‘Executive Secretary Paquito Diaz’By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Ochoa sports a clean look, nerdy eyeglasses, salt and pepper hair.
The other Paquito sported a mustache, appeared very much the villain he was in roles cast against filmdom’s action king, the late Fernando Poe Jr.
There’s a whale of a difference between the two Paquitos, but Gen. Jessie Dellosa, the outgoing chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, was apparently overwhelmed by the moment at the turnover of command Thursday at Camp Aguinaldo as he acknowledged the presence of dignitaries at the grandstand.
Dellosa began, of course, greeting President Aquino, former President Fidel Ramos, Vice President Jejomar Binay, then … “The Honorable Executive Secretary Paquito Diaz…”
A collective silence gripped the audience. Then gales of laughter broke out.
Ochoa, normally serious, flashed a smile, then yelled “Ochoa!”
President Aquino was grinning, seemingly amused.
Dellosa looked back, touched his left temple as if in disbelief and embarrassment.
“I’m sorry sir, Paquito Ochoa…” Dellosa said with a smile. Dellosa’s middle name, incidentally, is Diaz.
After the blooper, Dellosa turned to his speech. He recalled the differences in the military when he was a young lieutenant and now as a retiring general.
Dellosa remembered that he became an officer during the martial law years and victory at the battlefront was measured in terms of enemy body count.
“Today, the AFP stands at critical crossroads in a very important chapter in the history of our nation,” Dellosa said, noting the “tangible process in peace negotiations with internal threats.”
When the name of the game used to be “destroy the enemy,” Dellosa said the current counterinsurgency campaign “provides a different way of viewing the role of the AFP in internal security.”
“It brings to the national and local levels the need for a common understanding of the nature of conflict to impress on fellow stakeholders that ‘winning’ the peace is a collective effort,” Dellosa said.
In his speech, Mr. Aquino said he hoped that Dellosa would look back at those years in the military not as a “Calvary” but an opportunity for leaving a priceless legacy of public service.
Mr. Aquino praised Dellosa’s bravery as a soldier and commander of the Special Reaction Unit of the Presidential Security Group when his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, was besieged by coup attempts.
He recalled the time when Dellosa was a young Scout Ranger and a round from an M203 hit a tree. It exploded near Dellosa and shrapnel hit his face.
“Instead of panicking, he exemplified calm and courage when he removed the shrapnel from his face. It was said that he did not even scream in pain,” Aquino said.
More fit at 56
Mr. Aquino said although Dellosa was turning 56 years old on Sunday, “He looks more fit than most of us here,” prompting laughter in the audience.
“In our shooting tournaments, I would still catch my breath after running but Jessie would already be firing his gun,” the President said.
Mr. Aquino said that the legendary stories about Dellosa might even be stuff for a bio-film.
If that movie flies, unfortunately, Paquito Diaz would no longer be around to be Dellosa’s nemesis.