www.sunstar.com.ph, 16 January 2009
IMOR Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta made fun with two former Philippine presidents as he blurted jokes about them during his lecture at the Ateneo de Davao University Wednesday afternoon.
The first casualty was former president Fidel V. Ramos whom Horta called a "distant relative". Horta recollected how the former president barred him from coming to the Philippines in 1996 due to political pressures from Indonesia.
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"Whatever reasons he (Ramos) was saying then, it was really due to family feud. There are two Ramoses, one went to Timor, the other to the Philippines. And we hated each other," Horta said smiling to the delight of the hundreds of students and professionals who trooped to the 7th floor of the Finster Hall.
Horta said the two Ramoses have, however, made peace with each other now as Fidel Ramos had already visited Timor back in 2006.
Second casualty of Horta's shaggy dog story was President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Horta told the audience that since elected as president of Timor in 2007, he has three and a half years remaining in power.
"Unless I run again for another 5-year term then maybe change the Constitution," Horta said as the crowd roared into laughter.
Horta was obviously referring to the attempt of President Arroyo's allies in Congress to a Charter change just so she could extend her cling to power.
Horta also revealed how he met with 12 gang leaders in Timor Leste so as to put stop to the neighborhood violence in his country. He said the 12 gang leaders agreed to stop violence, but few weeks later violence again occurred with only four out of the 12 gangs sticking to the agreement.
The Timor Leste president was perceived to be referring to the controversial memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Kidding aside though, the Timor president who wore a mao-collared grey suit said the Philippines has inspired Timor and the rest of the world that change is possible. Horta cited in particular the 1986 Edsa Revolution that catapulted Corazon Aquino to presidency.
"Cory and Ninoy (Aquino) inspired Timor that change is possible," Horta said.
Horta, a 1996 Nobel peace laureate awardee, was here in Davao City as part program of the "Bridges: Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace and International Peace Foundation" based in Bangkok, Thailand. (BOT)
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(January 16, 2009 issue)
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