COLUMN: THOSE EUROPEAN ENVOYS SHOULD NOT TRY TO BULLY US IN OUR OWN COUNTRY!

MANILA, January 16, 2004 (STAR) BY THE WAY By Max V. Soliven - There’s no spectacle more reprehensible than that of several European Ambassadors trooping to Bilibid Prison, then lecturing to our government, and literally calling us barbarians for insisting on implementing the death penalty. There was this guy named Voornis whose language was particularly offensive. Send that boor named Voornis packing, for heaven’s sake.

I’m glad that for once, President GMA and her Spokesperson, Ignacio "Toting" Bunye, stood firm on declaring the government will push through with the executions scheduled.

Nobody begrudges the poor old mother of one of those slated for the lethal chamber her heart-broken tears – in the eyes of those who love them, especially their mothers, even the foulest of heinous criminals can do no wrong. Of course, the law makes mistakes, but not to implement the law would be the worst mistake of all.

We’re such a weak-kneed society, it’s no wonder we’re descending in anarchy. Just consider how candidates jump back and forth from one so-called political party to another, without bothering to even put forward the flimsiest of excuses. To those kapalmuks opportunists and self-seekers, one cynical phrase is the end-all and be-all of their selfish existence: "Winning isn’t everything, winning is the only thing!"

I can only say, Sanamagan! Dante in his Inferno would have consigned them to the lowest rung of hell.

As for our gullible electorate? Sad to say, many of those No Goods will probably get elected.

We have a Commission on Elections in shambles. We have on the Administration and Opposition senatorial lists the names of aspirants who belong to the reformatory, the penitentiary, or, at least, the Old Folks Home, a.k.a. the Geriatrics Club.

The most sensible decision seen lately was that of Imee Marcos, who opted to withdraw from the senatorial race, and will make a bid instead for her third and final term in the House of Representatives in Ilocos Norte. Ilocoslovakia remains "Marcos country", while the rest of the nation may not be that eager to forgive the iron-clad years of dictatorship of Imee’s dad, Ferdinand E. Marcos. It’s unfortunate that the sins of the fathers (and mothers) have to be visited on their children, however innocent. But in this nation of dynasties, the dynastic children must be ready to inherit the bad with the good.

The interesting thought, once more thanks to our national amnesia, is that Imee might have won a place in the Magic 12, but her candidacy would also have pulled down the prospects of her presidential bet, FPJ, who’s already weighed down with so many barnacles clinging to his breeches. (Imee couldn’t resist, though, frontpaging a photo of herself, with FPJ raising her hand in "proclamation".) Panday is, alas, beginning to look less like the earnest fighting "blacksmith", and more like the eager-to-please politician. It’s true, that Ronnie Poe continues to top the surveys – and is cheered everywhere he ventures – but he must have a care. I’m not comparing Ronnie, mind you, to Jesus Christ (and certainly not predicting his final crucifixion) but when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an ass, he was hailed by adoring crowds, and flowers thrown under His feet that jubilant Palm Sunday. Less than a week later, the same demonstrators were calling for His blood. Beware the fickleness of the mob.

Poe must remember he’s looked upon by the masa and many in the middle class (even a surprising number of businessmen and the elite) as a savior. But when he offers the nation a slate of the same TRAPOS and looters who infested earlier regimes, what kind of salvation is that? Better the devil we know (not calling GMA a devil, excuse me), the people might finally conclude.

Coming back to those meddling European Union envoys, let them remember they’re diplomats, not preachers, or noisy agents of foreign NGOs. Let them go home and fix what’s wrong with their own nations, indeed, what’s going very wrong with the European Union. Haven’t you noticed, the member-states over there now angrily squaring off against each other on everything from farm subsidies, voting clout, taxation, their proposed new Constitution, and who gets to run Brussels. Terrible scandals are plaguing the finances, spending, and actuations of the EU’s gray bureaucracy. Perhaps they ought, just a polite thought, re-introduce the death penalty in their own countries.

In the meantime, we must say to them:

Let us alone, as a sovereign state, to manage our own affairs. We are not a colony of those former colonial powers.

The real tragedy of our condition is that "capital punishment", as the law dictates, has never been consistently implemented. Our government has been so urong-sulong over punishing convicts, assailed by TROs, lawyers, and torrents of tears, that the so-called "death penalty" has become a joke. Let us implement it now, without fear or favor. The pity of it is that nobody’s crying for the victims, who are dead, buried, or cremated, and forgotten.

True, it’s one of God’s Ten Commandments: "Thou shall not kill." The death penalty is the only way to remind the killers of that eternal law.

Dura lex sed lex! We have to prove, once and for all, that crime does not pay. Alas, the general conclusion (witness the most recent headline-grabbing scandals) is that it pays very handsomely.

