By Alex P. Vidal
“Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation.” —Edward R. Murrow
TWELVE days ago, we criticized Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega after announcing on October 20 that the “Egyptian government has promised to give priority to evacuating Filipinos once the Rafah border crossing opens.”
We thought De Vega’s words were hyperbole and unreliable since Egyptian authorities couldn’t even ensure the crossing to Egypt of many citizens from the United States, Europe, and other Arab countries trapped in Gaza; ergo, why “prioritize” the “very few” Filipinos?
Despite intensive international efforts to secure a window of time for the Rafah crossing to open to foreigners who wanted to exit the Strip, the Egyptian government actually has refused to allow either Gazans or foreign nationals to exit Gaza via the Rafah crossing.
De Vega, speaking over Radyo 630, had said, “Kinausap ko ang ambassador ng Egypt kahapon at sinabi ng kanilang pamahalaan na bibigyan ng priority ang mga Pilipinong lulusot. Pangako niya ‘yan na bibigyan tayo ng priority sa border.”
(I spoke with the Egyptian ambassador yesterday and their government said that they will give priority to Filipinos who will pass through. That’s his promise to give us priority at the border.)
The following day, or on October 21, the Rafah border finally opened for humanitarian aid, but not a single Filipino national, or Filipino married to Palestinian or Egyptian was allowed to cross.
On October 30, or 10 days after De Vega made the statement, it was reported that the Philippine government “struggled to reach some Filipinos in Gaza, days after Israel began its ground invasion of the besieged enclave.”
A Philippine envoy reportedly confirmed that 49 Filipinos in Gaza were “unreachable.”
What happened to the “assurance” the Egyptian ambassador had supposedly made to De Vega to “prioritize” the Filipinos who are now “unreachable?”
For his dizzying and untrustworthy statements, De Vega should resign if the 49 “unreachable” Filipinos in Gaza won’t be found.
A Palestinian border official said that Egypt had blocked the crossing gates with concrete blocks. Egypt has stated that Israeli airstrikes also hit the Gaza side of the crossing.
The lands where the historical Jesus once walked and lived has never found genuine peace. Since time immemorial the bloody conflict between the Arabs and Jews has been intense, enormous, and sustained.
It seems Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have been identified to be the most violent-laden religions in the world. For thousands of years, millions have died violently in the wars involving the three major religions in the world.
Interestingly, Buddhism, which follows a set of guidelines for daily life called the Five Precepts, appears to be the most peaceful religion in the world.
Buddhists don’t harm or kill living things; they do not take things unless they are freely given; they lead a decent life; they do not speak unkindly or tell lies; and they do not abuse drugs or drink alcohol.
Buddhists also adhere to the Three Universal Truths such as:
—Everything in life is impermanent and always changing
—Because nothing is permanent, a life based on possessing things or persons doesn’t make you happy; and
—There is no eternal, unchanging soul and “self” is just a collection of changing characteristics or attributes.
SAVING OUR PLANET. Clean up with vinegar. Don’t clean up our toilets with a mineral-deposits remover as it contains harsh chemicals that harm the environment when flushed down the toilet into the water system. Vinegar is an excellent substitute to scrub off rush and deposits marks.
SAVING OUR PLANET. Let’s salt our silver. Silver cleaners can be abrasive and harsh. Let’s make our own cleaner for sterling (not plate) silver by mixing 1 pint of water with a teaspoon each of salt and baking powder and adding a strip of aluminum foil. Drop the silver into this mixture, boil for a few minutes, remove with tongs and polish with a soft cloth. Add lemon juice for really grimy silver.
SAVING OUR PLANET: Don’t dispose. Whenever we can, let’s swap our throw-away, disposable items for reusable versions. We won’t have to pay out over and over again plus we will avoid contributing to landfill.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)