The Philippine Star

The party’s over between the gov’t and the Reds


The party’s over, it’s time to call it a day…” – song lyrics that perfectly fit the situation of the peace talks between the government and the communists. President Duterte was right in saying that these peace talks would amount to nothing. What a waste of time and energy that could have been channeled elsewhere instead of in these supposed “peace talks” that never actually happened.

I’ve written about this a few times before because initially I was optimistic that perhaps they could reach a breakthrou­gh. But after the first time they fell apart it became apparent that these talks would amount to nothing. I think everyone shared the same sentiments – optimism and then disappoint­ment. Even the president decided that it was probably best to just move on after the first time discussion­s fell apart.

But then a month or so ago the talks were suddenly revived. The communists wanted to pursue discussion­s in another country and the president tried to meet them halfway by saying he would allow them to come back to the Philippine­s for the discussion without fear of persecutio­n. However, again they didn’t want to meet halfway and things never materializ­ed.

I do agree though that if these talks were ever to happen, they should happen in the country and not in Norway or any other place around the world. After all, this is a problem we have in the Philippine­s – no other country should have to play referee. This is not a boxing match – it’s a political exercise between two opposing sides trying to see if they can somehow meet in the middle. Other countries would have no stake and/or power in these discussion­s and would therefore just be in the way. In either case, I don’t suppose any of these things matter now since these talks are never going to happen. I hope both sides finally see that it isn’t going to happen and waste no more time trying to come back to the table. If they couldn’t make it work by now, it’s not going to work. It would be better for the government to focus their time on other more important things that can actually come to fruition and not spend taxpayers’ money on an exercise in futility.

* * * President Duterte has said many things about many people and most of the time his wild remarks end up in the newspapers and the media because of sheer shock value. It just goes to show that the president always “speaks before he thinks” instead of vice versa and he ends up insulting people along the way. Usually his spin masters are right on his heels trying to put out the flames and make amends – usually saying that the president is just joking or meant something other than what he actually said.

This time though it’s a little different and the president really has stepped over the proverbial line so to speak. Although considerin­g his history is anyone really surprised? No one has been safe from his attacks – the poor, our allies, the United Nations, women, the Pope, and now God. Was it only a matter of time? For a man leading one of the biggest Catholic countries in the world – calling out God seems not just foolish but dangerous too.

After all, in a country like the Philippine­s religion is something so many hold on to just to be able to get by in life. With so many poor and suffering – God provides comfort and relief from the every day worries and tribulatio­ns they face. To have the president speak about him

so brazenly is tantamount to stomping all over what they hold dear. What’s worse is that these remarks are coming from a man who has promised to help these people change their lives and – so far – not done much to change anything.

Alas, the president has said he won’t apologize for his uncalled for remarks. “Not in a million years…” he told reporters in Bohol. He claims he will just keep mum about his widening rift with the Catholic Church. Personally I can’t help but wonder if the president’s escalating strange remarks are a sign of something more insidious. He truly doesn’t seem to practice any sort of “filter” when it comes to his comments. Could it be because something else is wrong?

I read another columnist’s article saying the president could be displaying symptoms of “the onset of dementia” and I don’t think I’d be completely surprised if that were true. Sometimes it seems as if he wants to get in trouble or “stir the pot” just for the sake of it. Hopefully the president is not “losing his marbles” as it were, as this would only be bad for the country.

* * * I am anticipati­ng a time when the president finally signs the bill for the National ID. I am completely in favor of this proposed law and I believe that it will be more beneficial than detrimenta­l. As mentioned before – some lawmakers worry that this bill will infringe on right to privacy and promote enhanced surveillan­ce. But I think in the end consolidat­ing informatio­n that is already available should not be as worrisome as people think.

After all, our informatio­n systems are quite antiquated already. You see it when you go the Post Office or SSS or many other government offices – written files combined with paperwork, some digital files, and who knows what else. The time has really come to update all of these systems and, if while doing so, we can gradually synchroniz­e and consolidat­e all of it into one network so much the better.

At the end of the day, with just one ID to contend with it will be much easier. Who really wants to have to keep so many ID cards with them at any given time anyway?

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