The massive build-up called “Build, Build, Build” – like any and all major government programs – was designed not to erect physical monuments under the name and in honor of Mr. Duterte. I do not think Mr. Duterte harbors a grandiose dream of being remembered as a builder of physical things. He calls every big house a “palace” and he himself lives in a modest residence.
At its loftiest version, the P9 trillion infra program was designed to give the likes of Kian de los Santos and Carl Angelo Arnaiz better lives.
Better mobility. Access to the web and basic transportation, which may translate into access to economic and social opportunities. Build things so that the generation of Kian and Carl can get past a metropolis of frayed and outdated infrastructure system. Build things to make life easier for the next generation. Build things to enhance the grand doctrines of boosting social mobility and meritocracy.
The incumbent government always builds with the next generation in mind.
All governments do. Even the nuclear development program of Stalinist North Korea, though morbid and dangerous, is designed – in the bizarre reckoning of its weirdo leaders with bad haircuts – to keep the next generation of North Koreans safe. Dear Leader Kim is nuclear-arming for the next generation of his proudly Stalinist nation.
Both Kian and Carl appeared to have done what is necessary to become deserving beneficiaries of that program – until, the tragic snuffing out of their dreams for a better life.
The last words of Kian, before he was murdered in cold blood, were these: May test pa po ako bukas. He was to take the school exams that would measure his comprehension and critical thinking and numeral skills. The tests that would enable him to move up to the next grade, then the next, till college would beckon, the last hurdle before facing the real world.
The plea fell on deaf ears. The response from the supposed protectors of the law was one bullet pumped after another into the most fatal parts of the body to guarantee an instant kill, which, in turn, killed the dreams of Kian to get past the Caloocan City alleys into a better life.
Carl, the student, was used to passing exams, the toughest ones that are hurdled by only the best and the brightest. He ranked second in the Makati Science entrance exam. The public science high schools in the country have this reputation: the guaranteed passing of the tough UPCAT, or the UP college admission test. Indeed, according to records, Carl was one of the 3,800 admitted to UP Diliman, the flagship campus. For the record, a total of 83,000 took that entrance exam.
Depression cut short his stay at UP Diliman. But even that low moment in his life, according to his family, did not push him to stray into the wrong path of life. A small store became his life, plus tutoring his young next of kin on the side.
The version of the police was this: He tried to shoot it out with the police after a bungled robbery attempt. The same Carl who, in real life, kept to himself and avoided toy guns was the fictional Carl gone rouge, a robber and gunslinger who deserved a gruesome death. The police version was a tall tale so grounded on lies that it failed the immediate test of credibility.
If the impunity does not stop and young men like Kian and Carl would be murdered senseless in a never-ending cycle of official viciousness, then what is the purpose of modernizing the infrastructure, improving the quality of education and our schools, tweaking governance to rein in the corruption and putting in place a better health system?
What, then, is the purpose of nation-building?
All of these purposeful major undertakings of government are not for us, the old people, who are content with what we’ve got and whatever little else life has to offer in the remaining days. Give us our discounts and we are okay. We are at the point of living in stasis. The grand programs have the young in mind, those with agile minds and strong bodies – those capable of reaching the fullness of their potentials. Those called by Rizal as the inhabitants of the present and the future.
And the police are slaughtering them, executing them in cold blood. Then they make up stories to make it appear those killed were young but wayward and wasted.
They literally slaughtered the 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman, the teen who was with Carl on the tragic night of August 17. A timid introvert and a scrawny 14-year-old were the specific targets of the kind of law enforcement gone off rail, beyond the law and in the absolute realm of evil. Just how many stab wounds could a kid that frail and undernourished body of Reynaldo absorb? The NBI is looking into that. At the last count, it was 30 stab wounds.
What if your kids were in their place?
The trolls are busy making false equivalencies, premised on the supposed lack of outrage over the evil done by crazed drug addicts. When the police do it, according to this barely sane view of the world, it triggers outrage across the board. But are not the police supposed to “serve and protect?” Are the addicts not expected to do their worst?
The trolls skirt this issue. What if the killing of the young does not stop? We will have a hollowed-out nation, with the young absent, and a future that is meaningless.