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Commentary

A truce for Christmas, and for the Pope’s visit

12:06 AM November 04, 2014

It will be Christmas soon. And the longest celebration of Christmas anywhere in the world will be made more special with Pope Francis’ visit in January.

The season of peace, love and giving requires a slowdown, indeed a truce, on conflicts and confrontations. It is time to pause and clear the air to allow for much-needed breathing space. Too much hype on serious matters can take some easing.

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The Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearings are one venue where easing can be beneficial. The animosity among the players seems to be intensifying as the hearings continue. The coverage of the inquiry is expanding, with the Department of Justice joining the fray. Understandably, Vice President Jejomar Binay is fighting back. One response from him is deemed a “veiled threat” against his “persecutors” who, he says, have been engaged in the so-called “Oplan Stop Nognog 2016” to prevent him from becoming president. This is serious stuff. The sound bite is potential vengeance from someone who was once said to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. God forbid that something extreme happens.

A truce will not mean stopping the pursuit of the truth that will be in aid of good governance and push the cause of integrity in the government. Instead, a truce will give all parties concerned the opportunity to put together what they have in support of their different positions. It will even provide room for individual soul-searching and encourage the parties to do whatever they are doing earnestly, to pursue what is true and, for a change, serve the common good.

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In the process, the sessions after the truce may then be conducted with respect, demonstrated and shown to one another. In the process, too, the parties may be led to make fundamental decisions based solidly on the truth, which will give hope to the people that our government officials can go beyond personal ambitions, after all.

A truce will not mean stopping the inquiry into the unexplained wealth of Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima, which has taken the back-burner with the front pages and prime time hogged by the Senate hearings concerning the Vice President. It must be expected that after the truce, definitive reports shall have been completed to determine exactly how the inquiry concerning Purisima can find closure.

The same is true for the “hulidap” cops involved in the broad-daylight caper on Edsa in September. The prosecution needs to establish the case and be ready to pursue it so that those who abuse their power will learn that justice has to be served.

And the investigation of the murder of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude will move forward with deliberate resolve without the emotional appeal being used by parties who pursue other agenda beyond the possible hate-crime nature of the killing. It’s already heavy stuff as it is. Compounded by the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, the matter becomes highly complex and fiery. The Laude family is grieving and its emotional response is understandable. The sympathies shared with the Laudes will serve the cause better if expressed with respect.

What seems to be fading in our society today is respectful interaction with one another. There are so many adversarial confrontations that exacerbate conflicts. The paths that lead to desired and mutually beneficial resolutions are not taken. Power saber-rattling appears to be the norm.

On the economic front, specifically in the public-private partnership program, conflicts abound, too. For one, the common-station issue for LRT-1, MRT-3 and MRT-7 remains unresolved as nonfinancial factors come into play. The pending contract award for the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (Calax) is seeking Solomon’s wisdom for resolution. It is time the parties concerned looked inwardly and considered options that serve not only their self-interests but also the country as a whole. They have controlled most PPP projects, anyway.

The issue of the Disbursement Acceleration Program has stuck a wedge between the executive and judicial branches. Caught in the crossfire is the economy, which has slowed down significantly with government spending decelerating. (Flashback to 77 years ago, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt led the US economy out of the Great Depression with his New Deal. FDR had his confrontation with the US Supreme Court. He lost his so-called “court-packing scheme” in the Senate but subsequently earned the support of conservative justices for his liberal economic agenda.) In a Christmas truce, as our justices take a pause, they may find merit that economic realities can call for extreme measures that, on the surface, may go against legal norms. The real threat to constitutionalism is continuing poverty while the political and economic elite continue to amass wealth.

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The growth of the Philippine economy has slowed down to just over 6 percent after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the DAP. The economy could be growing on a sustained basis by more than 7 percent annually with government spending as booster. This can make the economic pie much bigger—more for sharing with the people. And more jobs will be generated.

It is time to pause. But hard work will continue, albeit quietly, for the pursuits everyone must accomplish. It is the intense confrontations that must go. Then this Christmas will be truly blessed. And when Pope Francis visits in January, he will find a people deserving of their bragging right: a truly Christian nation.

Danilo S. Venida ([email protected] gmail.com) holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from the University of the Philippines and the Center for Research and Communication/University of Asia and the Pacific. He is a former president of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and is now a business consultant.

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TAGS: Alan Purisima, Christmas, dap, economics, Edca, Jeffrey Laude, Jejomar Binay, Jennifer Laude, politics, Pope Francis, truce, VFA
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