Not an ordinary day, Mr. President
Jan. 29 was no ordinary day. But President Aquino skipped honoring the arrival of 42 of the fallen men of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force who sacrificed their lives in search of deadly terrorists. The President is supposed to be the father of this nation, and those dead soldiers are the sons of the republic. But he was not there. What is wrong, Mr. President?
Indeed, the President has again shown how and why he is a classic case of a failed statesman. While his minions might continue to trumpet the economic numbers propelled by contributions from overseas Filipino workers that have put the country temporarily back on track in the growth path, the problem is that he knows not what true statesmanship is all about. By choosing to be with businessmen on that day, he has shown which side he will be at when the question in the ultimate struggle between the rich and the poor is finally asked.
Mr. Aquino is acting, to use a phrase from Michel Foucault, as if he were “a docile human body,” so mindlessly obedient to the demands of the ruling few, to which he unarguably belongs. He is the President and he cannot be dictated to by schedules prepared by people we do not even know. It is what matters to this country that should put him wherever he is needed. But that was not the case on that forgettable day of his presidency.
It is not an overstatement to say that Mr. Aquino has forgotten the dead because he is a slave of the old order. He is not one with the poor and the downtrodden. Those policemen are the children of the revolution championed by Andres Bonifacio. The President and those who continue with their caprice and usury in this forsaken land indeed exemplify what the dominant class has wrongly profited from the blood of the revolution.
Indeed, the dictatorship of our former colonial masters has simply metamorphosed into the kind of state that the Philippines as a nation and Filipinos as a people have become. We are at war against each other. We are a nation totally divided.
Beyond any of the practical speculations many among us can muster, the fact of the matter is that Mr. Aquino possibly chose not to be there during the arrival honors for the dead because power dictates that history should be defined by the triumph of the strong over the weak. Since time immemorial history books have taught generations how to remember only the victors; the vanquished are left behind in the garden of infinite despair.
The blood of poor martyrs water every country’s lonely grave. Every child is often told that whenever one fights for human freedom, one shall not have died in vain. But whose freedom are we talking about? The poor—soldiers and peasants—are nothing to the elite. Mr. Aquino has stated at one time that it is not in his character to attend the wake of people he does not know. Indeed, to the ruling class, the children of the poor are unknown.
For many centuries, the poor and uneducated Filipino has been forced to believe in the weakness of his intellect. Many of the learned few among us accuse the poor of being irrational, negative and choosy beggars. Yet, is it really wrong to put into suspicion the actions of a dominant class that has corrupted and stolen from us the future of our children?
According to Fr. Vitaliano Gorospe, “injustice is caused in great part by the imbalance of power between the rich few and the masses of the people.” This is the real meaning of violence. Like a dead policeman, we can also find this violence in the servitude of the poor peasant who toils and sacrifices his life for something that he won’t be able to enjoy or the domestic helper who has to leave her own child to care for another.
Christians are not the only victims in the wrong war that our policemen and soldiers are fighting. The fact of the matter is that the unjust prejudice or bias against Muslims has also resulted in the alienation of a group of people, both socially and economically. Religion is not our enemy. Human greed is the real enemy. What this implies is that our wrong generalizations about a culture and religion somehow hide the harsh truth that Muslim Filipinos are also victims of oppression, something that our majority culture or religion has been neglecting all along.
Our children are irresponsibly brainwashed in school. In the end, they, too, will serve our colonial gods whose kingdom is found in those high-rise buildings. While some young man is busy understanding the meaning of “being,” a child in Basilan or Sulu is just learning how to actually fire a gun. They belong to a single humanity that has been taught that love is universal, but they have two different lives so divided by conflict and mistrust!
In the end, we must say our silent prayers. Those policemen did not die in vain. They did not, for the ultimate honor and glory come from God and not from one man. The greater glory of God means that as a people, we do truly honor and value the sacrifices others have made for us in the name of freedom. This, we shall remember!
Christopher Ryan Maboloc teaches philosophy at Ateneo de Davao University. He has a master’s degree in applied ethics from Linkoping University in Sweden.
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