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Wishes for ‘the peace of Christ’

/ 12:07 AM December 24, 2014

Let’s keep our thoughts and prayers on Metro Manila Development Authority traffic enforcer Sonny Acosta, who is still in a coma in a private hospital after being run over by a motorist on Edsa last Friday (Acosta died Tuesday afternoon—Ed.).

Charges have been filed against the motorist, one Mark Ian Libunao, who was traced to Bulacan after the owner of the SUV he was driving pointed to him as the one behind the wheel at the time of the incident.

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Acosta had flagged down Libunao after spotting the SUV in a lane meant for provincial buses. When he approached the driver and stuck his arm inside the vehicle to get Libunao’s license, the driver suddenly raised the vehicle’s window and sped away, dragging the traffic constable a short distance before he fell and was run over.

The crime is shocking not just because of its grave consequences and the brazenness with which it was carried out. It is all the more disturbing because it comes right on the heels of the encounter between Joseph Russel Ingco, who was driving a Maserati when he was stopped for a violation by MMDA traffic enforcer Jorbe Adriatico. Ingco struggled with Adriatico who was taking his license (and taking a video of him on his cell phone), giving the enforcer a broken nose before speeding away.

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Is this latest incident part of a pattern of incivility, if not criminal behavior, on the city’s streets?

I do hope the authorities stick to their guns in the case against Libunao, as well as against Ingco, if only to demonstrate their resolve that motorists who tangle with traffic enforcers must face the consequences. To allow the cases to go the way of most altercations—settled with an apology or cash settlement, and everyone walking away—would open the door to more incidents of abuse against officers tasked with keeping order in our chaotic streets.

True, traffic snarls can try the patience of most commuters and drivers, but abusing enforcers and ignoring their authority is not the answer. We might as well accede to living in a jungle.

* * *

Soon after the cheery celebrations of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day—and maybe even during these holidays—our thoughts will be turning toward greeting the New Year.

And for many Filipinos the New Year jubilation will most likely be marked with noise, from cardboard and tin horns, pots and pans, fireworks, and, most alarmingly, with gunfire.

We have the memory of 7-year-old Stephanie Nicole Ella to thank for our continuing unease. She died in the midst of the New Year’s Eve revelry last year, while she was enjoying the sights and colors of the celebration just outside her front door. Stephanie Nicole died from a stray bullet, her killer still at large since authorities found both legal and illegal firearms in more than a dozen homes in her neighborhood, and a lower court dismissed the case for lack of evidence against those charged.

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And the real, greater tragedy is that Stephanie Nicole was not alone. Some 40 victims were reportedly hit by stray bullets, and about 700 people were reported injured in firecracker accidents last New Year’s Eve and in the days surrounding it.

Indeed, deaths from careless gunfire and heedless use of pyrotechnics have become so common they have ceased to shock or rouse strong feelings. What will it take before we see an end to guns and explosives being set off to welcome the New Year? How many more Stephanie Nicoles will have to lose their lives before we as a people say “Enough!”?

* * *

Maybe all it will take are enough Catholics and Filipinos of other faiths simply to commit to “Christ’s Gift of Peace.”

Nandy Pacheco, one of the lay initiators of an apostolate called “Movers of Christ’s Peace,” says this “peace” is based on the scriptural passage where Christ told believers (in John 14:27): “Peace I leave with you. My Peace I give to you. Not as the world gives I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled or afraid.” This “peace,” Pacheco adds, can be broken down into the gifts of “love, truth, justice, forgiveness, reconciliation and nonviolence.”

If only all of us accepted this kind of “peace,” perhaps there would no longer be any war, terrorism, violence or hatred in this world. But instead, argues Pacheco, we have embraced “the peace that the world gives,” which he describes as a peace “based on arms and more arms, and on the discarded principle of ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’”

So what then should we do if we want ourselves, and others, too, to accept and commit to “Christ’s Gift of Peace”?

* * *

Three commitments are outlined for those interested:

One, “accept Christ’s peace and pledge to live it out through love, truth, justice, forgiveness, reconciliation and nonviolence.”

Two, “reject the peace the world gives based on arms and more arms, and on the discarded principle of ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’”

And three, “when greeting or saying goodbye, say ‘Christ’s peace be with you’ so as to distinguish it from the ‘peace the world gives.’”

Something tells me it would take more than this—and more heroic efforts—to bring “Christ’s peace” to all corners of the world, to end all wars, to feed the hungry and cure the sick, to bring justice to the oppressed. But it makes for a sure, sure-footed first step.

So in greeting you all and wishing you a merry celebration tonight and in the days to follow, let me add my wish for peace, for Christ’s peace, in our hearts and in our world.

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TAGS: Jorbe Adriatico, Joseph Russel Ingco, Mark Ian Libunao, Metro Manila Development Authority, MMDA, MMDA traffic enforcer, Movers of Christ’s Peace, nandy Pacheco, New Year’s Eve, Sonny Acosta, Stephanie Nicole Ella, stray bullet
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