PREZ Digong alarmingly and needlessly cut short by a day his trip to Russia and took the mic energetically on arrival for another rambling performance. He talked of martial law (ML) in Mindanao where the vilified Muslims have been persecuted for centuries.
Those of us born in the last century may have fading memories of ML of 1972. Indeed, how many of us remember, or even just know about the Jolo massacre of February 7-8, 1974 when 20,000 Muslim, Christian, Chinese, etc. lives were lost? (A PMA alum, No. 3 in his class, who joined the Navy and had attended Rizal High with me, first told me about the Jolo assault during ML.) Or the Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat bloodbath of September, 1974, when 1,500 Muslims were dispatched to paradise? Martyrs.
The captive press was silent then, not possible today, given modern technology and militancy.
In our time, Joker Arroyo, Teddy Boy Locsin and I took bullets for Prez Cory. She may speak for a few minutes and then leave it to us or the Cabinet in general to clarify, elaborate or nuance.
But, how Digong loves the mic. Asked a simple short question, he would meander, ramble and cuss (PI! leche, gago, buang, etc.) and leave it to his confused subalterns to explain what he really meant to say. Cussing is not policymaking. And clenched fist is a human rights salute of victims, not of the oppressors. Mga uto-uto. Sipsip.
Now his Cabinet will have to deal with the warning to spread ML to Visayas and even Luzon, hoping to calm down our kin and friends abroad. There are also the investors, tourists and retirees who may need reassurance, let alone conservative Muslims who may be radicalized by a Marawi or Mindanao bloodbath in a faraway place with a strange-sounding name. Terrorism is now global. Not prudent to provoke needlessly with kanto boy braggadocio.
To deal with evacuees and refugees we may need outside help, which Digong rejects, on the supposed advice of Sonny Dominguez, if there are human rights strings attached. Mild-mannered Sonny, a closet hawk? No donor would donate just because we are such nice guys. Gifts come with conditionalities, within reason, and human rights concerns are not beyond it, from our tiny places in the sun. Yet, Digong even wants us decapitated.
Sadly, Digong’s advisers are echoes, not voices, mainly from our common alma mater. “These days, Lex Talionis, Lex Leonum and alumni of San Beda College of Law have formed a united front behind Mr. Duterte, their most famous graduate.” (Special report, Bond of brothers, PDI, May 21, 2017). “Most well-known,” perhaps?
Leila de Lima and I are also Bedan lawyers with a bias for human rights. We wish the President well, for his success is everyone’s. We are not however behind, but in front of, to question and confront, him, if you will, on his attitude towards us, human rights advocates.
Yup, he now wants us decapitated? Rhetoric from the powerful may have a powerful influence on human conduct. He may be our law school’s “most famous graduate,” per the Special Report. But, if of the entire institution, I would nominate Ninoy Aquino, whose salvaging led me to know Digong’s admirably brave Mom, Ma’am Soledad, Tia Soling with whom I marched in Davao in protest over that game-changing August 21, 1983 extrajudicial murder. (An aunt of mine was also named Soledad, a market vendor in Pasig, who I assisted in a mini-stall near hers. I sold eggs as a franchisee, ha ha.)
Ninoy helped Cory and Noynoy to be Numero Uno. Honeylet? Sara? Josme!
Lex talionis of the Old Testament marked a progressive liberal step eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth, for exact equivalence, from a higher baleful 7-1, even, 77-1, exchange rate. But, the New Testament introduced the law of charity, of forgiveness, of turning the other cheek. I co-led the fight against the return of the rape-the-rapist anti-poor death penalty in my time in the Senate (1987-1992).
This penalty is one of several areas where the bloodthirsty Prez should change course, with his frat brothers, for all of whom I wish the best and the finest during their watch, for our people’s sake.
But, the war should be against poverty, not the poor. St. Thomas More said: “No penalty on earth will stop people from stealing, if it is the only way of getting food.” Sadly, Digong’s brods seem to be echoes, not voices, who do not appreciate More who counselled: “It would be far more to the point to provide everyone with some means of livelihood.” What the administration has done in livelihood I have not seen where I move about (limited, cuz of my health issues).
Thus, at 77, and ailing (St. Peter or Satan may get tired of my repeated motions to call later or to postpone; can go any time, like anybody else, including Digong), I can say that a most vital lesson I have learned in life, even if I have not always been able to live by it, is to be kind, not arrogant, and not make enemies where we can make no friends, per Don Claro M. Recto. I won’t be harsh. Harshness against the Muslims has not worked across the centuries. They remain our brothers and sisters.
How has the administration done now in a little over a month in its first year, with understandable rookie errors? Good that the death penalty will not now be taken up partly cuz Manny Pacquiao is busy training and reading Genesis. There may be something here for the ethics panel but I doubt if anyone in the Senate cares about the glaring impropriety in Manny’s misconduct. Kapakanang pansarile, di pambayan? Taga-Mindanao pa naman. Mga Datu, di datong.
Anyway, for Digong, In traffic, total failure. Bokya. It is worse than a year ago. No emergency powers please, like EJKing the first jaywalkers and reckless drivers.
Are we better off after a year? Did we have a Marawi situation last year?
Of course, Russia would say it is not interested in the power situation here. In 1905, Japan beat the Russkies. In 1979, Vietnam beat back China, with 30,000 casualties, both sides. Earlier, Vietnam defeated France and the US..
Japan and Vietnam—may puso. Do we? Only against druggies, who are sick, not criminals. Digong is to me like how Churchill described Russia, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
If Marawi will serve as a laboratory for Digong’s private population reduction program, heaven help us.
Now, Digong shoots down Harvard men and Yalies. If Digong questions the British royalty’s past, he may even say the one behind Yale was a slave-owner, as Jefferson was, who romanced a black slave, Sally Hemmings.
Digong, in a not unusual tantrum a week ago, in Davao City, talked about Ivy Leaguers and our ancestors. He blasted us as “buang, PI!, leche,” and said he could toy with us.
At Harvard, I learned that one thing a university should teach, is that poverty is respectable. In San Beda, lo cortes no quita lo valiente. Courtesy does not detract from valor.
Digong has to widen and improve his vocabulary so that his allies would not have too much trouble deciphering and clarifying what he means.
China does not bully Vietnam, which defeated France and the US and fought China to a deadlock in 1979, incurring casualties of 30,000 (both sides). Here, we lose 44 attackers in Mamasapano and the finger-pointing has yet to cease—with government not caring for the Muslim victims, including Sara, 5, and other innocent Muslim civilians, which may partly explain Marawi. We have not defeated any major or minor power, with our long story as colony until we in the Senate decided to end our status as America’s last plantation. But, we did not “unfriend” America.
Better the devil we know, than one we don’t.
Just give us money, no questions asked? What about an awakened dragon saying not to raise the West Philippines issue or war? Do we tremble with Digong? Vietnam didn’t, but resisted, and wasn’t defeated.
We have a long history of captivity and slavery, which we thought we ended on September 16, 1991, when we in the Senate then terminated, by voting “NO!” the US bases.
Digong should talk less, his Cabinet, more, and take the bullets. They should be voices, not echoes. Di siya lang lagi ang bida.
And thank you Gemma Nemenzo for “The greatest Marcos horror story never told,” through the eyes of a Moro filmmaker, on Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat. “Even as the AFP denies the existence of the massacre, according to [Teng] Mangansakan [II], the survivors still await reparation from the Commission on Human Rights for the loss of lives and property suffered by the villagers, now 42 years to this day.”
Marcosian. Now Dutertesque? Susmariano!