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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, November 15, 2019
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OPINIONS

How does one find an honest man?

Ninfa Leonardia

It looks as if until the time of this writing, President Duterte has not yet found the “honest man” that he wants to take the place of retired (or resigned?) former chief Oscar Albayalde. But he is now supposed to be in his hometown, Davao, trying to get a bit of rest from his gruelling schedule in Malacañang, so is he likely to find one from there? Maybe he should do the Diogenes act – remember that Greek philosopher who went around Athens at midday, carrying a lamp to look for one?

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It must, indeed, have been very disappointing for the President to find out that with all his zealous intentions to clean the bureaucracy of dishonest members, the task has become much more difficult than he had imagined it to be. In the case of Albayalde, wasn’t he one of his trusted ones – until that “Ninja” case came up? As for Albayalde, he may not have anything to do with that “recycling” of drugs, only his men who, apparently, got so excited they did not remember to cover their tracks very well.

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They must have been too excited to be able to seize that haul of no less than P648 million worth of shabu! Divided among the 13 implicated, it could have meant easy sailing for all of them for years. But was Albayalde actually a sharer in that loot, or was he implicated only through command responsibility? But he has been included in the charges, according to reports, and in the complaint filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, or CIDG. Maybe the President had to take a break to get over his disenchantment.

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In the meantime he has not been heard making any comment, favorable or otherwise, on the performance of Vice President Leni Robredo, whom he has appointed as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Illegal Drugs, or ICAD, not even when she boldly met with U.S. American government agencies also concerned with the drug fight. He has expressed ideas against that before, hadn’t he? Is he really sick, or just fed up with it all? Let’s hope not – and wish him a full recovery from whatever is bothering him now. He is still our leader, you know.

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Remember “Yolanda”? It is said to be the strongest typhoon ever to hit any country, I suppose, as of recorded time. It slammed into our country almost seven years ago now and devastated the Eastern Visayas City of Tacloban, killing more than 6,500 people, wrecking houses and sturdy buildings. Of course it was not only the city that was swept away, but it suffered the worst. The whole country rose in sympathy and help and aid for the victims flowed in from various sources, and even from other provinces and cities in the country.

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After all that attention, people thought that the rehabilitation of the capital, Tacloban, that was reported to be 90 percent damaged or completely destroyed, it seemed as if everything had been fixed up in the area. Reports and announcements of houses built and provided to victims, as well as other assistance coming even from other countries, made most of us think that all was well and in order there. Apparently not, because only lately, we got reports that things have not gone back to normal after all those years. Yolanda, until now, is still a byword for poor response to calamities, and, by the way, how much in funds has already been allotted to the rehabilitation of Tacloban and the rest?

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How can we imagine the horror and hopelessness of the people who are now being closed in by the raging bushfires in Australia? Fires that hit several points in the eastern part of the country have reportedly now circled communities, and those who were not able to flee on time have been told that they could not get out anymore. This, because it appears those people had disregarded previous directions for them to escape, hoping, perhaps that the fires could be stopped. Can they still be rescued? Or will the fireworkers finded roasted bodies when the fire is finally put out? Heaven forbid!

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Meanwhile, it was good to see the Bacolod sidewalks cleared and street vendors away from the roads for a while after the order came out to strictly remove them. But it looks as if there are some “recidivists” who are slowly coming out again, and if their attention is not called now, there might be no stopping them when the Christmas season rolls around. I hope our officials and police are not getting a “ningas cogon” mindset, and were good only at the start. Who’s really in charge, by the way?*

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