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Change is in us

11 January 2017

By Daisy Catherine L. Mandap 

Now that the Christmas festivities are almost over, we need to again focus on the mundane, but important, concerns back home.

Foremost are the unabated killings that continue in the name of the war on drugs.

What is perhaps more disturbing than the killings themselves is the seeming apathy among the Filipinos toward the relentless violence.

When more than 40 defenseless Filipinos are killed each day for no reason, often in broad daylight, and no one is held to account for them, shouldn’t we be worried?

When the country’s leader shows no sympathy for the families of the thousands of Filipinos killed during the first bloody six months of his term, shouldn’t we be angry?

When all our other officials, save two, practically abet the killings by pretending to look the other way, shouldn’t we speak up, even take to the streets in protest?

The deafening silence of those who should take a stand for us is not just disturbing, it’s sickening.
These include a great many friends who have gone eerily quiet amid the mayhem, when they used to take to the streets at the slightest provocation, real or imagined.

Where have all our more militant advocates gone? Has political expediency become more important to them than their avowed support for human rights, justice and peace?

It is disturbing, even bizarre, to hear them speak against Marcos and martial law when they don’t – can’t – raise the slightest fuss over the most sordid human rights violations being committed in our midst, right now, when it matters most.

Thankfully, there are a few exceptions.

A crusading journalist friend who has moved overseas started out giving this administration the benefit of the doubt. She got to interview the president from way back, when he was still mayor of Davao, and was somewhat impressed by his seeming candor and incorruptible nature.

Now she is out there, on the streets of Tondo even, interviewing victims’ families, and cringing at how ruthlessly lives are being snuffed out by vigilantes and law enforcers who have been given the licence to kill.

Another is our neighborhood masahista. Formerly apolitical, she was shocked into realizing that ordinary, hardworking people like her could easily be targeted in the deadly web of killings when she witnessed how a magbabalut was shot in broad daylight by two men who casually drove off on a motorbike soon after. “Parang hayop lang na pinatay,” was how she put it. She rued that someone who was obviously trying hard to make a living could be so easily killed, drug crazed he may be.
Indeed, anybody could be a target. By the latest count, 6,200 Filipinos, mostly poor, have been killed in about the same number of months since the new administration took power.

What is more chilling is that there seems to be no effort whatsoever to stop the madness.
Given this, and the seeming lack of will on the part of our leaders to protect the very people they have sworn to serve, it devolves upon us to make a stand.

We all should speak up, no matter how puny our voices are. We should condemn the lawlessness that now rules our land, no matter how difficult, no matter how frightening.

We owe this not only to ourselves, but for our country, and the generations of Filipinos still to come. They, like us, deserve to have freedom as part of their birthright.

May the new year bring us back justice, freedom and peace. Happy 2017 to all!

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