Monday, December 8, 2008

Did they all deserve to die?

Those killed are hardened and heartless criminals and they deserve to die," said Police NCR Director Leopoldo Bataoil, after a shoot-out with the criminals transpired in ParaƱaque the other day. I have no quarrel with that.

But the shootout also resulted in the death of six civilians, among them a seven-year old girl and her father, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The police mistook their vehicle as one of the criminals’ get-away vehicles, and simply opened fire, hitting the little girl who was seated on the front, beside her father. The terrified father got out of the stopped car and ran, seeking cover from the gunfire. He sought shelter beneath a stalled truck, but the policemen still fired at him, according to bystanders. A grenade launched by the criminal gang killed a truck helper and an unidentified companion, while a security guard was caught by stray fire, or so the early reports said. SPO2 Nixon Vinasoy was also killed, and fighting for his life in a hospital is Police Superintendent Eleuterio Gutierrez, chief of the PNP Task Force Limbas.

I reserve further comment until we get to the facts of this terrifying encounter. The Commission on Human Rights announced that it will investigate. Suffice it to say at this point that things do not look too good for recently-appointed PNP chief Jesus Versoza, the fair-haired favorite of Ronaldo Puno. Barely two weeks after he took over from Sonny Razon, the "euro generals" fiasco came up, where his own wife was part of the gallivanting delegation. Lie after lie emanating from Puno, Versoza, Eliseo de la Paz, and so many other police generals were fed to an angry and disbelieving public. Then, barely two months in office, Versoza’s SAF and other policemen kill innocent civilians in an encounter with "hardened and heartless" criminals.

Those Tondo istambays who drink "ador-ador" along with pulutan of "bargaso," some kind of stew using purloined cow innards from the Vitas slaughterhouse, would wryly observe, "mukhang ina-alat ang hepe ng mga alat".


So many reacted to our previous columns and I have to do some of them the justice of being read:

Reader Rene V said, "I would like to tell the Ambassador of Thailand that I envy the Thais when it comes to their ability to effect political change over a short period of time. I envy the Thais the way they exercise their political rights. I envy the Thais for their patriotism, I envy their aggressiveness to pursue what is good on matters that affect the welfare of their country.

"Truly, shame on us for we are so ineffective in dealing with the blatant corruption, cheating, and stealing in our current I wish we can act and do the same as what the Thais did recently. That is what true freedom and true people power is about." (I deleted his description of MalacaƱang deputy spokesperson Golez, who another columnist, my friend Conrad de Quiros, called a "cretin").


Meanwhile, Ramon from California wrote: "I just would like to say ditto to what you said in your article, "Shame on us" (where you said) that destabilizing this abominable government is a an act of patriotism. You hit the nail right on the head. We here continue praying for you are not alone."


A top-notch lawyer wrote: "Sa totoo lang, it is GMA who is immature." Ouch, coming from someone she knows very well.


On the current drive for cha-Cha by Con-Ass, Boy of Davao has this to say: "There is no doubt that the same members of the House will run as MP’s, and knowing how elections are won in this benighted land of ours (have you noticed how more and more writers are using this favorite adjective we use to describe the country?) we will see them back in power. And before I forget, guess who will be the new prime minister. Of course it shall be the honorable ???lady??? from Pampanga.

"A new Constitution will not make the Philippines great nor will it solve the ills and problems of our country if we will have the same people running the government".


All the way from Germany, Mon Mayuga writes that "to those who have been telling me that complaints, criticisms, letters of protest and campaigns to force this corrupt regime will not effect the change that we need, we say that apathy, indifference, complacency, inaction, resignation and silence would only prolong our misery, nourish their greed, embolden them to be greedier, to harrow and to plunder."

"They would only interpret our silence as acquiescence."


