Thursday, June 24, 2021

Y-Speak: Questioning activism

AS A member of Atenews, a student publication that sides with the marginalized, I’ve always believed that what I fought for was right. I was proud to call myself an activist.

Whenever the chant of “Sumulong, sumulat, manindigan, at magmulat” came up, I was always quick to raise my left fist.

Now, after working with a government media and seeing another side to social issues, I started doubting my beliefs.

It is undeniable that activism significantly contributed to the Philippines. If it weren’t for activists and heroes such as Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, and Graciano Lopez-Jaena, our country would never be freed from the abusive grips of the Spanish colonizers.

However, activism comes with a price, and this price is more expensive than Ateneo’s tuition fee.

Jokes aside, activists encounter red-tagging, stalking, abduction, and in severe cases, murder.

I didn’t care about that then. I was young and fearless. I fought for a greater cause. I wrote for justice.

Or so I thought.

As part of our on-the-job training, I worked with People`s Television for a month and saw the government`s side to these social issues. What I realized, sadly, was that the government was also struggling, albeit with a bigger budget.

During an interview with Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) head Alfredo Baloran, I learned that government funding for the homeless was being abused not by the government but by the homeless themselves.

The homeless were not so homeless, after all. After receiving free houses from the government, some of them would rent out the houses and then pretend to be homeless again.

As much as I’d like to defend these people by saying that they are struggling financially, this was just pure cheating.

How could I proclaim justice for the marginalized when they were not innocent?

I`m sure plenty of factors come into play here. Their acts may have been borne out of the desperate need to survive. They may have needed the extra cash to feed their children, but it does not change the fact that some still abuse taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

Not all the government fund recipients are cheaters, but what I learned changed my perspective.

Although it was obvious, I learned to look at both sides of the same coin.

The corrupt may seem kind, and the kind may seem corrupt. What I think is correct may not always be right.

Before judging, it is advisable to hear out both sides. After all, justice can only be based on truth. (Jamrell Vincette Buynay)


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