Editorial: Take us out of the dark-A A +A
Friday, September 13, 2013
THE conflict in Zamboanga City enters its six days, those wanting to help not being able to figure out how to. It’s not your usual disaster situation where trucks can lumber in bringing help. There are exchange of gunfire, there are houses burned. Government is not helping much as it can only come out with general declarations, no concrete word on how the hostages are. Just words meant to keep relatives in constant worry and the general populace in unaffected areas aware but not so informed.
That’s how best to silence a people. Keep them relatively informed, so they feel they are updated, but keep the details out, so that emotions -- particularly the negative ones -- will not be stirred. After all, there’s only so much problem that a government can take, and while guns are being fired and houses are being burned in the southernmost part of the country, the senators and congressmen are being held hostage by the grinning long-haired whistleblower named Benhur Luy.
It’s not unlikely for officials to make a beeline for Zamboanga and earn pogi points, as many an official who are already there are intent to earn, instead of being made to grin and bear it in front of Mr. Luy’s mocking grin with television cameras documenting each and everyone’s reaction.
But we have said it over and over before, we cannot have real freedom if the basic of all freedoms, that of access to the right and proper information, is denied us. We cannot act as a people toward what is good and great for our people if shenanigans are allowed to prosper behind the scene.
The Napoles case is but an example of the very important information we have been denied for so long. Every taxpayer, even the poor ones that some are trying hard to disregard because they do not actually file income taxes (as if the real wealthy ones are, anyway), was being robbed through these years, and yet we were blind.
Thus, for so many years, there were rumbles of unrest and shouts of protest, as yet another person is forever silenced, like journalist Marlene Esperat when she exposed the fertilizer fund scam in 2005. But these were not sustained, precisely because information came in trickles, not enough to enrage the whole nation.
It will be our fault, however, we can even call it our sin to the people and our children if we again will not sustain the anger after reading and listening to this massive and all encompassing graft and corrupt practices.
No, we’re not calling people to arms as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) had called on its people. We are calling our people to never forgive nor forget and instead demand action and reforms, as well as punishment for all those who dared fool and rob the Filipino people as we have been fooled and robbed through all these years.
For as long as we are kept in the dark, there will be unrest, there will be conflicts; among us, among the suffering poor, among those abandoned and ignored.
Real peace can only come from us, the people, with a common frame of mind for justice and actionable peace, and not just the absence of war.
“I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of the way and let them have it,” Dwight Eisenhower is quoted as saying.
Maybe it’s indeed time for us to do our part.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 14, 2013.