Velez: What's wrong with Matteo's patriotism?


CELEBRITIES draw our attention, especially when they take on social issues. When they join relief missions to disaster stricken areas, explore the rivers and forests ravaged by industrial aggression, when they support the education of the urban poor or Lumad children, they know that when they lend their voice on these things, people will listen.

Now here's Matteo Guidicelli, actor, model, singer, athlete, and now fresh military reservist graduate. Having graduated from his volunteer 30-day training and orientation in the Scout Rangers, he now challenges the public, and fellow celebrities, to "stop talking smack" and unite. This is his recruiting drive, and his waving the call for patriotism. Nothing wrong with volunteering for the Army, but Matteo's words has generated criticisms online.

It is tough to talk patriotism, especially when one sees a commander-in-chief fearing to stand up for our seas and territories against the intrusion of the Chinese vessels, as he fears this could be war.

With this stance, one hardly sees our Navy protecting our seas and our fisherfolk from the intrusion of Chinese Navy and vessels, as they go on destroying our reefs and corals, and taking away our fish where fisherfolk find their source of livelihood.

Matteo doesn't acknowledge that and instead, tells critics to stop talking, which he did to a netizen who underscored the faults of the military, from reported human rights abuses to corruption, which is a poor example of patriotism.

Telling people to stop talking is how this administration and its propaganda machinery is shutting out democracy, and good discourse on our social problems, and divides us further. The problem is not on the critics, or the Left, or the opposition, or the journalists, but on how open is the administration in listening to all sides.

We need to remind Matteo and those who think like him that patriotism is not just simply putting on that uniform and taking up firearms. Heroes can be found in teachers and health professionals with their dedication to serve the poor. Patriotism also comes when Moro and Lumad people defend their ancestral domain, risking being called terrorist or communist, because the land is their culture and identity. Being patriotic is also about diplomacy and engagement as we did when we won the West Philippine Seas by asserting this in the UN Tribunal.

So, I won't give up on Matteo or others, who I know have the heart to work out for what is the common good.

Unless Matteo would volunteer to carry the flag and jetski to the seas to face those Chinese boats, then we can go cheer for that.


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