Mamasapano and Laguna Mitsubishi–which locale is key to our future?

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LET us start with Mamasapano, the site of a bloody carnage that killed 44 officers of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF).

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During the Vietnam war, a powerful American TV documentary described the war-weary, blood-drenched site which served as the backdrop for the documentary this way: Here is a graveyard of lost hopes and shattered dreams.

The lost lives and shattered dreams perfectly describe Mamasapano. And more.

It will take years before Mamasapano can outlive its place in infamy, in a province already blackened by the reputation that it can slaughter dozens of journalists and innocent civilians at will and mutilate the bodies after the fact of the killing perhaps to demonstrate the banality of evil. No other place in the world, whether Taliban or ISIS-controlled, can ever claim it has slaughtered more journalists in a single event, in a single setting. Maguindanao is record-holder in hosting the worst assault on innocent journalists.

Even the most hardened workers for global groups that protect journalists are to this day baffled by the massacre of journalists in broad daylight and in a time of peace at that. Journalists who were covering, ironically, a part and parcel of the electoral process. And ask: Is this a country supposedly peopled by happy species more content than those in happy Denmark?

Mamasapano is our version of the heart of darkness, where rules and civility – and law and order — are cast aside, jettisoned, upon entering its boundaries. It is where convoys of the political warlords are free to run over civilians like stray dogs – then leave a token sum as just compensation for the merry killing. It is a place where the warlord-rulers regard public coffers as their own piggy banks, the vestal virgins of the COA be damned.

While some regions and provinces of the country have some areas where rules and civility are non-existent but have urbane, urban centers that function as levelers, Mamasapano and its environs are proud representatives of violence and impunity of a broader, improbable dimension.

TV and film are perhaps too shallow, too superficial and utterly incapable of capturing the kind of darkness that lurk in Mamasapano and its environs. On the sheer predisposition to violence and mayhem, it is the runaway leader.

On the day Mr. Aquino skipped the saddest of homecomings, the arrival in Manila of the fallen SAF officers, he was at the inauguration of a 21-hectare assembly plant of Mitsubishi Motors in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. That the Japanese vehicle giant acquired the plant abandoned by Ford Philippines, which shifted assembly elsewhere, was perhaps the reason Mr. Aquino graced the ceremony. The optics of an abandoned assembly plant, amid boasts that this is a country on the rise, would have been a downer for the growth-obsessed Mr. Aquino that nothing, not even the arrival of the caskets of SAF officers who died in service of the country, was deemed of more importance than the inauguration of the MMC plant.

From a conventional point, the president’s decision to attend an event of hope – instead of an event associated with mourning and tragedy – was the pragmatic choice of a leader who gets his high from nice growth charts and credit upgrades. The promises of the MMC plant are for real. By 2020 it is projecting to assemble 100,000 units of vans, AUVs and commercial vehicles a year at the plant.

By then, it is targeting an employment of close to 2,000 workers, all with skills that are marketable in a largely global job market.

The two locales offer a tale of two Philippines. The hopeful, 21st century imagery represented by the MMC plant and the depressing and desperate imagery (prevalent in a Third World basket case yet to shake off feudalism ) represented by Mamasapano.

Yet, if we come to think of it, the task of elevating the country into a truly 21st century country, a country with stable institutions, the rule of law, a vibrant civic culture, a strong middle class and modern infrastructure lies in turning around, transforming the pockets of Apocalypse Now like Mamasapano.

Investments such as the MMC plant do come and go, in line with the nature of investments seeking profit. But the transformation of areas such as Mamapasano is urgent and imperative. And life-changing.

The abject failure to pay attention to these depressed and desperate areas that suck in and attract the sowers of impossible violence who seek cover in seemingly-harmless acronyms (the FF in BIFF could mean Friends Forever) is enough to drag down the entire nation into fits of despair. The glory of GDP growth instantly loses luster. All that we have built for the future is for naught. As we have seen in the aftermath of the Mamasapano carnage, the heartbreaks and frustrations puts the nation on a virtual standstill.

The joy and goodwill that the papal visit generated was instantly wiped out by the blood spilled in the carnage. The most heart-rending scenes in contemporary broadcast journalism, after the footage of the journalists and civilians massacred more than five years ago in the same province, are now the footage of the medical gauze, empty plastic bottles, and shreds of the SAF uniforms that were the mute testament of a senseless loss of lives.

