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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, April 9, 2018
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OPINIONS

Itís not only Boracay

Ninfa Leonardia

Yesterday was Araw ng Kagitingan. Before that name was made official, I remember that we knew it as “Bataan Day”, or “The Fall of Bataan”. That marked the infamous day when Bataan, believed to be the last bastion of Philippine freedom, fell to the Japanese Imperial Army. But I recall that some educators and learned people of the country complained about honoring what to them was rather a day of infamy, hence the renaming to “Araw ng Kagitingan”, or A Day of Heroism or Bravery.

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All right, it was a day of bravery because our soldiers fought with all their might and thousands were killed defending their country. Thousands more died when they were captured and made to march several kilometers for several days while being tortured by their Japanese guards. Some did survive, and, in fact, our folks had two relatives in San Isidro, Pontevedra, who lived to tell the tale. They were the brothers Alacapa, Isagani, and Santiago, who later became a member of the Bacolod media and became president of the Negros Press Club, Santiago “Santi” Alacapa. It was from him that my folks got all those first-hand stories about the infamous Death March.

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I am sure many other families have their own survivors, but more must have lost their kin without knowing what happened to them. From the accounts of our two relatives, a lot of their companions either fell on the roadsides and left to die, or were bayoneted by the guards when they complained. Today, when stories like these are being told, what most people say is that we are not likely to go through that from this generation onwards. Why? Nuclear warfare will annihilate all of us in no time!

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What morbid thoughts to entertain on these days when we have just gone through the celebration of the Lenten Season when we mediated on the sufferings Jesus Christ went through to save us. Surely He will not abandon us to the greed and lust for power of those countries that are now competing with each other for world domination. Some of them have even become Godless and only dependent on their own wealth and hold on other people. But there is only one way we can overcome, and that is through our faith and prayers.

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It didn’t take long for the President to shed off the Justice Secretary he himself had appointed shortly after coming into office. DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre must have thought that, being a classmate as well as fraternity brother of his appointing officer, everything would be fine and dandy. But it took one major slip – the dismissal of cases against three major drug suspects – to earn him his walking papers. And so resign he did when he knew he had no more choice. To his credit, his statement to the media after he had “resigned” was that he was not sad, but “thankful”. As children, we called that excuse “sweet lemon”.

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The new chief of the Philippine National Police has a great idea. He wants all the candidates for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to undergo drug tests. And he has very good reason to ask for it. The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency has revealed that there are 289 barangay officials in the narco list held by President Duterte. Maybe there could be more? And worse, the same source says 207 of such officials are still involved in the illegal drug trade. Now, because elections are coming, is the best time to flush them out. Will the President release his list?

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He is firing the ones he is not contented with, but giving more important jobs to those already retiring if he likes what they are doing. Such is the case of Philippine National Police chief Ronald de la Rosa, a.k.a. “Bato”. He must have been a close co-worker of President Duterte, wasn’t he also his Police Chief when he was mayor of Davao? Now “Bato” will be in charge of the country’s prisons, and let’s hope what happened to the guys who were killed while in detention will not happen to others anymore.

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If the imminent six-month closure of Boracay troubles you, relax. Hindi tayo nag-iisa. We are not alone. A Reuters report says that other famous resorts are also closing up for similar reasons as those pounced on by our president. The famous Bali of Indonesia is also about to undergo the same clean-up and Thailand’s Maya Bay as well! Malaysia had also shut down one of its most popular island resorts, Sipadan, so what is happening in Boracay is nothing new. Our only prayer must be that its old clientele do not find somewhere else to go when it opens it shores once more.*

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