Thursday, April 08, 2010


There was a time when at the utterance of the words "Padre Faura," the very first thing that comes to mind is not the priest but the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for the simple reason that it had its main offices on that street. The Foreign Affairs Department held offices then in Arlegui and Padre Faura - and now Roxas Boulevard.

When Raul Manglapus was its secretary, another street hounded him each waking day. This not-so-lonely-road was none other than Aguado, and over there frequented a group of grown-up boys aptly called the "Aguado Boys." They used to lord it over the DFA during the Marcos regime, while headquartered on Aguado street just across Malacanang. Their loyalty was to then Ambassador Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez. This team practically ran the DFA to the consternation of the foreign secretary and other DFA officials. But operations were smooth as silk, and without the usual bureaucratic red tape.

No promotions, assignments and budgets were okayed by the DFA then without prior clearance from Aguado.

And so Manglapus had to flex his muscles, and first to fall from his purge was Ambassador Ernesto Pineda, considered one of the closest confidantes of Kokoy. Pineda was consul-general to New York when Kokoy was ambassador to the US.

Pineda was relieved as DFA coordinator and placed in the freezer. It seemed his being the brother of former Malacanang legal counsel Flerida Ruth Romero did not in any way help.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


What has become of that Code approved by no less than the Philippine Senate, authored by no less than former Senator Jovito Salonga? This is the Code of Ethical Standards for government officials and employees.

Salonga envisioned this to promote honesty, efficiency and loyalty among state employees. It also provides for corresponding penalties for offenders.

The Salonga bill was patterned after a Code of Ethics adopted during the Commonwealth period under President Manuel L. Quezon. During those years, there was strict compliance with the Code. I should know. Years after that era, I remember as a young boy that no member of the family could even ride in my grandfather's government-issued automobile. My father outdid my grandfather by not accepting any official vehicle at all when he was in government. Yes, it can be done after all. But times have changed. Today, government-issued vehicles are also for family-related purposes. And, the general rule now seems to be that one sure way of getting rich is to join the government and engage in all kinds of illegal transactions. Take the case of the current stink now oozing from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

During the Quezon years, joining the government meant financial sacrifice. This is what Salonga wanted to inculcate in his Code. One of the most important provisions of the Code requires simple living for those in government service. It simply but directly mandates all those in government to "lead modest lives appropriate to their position and income."

On the widespread practice of bribery, the Code specifically prohibits state officials and employees to "solicit or accept, directly or indirectly any gift, favor, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation or transaction related to their office." Those in government should pay heed.

I have always been an ardent admirer of Jovy Salonga. Too bad he now has to support a tandem unacceptable to me, maybe because they too refuse to live by his Code. I have listened intently to his words of human dignity and liberties in Congress and from the pulpit of the Cosmopolitan Church. I admired him as a preacher of the Word, and it is my belief that the greatest sermons are not preached. They are lived.

Sunday, April 04, 2010


There seems to be a looming debate (again) over the death penalty. Some church groups state that this is un-Christian since nobody has the right to take another man's life. Others say the death penalty for heinous crimes would only encourage further killings. Say what?

Citing the fact that rape and murder are both heinous crimes, a rapist would be encouraged to kill his victim. He has nothing to lose by finishing her off since he is liable to the death penalty whether he kills her or not. He also has everything to gain: if she is dead, there is no one to accuse him of rape.

Still others observe that the death penalty has not discouraged criminals at all, and that on the contrary, the crime rate has risen.

They explain that criminals are not deterred by the lethal injection or by the electric chair because both are swift and painless. Say that again please?

But things would be different if criminals were executed by hanging, stoning, crucifixion, quartering, and other painful methods.

Well, for criminals who sport lesser hair on their heads, a Frenchman once invented a cure-all for baldness. It's called the Guillotine.

It has been so popular since that other than engaging in endless debates on the matter, some people have lost their heads over it as well.