist leaders continued to demand the release of captured communist rebels even after staging surprise attacks on government forces and calling off a five-month-old ceasefire that was announced August last year.”

Duterte is right, out of their senses they are, talk only when “…they come to their senses.”

Now back to the original context. The President cautioned Sison, an asylum seeker in the Netherlands, against flying to the Philippines as he will certainly land in jail, he said in a media interview in Davao City last weekend.

The President lashed at the rebel group for attacking soldiers despite an ongoing ceasefire, saying they have no honor in the battlefield.

He said the rebels have also “wreaked havoc in the economy” for harassing companies who refuse to pay revolutionary taxes.

Meanwhile, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III yesterday expressed confidence the government’s peace talks can still continue despite President Duterte’s announcement he is terminating the government’s peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New Peoples’ Army (CPP-NPA).

“We can continue talking even if there is resumption of military or shooting or war,” Pimentel said in an interview.

And that is where WS disagrees. If they want war, sock it to them. Duterte’s stand must prevail.

Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV has a better mode, demanding the National Democratic Front (NDF) to surrender the communist rebels who ‘’butchered’’ last week AFP soldiers in Mindanao if it wants the stalled peace negotiations to resume.

“While peace is the ultimate goal, parties must come to the table in good faith,” Aquino said.. Read over and see their treacherous act. Gen. Eduardo Ano, AFP chief of staff, said the ambushes by communist rebels last week were “disdainful and disturbing. While chief communist negotiator Fidel Agcaoli was assuring the public that the NDF, CCP, and NPA would continue the unilateral ceasefire, the CPP-NPA were attacking our soldiers who were doing community support and development.’’

He said the attacks resulted in the deaths of unarmed 2nd Lt. Miguel Victor Alejo and five other soldiers, as well as the abduction of three other soldiers, in northern Mindanao, all also unarmed.

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The military has begun arresting communists after President Rodrigo Duterte ended peace talks with them over a spate of rebel attacks on government troops.

Reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo Monday said Ariel Arbitrario, a consultant for the National Democratic Front, was arrested at a checkpoint in Davao City. He had been released last year to join peace talks with the government.

On Saturday, the military and police also arrested a communist couple in Ozamiz Port, Misamis Occidental.

The military identified the suspects as Lito Elmidolan alias Gary and wife Maria Bella Elmidolan alias Lalay or Thelma, ordnance technical staff and finance staff of the revolutionary movement based in the region.

The military said in spot report that they were arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by a regional trial court for multiple attempted murder.

So, this may be what emboldened the NDF to end its ceasefire order. Chief Red negotiator Fidel Agcaoili bared all NDF consultants are protected by the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) that was recently reinforced during talks in Rome, Italy.

Understandable for them, but woe to their field combatants who are not Jasig-protected.

Over the weekend, Duterte ordered the military to arrest those he had released last year to join peace talks between the NDF and the government.

He said he would ask Interpol to issue warrants of arrest against CPP members living abroad, including their founder Jose Maria Sison.

With the supposed Jasig pact, how possible would that now be?

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378 erring policemen in Metro Manila will be tasked to clean a portion of Pasig River near the Malacañang Palace as a form of punishment for various infractions that they committed, as the Philippine National Police (PNP) begins the purging of scalawags from its ranks.

WS is appalled. Cleaning a portion of Pasig River near the Malacañang Palace is no purge. That’s kid stuff.

Another report says, Duterte will make the erring police eat water lilies in Pasig. Yet another one says, it’s unclear if the erring Philippine National Police personnel will be made to eat the water lilies blocking President Duterte’s tugboat on its five-minute run across the Pasig River from his Bahay Pangarap rest house to his office at Malacañang Palace.

That’s what Mr. Duterte said he would do to these policemen accused of minor infractions when he scrapped at the weekend an order by PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa that they undergo retraining at the Subic “values leadership training school.”

“The retraining is canceled. I am countermanding the order of Bato. They report to Malacañang. You know why? I need to clear the Pasig River. My tugboat can’t pass through because of the water lilies. I’ll make them eat it,” the President said.

So the “kid stuff” comment is, after all, kid stuff really, as later cited, “… these policemen (are) accused of minor infractions. Bato should have said so earlier. But he simply said “…PNP begins the purging of scalawags from its ranks.”

Sorry for the premature remark.

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