Time to get rid of our culture of death!

That Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) assured Spanish Defense Minister Jose Bono that the life of convicted prisoner Paco Larrañaga would be spared from death by lethal injection should be welcome news for all those who no longer believe that the Death Penalty should be imposed in this country. I submit that I used to be pro Death Penalty, thinking that having this would be a deterrent to future crimes, but apparently the opposite has happened. Today, we only have a culture of death; hence, we must begin the process of reversal from any form of killing… including vigilantism.

A couple of years ago when I visited the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center (BBRC), it was then that I realized that a life in our Philippine jails was virtually hell on earth! Then I thought that many criminals were getting away from their crime without any form of suffering. Even a lethal injection kills a person painlessly. Hence a life of jail is a better alternative than death!

As for the case of Paco Larrañaga, perhaps a thorough review by the Supreme Court is in order, because of the confession of retired cop Roy Codiñera. I'm not saying that Codiñera is right or that Paco is not guilty! I'm merely saying that we should be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the person languishing in jail is really guilty. But as it is, there's just too many unanswered albeit disturbing questions that need to be addressed, and the ends of justice would be better served if an independent inquest were set up.
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We wrote about the stunning success of the recently concluded 19th Advertising Congress (Adcon), which brought more than 3,000 delegates to Cebu. No doubt those people love to hold conferences in Cebu, where we are known to be so positive in our thinking as compared to the negativism that permeates the folks in Metro Manila. Alas, during the Adcon, thanks to the blind items in our local dailies, people were asking me whether those juicy and embarrassing stories of a corrupt public official were true or not. Now a lot of folks from Metro Manila know our ugly secret.

Indeed last Monday, we finally got to write about the International Academy of Film and Television (IAFT) wherein we said that rumors were flying thick during the Ad Congress that its owners were disappointed that they built that facility in Mactan. The IAFT, as the rumors went, could not get the government's nod to be given a special investment status because they were asked by a corrupt government official for a bribe and since they didn't want to be a party to corruption, they didn't get what they wanted.

A lot of people already knew this story when I came to write it. One reader even texted and dared me to print the name of this corrupt official, insisting that I withheld the name of this official on purpose. But since we're dealing with rumors here, I'm not about to blurt out his name unless someone openly and publicly points to who this corrupt individual is. After all, we still have libel laws in this country. For sure, this story is the hot topic in parties and all the coffee houses of Cebu… that this official is a stumbling block to Cebu's future development. Indeed he is. Now his name is soiled!

Yes, I know the name of this person and so does everybody else! But I heard that this public official couldn't care any less. They are trying to rake in so much dirty money while they still can. So the big question is, can we stop this powerful official? For sure, the other government officials already know how corrupt this person is, but like us, they are equally as powerless in exposing, much less stopping him. At this point, we can only pray that God who sees all evil can help us get rid of this person.
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THE BLACKBOX: Monday night, we graced the invitation of Austrian Consul Arcadio "Dodong" Alegrado and Vice-consul Julie Alegrado Vergara at the La Gondola to meet Austrian Ambassador Herbert Jäger and Dr. Walter A. Höfle Trade Commissioner/Commercial Counselor from the Austrian Commercial Section. It was a small and intimate dinner with a few friends from various sectors of society who could give the Austrian Ambassador an overview of Cebu. The topics went from investments, corruption, Mozart and yes, including a talk about Kurt Schnabel's Vienna Koffee Haus, which taught Cebuanos to become coffee habitués. As always, Spanish Honorary Consul Jaime Picornell gave me an interesting insight of Spain's Autonomous system of government, which is quite adaptable for this country especially since we're changing our charter. However, when Mrs. Petite Garcia arrived, our topic shifted to music more so that our good friend Joel Yu revealed his passion for music… thus we talked about and sang a few lines from many famous Broadway musicals!
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