AT FIRST, there was Kian delos Santos, then there was Carl Arnaiz. Now there is Reynaldo de Guzman, a 14-year old boy found in Nueva Ecija whose body was found floating in a creek and bearing 30 stab wounds.
I am one with those feeling outrage and anger at these events. I am one with those who speak out that justice be done and those responsible be brought to answer for their actions. I know that many share these sentiments, whatever their political color or allegiances might be.
Yet, I see a disturbing trend happening in social media. Instead of seeking ways for justice to really be done, many resort to fighting and blaming each other.
The pro-Duterte will blame the anti-Duterte for sensationalizing and politicizing the tragedy. The antis will blame the pros for having a hand in these murders. There will be cries of “Yellowtards” and “Dutertards” all over again. The bickering will go back and forth and so much time and energy will be expended defending one’s position in all these things, and at the end of the day, we will still lack what we all have been desiring all along - justice for the victims, action and answers from those responsible.
It is no secret that as of this writing, the president still has my support -- something that galls to no end some of my contacts who are vehemently against the president and see him as evil incarnate. They tag me in this post and that, mentioning my name, and ever wanting to remind me that I have “blood on my hands.” One even expressed approval when I asked, “So what do you want me to do? Slash my wrists because I voted for Duterte?”
One of them recently sent me a quote saying “neutrality helps the oppressor, never the oppressed,” and I agree to a certain extent. And though I seldom write about politics in my column because it is not my forte, I will express what I feel needs to be expressed at this time, but not necessarily what my detractors want to hear. Let me make this clear. My thoughts are my own and they are not intended to please anybody, so agree with me or go ballistic on me. I respect your reaction, but this is my opinion.
To those who ultimately blame Duterte (and/or all his voters) for these killings, I hope you understand that it is not necessary for us to share your hatred of the man in order to demand accountability and transparency. It is not even necessary for us to voice outrage on social media, as if that is the only valid venue for expressing such. There are many people I know who support the president but are angered at the recent spate of killings of these teenagers. I have many friends older than me who marched against Marcos at Edsa in 1985 (I was in fifth grade then), yet they still support Duterte, even to this minute.
Do you even bother to find out why? Do you bother talking to these people? Yes, these are people -- human beings -- as much as you are, not avatars of ideology, not some nameless faces you can demonize and knock down just like that.
Or is your rage such that anyone who does not share 100 percent of your convictions, or your brand of activism, is automatically worthy of your scorn and derision? Because if that is so, then you would be alienating many who otherwise might be moved to join hands with you in the collective shout for justice.
I believe that many Filipinos are troubled by what has happened to Kian, Carl and Reynaldo, but instead of coming together as one to demand answers, we fall apart pointing fingers and asserting our own solutions as the only rational and valid ones. We jeer and lambast those opposed to us as if we alone hold all the right answers.
From personal experience, I know that bashing someone else’s religion won’t endear that person to change his beliefs or even to listen to me. I guess the same holds true for someone’s politics. It is very difficult to tear someone out of deep-seated beliefs and if this is your immediate goal, you will be quite frustrated indeed.
But whether you are pro or anti, perhaps we can agree that instead of wasting too much time on infighting, and on the blame game, and on how to “burn” others in social media, we could instead be proactively discussing how we can go about getting the justice we, and these kids, deserve.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on September 08, 2017.
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