Yellow Pad

I thought last week was going to be a good week. On the rare occasion that I read the newspaper, I found good news.

The headline stories of The Philippine Star edition of April 7 surprised me, for I was expecting bad news. The banner story: “Rody to DoJ chief: Do what is right.” The newly appointed Department of Justice (DoJ) secretary, Menardo Guevarra is said to be a good, decent and competent person. That’s what a former ambassador, a former Cabinet official from the Aquino III administration, and my schoolmates tell me. Mr. Guevarra will do right, but let’s hope he will not be prevented from doing so.

Also front-page news of The Philippine Star was the President’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar. Duterte called the situation in Myanmar a genocide (“PHL to accept refugees from Myanmar ‘genocide’”).

Moreover, Duterte said he is willing to accept Rohingya refugees. The Philippines has a proud history of giving refuge to persecuted people all over the world — the so-called White Russians, or those from the former Soviet Union who fled Stalin’s terror; the Spanish republicans who lost the civil war against the Franco fascists; the Jews who escaped the Nazi Holocaust; the Vietnamese “boat people” who feared the retaliation from the communist victors.

On page 2 of the same paper, I read about the feedback to the appointment of Lt. Carlito Galvez, Jr. as the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The response even from non-Duterte stakeholders has been positive. Mujiv Hataman, governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, welcomed the appointment of Mr. Galvez. Hataman described Galvez as one who “has a big heart” and has the “genuine intention to end the hostilities.” Fr. Angelo Calvo, a priest who is a convener of the Mindanao Peace Weaver, called Galvez a “champion peacemaker.”

In the same vein, my friend, Miriam Coronel Ferrer, the former peace negotiator during the previous administration, congratulated Gen. Galvez on her Facebook page. Said Miriam: “[I] am grateful that a believer in the primacy of the peace process like Gen. Galvez now heads the AFP. The next months ahead are just as challenging, and it takes a thinking and considerate general to do the right thing.”

And as I kept reading The Philippine Star of April 7, I came across a news item on page 6 titled “Duterte urges House to pass BBL.” BBL refers to the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which should have been passed during Aquino III’s term. But the Mamasapano tragedy scuttled the BBL.

What about the incoming Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde? His view on the drug is front-page news of the same Philippine Star edition (“Albayalde can’t promise less bloody drug war”). I pay attention to what appears on the jump page of the said article (page 6), in which the Star reported that “Albayalde would submit all documents of deaths in drug-related police operations in Metro Manila.” Said Albayalde: “That is the order of the SC [Supreme Court] so we have to comply.”

I asked myself after reading all the good news: “What’s happening? Am I hallucinating?” I found an answer: “It’s working, the drug is working. The Fentanyl is working! Digong is having a good trip!”

But soon after all the good news, Duterte was again his usual self — being belligerent and cussing and ordering Alvarez and Calida to remove Supreme Chief Justice Sereno by all means.

Oh well, drugs can either give you a good trip or a bad trip. For Duterte, the good trip only happens once in a blue moon.


Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III coordinates the Action for Economic Reforms.