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DELES-CONGRESS TIFF: MY UNSOLICITED ADVICE

By Jess G. Dureza

 

DELES, CONGRESS --The on-going tiff between the House of Representatives and

Presidential Peace Adviser Ging Deles is an unfortunate incident. For it to happen early on

in the game is totally unexpected. While the principal actors in the incident have their own

versions and their own reasons or stories to tell, the bottom line for us here in Mindanao is

that this is resolved as quickly as possible. So we can all move on.

 

This is sad because the peace office is itself stuck in an unpeace situation.

 

This is also unfortunate because this will again pit the executive and the legislative

branches in another see-saw of whose position is to prevail This is not only a case of some

congress members simply having a problem with Sec Deles. From newspaper accounts of the

incident, I am sure the dynamics of the controversy will surely transition to another level: a

clash of presidential and congressional prerogatives.

 

 

**

 

PINOY FOR DELES -- The difficulty here is that if the palace insists that Sec Ging should

stay, she will stay. The President calls that shot, no one else. For Pres Pinoy to abandon Sec.

Ging at this time is also unthinkable. But if congress will also insist on its own position, it

can also have its way by using its so-called “power of the purse”, practically abolishing the

office by not giving money for it to operate. That’s done by slashing OPAPP’s budget to P1

peso a year, an option that is now being mentioned. If you want to push the button further, a

presidential veto will counter congress and restore the slashed budget. But then an over-ride

vote by congress can also counter the president’s move. (Knowing the numbers now however,

an over-ride vote is not going to happen.) But the fact is, the stand-off will be costly and

politically messy – with the peace process unnecessarily suffering from collateral damage.

 

 

**

 

CONGRESS AS ONE -- I have been a congressman and I somehow have an idea what

takes place when an incident like this happens. That resolution calling for Sec. Ging’s

resignation is not binding. It is an “expression of the sense” of the House. Some resolutions

stay as they are: “mere resolutions” that stay for the record and then go to the archives.

Depending on the gravity of the matter, some resolutions however don’t just die in the

 

archives. Corresponding congressional actions may follow through. A P1 peso budget slash is

an example. I know how zealous congress members are in protecting the integrity of the

House and its members when assailed especially by those who are not from within their ranks.

Members of congress can clash, fight with each other but when an “outsider” threatens it,

they close rank. There are no party lines to speak of. We now know that the Deles resolution

did not get a dissenting vote even from the president’s own allies in congress. Although I

can surmise that the issue must be so emotional and that it was already early dawn that it

breezed through easily. I think the principal concern at that time was for the passage of the

national budget. A move from the majority to derail the Deles resolution would have adversely

affected the crucial vote on the national budget. For the majority, the Deles resolution was a

sacrificial move.

 

 

**

 

CONDESCENDING? --I also know a little bit of Sec. Ging, the persona. We have worked

together in the Arroyo cabinet. And if you all recall, I replaced her at OPAPP when she resigned

with the Hyatt 10. For all her other possible faults, she is usually forthright, with a clear head,

stubborn with her views and with an”NGO mentality”, if you know what that means.

 

Being peace adviser is not a walk in the park. But I was not surprised when one of the

first few appointments of the new president, she reclaimed back her resigned post – perhaps

with a vengeance. I am not privy to what transpired between her and Cong. Althea Dimaporo

but she was pictured as condescending, cocky and haughty to a neophyte congresswoman. And

this triggered the Deles resolution.

 

The bottom line for us now is: let’s all help resolve the matter as quickly as possible. I

will not be surprised if all initiatives in all levels in the peace process will remain in standstill or

in limbo with the present stand-off not resolved. To wait for a 3-week cooling off period when

congress resumes session is too long a wait for all of us. The period may even exacerbate the

situation.

 

APOLOGIZE --My unsolicited advice is for Sec. Ging to immediately and humbly

apologize to Congress for the perceived slur and for Congress to gamely accept it. Congress

must not only be an ally but a partner in OPAPP’s work. Common friends must help bridge the

gap.

 

 

**

 

CONGRESSMEN --The personas in congress who are prominently involved in the

incident are all pro-active peace advocates in their own right. Congressman Tupay Loong of

Sulu was himself a rebel leader in the island provinces who had put his life and limb on the line

for his cause and have become a peace and development advocate even before he came to

congress. I know because he had helped me considerably when I was doing my tasks while in

government. Cong. Sim Datumanong of Central Mindanao kept faith with and remained an

active participant in the peace process, spanning several presidents. Cong. Dimaporo, altho

 

I have not met her, has the genes and the breeding of the illustrious Dimaporos of Lanao

weaned by father Abdullah, former congressman and her mother, Imelda, a Quibranza, now

also a congresswoman. A spirited and young Cong. Mark Cagas, our congressman in our Davao

del Sur district where his father, Gov. Dodo Cagas also holds political sway, is clearly committed

to peace.

