God calls for the harvest of souls
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - November 13, 2019 - 12:00am

Call it God’s harvest time when we learned that over the last few days, we had so many friends (at least three here in Cebu City) who passed on to eternal life. I already mentioned in my previous columns about the passing of Cebuano mega businessman John Gokongwei and the brother of Ms. Lily Ngo Chua. The following day we learned that Lucio “Bong” Tan Jr. suddenly passed away. To think it was only a few weeks ago when he replaced Mr. Gilbert Sta. Maria as President of PAL’s Holdings, although PAL clarified that Sta. Maria, who was only appointed three months earlier, remains president and chief executive officer of PAL Inc., the operations arm of the flagship carrier.

What happened to Tan? Someone in social media posted his last basketball game and I saw in my cellphone that Tan left the game and collapsed by the side of the court and the game was stopped. I learned from friends that he suffered from brain herniation that occurs when something inside the skull produces pressure that moves brain tissues. This is most often the result of brain swelling or bleeding from a head injury, stroke, or brain tumor. Brain herniation can be a side effect of tumors in the brain, including metastatic brain tumor.

This means that the nation’s top airlines lost their top management in just a day or two. We shall offer prayers for the soul of John Gokongwei and Bong Tan. May they rest in peace.

* * *

Despite the reality that El Chapo has been arrested and is imprisoned in the US and that Pablo Escobar has been killed, the drug menace in Latin America has not stopped and, in fact, the latest news we got was the killings of families belonging to a Mormon community who apparently had their own place in Mexico but were caught in a firefight with drug lords.

Here at home, after his government vowed last year to “replicate the success” of the Philippines’ drug war, Sri Lanka president Maithripala Sirisena again heaped praises on President Rodrigo Duterte’s top crusade, saying it is an example to the whole world. However, as we know official, police data put the death toll from drug operations at a little over 5,000, but human rights groups say this figure is significantly lower than the actual number of killings. Now that Vice President Leni Robredo has accepted the role as anti-drug czarina, let us hope that she reports the whole truth about this.

However, we read a report that during her first full week as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), Robredo announced that she would be meeting with officials from the United Nations and the United States government to share best practices in combating drugs. It just makes me wonder why she made a statement that there will be no killing in her kind of anti-drug war. Does this mean that drug lords and their bodyguards are no longer targets if the police encounters them on the road? So now the killings will come from the drug lords and their armed bodyguards? I pity our policemen.

It also makes me wonder what Robredo will talk about with UN officials when she knows too well that UN doesn’t have an anti-drug campaign as it relies on governments to handle these cases. Sure, her meeting with US officials will certainly be an interesting one, especially if she sees that Netflix movie “Narcos” so she would have an idea how the Americans deal with drug lords and their armed men.

Mind you, during the UN General Assembly in April 2016 they agreed to "recognize drug dependence as a complex, multifactorial health disorder characterized by a chronic and relapsing nature with social causes and consequences." I dare you to read between the lines and you won’t read that the selling of illegal drugs is a huge moneymaker for those drug lords. All you need to do is look at the well-documented life of Pablo Escobar.

The government has repeatedly stated that extrajudicial killings are not state policy and that drug personalities killed in law enforcement operations — 5,375 by March 31, the latest data released by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency had violently resisted arrest. Meanwhile Robredo hardly got into the headline news in the past, but now she is always in the headlines. On this alone she already got a huge advantage as drug czarina!

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