Flickering light of a dying candle | Inquirer Opinion
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Flickering light of a dying candle

It is not new for us to consume crime stories 24/7. We wake up to news of accidents flashed on our TV screens and end the day with new cases of police brutality in some parts of the country. We got so used to it that, sometimes, they do not matter anymore.But for a civilian like me who is scared of going out, I always wonder—what if one day, what I see on the news happens to me?

It was my father who introduced me to watching the news every night. He told me that it is essential to be informed about what is happening around us.

Now that the world is more technologically advanced, the invention of smart devices and the internet changed how people consume, reflect, and react to information. News clips can be watched by people of all ages and can easily be shared to a larger audience.

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I have seen many news clips on the internet, most of which were shared by my Facebook friends. It is my habit to read other people’s comments every time I finish watching one. While some people blame the government for the increasing number of extrajudicial killings and police brutalities in the country, others are quick to point out that people must not be scared if they are not doing anything wrong. Some social media users quickly assume that the victims are drug users and deserve to be killed following the war on drugs imposed by the government.

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It is very alarming that politics has affected how people assess situations where the culture of victim-blaming is practiced. Some supporters of the administration do not believe in human rights anymore and, for them, the Commission on Human Rights is controlled by the opposition and must not be supported by the government. They trust the police force more.It was 2017 when 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos was shot by police officers in an anti-drug operation, believing he was a drug runner. This happened in the middle of the war on drugs by the previous administration. A year later, the three police officers involved in the killing were sentenced to reclusion perpetua with no possibility of parole for murder.

In the 2022 World Report of Human Rights Watch, various rights groups claim that around 12,000 to 30,000 were killed in the drug war. Kian is one of them; unlike him, most victims’ families are still searching for justice.

It’s terrifying to think that the police officers I once trusted to protect me from harm are the ones I should avoid. My father once told me to look for the nearest police station when I am in danger. Even in the hands of the authority, I do not feel safe.

In 2022, Filipino radio broadcaster Percy Lapid was shot to death while on his way home. A year later, Juan Jumalon, another radio broadcaster, was shot dead during his show’s live broadcast. These add up to the increasing number of journalists killed in the country.

These cases are just a few of the many stories told in traditional and new media. While some of the cases were given justice, it does not erase the fact that the threat to peace and security is still out there, lingering on someone else’s skin, waiting for another Filipino to get killed and be reported in the next day’s breaking news.

Individually, we cannot solve these problems since we need the authority and power to do so. How can we end this threat? Good governance. We must have a clean government free of corruption, killings, and brutalities. But since these cannot be wiped out overnight and most of the nation is continuously cheering on false promises and dancing public officials, we are still far from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

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Police officers are expected to protect the nation. Journalists are expected to expose and tell the truth fearlessly. With the increasing number of police officers killing innocent people and journalists being killed, who do we rely on to safeguard the truth and safety of Filipinos now that the tables have turned?

Our hope is like the flickering light of a dying candle. We are only a few big crimes away from choosing to leave this country and move to a safer land. But while there is still light flickering in the hopes of Filipinos, may the minorities continue to be resilient until everyone stands and fights the broken system we have had for many years.

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Nathaniel Magpantay, 28, works as an assistant professor in a tertiary school in Batangas. He earned his master’s in communication arts at the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

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