THE first time I witnessed His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal forging peace up close happened at the height of a particularly tumultuous transport strike in October 22-25, 1984.
That particular transport strike in Cebu City was a far cry from the strikes we know today.
There was complete standstill of public transport – PUJs, taxi cabs, even buses. Like a scene in a Nicaraguan revolution movie, tires burned at most downtown streets. Ordinary citizens put up physical barricades in their communities. Thousands spontaneously gathered at Colon street every night daring the dictator’s soldiers to disperse them.
Tagged as one of the organizers along with Fr. Rudy Romano, Mam Zeny Uy, and Inday Nita Cortes-Daluz, I was one of the protesters who showed up at the Archbishop’s Palace for a dialog upon the instance of Cardinal Vidal.
At the height of the Abenina coup attempt a few years later, I remember coordinating using a different pay phone every time with then Cebu City Councilor Ramsey Quijano who was holed up at Cardinal Vidal’s residence to elude coup plotters who had placed local officials under house arrest. The plan was to hold an anti-coup rally early the next day. Fortunately, then Gen. Abenina capitulated that night.
But the most dramatic scene happened when I was already an editor at the defunct Newstime Daily in December 1989. Cardinal Vidal forged peace between government and rebel soldiers at the middle of the Mactan-Mandaue bridge.
In my mind, Cardinal Vidal was always the peace maker. We will miss him.
I cannot fathom what’s in Presidential Assistant for Visayas Mike Dino’s mind when he chose to wage war against Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco. Will the ability to sweep under the rug complaints of alleged non-performance and blame LGUs as well as Evasco’s Kilusang Pagbabago do the trick?
As an assistant of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in the Visayas, Dino should not make enemies but unite and expand pro-Duterte forces. He must put forward the interest of the administration like forging the broadest unity for federalism than his own personal vendetta.
Top administration officials, meanwhile, are again talking about federalism like CabSec Evasco during the recent Kilusang Pagbabago (KP) rally and senatoriable Rep. Karlo Nograles, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations.
Nograles, who met some members of the local media the other day, said federalism would reverse the present income sharing of 80-20 percent between the national and local governments.
I expect the campaign for federalism to furtrher intensify as the Duterte administration is said to target the May 2018 barangay elections to also conduct the plebiscite for the new federal constitution. Even some mayors are now thinking of forming a federal movement though the momentum might be affected by developments in Tuburan town which is expected to become protracted.