MAGANES: The human side of President Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte has obviously shown his humanitarian concern when he led the sending off of 17 Vietnamese fishermen to go back to their homeland. These Vietnamese fishermen has poached inside our territorial waters and were nabbed by our coast guards last September 8 in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
Apparently, these fishermen violated our laws so cases were filed against them. They were brought to Sual town to await disposition of their cases. When President Duterte visited Vietnam last September, the President of Vietnam intimated to him the plight of his countrymen in the Philippines. President Duterte promised him to take appropriate actions and to look the possibility of sending them back home.
Without haste, the President directed the Department of Justice (DOJ) particularly the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) to look into the cases of Vietnamese fishermen who were believed to have no intention to poach in our territorial waters but were just driven inside by Typhoon Ferdie. The BID in coordination with appropriate authorities too steps to have them repatriated, to the extent of obliterating whatever cases thee fishermen violated against the Philippine laws.
Last November 2 at 4:00 in the afternoon, the send- off ceremonies were held at the Sual wharf attended by the Ambassador of Vietnam to the Philippines, cabinet secretaries of President Duterte, provincial officials of Pangasinan led by Governor Amado “Pogi” Espino III and countless spectators.
The event was historic as it showed the human side of the President. The Vietnamese fishermen were repatriated fashionably without force and intimidation from the Philippine government. Instead they were provided with ample subsistence while sailing back home composed of gasoline for their vessels, rice, water, canned goods, waterproof jackets, etc. These were done to ensure that they could return to Vietnam safely and healthy.
President Duterte’s act of kindness has reached the international communities. He received accolades from world leaders including millions of Filipinos living overseas. For a moment, the tirades against him on “extra judicial killings” and violation of human rights took back seats. Instead of the once projected “monster” side of Duterte, he was pictured as a firm leader -one who will not reneged on his promise to his counterpart leaders of other nations.
Surely, the Vietnamese fishermen have a lot of stories to tell to their families and friends about their experiences in the Philippines. They are the living proofs of what the Duterte administration is doing in the country, amid negative remarks about him in the international media. On the other hand, the immediate action of Duterte to send off the Vietnamese fishermen gave boost to his administration. This time, he will be projected as a leader with compassion and respect for human dignity as opposed to what his critics have been claiming that he was a violator of human rights.
The event was almost perfect if not for some flaws. Governor Espino was addressed by President Duterte as mayor and other VIPs on the stage were not appropriately acknowledged like Vice Governor Jose Ferdinand Calimlim Jr., Alaminos City Mayor Art Celeste and others.
I don’t know if this flaws were the doing of the President’s protocol officer. Maybe, there was somebody, who’s a smart aleck, who gave a piece of paper to the handlers of the event with list of the officials who were supposed to be acknowledged. And this fellow, whoever he is, wanted to induce confusion to his advantage.
Is it not appropriate that presidential events in provinces are handled by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) since it is under the Presidential Communications Office handled by Secretary Martin Andanar? PIA is the appropriate agency to handle the President’s visit and not by the local government unit hosting the event? Of course, there will be coordination with the LGU concerned as to the protocols to be observed during the President’s visit. I was told that even the list of media practitioners who will cover the event was provided by a certain guy. I was also informed that the list was trashed when PIA-Pangasinan gave a new list of media men to cover the event.
All was well and ended well. In spite of the flaws, the send off event was a success. On the side, President Duterte was presented with a “Duterte Sword” from a craftsman from Pozorrubio town. The rally that was supposedly staged to get the attention of the President regarding a new coal-fired power plant in Sual was also thwarted by the policemen of the town. To their dismay, the rallyists went home frustrated for not able to convey their message to President Duterte.
Unluckily, I was not able to witness the first ever visit of Duterte as the new President. After my radio program on that day, I have to rush home to attend some problems needing my immediate concerns. On his next visit, I will see to it that I will be there to witness the event. Oh my, I am beginning to admire President Duterte- not his colorful language though, but his toughness and tenacity in pursuing his agenda and his unconventional leadership style.
(For comments and suggestions, email me at email@example.com. Visit my blog “The Roving Pen” at http://www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com. Listen to my radio program “VIRGIL MAGANES SA DWPR” aired over DWPR Radyo Asenso, 1296 KHZ AM Band at 8:00-9:00 AM, Mondays to Saturdays.)
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