Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cure worse than the disease

My February 17, 2015 column.


What does it say of us as a country and as a people when
on the very weekend when we were supposed to celebrate
the various permutations of love, a number of our bishops
called a press conference to openly ask for the President’s head,
supposedly as a sign of accountability for the death of the
44 soldiers in Mamasapano Maguindanao while a huge
billboard meant to celebrate “love for all kinds of love”
was mutilated, supposedly on orders of advertising authorities? 
Of course we don’t expect people to accord Valentine’s
Day the same level of importance or reverence as Holy Week;
 we don’t expect people to postpone or reconsider major decisions
 or pronouncements on account of Valentines.  But the timing
still struck a discordant note because it seemed indicative of the
level of intolerance operating in our society.  It seems to me people
 are once again making a rush to judgment without really
considering the implications of their actions.
I have always been wary about people who think a change
in leadership in this country is the quickest solution to every crisis. 
First of all, it’s impractical and unrealistic given the nature of
our bureaucracy.  A change at the top would require a domino
effect all the way down as most of those who run the government
bureaucracy are political appointees.   The transition before and
after would require more than a year —which is the remaining
term of the President, anyway.  And that is assuming the President
does decide to throw in the towel, which is very unlikely.  If the call
 to make the President quit snowballs, this would mean a major
distraction for our leaders—the President and his allies would be
more preoccupied with consolidating power rather than on focusing
on what really needs to be done to move this country forward. 
And then there’s the matter of whether there is valid reason for
 a resignation, which is naturally a highly debatable issue. 
By any reasonable indication, it seems that a resignation
at this point is a cure worse than the disease.
The timing of the bishops’ call does stink for another reason—
it comes on the heels of the President’s infamous dig at certain
bishops during the welcome ceremonies for Pope Francis at
Malacanan Palace.  It’s difficult not to see political behavior
on the part of the bishops particularly when we look at the
particular roster of the bishops that made the call for the
President’s resignation. 
I think we should all allow the truth on what really
happened at Mamasapano to surface first before we start
 trying to rock the very foundations of this country.  People
who profess to love this country, or to champion certain ideals
and values such as truth, fairness, and justice, should consider
their actions in the context of what truly represents
the common good.
Also during the weekend, one of the billboards that top
local clothing brand Bench, put up supposedly to celebrate
“love for all kinds of love” was mutilated.  The billboards
showed four couples in various affectionate poses: Gloria Romero
and her grandson Chris Gutierrez, actress Solenn Heussaff
and her fiancé Nico Bolzico, lesbian couple Carla Pena and
Ana Paredes, and gay couple Nino Gaddi and Vince Uy.
The billboards created quite a splash with many reacting
positively to the diversity-inclusive message.  Unfortunately,
people woke up on Friday to find that the hands of the gay
couple Gaddi and Uy were haphazardly painted over, as if
to cover the fact that the lovers were holding hands. 
According to a Bench executive, it was the adboard
(the Ad Standard Council) that disapproved the ad;
however, the Executive Director of the ASC denied having
a hand in the censorship claiming that they do promote
self-regulation rather than censorship.  Towards Sunday,
there were loose talks about the controversy being created
by Bench to generate more publicity for the brand;
something I seriously doubt.
The backlash created by the censorship led into a viral social
 media campaign to “paint their hands back” which indicated
massive social support.  The fact that nobody has come forward
to claim responsibility for the decision and/or the action to
paint over the billboard can also be interpreted as reaction
to the backlash.  Divining the truth around the mysterious
billboard may not be as important as the quest for answers
to the Mamasapano massacre, but there are certain things
we know for sure.  First, there are quite a number of people
in this country who make rash decisions and actions.  
Second, intolerance remains a disease that afflicts many. 
And third, the price of freedom and liberty is eternal vigilance.

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