Defiant diplomat

The ink on the most recent US travel warning to the country’s troubled south had hardly dried up when no less than its top official here defied it.

Ambassador Kristie Kenney went last weekend into the “lion’s den.” Thus, she became the first US top official to ever visit Moro separatists at its stronghold in Shariff Kabunsuan in Mindanao.

The visit was “private” yet the diplomat urged leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, blamed for many violent incidents in the south, to resume peace talks with the Manila government.

Her visit proves that it is safe to travel to even the most “feared areas” in the Moro heartland.

I say those officials at the US State Department issuing travel advisories should go back to their drawing boards. Their envoy here is one of the frequent travelers to Mindanao.

Incidentally, this Indonesian consul feels safer in Davao and Mindanao than in Jakarta, Los Angeles or New York.

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Peaceful Davao del Sur

I was in Davao del Sur yesterday for the birthday of my wife’s nephew in Digos City, 55 km south of Davao City.

After lunch, we proceeded to my in-laws farm in Sta. Maria, another 35 km south, where we witnessed the death of a young tarsier found by farm hands.

Other than that tragic loss, the province was a complete serene greenery of mango, coconut and sugar plantations. No troubles at all.

That is why I fully agree with its governor, Dodo Cagas, that the recent travel advisory of the Canadian Government was baseless.

I am certain that those bureaucrats in Ottawa have not been to this peaceful place. And yet they decide the fate of not just travelers but the whole province.

(5:42 a.m.)