 

Despite the flurry of today’s unpeaceful exchanges on the incident, the ways of peace

will always and surely prevail. But we must take the steps now.

 

Peace cannot wait.

 
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Columns
Friday, 22 October 2010 06:43

 

IDPs I N “WAR-TORN” M I NDANAO !!


By Jess G. Dureza

UNFAIR ANGLING --I almost fell from my seat when I read the Daily Inquirer caption: UN: 250,000 STARVING IN WAR -TORN MINDANAO.  The story  was datelined Cotabato City and filed by my friend veteran journalist Charlie Senase. I’m sure Charlie is himself agonizing over this caption. This is another example of the Manila deskman’s propensity to have an attention-grabbing angle with a screaming caption --so unfair and inaccurate. And at the expense of all of us here in Mindanao.

 

* * *

IGNORANT, CALLOUSED -- Just recently, I was resource person in a series of Mindanao media conferences attended by  active journalists and aspiring student writers. The case in point  shown above was  among the issues tossed around for discussion. The consensus was that Mindanao-based correspondents were very careful about the pitfall of projecting the whole of  Mindanao as a war-torn area  but when their stories get to the desks in Manila, copy writers and caption makers who are ignorant about Mindanao  or are calloused about what we in Mindanao are so concerned about, merrily do their own thing.

Manila editors must come to Mindanao and see for themselves whether we are really war-torn. Or that  quarter of a million are  really starving! Yes, we have conflict affected areas, but please don’t  picture the whole of Mindanao as “war-torn.” Yes, we have IDPs but to say that they are all 250,000 in number “starving” is an exaggeration and  not only unfair to the IDPs themselves who manage to survive on their own but also to local government units and NGOs that are striving hard to help.

* * *

 

MEDIA “REVOLT” --- I now recall  that incident sometime ago when  a bunch

of veteran, idealistic but angry  Mindanao journalists called it quits with the Daily Inquirer when they staged their own version of a “media revolt”, left the newspaper en masse as they could no longer stomach the angling and the captioning tactics like this case in point.

 

* * *

WFP MUST SAY SOMETHING --- I’ve been waiting for the World Food

Program (WFP) to come out in the media and say something to clarify this or even disassociate itself from this story.  Or from this caption, at the least.  While it is commendable for WFP to be there in Mindanao in the forefront of taking care of our internally displaced persons (IDPs), it may be too harsh for Stephen Anderson, its country representative to dramatically portray Mindanao as war torn and that ¼ million Mindanaoans are “starving”.  There’s a sector now even naughtily surmising  that WFP is comfortable with the angle of the Inquirer story because it can raise international alarm of massive starvation and war in the south and therefore a ticket to more international funds coming. A resource-generation tactic, from the looks of it, some say.

On my part, I’d rather  give WFP the benefit of the doubt.  I have closely  worked with WFP for years since  they first came to plant  their flag in Mindanao several years ago. In fact, WFP is filling in where government, both local and national, is found wanting. The latest WFP event, with KC Concepcion,  successfully brings to public focus again   the seemingly forgotten plight of our  suffering evacuees.

* * *

IDPS – Yes, our IDP situation is bad in some parts of Mindanao, especially in

Maguindanao and some neighboring areas. Their plight   is a never-ending sad  and tragic story. These ordinary folks who are very poor in the first place  and who are barely surviving in remote areas are unwilling and unfortunate victims of conflict. Then they get the double whammy when flood waters  rise and again force them to flee from their homes  -- or whatever is left of their homes.

Attending to them is not only about giving  relief goods or food items – although this is very important and basic. What is as equally important is helping provide an environment that is conducive to their feeling of security that will help them  decide to return home  to their places of origin. An evacuee will not go back home if he still entertains the fear for the safety of his family. That is key. Then, an early recovery program must be in place that will capacitate    them  to start up life anew.

* * *

GOVERNMENT MUST  LEAD --One of the last few issuances of  former President Arroyo before her term ended was to direct the newly created  Mindanao Development Authority, as the national focal group lead agency to do a framework plan for the IDPs to   provide convergence leadership to  foreign aid agencies and government agencies  and units and private sector  NGOs.

 

This is the way forward. Not only for assistance to  IDPs but for foreign-assisted projects as a whole. We cannot allow foreign donors and aid agencies to appear as if they  are more concerned than us Filipinos. And determine what is good for us to suit their own agenda. Of course,  they can support us with their internationally-sourced resources. For which we are thankful. But we Filipinos must take the lead. And they must take the cue from us. Not the other way around.

 

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Last Updated on Monday, 06 December 2010 09:23
 
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