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A government capable of empathy

Years ago, when I was still OIC mayor of Muntinlupa, I initially used to take for granted the efforts of an elderly councilor who was known for religiously going to funeral wakes. Day in and night out, he would spend time visiting with the bereaved families.

I did not immediately realize how important it was. Attendance in a funeral wake is considered by the family as the highest form of respect to their dear departed. The higher the stature of the guest, the more honored the family felt.

None other than President Rody Duterte fully understands and appreciates this Filipino tradition. That is why despite his very busy schedule, he makes it a point to visit the fallen (sometimes, even the wounded) policemen and soldiers.

A presidential salute, a solemn bow, a light touch on the coffin, a silent prayer. To the bereaved, these gestures are worth more than all the medals that can ever be conferred on their beloved departed. These images are forever etched in their memories.

The pain is immediately eased. The families no longer feel alone. No less than the President and Commander-in-Chief has got their back.

Making every day a National Heroes Day
I received recently this short note from my daughter, Trisha, who was in South Africa for a meeting of the Licensing Executives Society International (LESI) of which she is the international president.

As her arrival coincided with our celebration of National Heroes Day, she could not help noticing the airport signages.

“Cape Town International Airport is full of reminders of the heroism and sacrifice of Nelson Mandela,” she wrote.

“Today, on our own National Heroes Day, let us think about how to keep our heroes alive in our hearts and minds. They need to inspire us every day and not just on holidays such as this.”

She ended her note with this short inspiring quote from the revered South African President:

“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.”

Our new Ambassador to the US
My belated congratulations to Marciano Paynor, Jr. who was recently appointed by President Rody Duterte as ambassador to the United States.

Amba Jun brings to the job a wealth of experience which includes stints as Consul General in the United States, and former ambassador to Israel and Cyprus. He also served as Chief Protocol Officer for at least three presidents.

I have seen Amba Jun up close. His professionalism, integrity, his knowledge of the terrain, his people skills, his thoroughness in the preparation and execution of plans, equip him very well for his new responsibilities.

Attention Mayor Abby

I don’t really know what’s wrong with the guys at the Realty Tax Division of Makati City or what they are up to.

They keep sending me an assessment for a lot along Edsa which I sold sometime in 1980! That’s right. Anim na presidente na ang nakaraan!

The first time I received the notice, I immediately wrote Ms. Lina Estrella O. Enriquez, Chief of the Realty Tax Division, about the fact of the sale and I suggested that they check with the Register of Deeds as to who is the current owner of the property.

What followed next was what my late mother would have called “trabahong tamad”. Without bothering to check, they sent me a “second notice”, (to which I responded) and, later, a “third notice” (to which I likewise responded).

This week, I received a “final notice”, assessing me P3.7 million, representing alleged unpaid taxes plus penalties from 1997 up to the present. Whew!

It is good my blood pressure is very much under control and I have a relatively long fuse. I counted from one to one thousand before I wrote my own “final reply” to Makati’s realty tax people.

If they can prove I still own the property, I will – no questions asked – donate it to the City of Makati for the purpose of putting up a wellness center for the exclusive use of the Realty Tax Division staff.

That center should be good not only for their own health but also for the taxpayers’.

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(Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye)