BY REY O. ARCILLA
‘There ought to be a law prohibiting active DFA personnel from having dual citizenship or permanent resident status in another country.’
I AM not a devout Catholic. But that is not the reason I am for the Reproductive Health bill or responsible parenthood. The reason is, like President Noynoy Aquino, I am pro-life and by that I mean quality life. And I know whereof I speak.
I come from a family of nine boys from Tondo. We were dirt poor. How we managed to survive is a story that may be told another day.
As I was growing up, I became acutely aware of the circumstances we were in, accentuated by the absence of any food on the table that would satisfy the palate. No, we didn’t go hungry at all, thanks to our parents and our deceased eldest brother who did everything they could to prevent that from happening.
Fast forward… I was assigned to India in l962 when our GDP was the second highest in Asia, and to Bangladesh in 1985. I witnessed extreme poverty in both countries at the time, that I couldn’t help thinking how more fortunate we were.
I came home for good from another foreign assignment in 1998 after early retirement from the Foreign Service. When I left in l962, we had no motorized tricyles. We even had Mercedes Benz cars for taxis then. By 1998, not only did we have motorized tricycles, we also had “padyak” tricycles!
Today, I see so many “padyaks” right where I work in Intramuros where, ironically, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has its headquarters. I also see children, some barely out of the cradle, playing on the streets. It is a common sight in many areas in Metro Manila, particularly where informal settlers live, and replicated in many provinces,
Now comes the “chicken and the egg” question. Do these children multiply because of poverty? Or is poverty the result of these many children? I say yes to both questions. It is a classic case of the vicious cycle syndrome. Undoubtedly, there are those who have succeeded in breaking out of the vicious cycle, but they are more the exception than the rule.
Are the parents of these children inherently irresponsible? I think not. Consider this: they are so poor that they hardly have any education to enable them to get higher paying jobs; they are so poor that the majority of them do not even go to church to wear the unheard of “Sunday best” to learn the Church’s stance on birth control; the Church does not even have enough priests, nuns or lay workers to pay them frequent or regular visits, let alone help them with their daily sustenance.
The majority of them, I’m sure, know or have heard of artificial means of birth control like condoms, pills, devices, etc., but simply cannot afford them. And so, the vicious cycle goes on.
Natural birth control sanctioned by the Church? In my view, it still is birth control and, strictly speaking, goes against what is said in the Scriptures: “Go and multiply.”
I vote for the RH bill. The government should help those who cannot help themselves.
Congressman Rodolfo Biazon has proposed House Bill No. 6430 to limit the number of political ambassadors that may be appointed by the President to one-third of the total.
I say the limit should only be 10 percent, tops, and only when qualified career ambassadors are not available. Their appointment should also be for three years only or co-terminus with the appointing power, whichever comes first.
Biazon also proposed that career foreign service personnel should be natural-born Filipinos and residents of the Philippines at the time of their appointment. I agree.
It is an open secret that there are DFA personnel with dual citizenships or permanent resident status in another country, mostly in the US. As one of his constituents, I urge Cong. Biazon to include a provision in his bill expressly prohibiting dual citizenship or permanent resident status in another country for active DFA personnel, for obvious reasons. Those who have either one should be required to relinquish it. Those who do not comply should be dismissed from the service.
Needless to say, the rule should apply to political appointees up to and including, especially, the secretary.
In this regard, I have often wondered why dual citizenship or permanent resident status in another country among DFA personnel has never been questioned by the DFA brass before. Is it because most, if not all, of them are US citizens or permanent residents? Or Australian? Canadian? British? This is not the first time I have raised this matter in this space. What has Foreign Secretary Albert “Amboy” del Rosario done about it?
Pending the passage of a bill strictly prohibiting DFA personnel from having dual citizenship or permanent resident status in another country, I wonder what Del Rosario would do if one or more of his wards turn out to have, say, Chinese or Russian citizenship as well, or are permanent residents of either country. “Baka aksyon agad… mabilis pa sa alas kwatro, ika nga.”