* * * In the haze of politics (not so different from the storied "haze of battle"), one of the memorable interviews of the year was lost in the headline shuffle. Yesterday, on the front page, The STAR ran the candid interview of our Chief European Correspondent and Paris Bureau Chief, Vi Gomez Massart, under a lame headline. You had to read the fine print in the question-and-answer segment, which at least was faithfully published to occupy all of Page 6 to get the gist of what the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines really said.

Now, I’m not happy with giving the propaganda rantings of that faded old Bolshevik-Maoist, Joma, such big publicity bonanza. But a newspaper’s duty is to publish what’s news and newsworthy.

With the New People’s Army (NPA), which Joma founded as well, ratcheting up its violent operations, and blackmailing candidates as well as escalating its attacks on military and civilian targets, even Sison’s bleatings out of Utrecht, Holland, cannot be ignored. Moreover, here was direct word from Sison about the never-ending "peace talks". Joma is, after all, the Chief Political Consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the umbrella organization for 17 Leftwing associations which include Bayan, a party-list member of Congress. And Bayan already has two congressmen in our House of Representatives, thanks to the Party-List backdoor – i.e., Rep. Saturnino Ocampo (an "ex" rebel) and Crispin Beltran.

Joma, 65, cordially agreed to be interviewed by our Paris-Brussels based Bureau Chief, and she flew to Utrecht, the small university city in which Sison has been hunkered down in "exile," while claiming to direct Communist operations in the Philippines from this safe haven.

Massart found him "courteous to a fault", and described him as a "bespectacled, grey-haired man, clad in a nicely-cut pair of sports trousers and a dark-colored pullover". Her impression was that he "had the obvious trappings of a classic, respectable petty bourgeois having an afternoon chat with a couple of friends over coffee."

Sison is besieged by many troubles lately. When the United States Department of State declared him an "international terrorist", the Dutch government – which had heeded our own Philippine government’s complaints – finally froze his bank accounts and cut off all social benefits he had enjoyed since he arrived in the Netherlands on a "self-imposed exile" in 1988. Imagine that: The Dutch government had even given this "revolutionary" a pension.

The Bank of England, in response to his inclusion in the US official list of Foreign Terrorists, put his name, too, on its own Foreign Terrorist list of prohibitions. The European Union disseminated his name under the official terrorist tag to all its members while hundreds of other countries friendly to the US around the world added Joma’s name to its own foreign terrorist rosters.

The Dutch courts revised his status as a former "political refugee" to terrorist and denied his request for asylum. Technically, Massart informed me after examining the record, "Sison has become eligible for expulsion anytime from the Netherlands".

Most members of the European Union are unlikely to grant him entry either. So where’s Joma to go? This is why those "peace talks" may be his only hope. Thus, you’ve got to put the pending "talks" in proper perspective, armed with this information.

Can Sison come "home"? Let’s see what’s in store for him here. The armed forces has Sison on its Wanted List, with a P10 million price tag on his head. Faced with few other options, Sison has now appealed the Dutch Court ruling to the European Court of Human Rights based "on humanitarian grounds". If he wins a reprieve from this "court", it will make it less easy for the Dutch to expel him.

By the way, like many troublemakers, Joma Sison is a fellow Saluyot. (Like his erstwhile "comrade" Victor Corpus, who hails from Vigan, and Yours Truly from nearby Sto. Domingo.)

Sison was born on February 8, 1939, in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur, into an old and very rich family which traces his Spanish-Chinese roots to the 16th century. In her covering note to me, Vi Massart (who’s lived and worked in Western Europe for many years and speaks fluent French) remarked that by "social and economic status", Joma should actually belong to "the upper bourgeoisie class" – an allusion which, surely, he abhors.

Joma in fact (like Erap) attended high school at the Ateneo de Manila. When asked by Massart why he turned against his own class, Sison’s reply was that he is a "patriot".

Sison says, Vi added, that "although it was his Grade 4 teacher, an Aglipayan, who first kindled in him the anti-colonial spirit, it was the Ateneo that challenged him intellectually to pursue his Socialist ideology. He recalls that his first brush with socialism was when an American priest in Ateneo told his class that "Andres Bonifacio, his hero, was a simple thug from Tondo and Senator Claro Recto, his idol, was nothing but a vulgar communist".

Oh, well. Who knows which anecdote is true, and which is cant? It actually could have happened. Joma, of course, went to college in the University of the Philippines, graduating in 1959 with a BA in Literature. Wouldn't you say, then, he was more "prepared" for leadership than Fernando Poe, Jr.?

Everyone knows what murder and terror Joma’s armed revolution unleashed on the land. As for the Plaza Miranda bombing of 1970, he denied to Vi Massart that he had ordered the attack. He blamed Marcos! Why, he even claimed that Victor Corpus, who had exposed him as the man who mandated that cruel assault on the Liberal Party rally, which killed and maimed so many, had been misquoted.

There’s more to the Massart interview that still hasn’t been published. It will be in the week to come.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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