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Aug. 27 send-off party at the Galloping Hill Caterers in Union, N.J. for Consul General Mario Lopez de Leon, Jr. At right is his wife Eleanor.


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LET me write first about the native country.

Despite the best intentions of President Rodrigo Duterte for his country, he is sadly perceived around the world as anti-democratic leader who disregards the law.

The famous Winston Churchill saying, “a riddle wrapped up in an enigma,” could be applied to Uncle Digong Duterte at this point.

Will he continue with his policy of “Bang, Bang, Patay!?”

When will he stop the killings?

After 60 days in office, some 2,000 suspected drug-traffickers and users had been killed either by police or by “unidentified gunmen.”

As long as he keeps giving his men the “shoot to kill” order, we will continue to remind him that there is another way (suasion and rehabilitation) to do what he wants to accomplish.

For 40 years, Mexico also used bullets to fight the drug problem.

But, the drug menace continues in that country to this day.

Thailand also resorted to killing of thousands of drug people.

But, the effort was a failure.

The Japan Times is the latest globally-respected newspaper which editorialized President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.

It was titled “Duterte’s threat to democracy.”

To us, the editorial was incisive and objective.

Below are some of what it said.

“Since Rodrigo Duterte became president of the Philippines two months ago, the country has waged a vicious war against the drug trade. The number of victims will soon reach 2,000, a horrific number. The mounting death toll should come as no surprise. Duterte campaigned on a law and order platform, his reputation was built on this image and there was no reason to think that he would moderate his behavior if he moved to Malacañang Palace. The drug problem may well constitute a national crisis, but that cannot excuse the shredding of the rule of law and extrajudicial killings. Human rights extend to the guilty and the innocent alike...

“The loss of innocent lives or the settling of scores under the guise of cleaning up the drug trade is one problem. Even more worrying over the long run is the erosion of the rule of law in a country with a long history of abuse of power. Filipinos have struggled to reclaim their democracy and it has been a long and frustrating process. Duterte is only the most recent in a long line of autocrats who have been irritated by the inefficiencies of a democratically elected government. Corruption has been and continues to be a real problem in the Philippines. But the solution to that problem is rigid and neutral application of the law — not its disregard.”

All of the earlier criticisms against Uncle Digong Duterte had been about his apparent lack of respect for the law as he carries out his anti-drug campaign.

They are all about balancing his project with concomitant rights of the citizens.

Nobody has asked him to stop his campaign.

It’s the killing they want him to stop.

Like I have written before, no matter how imperfect democracy is, it is still the best form of government.

A government of laws, and not of men.  
 
Hopefully, Pres. Duterte’s meeting with Pres. Obama next week in Laos would result in some modifications in Uncle Digong’s approach to the drug problem.


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Two good byes to two beloved community persons!

Since Consul General Mario Lopez de Leon, Jr. announced the end of his term in New York, we have witnessed first-hand, the love of the community for him and his wife Eleanor.

Before his term was extended from June 30 to Sept. 30, countless send-off or despedida parties were held from February to June all over the Northeast, his duty jurisdiction.

After the extension became known, more parties were scheduled and held.

Evidently, the last two were held on Aug. 20 (PAFCOM) and Aug. 27 (some 15 groups led by D’Catbalogans and citizens from Fair Lawn, N.J.).

Back in January, leaders of various community organizations in the Northeast wrote then DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario pleading that Con Gen Mario’s term be extended by a year until he reaches his retirement age next year.

Unfortunately, the Secretary resigned before he was able to act on the letter.

So, we say good bye with love and friendship, Ambassador and Mrs. Mario de Leon, Jr.

(Belatedly, I learned from my friend RG Reyes [another guwapo Pinoy in California] that he and Con Gen Mario were high school classmates in San Beda in Manila. So, they have a link to President Rodrigo Duterte who finished his law degree from the same school.)


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RJ Sy passed away on Aug. 30.


Good bye RJ!  

The other beloved community person we referred to in the title was 5-year-old RJ.

RJ lived a short life.

He died of cancer, Tuesday, called neuroblastoma (cancer commonly found in the adrenal glands) after two years of battling the deadly and rare disease.

RJ’s community in New Jersey quietly helped and assisted the parents throughout the two-year ordeal.

Thus, grief was felt and expressed by many in Facebook.

Joyce Andes-David, one of the many Filipinos who stood by RJ from the day he was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma told this writer: “RJ is a true example of a miracle and an inspiration of hope. RJ brought everyone together through prayer and love. He lived such a meaningful life.”

Kirby Asunto said in her Facebook, “I am deeply saddened by this sudden news. Singing for RJ was a moment I will never forget...”

RJ’s Mom, Cheely Ann Sy, in inviting the community to an evening prayer said, “Our miracle went home to heaven, where there’s no more pain, no medicine, no more suffering. My little RJ went home to the arms of God.”

Here’s another kind act by the Bergen County Police groups.  

RJ, in his final week, told his parents he would be happy to see a police car with two police officers in it passing by their house.   

Five days before he passed, the county’s 10 police departments organized a “pass by” parade.

Last Thursday, 38 (not only one) police cars, one fire truck, one motorcycle police officer and two platoons of Boys Scouts passed by the quiet street of RJ with the little boy watching happily in front of their house.

On Tuesday, RJ left his family and community to start an eternal life in the company of Jesus, saints and angels in Heaven.

What a joyful life waiting for RJ!


***


‘Meet and Greet’ with Jonathan Wong

Jonathan Wong, Fil-Am candidate for Mayor of Mahwah, will hold a “Meet and Greet” on Sept. 16 (instead of Sept. 2 as originally scheduled) at the Zeppelin Hall in Downtown, Jersey City at 6 p.m.

Please RSVP at 201.805.8312.


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Happy Birthday Gilda, Mylz and Innie!

One helpful use of Facebook is that it tells us the birthdays of our FB friends.

Three FB friends are observing their birthdays this week: Gilda Legaspi Stiefel, Mylz Tolentino and Innie Williams.

Gilda turns 50.

She tells me she is proud of her age.

I know of one who wouldn’t tell her age even if you “kill” her.

LOL.

I know what Mylz likes for her birthday.

“Fosh balls.”

Ask her what fosh balls are.

LOL.

Innie was formerly a journalist.

She is now a nurse.

Wise career change, Innie.

LOL.

Happy Birthday to all!

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