The haunting feeling of depression, that nothing in this sad country ever seems to go right, that the world always comes crashing down on us (which is how the Irish once felt about themselves) has haunted each and every one of us after the Mamasapano bloodbath. Even the reminders that we have to move on and build the peace, which is really what we ought to do, are only faintly heard by a mourning nation.

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10 Comments

  1. It is a grievous shame to have PNoy continue to REIGN like an absolute monarch, blaming and bribing others for his mistakes. It is indeed very shameful for the Filipinos to have a psychopathic leader like PNoy.

    What PNOY has been doing is shameful and unforgivable, unlawful (criminal) in nature. An arrest is duly warranted NOW. How many more shameful acts by PNoy must Filipinos endure?

  2. What is so hard to accept is that these Filipino SAF troopers have become like sacrificial lambs all for the whims and selfish desires of one person. What is sacred and honorable with this BBL by the way? Are the lives of 44 honest and loyal men as valuable as that?

  3. Yes we live in country where our leaders only do things to make themselves more money. We are a country lacking leaders for the common good. In 2016 we will have seen 6 years pass in which every year have gotten worse. We must elect people dedicated to improving the country and not their bank accounts and power.

  4. Let me put this in a bigger context. Do you believe in God? If you do then you must believe in His arch enemy the devil, because God said he exists. The bible says (Ephesians 6:11-12) ” Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the DEVIL’S SCHEMES. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the RULERS, against the AUTHORITIES, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” What is the armor of God? Isn’t it REASON? When you relinquish reason that is when you leave an opening for the devil to corrupt your intellect, making you believe that black is white, wrong is right, the suffering of real people matters not beside the right of the unborn and so on. Can you explain the irrational rush to hand over a large part of Mindanao to savages? No because evil is beyond rationalization. For the last 500 years since the time of Magellan the people of these islands have been brainwashed into abandoning reason in exchange for blind faith in some authority’s own self-serving definition of it. It goes without saying that to lift ourselves out of this bottomless pit we have to learn to use our God-given faculty of REASON NOT EMOTION to examine all issues, including whether this yellow ribbon regime should be extended some more or not, or is privatization really beneficial to the people or not, or should Mindanao be turned over to savages or not, to mention only three. After 500 years, our country is proof that the devil indeed never sleeps.

  5. Pnoy’s absence showed his guilt. As he was watching the massacre taken by the ai rial drone. Worst part was to give the order to stand down. Poor SAF pawns manipulated and brainwashed by Pnoy and his wannabes.

  6. Pity our nation and Republic, pity our children and their children, who will be born without a proper country because of the Aquino administration.

  7. We are a nation whose leaders and politicians are ever concerned only of their image, wealth and power and takes for granted the needs of its majority poor. Very far from the character of leaders from our rich neighbors who are more concerned of the common good of their people. Hence, any hint of scandal to their leaders will cause them to resign or commit suicide, but here, our leaders will use high caliber lawyers to fight their accusers up to their last breathe saying to hell with them.

  8. Roldan Guerrero on

    I would like to talk few thing about PM ABE of Japan. PM Abe had been elected by the DIET a decade ago, not this time, as this is the second time around he is again the Prime Minister of the Rising Sun. PM Abe is the only Japanese former Prime Minister ever brought back to the position. He resigned on a very light offense,not even considered offense,committed by his Foreign Minister who was attending a summit in Europe, and this was about drunkeness. The FM showed signs of hangover while in the conference. The incident drew flaks on foreign media descriving Japan having a drunkard FM. Immediately PM ABE shouldered responsibilities of the scandal created and he tendered irrevocable resignation as a costly penalty in payment of his alter ego`s mistake. Few days later, the Foreign Minister was found dead after committing HARAKIRI. Succession of Prime Ministers occurred, but all of the, 5 in all , within a decade, but all failed to do a turn-around of the ailing Japanese Economy. The trust of the Japanese people remained on Abe, such that he is again reinstalled after 10 yrs. Now, Japan is again back on its foot for fast Economic Recovery. PM ABE is a dignified leader, a leader who is ready to sacrifice his position at stake on the wrongdoings of his appointees. Much more on himself if ever he does something wrong surrounding his functions as a national leader. In the Philippines the incumbent leader, Benigno Simeon Aquino, despite having committed uncounted unforgiveable errors, the LUNETA TRAGEDY, THE ABUSE OF DAP, SHIELDING HIS ERRING ALLIES, BRIBING CONGRESS and SENATE, and NOW THE SAF 44 MASACRE, few to mention…..he still wants to stay in his position. WHAT KIND OF LEADER IS BENIGNO SIMEON AQUINO? You must, as a Filipino know him very well!