ICC withdrawal is a problem

"What will the President do if prosecutors come?"



At 91, I cannot help reminiscing the chapters of my life.

I recall that after obtaining my Bachelor of Arts in 1950 from the old Ateneo de Manila at the Padre Faura ruins, our teacher Jesuit priest Fr. James O’Shaughnessy asked me and my classmates to a meeting.

It must be something important, I said to myself, thinking I was lucky to be included.

Fr. James told us he knew of a woman who had visions of the Virgin Mary, and he would like us to see her.

The woman, whose husband was serving a life sentence, said the Virgin told her to form cells composed of young graduates of exclusive schools to fight the growing threat of communism.

At that time, the Hukbalahap was being infiltrated by the Mao Tse Tung type of communism under Luis Taruc.

There were students from La Salle, St. Theresa’s, Assumption, Santa Escolastica and even the University of the Philippines.

I had my doubts but I joined anyway because I truly believed fighting communism was a great cause.

We formed what was called the Paco Club.

It was at that time I entertained the idea of being a Jesuit missionary. Every product of the old Ateneo wanted to be one.

As members of the Paco Club, we took a vow of celibacy and obedience. We had our early morning prayers, went to Mass every day, and said our night prayers too. It felt like we were getting ready for the priesthood despite the presence of beautiful kolehiyalas around us.

This in fact was the reason I volunteered to help with the Oblates’ publication The Mindanao Cross in Cotabato City.

I recall that one of my missions was to promote awareness of the communist threat in the country. I took the occasion to meet with parish priests to organize youth movements against the Red Terror.

In fact, during my first year in Cotabato City, I tried to organize a group similar to The Paco Club. But then, I met my future wife.

She was an 18-year-old student of Philippine Women’s University. I must have forgotten about my vow of celibacy because from then on, I wanted to get to know her better!

After seeing her often during Mass, I mustered enough courage to approach her. “May I walk with you?” I asked.

“Suit yourself. It’s a free country,” was her reply.

She was truly mature for her age. My visits were a good occasion to know her better. Unfortunately, Miss Trinidad Kapunan Capistrano had to leave for Manila to pursue her studies. She said she would transfer to UP.

That ended my dream of being a priest. I could not stop thinking about Miss Capistrano. It was also my last year at Mindanao Cross because I was told I would teach at Ateneo High School.

That at least gave me hope that I would see her again because Loyola Heights was near UP. After five years, she accepted my proposal of marriage.

And what of Paco Club, you say? It died a natural death after Fr. James O’ Shaughnessy was transferred.

* * *

If we were to believe the Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia, only one opposition member will win the Senate race—former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. Not even reelectionist Bam Aquino will make it.

The reasons are multi-faceted. I should know. I have been a journalist for almost 70 years.

The Otso Diretso team is seen as a company of neophytes because their names are alien to the voting population.

Indeed, elections have become popularity contests. That is why movie stars win.

Another reason is that voters associate the opposition with the lackluster performance of the Aquino administration. This was partly why a lowly mayor from Davao rose to the presidency three years ago.

I was hoping some of the opposition candidates I know would win. The Senate should be independent. We don’t need lackeys of the Executive there.

* * *

The Philippines has withdrawn from the International Criminal Court. President Duterte could not stomach being scrutinized by the international community for his war on drugs.

ICC prosecutpr Fatou Bensouda said the ICC could still proceed with preliminary investigations into the killings. The Court, he said, retains its jurisdiction over these crimes.

So the problem of Duterte is that he cannot stop the ICC from assuming jurisdiction. Will Duterte really barr ICC prosecutors from coming here to investigate?

Whatever the President does might be a big problem for the country.

Topics: James O’Shaughnessy , International Criminal Court , Rodrigo Duterte , Paco Club , Otso Diretso , Social Weather Stations , Pulse Asia , Fatou Bensouda , Mao Tse Tung

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