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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, April 21, 2017
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Twinkling
with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

With due respect, he said

Ninfa Leonardia There must have been a lot of red faces among the members of the Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines when President Duterte turned down their offer of a Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa. Who would have thought anyone would decline such an honor? But it seems the UP officials thought Duterte was like any other official who would jumped up and down, and send press releases to every media entity around, announcing his recognition.

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One cannot, of course, say that the UP officials were making “sip-sip” to the President. It has been reported that this distinction has always been given to Presidents (including the unlamented ones, maybe?). Apparently they hadn't studied very well the character of Rodrigo Duterte. But they should take consolation from the fact that he did not do any cussing and only mildly said that he does not receive awards “as a matter of personal and official policy”. He even added that it was “with due respect to the U.P.” that he was declining, not rejecting it.

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On the other hand, the decision must have delighted the members of the U.P. community composed of students, teachers and alumni who were protesting against the decision of the Board of Regents to vest the President with the highest honor from their school. Their gripes against him include his alleged “killing of the poor”, referring to drug suspects, and for allowing the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani that they consider sacred ground.

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I guess this will discourage other groups who think they could curry favor with Mr. Duterte by giving him awards or honors, because they will only be embarrassed. A defender of Duterte even said that the degree had lost its worth for them because it was also given to former president Benigno Aquino III! But maybe PNoy believed he deserved it? Well, as the saying goes, “One man's meat is another man's poison.” So let the issue be.

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Was it on April 9 when the Armed Forces of the Philippines said it would crush the Abu Sayyaf Group in three months? Well, let's begin counting, and see if that comes true on July 9. That was announced in the news on April 9, which is also Bataan Day. What a memorable coincidence if they could make that come true. What about a promise we also heard before about the drug problem being solved in six months? Has anyone done a countdown on that?

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I don't want to be an alarmist, but let's not ignore the warnings from the Philvocs about earthquakes and how to prepare for them. We've already seen the havoc they have wrought in some places in our country, like in Batangas and even Manila, some with aftershocks recorded at Magnitude 5! Are our local schools also initiating earthquake drills for students so they do not panic or get injured when a big one comes, God forbid!

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“Get ABUS dead or alive!” That was the order of President Duterte to the country's security forces. And he has underscored this by adding that a P1 million reward will go to anyone who has accounted for an ABU Sayyaf member. Even civilians are given the go-signal to kill them, and he has assured those who do so that they will be pardoned. I hope this does not lead to people killing their personal enemies and branding them Abus. Until now, there are even suspicions that not all those gunned down on suspicion of being engaged in drugs had anything to do with it.

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The horrible crash of a passenger bus in the Maharlika Highway-Cagayan Valley Road on its way to Candon City in Ilocos Sur, that fell into a ravine, killing 35 of its passengers and injuring 40 others, had its counterpart almost two days after in North India where a passenger bus also fell into a ravine, killing 44 of its 56 passengers. Worse than the Nueva Ecija tragedy, it also fell into a river, which was why only 12 survived, but were badly injured. Unlike the Philippine version, however, there was no mention of overloading or any defect in the carrier.*

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