Uproar over Apostol Intsik slur
THE SOUTHERN BEAT  - Rolly Espina () - February 12, 2008 - 12:00am

It may just be a sideline issue. But Malacañang legal adviser Sergio Apostol’s comments on Rodolfo Lozada Jr. as a probinsiyanong Intsik who should have been reported immediately triggered an upheaval among the local Fil-Chinese community and could lose Malacañang the support of the Tsinoy.

But that also showed how mobilization of government resources against a “tormentor” could unleash unforeseen fallouts that demand damage control by themselves. And lead to antagonizing otherwise unintended targets.

Time for the Palace to rein in the government machinery that seems to have shown the panic at the Palace by the Senate appearance of a former government official to testify on the NBN broadband deal. And, if any other thing could be brought out, it is the continued insistence by the DOTC that there is nothing wrong with the ZTE deal. An issue that is superfluous in the face of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s cancellation of the contract with the People’s Republic of China.

In short, the DOTC bigwigs still insist that there is nothing wrong with the deal. The mere fact that GMA had called the contract is already a done deal and there should be no further stonewalling on the part of the DOTC officials to try and justify it. Or, as claimed, that it could be revived amid the controversy over the deal.

But that thing that has hit the public hard is that the Palace seems to have mobilized its forces against just one man. It smacks of something very wrong. Instead of a defensive move, it shows that the government could reduce to mince meat a whistle-blower. For what reason, only the administration can explain, although the implications of these moves have become evident to the public.

If suddenly, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago gets hold of a transaction which tarred to a certain extent Jun Lozada, her pompous efforts to paint the former head of the Philippine Forest Corp., elicited only a “mea culpa” and admission by Lozada that, like any other, he was as much a sinner but now wanted to turn a new leaf.

Now, how can you argue such a repentance and conversion?

BacoLaodiat chairman William Ong expressed disgust over the racist and discriminatory statements of Apostol while trying to besmirch the credibility of Jun Lozada.

“He is a lawyer and a top government official. Such derogatory comments against the Chinese is uncalled for. I lost my respect for him,” Ong told local mediamen Sunday.

He also deplored that people who are supposed to be intelligent and a lawyer do not care about what they say in public.

Worse, Ong deplored that Apostol is the mirror of his leader, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who could not care less. He branded Apostol as racist.

“What Apostol said against Jun Lozada is reflective of the President,” Ong pointed out.

Local media also received press statements, including from peace and order advocate Teresita Ang See who said that “for Tsinoy who are merely bystanders, Jun Lozada made a difference. We salute him.”

Instead, she called on Apostol to exile corrupt government officials and fill up government posts with upright people regardless of ethnic origin.

Gerie Chua, national president of the Chinese Volunteer Fire Brigade stressed “I am proud to be a Filipino but can’t bear to be insulted because of my Chinese heritage. It’s rather be called Intsik than be the like of Apostol, Gonzales, Puno, Arroyo, et al, who run the Philippines like Mafia.”

Even Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap also sent text messages. “We stand by what our community contributed to the Filipino society, in terms of hospitals and schools we built, arts and culture we have shared, industries, businesses and banks that power the Philippine economy and the volunteer firefighters who risked their lives that others may live.”

He added: “My position as an agriculture secretary is but a humble contribution. I have raised my concern to the highest office and was assured that the racist comment will be addressed.”

But this is just a sideline fallout that has already damaged the Arroyo administration. What bears watching, however, was the follow through in Archbishop Angel Lagdameo’s CBCP’s call for communal action after the public confession by resigned Phil. Forest Corp. president Jun Lozada in the ZTE Broadband deal.

That appeal registers hard among the Bacolod Diocese laity and clerics.

“The truth challenges us now in communal action,” the CBCP statement stressed.

Although that did not spell out what it meant by communal action, it was a summon to action by the Catholic prelates to the clergy and the laity.

What is more important, it has been timed for the Lenten Season when Catholics and Christians are called to introspect and reexamine their consciences on whether they have lived up to what Christ says – feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and reaching out to others and then to change the course of their lives to confirm to the Gospel.

That emotional pitch could lead to radical transformation of Christians. What it will mean is something that bears careful watching.

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