Jojo A. Robles

Abu strikes again

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To General “Stormin” Norman Schwarzkopf is (falsely) attributed the pithy quote, to the effect that terrorists will be judged by God while his job is to merely hurry up the meeting. The hoax-busting site Snopes notes that the quote has been around since 2001, but “in an odd instance of the tail wagging the dog, in 2003 the General is on record as repeating a close version of the words years earlier attributed to him.”


I am reminded of the quote - which is now being attributed by the Internet to tough-guy Russian leader Vladimir Putin - because those homegrown Islamist bandits amongst us known as the Abu Sayyaf Group have decided to make their presence felt once again. And what a way and a time to do so, by beheading a Malaysian hostage while the government of President Noynoy Aquino is hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is in town, was quite naturally incensed at the ISIS-like action of the Abu Sayyaf in killing Bernard Then in Sulu, following the failure to raise the ransom for the victim’s release. “We call upon authorities to take action against those who have perpetrated this savage and barbaric act and ensure that they are brought to justice,” said Najib.

The international media pounced on the story of Then’s beheading and gave it as much “play” as they possibly could, thus giving the terrorists the free publicity they sought. There is, after all, no reason why the Abu Sayyaf would kill Then at this time other than to embarrass the Philippine authorities, who were hoping for a hitch-free summit.

“Our problem is that we in government play by the rules,” said Apec organizing head Ambassador Marciano Paynor, a former military man, echoing official anger at the beheading. “Our enemies, on the other hand, do whatever they like.”

The government must spare no expense or effort to make these bandits pay for their latest headline-grabbing atrocity. While I may have criticized the Aquino administration for the way it has been hosting the summit, I hope that the military stamps out this bandit group once and for all, as soon as our visitors have left.

Someone should hasten the Abu Sayyaf’s meeting with God. That should be the military’s first job after the summit is done.

* * *

Patriotism, said Samuel Johnson, is the last refuge of scoundrels. The application of this insight, in the current time and in this country, is to falsely accuse people who criticize the way the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit is being hosted by the Philippine government of being less Filipino than those who would want us to simply join Aquino in singing the praises of his administration.

It is by now common knowledge that Aquino has been misusing all of his speaking engagements during the summit to attack his predecessors, the Philippine courts and every one else who hasn’t agreed with him over the years. Because Aquino is just being his usual vindictive, blame-tossing self, he finds nothing wrong in using the Apec podium to paint a picture of himself before the visiting foreigners as the best thing that has happened to the Philippines - and all the other governments that went before as severely lacking in every respect compared to his.

What Aquino has been doing, when you think about it, is not to raise the Philippines but to sing hosannahs to himself. How else can he explain his tirades against Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the members of the judiciary in Apec forums?

Is it right for Aquino air the country’s dirty linen before Apec every time he speaks, when all the homeless people who have the slightest chance of being seen by summit delegates are hidden away in virtual concentration camps? You tell me.

On the other hand, why do Aquino’s minions describe those who point out the failings of the government in holding the meeting as unpatriotic? Did the many, many thousands who walked several kilometers last Monday because the government could not even suspend classes and work that day love their country less than those who want them to just grin and bear the hardship and inconvenience - or should the government be held accountable for this, the latest example of its incompetence?

By and large, most Filipinos have just kept quiet about the summit hosting, in keeping with their natural courtesy and hospitality. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t angry with the way our hosting duties have been performed, such as that brilliant scheme of taking away two lanes of Edsa to make life easier for a delegation whose head did not even arrive.

I believe that our right to point out government’s stupidity and excesses has not been suspended just because a summit is going on. In like manner, Aquino shouldn’t really be talking about all the good things he’s supposedly done and all the bad things those before him have committed, just because there’s a worldwide gathering here.

Raise the flag and fly it proudly during Apec week, by all means. But don’t do it because you just want to cover up all the incompetence and cupidity that’s been going on for the past five years under this do-nothing government.

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