Patriots

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Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia

THERE are days when being a Filipino is oftentimes a hard act to do. Particularly on days when you want to be a law-abiding citizen and you see some undisciplined lout throw trash just anywhere, or enter a one-way street, or try to get one over another, to get ahead, to be first. But take a Filipino out of the country and just like that, he will assimilate and behave accordingly, you’d think that discipline was part of his DNA.

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Put that Filipino in public office and you see a different person altogether. In a clip of three years, you see him/her developing certain habits that see public office as personal property. The rent-seeking is excessive, and they continue with such behavior without remorse even when we already had the PDAF/DAP chapter in our character-building moment. Today, you see or hear some saying, “it is our money” and “we worked hard for it.” That is the sad tale of pork politics, despite a Duterte winning the presidency. Can you consider them patriots?

Consider a vehicle availing of valet parking on a Sunday with a plate saying “Office of Presidential Protocol” in front, and the back plate having the seal of the Republic in some contraption of power. Mind you, this vehicle really went for overkill with a sticker of the PSG. Is he a patriot?

How about newly appointed officials trying to make a fast one since their heyday may soon be over due to “health reasons or ouster,” are they patriots? Is corruption a character-defining event in public service that very few come out clean?

A patriot is “a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.” A patriot is a “person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the government.” A patriot is a nationalist, clear as day. But is a nationalist a patriot?

Can a patriot be for country and rue about martial rule? If one incites people to disobey the duly constituted government, are you a patriot? Can one be a patriot while destroying one’s country through coups, rebellion, terrorism and such crimes as defined under Republic Act 9372, or the Human Security Act of 2007, and the Revised Penal Code? Can journalists be patriotic even as they churn out false news or alternative truths? Or as they release a classified document to foreign media? Or act as a stringer and spin news in support of a certain goal? Are elected representatives of the people patriotic as they continue to plan the ouster of a duly elected President? Or when a cordon has been formed to run the day-to-day affairs of government because the elected leader chooses when he wants to govern? Or when individuals, learning the art and science of insidious propaganda for the past six years, using black and gray varieties, would today use ALT tactics with critical agencies and start issuing irresponsible contrasts just to paint a negative scenario against the incumbent, invoking free speech and democracy’s mantle as a cover for their manipulation?

Are people who allow the growth of terrorist cells in the country patriots? Take the case of Marawi City, which would not have been in such a bad state today if the terrorist cells had not been allowed to take root. Foxholes, heavy armaments, millions of cash and the like are combustible combinations that were allowed to develop, unlike in Inabanga, Bohol, where the community waved the red flag upon seeing motor boats landing in their area and decisively coordinated with their barangay and local police to dampen an explosive crisis. As it was close to Holy Week in Bohol then, in Marawi it was right smack in the middle of Ramadan. Would a patriot be religiously tolerant?

Since PRRD assumed the presidency, nationalism has become felt more. As others taunt Digong as being a “genius and great strategist” in the light of the recent New York Times and Forbes hammering our President very unfairly, we sometimes wonder if the framing done locally was induced by employment and tinted prisms, meant to project just one view. Nationalism in the Age of Digong is most welcome but nurturing and securing it will take a full term.

Nationalism is “loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially, a sense of national consciousness, exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations.” The Filipino consciousness is there but it will take more years for it to be the thread that binds the nation. This, despite 16 million voting for, standing by and defending Digong. They continue to stay engaged. A rarity in Philippine politics.

And then there are the 58 soldiers who died serving the flag, all patriots. They died because of country and duty. They died because they loved the country. How many of us are willing to do so for a chance to be a patriot? Talk is cheap, lives are not. Think about it.

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