But, of course, he would have to give up his alleged US citizenship or permanent resident status first before he could do that. If the allegation is true, I believe he should come clean forthwith for the sake of the national interest.
It should be clear by now that Cambodian ambassador Hos Sereythonh has been feigning illness from the start to avoid going to the DFA. He was earlier summoned to explain his rather undiplomatic and scathing accusation that the Philippines was playing “dirty politics” with respect to the failure of Asean to issue a joint statement after its ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh last month.
The very act of repeatedly ignoring the DFA summons may be considered “unfriendly”. What to do then? The DFA should no longer dilly-dally on this one, lest we are suspected of lacking self-respect. We should formally protest, posthaste, to the Cambodian government its envoy’s undiplomatic behavior. If he continues to ignore the summons within three days after the protest has been transmitted, then we declare him persona non grata. We do not have to give any reason for doing so.
Won’t Phnom Penh retaliate by declaring our ambassador persona non grata too? Probably. But then, that would make them look bad, not us.
What about the 18th Asean Summit Meeting in November? Wouldn’t we need an ambassador in Phnom Penh then? Preferably, but not necessarily. The charge’ d’affaires can look after the Philippine Delegation.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said last week that the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea should not weaken relations between the Philippines and China. He also said the dispute should be resolved under international law.
He was speaking during the celebration of the 85th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
“While our two countries are faced with difficult challenges, we both share the view that these should not undermine the overall relationship of our two countries, as we both search for a political and diplomatic means to resolve our differences, with international law as our common basis and framework,” Gazmin said.
“I believe that our governments, our peoples and our armed forces have enough goodwill which we should all utilize to further our bilateral relations amidst these difficult times,” he added.
Apparently, DFA Secretary del Rosario was not present at the occasion or maybe he wasn’t invited. Otherwise, one would think he should have been the one voicing those sentiments.
Gazmin’s statement evoked reactions from a couple of retired career diplomats. One is Ben Hur Ong. The other chooses to remain anonymous.
“Has DFA lost its primacy in foreign relations? Are we playing second fiddle to DOLE and now DND?” – Ben Hur Ong
“Hope we are not having parallel DFA. DND is tasked by law and the Constitution for self-defense, maintenance of security, law and order. DFA, being premiere Department, is tasked with inter-state relationship, implementor of President’s foreign policy and spokesman of the President regarding diplomacy, ties of PH with other countries.” – Anonymous
I don’t suppose Del Rosario would have something to say on the above comments.
China recently poured US$20 billion into Africa as development aid for countries needing it.
Shortly thereafter, in an apparent attempt to blunt the impact of China’s move, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Africa to visit several countries.
In Dakar, Senegal Clinton urged African leaders “to embrace democracy and partnerships with responsible foreign powers as a means of improving their living standards”, an obvious swipe at China.
“The days of having outsiders come and extract the wealth of Africa for themselves leaving nothing or very little behind should be over in the 21st century,” she said.
Even before she became as wealthy as she is today, China had already been assisting and investing in many countries in Africa. Today, her great influence in the continent is unparalleled.
Reminders (for Noynoy’s action):
1) Filing of charges against officials of the National Food Administration (NFA) during Arroyo’s illegitimate regime. Noynoy himself said on several occasions that there is documentary evidence to prove the venalities in the past in that agency; 2) Investigation of reported anomalies in the GSIS during the watch of Winston Garcia; 3) Facilitating the investigation of rampant corruption in the military and police establishments; and 4) Expeditious action by the AFP on the case of Jonas Burgos.
Today is the 93rd day of the sixth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.
From an internet friend:
I was in Starbucks recently when I suddenly realized I desperately needed to fart. The music was really loud so I timed my fart with the beat of the music.
After a couple of tunes, I started to feel better. I finished my coffee and noticed that everyone was staring at me… and suddenly I remembered I was listening to my iPod!
That’s what happens when old people start using technology… And how was your day?