REPORTS call it 12 hours of terror in Barcelona, Spain. The biggest incident was in Las Ramblas, a street frequented by locals and tourists, where a man drove his van into a crowd, killing 13 people and hurting more than 100 others. In Cambrils hours later, a woman was killed and several others injured in an attack by five terrorist whom the police later killed. The terrorist group Isis would later claim responsibility for the attacks although that still needs confirmation.
The Barcelona attacks happened days after a man, later found to be an Adolf Hitler admirer, rammed his car into a crowd counter-protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia killing a woman, Heather Heyer, and hurting many others. That incident exposed the danger of the rise of hate groups, including the so-called “alt-right” (white supremacists), neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.
In Bulacan here in the Philippines, policemen conducting the so-called “one time, big time” operation against the illegal drugs trade killed 32 suspects in separate raids. This was followed by an overnight anti-drugs operation by Manila cops that killed 25 suspects. In the Camanava (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela) area, 18 suspects were killed in a drive against illegal drugs in one day. The international media had a term for the operation: “bloodiest.”
It now looks to me like the worldwide drift to the right is also raising the number of violent incidents everywhere. Human life is no longer sacrosanct and humane values are being pushed aside. This has prompted Sen. Joel Villanueva, an administration senator, to tweet this in response to the killings of drug suspects: “I am alarmed lately by the breakdown of our humanity, with people cheering the killings of individuals who have not been proven guilty.”
Incidentally, the “one time, big-time” operation by the Caloocan police resulted in the killing of a senior high school student, Kian Loyd delos Santos, in what can be considered summary execution. Police claimed he resisted arrest and fired at them, but witnesses and a CCTV footage contradicted that version. Oscar Albayalde, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, relieved the three cops involved in the incident, together with their commander.
But while the killings, whether in Barcelona or in Charlottesville or in Bulacan and Manila, have been rightly condemned by some sectors, many others didn’t. Some, as Senator Villanueva noted, even cheered. That is a sad reality that had me teary-eyed. When all has been said and done, our primitive past has come back to haunt us. I felt all our efforts to advance our causes were all for naught. Indeed, where has our humanity gone?
But I wallow in the thought that, like everything else, this, too, will pass. I imagine this to be a storm that is currently wreaking havoc on society. But storms are not forever, they eventually dissipate and vanish. We should therefore endure even as we try to find ways to push the social pendulum back to, at least, the center. Sadly, though, everything may yet get worse before they get better.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on August 19, 2017.
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