People in the know would recognize the title from a James Bond film, the second-ever in the series, released in 1964 and starring Sean Connery. James Bond came to mind with the recent death of Sir Roger Moore who was the James Bond of my generation. But, I digress.
Last week, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte set off on what was aptly described as a “landmark four-day visit” to Russia as part of efforts to re-direct Philippine foreign policy and to seek more investments. Most of the cabinet came along, save for the ones who composed the caretaker committee while he was gone; namely, Budget Secretary Ben Diokno and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.
I was part of the 300-strong business delegation representing the MVP group of Companies and, while there, was also requested to host and moderate the Philippines —Russia Business Forum.
It was a successful trip on both the political and business front. Our congratulations to DTI Sec. Mon Lopez and his able team composed of Usec. Rowel Barba, Usec. Nora K. Terrado, and Usec. Ruth B. Castelo. To Presidential Adviser Joey Concepcion, our thanks and appreciation for the relentless support for MSMEs. Kudos as well to new DFA Sec. Allan Peter Cayetano who met with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Victorovich Lavrov, and affirmed their commitment for cooperation on several matters which included the war on drugs and terrorism.
But, of course, we all know that while in Russia, a situation broke out in Marawi City which necessitated the President’s immediate return to the Philippines. Prior to his departure, he declared Martial Law while in Moscow.
US President Teddy Roosevelt once said, and this is also one of my favorite quotes, that “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
We have a situation in our country right now and there is an urgent need to get rid of the menace that has caused much havoc, death and destruction. These animals have, with impunity and utter disregard of the sanctity of life, caused the death of innocent lives. A decision at the highest level needed to be made immediately. Whether it be the right decision or the wrong one, well, that is something to be determined. But, by God, there had to be a decision, and the President has decided.
We need to support him on this one. We need to rally behind him to see this situation through. It is understandable that there are those who fear that abuses might be committed. They can take comfort in the thought that the present constitution has built-in safeguards to ensure that will not happen. The President himself was unequivocal: he will not tolerate abuses, especially by the military, while under martial rule.
Admittedly, more business leaders would have attended the Philippines—Russia Business Forum had the President stayed, even for an extra day. He is very popular among Russian businessmen and they would have wanted to see him and hear what he had to say.
During the forum, I took the liberty of thanking the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin for their hospitality and for the condolences and expression of grief. We are also grateful that President Putin, despite the short notice, met with our President, knowing that he needed to be back with his people.
The lyrics to the Matt Monro main theme of the Bond movie haunt me as I ponder on these thoughts, in this, my last day here in Moscow:
“From Russia, with love, I fly to you, much wiser since my goodbye to you; I’ve travelled the world to learn, I must return, from Russia with love…”
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