POSTSCRIPT / December 21, 2017 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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NPA nod not needed to declare ceasefire

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte did right ordering a unilateral Christmas ceasefire without waiting for a mutual agreement with the New People’s Army and/or its ideological elders directing terroristic depredations from the safety of the Netherlands.

Malacañang has just announced the ceasefire to take effect from Dec. 24, 2017, to Jan. 2, 2018. We hope the Commander-in-Chief does not take back his order – regardless of how the NPA or the National Democratic Front in Europe reacts to it.

The 10-day lull will not imperil the peace effort, but will in fact promote it. Anyway, the military and the police in defensive position during the holidays know what to do in case NPA-NDF terrorists attack just to make a bloody point.

Unilaterally stopping search and destroy operations during certain periods should have been an unflinching government option in dealing with the NPA-NDF. There is no need to first get the approval of enemies of the state before government forces decide to call a ceasefire.

The government should go further and stop sending junkets to engage ageing NDF advisers in endless, and useless, talk at great expense. With their growing irrelevance to the peace process — and to their own fighters doing the dying back home — those ideologues abroad will eventually fade away.

There was no need for presidential spokesman Harry Roque to say after announcing the ceasefire that the President decided to call Tuesday: “We expect that the CPP-NPA-NDF would do a similar gesture of goodwill.” As the line goes, let them do their worst while we do our best.

The President already said it quite well: “If I declare a ceasefire, it is not addressed to the NPAs. Rather, I would want to celebrate Christmas with the rest of humankind or Filipinos, without stress… A lot of people are going around, even at night, enjoying Christmas day or whatever. Going to mass.”

It is not clear if the President’s decision was influenced by his visit Wednesday to the wake of a policeman slain in an anti-drug operation in Pasig City. But we suggest his considering a similar “ceasefire” in the killings in police anti-drug raids.

• Sereno case boosts Gadon’s bid

AT CLARK Freeport in Pampanga, lawyer Lorenzo Gadon who filed the impeachment case against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno is exuding over-confidence that he would make it to the Senate in 2019 in his second election bid.

Gadon lost in 2016, landing 24th in the fight for the magic 12 slots for the Senate. But this time, he told a forum Friday of the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI), he is optimistic that the public hearings on the Sereno case have improved his chances.

He said he is now better known by supporters of Duterte, and is also banking on the support of Marcos loyalists of the North and the Muslims in Mindanao because of his links to Nur Misuari, founder of the Moro National Liberation Front.

As president of PD30 Core, a group pushing constitutional reforms, including a shift to a federal system, he said he is for a revolutionary government under Duterte to “fast track” such reforms.

Meanwhile, a public relations man of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, another likely Senate candidate of the administration party, denied to us that the Speaker’s estranged wife, Emilita Apostol Alvarez, was preparing to contest her husband’s congressional seat in 2019.

Alvarez drove out Mrs. Alvarez and the Congressional Spouses Foundation Inc., which she heads, of the Batasan complex early this year.

We reported here Tuesday that Alvarez may run instead for the Senate in 2019 – if only to avoid an embarrassing collision with his wife seeking to represent the first district of Davao del Norte. When his PR man belied her supposed plan, we suggested that he asks Mrs. Alvarez herself to deny it.

• Work on for new Clark terminal

GROUND was broken Dec. 20, meanwhile, for the development of the new, world-class passenger terminal for the Clark International Airport (CRK) to boost its capacity by 8 million more passengers each year.

With more than 100,000 square meters in floor space, the terminal is among the Duterte administration’s major projects under its “Build! Build! Build!” infrastructure development program.

It is tagged “hybrid,” which means that the government will use its own funds in building the terminal and then bid out the operations and maintenance facility to the private sector.

Megawide-GMR, submitting the lowest financial proposal at P9.36 billion, bested four other bidders for the design, engineering and construction of the new terminal building after going through a process monitored by the International Finance Corp. of the World Bank.

Clark International Airport Corp. President/CEO Alexander Cauguiran said CRK is envisioned to be Asia’s next premier gateway. It is designed to help decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Metro Manila, currently the country’s main gateway.

Air traffic at Clark has grown since last year after several airlines started operating international and domestic flights from it.

There are now at least 344 weekly flights operated by Asiana Airlines, Philippine Airlines and PAL Express, Cathay Dragon, Cebu Pacific and CebGo, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Jinair, JetStar, Scoot (formerly Tiger Airways), Philippines AirAsia, and Air Swift.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 21, 2017)

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