The arms deal fiasco

By Malou Guanzon Apalisok |September 10,2018 - 09:22 PM

APALISOK

President Rodrigo Duterte is so furious over the failed arms deal with Israel and Jordan that upon his arrival in Davao City he let off steam by castigating his critics like Senator Leila de Lima, the US, Canada and United Nations for the fiasco.

Concerns over human rights violations in the continuing anti-drug war that has claimed 4,000 lives according to official figures had landed in Israeli mainstream media during PRRD’s visit last week. There were also misgivings by Israeli human rights groups including President Reuven Rivlin who were offended by PRRD’s previous remarks in which he referenced Adolf Hitler in the anti-drugs campaign. As we know, the President has since apologized for the remark and has insisted that he did not intend to desecrate the memory of the holocaust victims.

To demonstrate his sensitivity to the Jewish people, the President visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center to take part in the inaugural of a monument to honor the Filipino rescue of Jews during the holocaust.

The Philippines provided sanctuary to some 1,200 Jewish refugees who were then fleeing the systematic murder of millions of Jews by Hitler’s Wermacht. This poignant narrative is available online. From 1937 to 1940, about 1,200 Jews found their sanctuary in the Philippines through the efforts of then President Manuel Quezon and an American official. This historical anecdote would have worked in favor of the government’s bid for an arms deal because Israel’s arms trade is integral to its foreign policy. Apparently, this was set aside over human rights violations concerns, probably aggravated by a previous reckless remark.

The President’s arrival statement wherein he emphasized the need for precision-guided weapons in the current anti-drug war indicated that the arms deal with Israel was a top priority in his visit. Israel is one of the world’s top weapons exporters, standing head to head with major industrial powers like the US, Britain, Germany and Brazil.

The tiny country with a population of over 8 million also is also a major exporter of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) commonly known as drones. Described as “a powerhouse in the development of military UAVs, and increasingly, commercial UAVs and technologies” the arms deal with Israel would have pushed the PH military to a cutting edge technology upgrade.

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The genocide of 6 million Jews across Europe during World War II oftentimes crops up in the conversation among members of the Schoenstatt Movement in the Philippines because the father and founder of the spiritual movement was a German priest and theologian who survived the Nazi concentration camp in Dachau.

Arrested by the Gestapo in 1941 and put to jail in Koblenz and later in the Dachau concentration camp until 1945, Fr. Joseph Kentenich was prisoner number 29392. For more than four years, Fr. Kentenich saw the horrors of the war in the deaths of more than 188,000 prisoners. Many died from diseases, starvation, hard labor, torture punishments, medical experiments while others were killed en masse in gas chambers.

Dachau is just one of 42,000 camps and incarceration sites established by Nazi Germany and its allies from 1933 to 1945 such that any mention of the Holocaust cannot be framed carelessly.

By the way, 2018 is the Year of Fr. Kentenich who died in September 15, 1968.

To celebrate the golden jubilee of his passing, the Schoenstatt family in the Philippines will hold a 3-day National Convention (September 14-16) in the Schoenstatt Shrine in Lawaan 3, Talisay City, Cebu.

Theme of the convention is, “Fr. Joseph Kentenich, Our Guide in the Covenant of Love.”

The gathering will also feature a “barrio fiesta”-themed celebration and unveiling of the Schoenstatt founder’s life-size statue. Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma will officiate the Pontifical Mass on September 16. The mass is open to the public.

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