Sometimes, I find myself praying that nothing bad happens to President Rodrigo Duterte, if only because I truly dread the assumption to the presidency of Maria Leonor Gerona Robredo. This is definitely one of those times.
The constitutional successor to Duterte has come up with what she thinks is a brilliant idea: Preserve the ruins of Marawi City as a reminder to all of the bravery of the Filipino soldiers who fought IS-inspired terrorists there.
According to a report in one newspaper, Robredo said: “We hope [the ruins] will be preserved because they will serve like a monument for [sic] the bravery of our soldiers and the residents of Marawi.”
Robredo, the report continued, said preserving the ruins would serve “as a lesson and a warning” on terrorism. What sort of lesson keeping Marawi untouched—and keeping its residents out —would teach, neither Robredo nor the report could say.
Robredo’s proposal, made as the Duterte government was setting into motion its plans to rehabilitate the war-torn city, reminded me again of what her political mentors and enablers in the Liberal Party did after they retook Zamboanga City from a small band of armed Moro rebels who attempted to occupy the regional Western Mindanao hub in 2013. After engaging the rebels in fierce house-to-house fighting and subjecting the city to heavy aerial bombardment that presaged what took place in Marawi four years later, the administration of President Noynoy Aquino retook the city and left it in ruins.
Then, as was common during that presidency, the government in Manila seemed to lose interest in rehabilitating Zamboanga, including thousands of evacuees who were forced to live in a city stadium. The United Nations and international rights groups criticized Aquino for abandoning the victims of its month-long war and creating a “humanitarian crisis” that no one in government seemed to want to fix after the military had repelled the rebel attack.
Now, I can understand if Robredo wants to keep one or two structures in Marawi as they are, sort of like what the citizens of Berlin, Hiroshima and New York City did, as anti-war and anti-terror memorials. But keeping the entire city of Marawi in ruins, or even just the so-called “main battle area” that encompasses its entire downtown area as it is, is just plain wrong.
If Robredo’s proposal is adopted, what, exactly, would happen? The people of Marawi, who just want to return to their old lives before the terrorists started their occupation of the city five months ago, would have nothing to return to.
The Veep’s call makes no mention of what to do with the displaced Marawi residents – if she wants them to move the city to an entirely new settlement elsewhere or to be dispersed all over the country. Will Marawi be replicated, house by house, building by building, in a new place, or will its residents be abandoned, Zamboanga fashion, in favor of keeping the current bombed-out ghost town that their city has become?
Also, I know that noted architect and urban planner Jun Palafox was the originator of keeping parts of the city untouched as a war memorial (a fact that compounds Robredo’s “sin” by adding the element of plagiarism). But I’m sure that Palafox did not envision keeping all of Marawi preserved in its current state.
It’s statements like this that make me worry if there’s really anything between Robredo’s ears. And makes me pore over every latest picture or video of Duterte, just to make sure he’s healthy enough to continue being president.
I’m happy to report that the president seems to be doing just fine. For the vice president’s strange ailment, however, I think all of medical science has not yet found a remedy.
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Speaking of unreliable people, I feel vindicated in my earlier belief that John Paul Solano, the Aegis Juris fratman who brought slain hazing victim Horacio Castillo III to the hospital after he “accidentally” found the body on a Tondo, Manila street, cannot be trusted to tell the truth. Solano has come up with a new whopper that is as big a lie as his first, to the effect that Castillo had a pre-existing heart condition that killed him while he was undergoing initiation and that he did not die because of any injuries he sustained at the hands of his so-called brothers.
The parents of Castillo, quite naturally, were aghast. Their son played football and was in the pink of health, they said; Solano is once again lying through his budding lawyer’s teeth.
I feel sorry for this young man, really, because he and his fellow lawyer-in-waiting brethren seem to have such a distorted view of the law and how it can be twisted in their favor. I know there are a lot of unscrupulous lawyers, but there seems to be an awfully high concentration of them who are members of Solano’s band of homicidal brothers.
Then again, why should anyone be surprised if the members of this University of Santo Tomas fraternity enables all the worst possible traits of young lawyers if their own dean and brother is involved in so many shenanigans himself? And yes, this is the legal luminary whose face they use to attract unsuspecting recruits like Castillo, to whom they teach a particularly virulent and twisted parody of the legal trade.