Manong Jules, Patriot and Mentor

June 24, 2009 § Leave a comment

Just an hour ago, I talked with Ding Gagelonia. He reminded me that it was only a month ago when Vic Montero, formerly of ABC 5 died. I went to his wake. There, Ding and Manong Jules gave their eulogies. It was there when Manong told me that “una una lang yan.”

I remember telling him that this year is most distressing. Noel Cabrera, a good friend, died. Tata Joe Cappadoccia whom I met when I was still a defense beat reporter was killed in a copper crash. Previous to that, many other journalists, especially those who fought against the dictatorship, just faded away. One of the regular commenters of this space, wrote that the former First Quarter Storm (FQS) pioneers are slowly fading away.

Yet, there’s still hope because the Movement is being infused by new blood. I believe him. Philippine media is undergoing a similar fate. Members of the old school are slowly leaving this earth. Those who were accustomed to typing those stories away with their typewriters are being replaced by those who type away from laptops.

Those who learned the ropes from old school broadcasting are being replaced by savvy, radio reporters that report news with their monotonous voices. Manong Jules was one such man. When Ding and I urged him to put up a blog of his writings, he did not know how to do it. I was the one who opened his account ( He never updated it. The last entry was January 19, 2009. I admit that I personally think I belong to the old school.

When I was a journalist, I got my stories the old fashion way, calling sources and authenticating facts thrice. Last night, I had a nice discussion with Rainier of Philippine Star. I was told that media organizations right now are fragmented. Each and every beat have factions. The situation is very bad indeed. I remember those times when media organisations in every geographical beat were united. In Pasay, there was only one group. Now, there are two. In QC, there’s at least three. Before, it was just one. In the Eastern Police beat, there’s two. Even I think in the national scene, there are also two—Samahang Plaridel founded by Manong Max Soliven and the NPC.

One thing though that remains the same—journalists both from the old and the new share life over bottles of beer. That is the one thing that probably journalists would never ever give up. Journalists here bond through samahang mabobote. Maybe, i’ll put up on though I’m really not a beer drinker.

I don’t know what would happen in the event of another dictatorship. Who will stand up from the media ranks and fight? Who will give up their futures for the Cause of the Masses? By the way, here’s Manong Jules last column over at Manila Times. Kitam. Even prior to his death, Manong Jules was very consistent. He wrote something about Mrs. Arroyo’s recent decision to abolish the anti-Communist agency in government, a thing, which he opined, shows one that there’ll be no repeat of the dictatorship.

I just hope that Manong Jules is right.

By Julius F. Fortuna
Good riddance to 
anti-communist agency
Whatever critics say about President GMA on other aspects of governance, something positive could be said about her recent issuances. This is the matter of her abolishing an anti-communist agency that should properly be described as a relic of the Cold War.We refer particularly to her Executive Order 8008 issued last May 15 abolishing the three-year old Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) that was supervised by the viscerally anti-communist national security adviser, Mr. Norberto Gonzales. This decision is somewhat a landmark, similar to the move by Fidel V. Ramos rescinding the Anti-Subversion Act passed in 1957.

Why the government took so long to publicize the abolition of this agency of government puzzles me. But this move is truly imbued with international significance, specially for some countries observing how we comply with human rights and international laws. The abolition of this agency was a recommendation of the UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston who investigated human rights observance by the government almost two years ago.

IALAG had come to be very notorious. It was the group that tried to revive, or more accurately, invent the cases against Congressman Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna. It was this group that charged Ocampo of committing murder in several places in the country almost at the same time—with some committed even when Satur was in prison. It was also this group that tried but failed to induce the Dutch government to file charges against NDF officials.

If there are people who believe that President GMA is on the road to declare martial law—this recent abolition of IALAG would disprove that there is a conspiracy to do another Proclamation 1081. From hereon, some professional anti-communists lurking inside the government could not use the agency to promote their Cold War agenda.

Best wishes to Ambassador Yano

We have a new envoy to Brunei—Mr. Alexander T. Yano—the former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. For a while, we thought his confirmation would be delayed, but after three sessions of questioning, this soldier turned diplomat passed the standards of our legislature.

He is a political ambassador, one who is not a product of the examination system in our foreign office. But he would be an asset to the Republic because of his experience and also because he has the trust of the President.

An envoy is an extension of the President and the Republic. His word is official and is construed to be a direct and undiluted instruction from the sovereign. In that respect, Ambassador Yano shines because he has the full trust of the appointing power.

This is not to say that career envoys are not as good. I have seen former Ambassador Rodolfo Severino—who came from the career group as envoy to Malaysia. But all reviews of his work say he deserved the honor of being an envoy to an important country. Let me say that the nation needs both career and political envoys because the two styles are needed in our foreign service. As a matter of fact, the foreign service act provides that the President can appoint both career and non-career.

I remember that former President Marcos would appoint former Leyte governor Benjamin Romualdez as ambassador to the US, to Saudi Arabia and later to Beijing whenever the national interest so requires. If those appointments were to be assessed today, they were beneficial to the nation. Romualdez, wearing his all-white suit—was able to deliver the message of the President to these countries.

In the case of the US appointment, the Philippine message on the future of the US facilities in the country was delivered—and later led to the review of the 1947 bases accord. In the case of Saudi Arabia, we were able to secure the regular supply of oil and continued deployment of workers. In the case of Beijing, Romualdez stint was also landmark—as it inaugurated normal ties with the Asian power.

Brunei may be a small country but it is a gem in the Southeast Asian scene. Its opinion on the region is given weight not only because of its richness but also because of its influence in the Muslim world. Now that we need all the support to get observer status is the OIC, the more we need to reach out to countries like Brunei.

In a briefing to reporters last Saturday, one little but significant fact was revealed. Mr. Yano has established close personal ties with the Sultan of Brunei because of their love for the game of badminton. When the Sultan came here last year, the Brunei sovereign sought out Yano for a game. This rapport can only redound to the mutual interest of the two countries.


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