POSTSCRIPT / January 11, 2009 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Public being distracted from real drug menace

IT’S A TRAP: We should not allow ourselves to be distracted by the media emphasis on a supposed family feud among the Brodetts from the real issue in the “Alabang Boys (actually adult Men)” incident.

We would fall into the psychological trap of the drug syndicates if we allowed ourselves to be tricked into lapping up the details of a supposed family quarrel over property, money or whatever, and forgetting the core issue of drugs being a Menace.

The country is systematically being overrun by drug syndicates whose operations have been estimated to fetch them at least P500 BILLION a year.

With that pile of money and at the rate drug lords are pressing on, they would soon be able to elect a president. They already made inroads into regulatory agencies, all branches of government, the military and the police, and all strata of society.

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WHOM TO TRUST?: One problem is that many of us — distracted as we are with the pressures of making a living in a harsh environment – do not pay attention to the drug problem while it does not involve, yet, any member of our immediate family.

We react only when a dear son or daughter is caught in the net of the syndicates. By that time, alas, it is too late. 

As the only counter-force with massive resources, the government should take the lead in fighting this menace. But seeing how government agencies and officials are themselves compromised, we do not know anymore to whom to turn.

Are we citizens left to our own devices in shielding loved ones from the maws of the drug syndicates? 

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FIRE THEM!: Prosecutors of the Department of Justice were said to have threatened to resign over suspicion that some of them may have been too soft in handling drug cases, that some were unduly excited about releasing suspects despite the evidence.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez reportedly talked them into staying and holding their ground.

A commander must always look after his men. But with due respect, the good Secretary should not make a sweeping and premature omnibus absolution of his men. As a veteran, he should know by now who are clean and who are not.

Those who are tainted should not only be allowed to resign — they should be fired! If a case buildup is needed, they should be SUSPENDED preventively while the Secretary’s “internal” investigation is ongoing.

But, pardon me, the DoJ is the wrong agency to conduct that “internal” inquiry. Investigating one’s own boys — especially after the Boss had ordered them to stay — looks and smells like an inside job.

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PALACE ACTION: President Gloria Arroyo, if she is in town already, should form right away an independent commission to ferret out the truth, or throw the case(s) to the Ombudsman (never mind that many people do not believe in it anymore).

As the putative Mother of this nation, President Arroyo should not waste time hurling those thunderbolts.

Being President, she should be able to cut through the bureaucratic red tape and dig fast and deep into the problem — not only on the “Alabang Men” case but the entire drug menace.

The President is missing one golden opportunity to show concern. Aside from action, there is such a thing as timing.

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PINAY CHEF: As pointed out earlier, there is no basis for concluding that incoming US president Barack Obama is prejudiced against the Philippines or Filipinos.

Read this report of Rachel Swarns that Cristeta Comerford, the Filipina who is executive chef at the White House, will be retained by the Obamas despite pressure from prominent foodies clamoring for change.

Swarns reports: “President-elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, have decided that Cristeta Comerford, the executive chef at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, will stay put, a transition official said.

“Ms. Comerford, the first woman to hold the executive chef post, has been in the job since 2005. And some gourmands have argued that that is long enough.

“Ruth Reichl, the editor of Gourmet magazine, sent a letter to Mr. Obama, along with restaurateurs Alice Waters and Danny Meyer, offering to help him select someone new for the job. Ms. Reichl said the White House could use a chef who cooks local and organic foods and picks some of it from the presidential garden.

“But a transition official said that First Lady Laura Bush spoke very highly of Ms. Comerford and that the Obamas, who have two young daughters, also liked the fact that Ms. Comerford is a mother herself. Mrs. Bush’s office has praised Ms. Comerford in the past for creating ‘original dishes with American flavor.’

“ ‘They had heard a great deal about her from Mrs. Bush,’ said the transition official. ‘The Bushes just loved her. There’s no need for making a change.’

“Ms. Comerford is a naturalized citizen who came to the United States from the Philippines when she was 23. She has a bachelor’s degree in food technology from the University of the Philippines and has studied classic French cooking and worked in Austria. She also worked as chef at two Washington hotels. She joined the White House as an assistant chef in 1995.

“Her predecessor, Walter Scheib III, who was hired by Hillary Clinton when she was First Lady, was fired by Mrs. Bush in 2005. He said at the time that he had been unable to ‘satisfy the First Lady’s stylistic requirements.’

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 11, 2009)

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