Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What were we thinking?

My February 24, 2015 column.


There was a time, no so long ago it seems, when we still would ask, “did he really say that?” or “what was he thinking?”  Not anymore today.  There are those who have started to take to the streets reminiscent of the heady days when outrage was best expressed in physical protest rather than just calling people names and posting cuss words in social media. Most of us, however, had gotten into the habit of simply rolling our eyes or just taking a deep, long sigh wishing it would be June 2016 when we wake up tomorrow.  
Most of us do want Benigno Simeon Aquino III to finish his term, and even willing to look the other way when the haciendero inside gets the better of him; except that he seems to be doing a lot of that lately.  Worse, Aquino seems to be going out of his way just to shoot himself in the foot; it’s like he is truly looking for more trouble.  The recent display of the monumental lack of empathy and the inability to dissociate himself and his family’s supposed “misfortunes” from current issues were outrageous because unlike during the arrival honors for the fallen 44 when his personal presence was expected, most people – the families included – would really prefer that he live the life of a hermit until next year’s elections.  It would be best for everyone. 
Equally outrageous are the relentless barrage of warmongering that’s happening in various media platforms.  Of course everyone is entitled to make utter fools of themselves - senators, congressmen, local executives and actors included.  One wishes, though, that people who advocate total war in Mindanao stop for a moment and imagine what it would be like to have war happening in one’s own village – perhaps even in front of their houses.  Perhaps the chairperson of the Bangsamoro National Movement for Peace and Development Agakhan Sharief’s admonition last Friday to actor Richard Gomez who has been making incendiary statements in various social networking sites for the actor to go to war himself strikes a raw chord since Sharief is a Muslim who is also pushing for the Bangsamoro Basic Law. 
But a friend, a Christian who happens to live in General Santos City basically said the same thing himself in a post he made in his Facebook account: “Sure, let’s have war.  Let’s have it in front of your house.  And to make sure you know exactly what you are advocating, make sure your families are trapped inside with no food and water and with no means of escape.  When you finally get a taste of the horror that you want inflicted on others, let’s hope you don’t get to hear others mock you about how going to war is necessary to achieve peace.”
I am tempted to also wonder aloud if Senator Chiz Escudero will also be investigated by the Senate for potentially violating the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees or Republic Act 6713 which prescribes that elected officials and government officials and their families lead modest and simple lives appropriate to their positions and income and to refrain from extravagant and ostentatious display of wealth.  The honorable senator who fancies himself a morally upright individual and likes scolding people publicly and shooting wry potshots at the targets of his ire is supposed to be one of the two poorest senators according to his statement of assets.  And yet, he obviously spent gazillions on his wedding to actress Heart Evangelista.  To top it all, his choice of principal sponsors - practically all the big players in industry, who often find themselves crossing swords with legislators on key issues – smacks of potential conflict of interest.  Clearly, walking the talk and keeping an arm’s length is a concept that is alien to many of our leaders.
Finally, I feel I need to weigh in on the controversy created by a columnist in another daily who claimed that drugs are prevalent at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.   The columnist basically blamed the College for his daughter’s drug use and made conclusions based on hearsay. I used to be connected with the College on part-time basis and I know for a fact that the College has very strict policies about drug use.  Any responsible parent or adult should try to understand and get the full context of an issue before judging one’s child or any child for that matter (there are thousands of students at DLS-CSB who are now suspected as drug users).  It is easy to accuse and act moral; the more difficult thing is to be known for fairness and wisdom.

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