Arrest Jose Rizal
I belong to the ROTC generation. Don’t even get me to define what the acronym stands for. There is no need. Every Saturday morning we woke up early to report in our green military uniforms, only to endure not just martial drills under the sun’s heat, but insults and invectives from our officers. To my mind, mostly bullies and braggarts wanted to become ROTC officers.
One drill day, I had to report to the school’s ROTC headquarters. The lower ranked were required to knock and say something like “Sir, may I enter, Sir!” My military entreaty, instead, became a pain in the neck for the officer. He, the battalion commander, was right there behind the half-ajar door in a compromisingly intimate position with his cadette sponsor of a girlfriend. Abuse of office truly begins in small ways. End of imaging ROTC as love for country.
Sen. Ronald dela Rosa makes the essentialism that “your love for your country is measured by your love for ROTC.” Well, that is not the love that I saw in that ROTC office. Fact: ROTC was abolished because money collected from students went to military corruption.
If the Senate has sunk to lower depths in recent years, expect it to be a dog pound in the next three years. I am being kind; in fact, it will be a descent into barbarism. That is the danger of putting small minds in the Senate. If they do not chortle for words, they mismanage their anger as if they had diarrhea in the session hall, or simply parrot the braggadocio of their populist leader.
Consider, for example, Dela Rosa’s unilinear mind.
When the iskolar ng bayan Raoul Manuel, president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines, referenced Dela Rosa’s shocker on giving convicted rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez a “second chance,” the new senator raged.
“Ang layo mo, ang layo mo, ang layo mo (You are off-topic)” was all I could remember him reiterating. And then, the Dutertismo line: “If China will attack us, who will defend us, the NPAs?” Anti-China militants Indonesia and Vietnam have never been attacked yet, nor even threatened with nuclear war
by China. We expect senators to read the geopolitics of the day, not parrot propaganda bogeys designed to induce 104 million Filipinos into ignorance. Taxpayer money puts food on his table. Anytime we ask for accounting, we do so. That was what the brilliant student leader meant. By the way, Manuel graduated summa cum laude in applied mathematics. It was a fated match.
But the question begs. Why, indeed, Dela Rosa’s instant defense of Sanchez, who was caught with P1.5-million worth of “shabu” in prison? As Bureau of Corrections director, was Dela Rosa a coddler of drug lords in the New Bilibid Prisons? Does he even know that he is contradicting himself? The death penalty was, in fact, in place during Sanchez’s sentencing. But it was Leo Echegaray who got the death sentence, not the influential and landed Calauan mayor, whose family remains in power until today.
Then, we have Dela Rosa’s solution to student activism — militarize universities. Can he even count how many universities we have, that the private ones outnumber the state institutions?
The academe must not be other than what it is, even as far back as the Socratic era: an arena of ideas. Ideas are immune from death, unlike the victims of Dela Rosa’s favorite portmanteau “tokhang.” Ideas are defended in the bar of public opinion. Kill the advocates, but the idea lives.
Activism is not necessarily bad. Women’s suffrage would not have been here today had it not been for suffragettes who advocated what was once thought of as an outlandish idea—women in the polls. Mindanao Moro suffrage would not have come in the 1950s (they had no rights of suffrage previously) had it not been for Moro leaders who advocated for it through their activist writings and political push.
Dela Rosa once claimed that he is a kin of the national hero Jose Rizal through a common ancestor named Ines dela Rosa. Talk about imagined genealogies. But for his puerility and silly ideas (“Shit happens”), let us oblige him with an equally senseless proposal: arrest his activist cousin Jose Rizal.
On Twitter: @AntonioJMontal2. Email: [email protected]
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