ADVOCACY MINDANOW: President Francis, anyone?

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 21 Jan) – Last night, I had a dream.

The Philippines has turned federal and is one of the federated states of the Vatican. And its regions have also gone federal – where the concentration of powers and resources are equitably dispersed and fairly allocated to the locals. The name of the President is Francis Bergoglio.

HONORABLES – He has cleaned up the bureaucracy from corruption. No allies cling nor hide behind his priestly garb. No one is spared, not even his own KKKs (kaSeminaryo, kaPari, at KaJesuita). Tinges of irregularity, whether small or significant, real or contrived, are not swept away or waved off. His officials take their name and honor seriously. Some take the honorable route of voluntarily dismounting to protect the presidency, ready to take the bullet. His officials are so well loved and held in high esteem that when they figure in some close call accidents, like plane mishaps, everyone thanks the Lord for their safety and not say: “sayang bakit yan lang sinapit” (which, by the way, was the reaction of some when the Bombardier plane carrying some Malacañang officials overshot and nose-dived upon take-off at the Tacloban airport – and which I find unchristian and totally uncalled for.)

FEDERAL – Being federal, the regions govern their own areas with the least intervention from the national capital. The locals determine and chart their own future and destiny. Taxes are not all sent up to the national treasury and the concentration of power through patronage and dog lapping is gone. Hence, no DAP or PDAF.

IN PERIPHERIES – President Francis spends time not so much in Malacañang nor in imperial Manila but in the “peripheries” like the calamity stricken areas of Tacloban, in the far-flung barangays. He attends to the long-suffering and abandoned victims of the Zambo siege, the poor, the sick, the forgotten. Whenever he wishes to meet with his constituents, millions voluntarily attend, braving the elements. And there is no “hakot“.

BLAMING NO ONE – His words are compassionate and soothing, not carping or uncouth. He speaks from the heart and asks everyone to put Jesus in the center of everything. He assuages the sufferers by referring to Christ’s own Calvary and crucifixion. He does not look back looking for some fall guy. He blames no one. He reaches out to all – Muslims, Lumads and those of other faiths – for peace and unity.

NOT GOD’s GIFT – He sneaks out at night, not to cavort or “vroom” the streets but to visit and give solace to the street children, the orphans, the needy and the abandoned. He does not project himself as if he is God’s gift to mankind to reform. He exudes humility and godly grace. He protects the family and even the unborn. He does not conjure ways to undermine the sanctity of life.

NOT BRATTY – He is so human just like you and I. His humanity shows he has a good sense of humor and breaks into some laughter – or even sheds tears – with his people. His inimitable smile brings cheers and solace even to those who went through some tragedy. He is always on the move despite his age and not prone to ensconce himself mooning in solitude. No he is not bratty. Nor does he carp or engage in dry humor about his hair when his bull cap is blown away or his priestly cape perturbed by the wind.

NIGHTMARE! – But ooooops. Suddenly I lost my dream. So I woke up to the real world. To my dismay, I woke up from a good dream to a real nightmare!

[Lawyer Jesus G. Dureza was government peace panel chair in the negotiations with the MILF under the Arroyo administration from 2001 to 2003 and was later named Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (2005 to 2008). He heads Advocacy MindaNOW Foundation, Inc. and was recently named publisher of the Davao City-based Mindanao Times. This piece is from his syndicated column, Advocacy MindaNOW.]