Remembering Sir Max?

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

Tomorrow Sept. 4th is the birthday of my friend and mentor Sir Maximo V. Soliven. He passed away on Nov. 24, 2006…he would have been 91 years old today. Indeed, few people that you would ever encounter in your life would make great changes in your life. I was merely a businessman in Cebu City contented with the life I had when I met Sir Max, whom we invited to the Cebu Rotary Club meeting. Then a year later, after the EDSA Revolution, the Cebu Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc. (CCCI) asked him to be a keynote speaker in the Chamber’s annual conference. With a new government installed after the Marcos dictatorship had left… the Cebuanos wanted to know from Max how things would shape up.

As I mentioned, I was not a writer, not even a budding one when I first met Sir Max… However, he wanted a credible person to represent him and his newly acquired newspaper The Philippine STAR... as they had just left the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) so he called me the Bureau Chief of the Star and later taught me how to write columns. As I was not even a budding writer it challenged Sir Max to turn me into a journalist… 33 years later… here I am still writing for The Philippine STAR and The Freeman. My columns Shooting Straight were named by Sir Max, including my 20-year-old cable TV program in SkyCable that he called “Straight from the Sky.”

It is hard to forget my 20-year friendship with Sir Max because I know I wouldn’t be anyone if not for him. This is why when I need to comment on something I often would ask…”What would Sir Max say?

Meanwhile today Sept. 3rd is also the birthday of another very dear friend, Mr. Roberto “Bobby” Aboitiz who left us in April 2017. I remember a few years ago, Sir Max decided to celebrate his birthday in Cebu and both Bobby and Sir Max held a joint birthday celebration. It was an unforgettable event!

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We just learned that President Duterte has already appointed Lt. Gen. Camilo Pancratius Cascolan as the next chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), an appointment that Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año also confirmed the other night. Lt. Gen. Cascolan succeeds outgoing PNP chief Archie Gamboa, who bows out of the service today as he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56. As they say, Pres. Duterte has chosen Cascolan, as he is the most senior among the contenders.

Meanwhile Lt. Gen. Cascolan assumed leadership of the 209,000-strong police force at the change of command ceremony in Camp Crame yesterday. However he will only serve for two months, as he will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Nov. 10. When Lt. Gen. Cascolan was asked what he could do in two months as Chief PNP, he said he would only be a “transition leader,” given that he has only two months to serve as PNP chief. Malacañang, however, was mum on the President’s revolving door policy deemed as a way of accommodating those perceived to be close to the powers-that-be.

Meanwhile the former Chief PNP Archie Gamboa yesterday bade goodbye to the police organization, which he led first as officer-in-charge for three months and then as PNP chief for eight months. I will not forget how the Chief PNP was given a new lease on life when he almost lost his life in a helicopter accident just last March 9,2020… in an accident that I saw on video that was obviously a pilot error. While he is now on retirement, the former PNP chief has legal issues when my good friend, Atty. Glenn Chong, filed cases against him for not replying to his letters regarding the death of his close-in security Richard Santillan. He should help the Santillan family find the policemen that tortured and murdered and killed Richard Santillan.

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In other news, former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales urged the Philippines to raise the 2016 Hague ruling against China at the United Nations. These pro-PNoy Aquino trio made the joint call last Sunday, Aug. 30, two weeks before the UN General Assembly (UNGA) meets in New York City for its 75th regular session on Sept. 15.

According to the hallowed Trio, “Bringing the arbitral ruling to the UNGA is not reigniting the case. It is enforcing what we already won. As international law does not have a world policeman, it is up to us to enforce the arbitral ruling by rallying other countries to our lawful position.” However, honestly we already got the other claimant nations jointly in the South China Sea (SCS) with the Indian Navy, the United States Navy and Australian Navy up and against Communist China.

If there is anything that this Trio ought to bring to the United Nations, it is our claim to Sabah in North Borneo, which has always been Philippine territory long before Malaysia became independent on Aug. 31, 1957 and the British gave Malaysia our Sabah. But are they for or against it?

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