Another wrote: "What’s happening there in the Philippines is beyond comprehension. It’s difficult to understand why people there just simply allow themselves to be fooled by some selfish politicians who are supposed to be their servants and the stewards of the country’s resources. Presently, I am comfortably living here in Canada. Thank God, I was able to bring my family here as immigrants in 2004 for the good of my family because (the) situation there was not getting any better even then. Nonetheless, I still continuously follow developments there. And I feel nauseous reading in the papers about the endless blatant manipulations being done by our own government headed by no less than the president at the expense of the Filipino people. And I feel sympathetic to the very pitiful situation of the ordinary Filipino people who suffer as a result, and who do not simply care being systematically robbed continuously by selfish politicians of their rights and opportunities to live decent, comfortable lives. Ang masasabi ko lang ay panahon na para kumilos!"


A reader from Isabela: "Some say the present Philippine condition today is still bearable. Well, really? For God’s sake, let’s stop fooling ourselves…Enough of the rhetoric, enough to word wars. Let’s act now. Let’s show our displeasure on the present condition with our preparedness and willingness to sacrifice our lives in the course of fighting for what’s good. Let’s plant a seed for "2010 Para Sa Pagbabago". Let’s come up with a core group of strong 2,010 people consisting of change-oriented who are well placed in society. This group will lead in the movement carrying a slogan of "Walang Uwian Ano Pa Man Ang Mangyari!" to that effect. They will stay as one – kapit-bisig – wherever they plan to go and stay once they shall have embarked on their cause in the streets - and literally, "walang uwian ano pa ang mangyari"! The mistake of the Oakwood mutineers of surrendering in the end should not be repeated. The 2,010 are to be enlisted as "Philippine Martyrs for 2010" the first prerequisite of membership of which would be willingness to die in the streets… Consequently, followers who may come from all walks of life may precipitate and form layers around them. Come what may and let all the 2,010 people perish in the streets. I am certain their lives will not go in vain. And, yes, enough to our preoccupation in a bloodless revolution! Bloodless revolution simply does not work anymore at this time in the Philippines.

"Sustained Civil Disobedience – in the form of sustained jamming the streets (sustained peaceful blockade) fully disregarding police instructions – is the key! Wala nang maraming paliguy-ligoy pa. Kailan pa natin gagawin ito? Let’s put meaning to what we’re saying that the Filipinos can not be fooled by bad politics and that the Filipino is worth dying for.

"While I have still some physical strength to offer, I hope to receive one day a call to go there and join in this action. I can offer at least one life. It will be an honor to die for the sake of future generations of Filipinos. Good luck to all of us."

How many, pray tell, are as brave as he?


Raffy Alunan, former tourism secretary during the last year of Cory, and DILG secretary during the first half or more of FVR, wrote to his fellow FSGO members, and I quote excerpts herein:

"We can shorten our length of suffering, and do the impossible, if we only get our act together. Unless and until we eliminate the conditions affecting our state of being, the next generations will be doomed to a life of aimlessness, conflict and chaos, and incapable of dealing with epochal challenges like climate change and a failed global order.

"Fatalism should be purged from our vocabulary. Waiting for things to happen or fall in our laps, and leaving our fate to the gods, is not how we were taught. Rather, God helps those who help themselves, and it is our choices that help shape our future. While there are elements of chance and human limitations, life is how we make it.

"But when will we ever unite to rise above ourselves? When shall we become a living democracy and a model of competitive and sustainable development? When do we shift to virtue, knowledge and excellence to render poverty, injustice, neglect, civil wars, corruption, ignorance and bad governance a thing of the past? When will we regain the trust and respect of the world?

"These are questions that actually frame and define the EDSA Spirit, which is about national transformation; national renewal; and national redemption. Regardless of origin, creed or status in life, it is about Filipinos unleashing the selflessness of their hearts and the brilliance of their minds to make the Spirit of EDSA a pulsating reality for all time.

"If you choose to fight, do what needs to be done for God, country and people. Just do it; it is indeed now or never."