Editorial: The season of giving and forgiveness

PRESIDENTIAL spokesperson Harry Roque needs to study the President more to be effective as a spokesperson.

First lesson: Be the spokesperson, speak of what the president has said or has already elucidated. Never before.

If there is anything that is most difficult to comprehend about President Rodrigo Duterte by politicians like Roque, is that while Duterte's a seasoned politician, he and his siblings were brought up by a strict mother who demanded that they give their heart to public service.

Even as the mother, Soledad Roa Duterte was never a public servant outside of being a teacher in the earlier years of her motherhood, she was always involved with civic work.

Civic work in Davao City in those years, and even today, rarely brought anything to the table outside of a contented heart and maybe an honorarium or two. Nothing more.

But Nanay Soling was there dragging friends along to volunteer with her because there's just a lot to be done, whether it be about "juvenile delinquents" as children in conflict with the law were once called, or injustice and nationalism, or mental health.

Having been widowed when the youngest child was still ten years old and the eldest daughter is the only one yet who has graduated from college, Nanay Soling managed to do all that and raise a brood of five all by herself.

Top this with his strong spirituality, a spirituality he jokes about so he would not sound like he's pontificating, but is deeply embedded in him, prayers to the Almighty and supplications to his dead parents become his source of strength.

What this implies is, the best way to have an inkling of what he intends to do is to look with your heart and see why there will always be a soft part for the downtrodden. They've been programmed for that in their formative years.

What is this leading to? Duterte's love-hate relationship with the communist rebels.

The hate is in the actions, the extortions, and most of all the killings done by the rebels. The hate is for the leadership who cannot even assure the people that they speak for their armed combatants, and can thus order them to hold their fires, and expect that they will hold their fires.

The seeming insincerity of the leadership when all they have manifested is to get every concession from government, including their absolute freedom, without even conceding to one single act of sincerity above attending the peace talks in posh hotels in Europe.

The love is for the ordinary combatant, who is waging a war that puts them in the frontline without even a hint of peace and prosperity in the horizon. The love is for the ordinary soldier who is often the target of assassination, leaving behind a young family who most of the time do not even have much to live with after losing their breadwinner.

Saying that "The decision not to declare a suspension of military operations (Somo) with the members of the New People's Army over the Christmas holidays stays" without waiting for the President's say-so is a mistake, just one other mistake. Dabawenyos know better. There was never a Christmas when the hand of peace was not extended because that is what Christmas is all about.

Much as he hates the double-faced actions of the rebels, he still sees the human in every combatant who is but following orders, and could never have a hand in stirring up animosity and armed offensives during the holiest of season in Christiandom.

The spokesman must ponder on this and learn. To many, it's a puzzle. But to those who see with their heart, it's simple.
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