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to the South­ern Lu­zon Com­mand (Sol­com) got stalled in Biñan and were backed all the way to Sta. Rosa, La­guna.

ES came to in­form me that we had un­in­ten­tion­ally blocked friendly troops. Im­me­di­ately, we lifted the block­ade and the SOL­COM were able to pro­ceed to Camp Crame to re­in­force Gen. Fidel Ramos.

My next meet­ing with ES was in­side the halls of Congress. And guess who was in the same batch. It was none other than Com­man­der Gerry Sala­pud­din who now rep­re­sented the Con­gres­sional Dis­trict of Basi­lan.

ES and I met again as both mem­bers of the cab­i­net of Pres­i­dent Glo­ria Ma­ca­pa­gal-Ar­royo. ES first served as Pres­i­den­tial Ad­viser on the Peace Process, then Sec­re­tary of Na­tional De­fense and later as Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary or “Lit­tle Pres­i­dent”. At some point, he also served as Pres­i­den­tial Spokesper­son. Mem­bers of the Mala­cañang Press Corps had a field day reg­u­larly am­bush­ing him for in­ter­views.

But all through­out his stint in Mala­cañan, he was in one way or an­other, in­volved in pur­su­ing back chan­nel peace talks with the MILF. This he did to­gether with, among others, Sec­re­tary Sil­vestre “Yong” Afa­ble and Con­gress­man Nur Jaa­far.

To me, ES rep­re­sented the best of what a pub­lic ser­vant can and should be.

I had the honor of be­ing in­vited to his book launch a cou­ple of weeks ago. Sum­ma­riz­ing his very color­ful ca­reer both in the mil­i­tary, in the leg­is­la­ture and in the ex­ec­u­tive depart­ment, the book was aptly en­ti­tled:

“Sol­dier Peace­maker, the Life and Work of Ed­uardo R. Er­mita, A Mem­oir.” ***** You may email us at tot­ing­bunye2000@gmail.com. You may also “like” us on Face­book at “Speak­ing Out.

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