Drug addicts must experience a "conversion"

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Freeman

Since I did not push for my big bike ride to Dumaguete last Saturday, I ended up seeing the Paolo Dy movie, Ignacio de Loyola with my whole family. Honestly because of the huge pre-showing publicity that this movie got from ANC, which I also saw, I really thought that the movie house in Ayala would be jampacked. Sadly it was not. I guess most of the people who saw the movie are those who studied at the Sacred Heart School for boys or girls. But hey, I liked the way that this movie was made by Filipinos using foreign actors. This is the right direction for movies made by Filipino directors.

Having studied with the SVDs at the University of San Carlos Boy's High School and later at the Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos with the Augustinians, the story of Ignacio de Loyola should be foreign to the lags of me. However, there is one prayer that I do pray before the Blessed Sacrament and that's the Prayer of St. Ignatius because it is a very self-emptying prayer. The other prayer that I also pray before the Blessed Sacrament is the famous prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.

So call it a coincidence that after so many decades, I was able to secure a copy of the 1972 Film Classic by Franco Zeffirelli, "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" on the life story of St. Francis of Assisi, which I saw just two weeks ago. Hence it got me curious to watch the movie of Ignacio de Loyola. What I didn't know is that St. Ignatius lived during the age of the Counter Reformation and since the Society of Jesus was yet to be formed in Paris, he had to explain to the infamous Spanish Inquisition why he was teaching without the authority of the Catholic Church.

Perhaps the most dramatic scene came when St. Ignatius had his conversion and changed from wounded warrior to a warrior for Christ. If there was one thing in common with St. Ignatius and St. Francis of Assisi, it is that they both came from noble parentage and where rich and worldly in their ways until they experienced a remarkable conversion. So watch this movie before they yank it out and change it with a box-office hit.

Speaking of conversion, this is exactly what I wrote about in our column last Tuesday, that the three million known Filipino drug addicts need to be rehabilitated, reformed, and brought back to the society. But as Fr. Carmelo Diola told us last Monday, it is not easy to trust a reformed drug addict because of the stigma of their persona.

At this point, it is time for our parish-based Family and Life organizations to take stock of the golden opportunity to help our beleaguered brethren who have surrendered to the police authorities lest they end up as statistics in this war against drugs. If St. Francis of Assisi or St. Ignatius de Loyola who lived their young lives in riches and vain glory could experience a conversion, we can expect thousands if not a hundred thousand conversions from these drug addicts who want to transform their lives into productive ones. So let us help them find their conversion. After all, bringing them back to the fold of their own families is Satan's ultimate defeat!

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The lifting of the unilateral ceasefire order made by President Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte during his first State of the Nation Address held last July 25, 2016 because of the ambush done in Barangay Kapalong, Davao del Norte only gives you an idea of how serious Duterte is about giving his word to the Communist Party of the Philippines. But since CPP Chairman Jose Maria Sison failed to respond positively to the call of Duterte and instead this was greeted with not only an ambuscade, but he pinned the blame on the military for not honoring the unilateral ceasefire, we are now back to square one in this peace process.

But all is not yet lost because Duterte announced the other day that his government is still ready not just to talk with the Communists, but also to hold "marathon" peace negotiations with them. In short, Digong is giving peace a chance! It is not a question of whether the CPP is truly interested in having peace with the Duterte government especially after Jose Maria Sison lashed out at Duterte for his removing his unilateral ceasefire right away. To the call of Sison, Duterte said, "Do you believe in them? Whom do you believe in? Me or them? They have been fighting for 47-years and the communists never had control of one barangay for one day."

Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Secretary Jess Dureza vowed that even if Duterte withdrew his order for a unilateral ceasefire, the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines will push through on August 20. This only goes to show that the Duterte administration would still pursue all avenues for peace with the Communist rebels, whom we belatedly learned was supposed to come up with their own ceasefire order in response to Duterte's call for a unilateral ceasefire.


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