• Martial law forever?



    “THE Concerned Employees of PCSO” put out a full-page ad in The Manila Times’ December 30, 2017 issue. I assume these employees used their own money for the project, “An Open Letter to Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte,” which must have cost a bundle. Part of it says, “Mr. President, you have given us the opportunity to rise from the depths of incompetence that has [have?] plagued previous management for many years with your appointment of trusted and righteous leaders.” “Righteous” sounds sanctimonious and could be unfair to previous leaders.

    Charity begins at PCSO
    Accused of extravagance for holding a Christmas party costing P10 million, the current leadership retorted not so, only P6 million. I was reminded of Prez Cory telling prospective appointee X, “I am sorry, I cannot proceed with your appointment.” X asked, “but why not, Ma’am?” She explained, “because I was told you have 57 children.”

    Sheepishly, he mumbled, in hopes of salvaging the jeopardized appointment, “Ma’am, 43 lang po.”

    It seems the PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office) believes that charity begins at home. Current General Manager Alexander F. Balutan I admired for his courageous and principled stance a decade ago on the alleged 2004 election cheating.

    But, successors and their fans should prefer to say they will build on what their predecessors may have achieved, by laying down their own share of bricks in building some national cathedral. Indulging in the blame game is counter-productive. We have partly recovered—thanks to Cory, FVR, Erap, GMA and PNoy—from the massive mess the Marcoses inflicted.

    Violence goes north
    In 1965, Manny Pelaez warned that Macoy would have the violence of the north go south. We just had the sorry December 28, 2017 Mandaluyong tragedy. It seems we may now have the violence of the south go north under a Kill-Pa-More leadership, which saw and lauded that 32 were sent to the Promised Land in just one day in August last in Bulacan.

    Killer Dengvaxia? The well-meaning cannot be superior to the health department on matters medical. Strong points they may have but not the expertise and reputation of the World Health Organization, Johns Hopkins or Mayo Clinic, impervious to local politics.

    John Grisham’s 1999 Testament says that dengue fever is similar to malaria, for which there was no shot then, but not fatal. Of course, Grisham may be no medical expert either but given his prodigious research, what he writes is not to be shot down and dismissed casually. Digong seems to be understanding here; his ally, Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia, of the studious and accomplished Garcias of Cebu, is reported to have backed the use of the controversial vaccine during his watch.

    Digong, who is known to use fentanyl, deadlier than heroin, for his back pains, seems to dissemble though about the Marcoses’ alleged hidden ill-gotten wealth. With Macoy’s transfer to the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, he gave up a bargaining chip. Why will the Marcoses now bother to deal? They have a friendly Prez they can subtly jerk around; or so, they think. Let’s see who wins this high-stakes poker game. Digong has street savvy but the Marcoses are descended from a criminal genius, who declared martial law only in 1972. The evils the Palace now trumpets have been around since time out of mind but only Marcos and his fan, Digong, have used, and may have abused or misused, ML. Rape is seemingly being prevented by the timely consent of Congress and the imprimatur of the Supreme Court.

    If a lawyer is given time to file something, he may ask for an extension for the same or shorter period, not longer. The 1987 Constitution limits the initial period of ML to 60 days, showing its bias for human rights, the rule of law, and normalcy. It seems unreasonable, even somewhat absurd and aberrational (the Solgen says needlessly that our position is “asinine”), that an initial constitutional grant of 60 days of ML, beginning last May, the legislature could extend up to the end of 2017, and then a fresh extension of abnormality of up to the end of 2018. Ever so casually, it seems.

    Insurgency may have been a permanent problem of our race (or even of mankind) but it would not warrant extension after extension after extension of martial law. Normalcy is a desideratum. The civilian authority must be supreme over the military. No parity or even supremacy of the latter—so inimical to human rights.

    Human rights should also matter but reports on same have been muted in a regime honoring Marcos as deserving of burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. When 32 were killed in one day in Bulacan last August, Digong, licking his chops, said, Kill Pa More. That may have set the tone—life is cheap—for the December 28 Mandaluyong tragedy when a wounded woman being taken to a hospital was diverted to the Promised Land instead. We need to restore respect for human life and dignity. First the soldiers, then the cops, now the barangay tanod. The decay continues as civilians see and fear them as enemies. Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guardians?—Juvenal.

    We all share with our Bedan President his desire for unity. But, please, not unanimity, so he and Bato de la Rosa have to give up their Kill-Pa-More campaign, which only leads to Justice Jackson’s unanimity of the graveyard. Creative tension is good. Now every Tanod, Alat at Sundalong Putik would seem to implement a bloody population reduction program where human life and dignity mean little. The consequence we see in what happened in Mandaluyong.

    The lucky generation
    Not all is dire. From Mindanao, where my Bedan campus contempo and bosom pal Art Montesa has retired and lives happily, comes this delightful vignette he had received on how lucky we were/are, with some observations of mine, cum minor editing, in brackets. He and I were eds-in-chief of The Bedan.

    “A youngster,” Art narrates, “asked his grandfather. ‘Lolo, how did you people live before with NO technology [meron naman], internet, computers, air cons, mobile phones?’

    “Lolo replied: ‘It’s just like how your generation live today. No prayers, compassion, honor, respect, character, shame, or modesty. We who were born between 1940 to 1970 are the blessed ones.’ [I was born 1939, kaya angkas o bakas na rin.]

    “Our life is a living proof that while playing and riding bicycles, we never wore helmets. After school, we played until dusk. We never watched TV [it came in 1954 and I saw on it how our team, coached by Herr Silva, not some alien, beat Taiwan, 34-27, by freezing the ball from here to eternity, no time clock yet; no way I could get a ducat for love or money to enter the Rizal Memorial Oven for the 2nd Asian Games cage title tiff]. We played with real friends, not internet friends. If we ever felt thirsty, we drank tap water, not bottled water. We never got ill sharing the same glass of juice with our friends. We never gained weight eating plates of rice everyday. Nothing happened to our feet despite roaming barefooted. We never used any supplements to keep ourselves healthy. We used to create our own toys and play with them.

    “Our parents were not rich but they gave us love . . . not worldly, material things. We never had cellphones, DVDs, play stations, XBox, video games, personal computers, internet but we chat with real friends not with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. We visited our friends’ homes uninvited and enjoyed the food with them. Our relatives lived close by so family time was enjoyed [now they are scattered all over Metro Manila with its horrid traffic and the provinces, and even abroad]. We had black and white photos but you can find a lot of colorful memories in those photos [we spend/waste a lot of time with selfies, when not using CPs to communicate; conversation is in ICU, if not the morgue].

    “We are unique and the most understanding generation because we are the last generation who listened to our parents. Also, we are the first generation who have to listen to our children [foul-mouthed Digong’s granddaughter told her erpat what to do with himself; walang pagpitagan si Lolo and fruit never falls far from the tree; no success elsewhere can compensate for failure in the home, it has been said]. We are the limited edition! So please enjoy and learn from us. Most of all, please treasure us!!!”

    But, it was in this administration that December 8 became a non-working holiday in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mother. Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Digong cherishes a sainted mother like we all do. Rudyard Kipling wrote with some license that God cannot be everywhere—of course He can and is—so He made mothers.

    Today, many unwed brag about being preggy. Or mothers claiming to be virgins. Josme!

    Progress in technology while values sadly decay.


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