A look back at 2017

I can’t believe it’s the end of the year already.
Working in the media means I encounter many interesting stories on a daily basis, yet only two come to mind if you ask me about 2017.

The first one was when the US Embassy in Manila issued a travel warning after receiving “credible” reports of kidnapping threats in southern Cebu and Bohol on April 9.

I know.

Of all the places in our archipelago, the Americans had to pick Cebu and our neighbor, which, up until that time, had not known any incursions by the Jihad terror group Abu Sayyaf.

Somehow, it was hard to believe that they would swoop in on unsuspected foreign travelers to whisk them away to an uncertain fate.

And so I scoffed at the very thought in my column.

Of course, two days later, I was put in my place when news broke out that several armed men, who later turned out to be Abu Sayyaf members, clashed with government troops in Sitio Ylaya, Barangay Napo, Inabanga, Bohol.

Talk about embarrassing.

Of all the booboos American intelligence had committed over the years it had to get that one right. Right?

I initially thought it was some plot to destabilize the Duterte administration. After all, our President had been badmouthing our former colonial master. But by the looks of it, the incident was an attempt by the Abu Sayyaf to scare the bejesus outta Cebuanos and Boholanos, and the other residents in the archipelago who, up until that time, thought themselves immune to the unrest that had been confined in a back corner of Mindanao.

Or something like that.

If that were really the case, it worked.

People who thought the Abu Sayyaf was something they saw on TV or heard on the radio or read on the newspaper finally took notice.

In a way, it forced the whole country to acknowledge that the problem exists. And that it is serious. And that it must be taken care of.

At the same time, it lessened the impact of the Duterte administration’s decision to place the whole of Mindanao under martial law when the government’s attempt to capture Isnilon Hapilon, leader of the Isil (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant)-affiliated Abu Sayyaf group, in Marawi City last May 23 resulted in a five-month siege that destroyed and displaced thousands of families from the capital of Lanao del Sur.

Many who lived through the atrocities of martial rule under the Marcos regime were understandably distressed. Some took to the streets to voice their concerns.
They reminded the public about the over 70,000 filed cases of human rights abuses from this period.

According to them, “enemies” of the State were subjected to torture methods that included beating, rape, electrocution, animal treatment and mutilation, to name a few.

They cited the “3,257 extrajudicial killings, 35,000 individual tortures, and the 70,000 incarcerations.”

But they were the minority. The figures, alarming they may be, went right over the heads of the young majority.

To the millennials, the protestors were anachronisms. Their cause, something that was up for debate.

As for the rest, they were stuck in traffic in Minglanilla.
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