Sunday, November 15, 2015

Paris and the hypocrisy of selective humanity







When should we express sympathy for others and why? This is the question we should all ask ourselves following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France that killed at least 129 people and injured over 300.

I am asking this question amid the seemingly endless stream on my Facebook account of people changing their profile pictures into the French tricolor or Jean Julien’s now-iconic tribute to Paris (I did change my profile pic to that of the Eiffel Tower, with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.). I have nothing against people showing their sympathy for Parisians who endured this attack.

But think about it: 10 months ago, in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, there was an unfortunate armed encounter between elements of the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). Forty-four SAF commandos died in the encounter.

18 Filipino civilians were also caught and died in the encounter.

Despite this fact, nobody from the Philippine government, or the media recognized the deaths of the 18 civilians, who were mostly Muslim. Several media entities, civic organizations, and non-government organizations organized fund raising activities, the proceeds of which went to the families of 44 fallen SAF soldiers. No such activities were organized for the 18 Muslim Filipinos mentioned.

In the aftermath of the Mamasapano Incident, Filipino netizens on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram changed their profile pictures, cover photos and status messages out of sympathy for the 44 SAF soldiers slain. No such sympathy was expressed for the 18 Muslim Filipinos mentioned.

Think about this one too: In October 2014, a Filipino transgender was brutally murdered by a visiting American soldier in Olongapo, Zambales, after discovering that she was transgender.

During her wake, many social media netizens posted nasty, homophobic comments about the victim, Jennifer Laude, citing that she deserved to die for being a transgender. Philippine president Benigno S. Aquino III refused to attend her wake, and was quoted as saying, “I don’t attend wakes of people I don’t know.” [1]

When should we express sympathy for others and why? This is the question we should all ask ourselves following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France that killed at least 129 people and injured over 300.

Nobody changed their profile pictures when Laude died. No hashtags were popularized, no fund raisers were organized for her family.

Then there’s this one too: During the 2000s, Davao City was notorious for being the hotbed of extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the Davao Death Squad. Davaoeños describe the DDS as vigilantes out to exterminate suspected drug pushers, drug addicts and thieves, but this group has also killed journalists, human rights activists and innocent civilians.

In July 2005, at a crime summit at the Manila Hotel, then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte publicly expressed his support for extrajudicial killings and summary executions in his city. “Summary execution of criminals remains the most effective way to crush kidnapping and illegal drugs,” Duterte said. [2]

Most Davaoeños and Duterte supporters didn’t condemn Duterte’s open endorsement of vigilantism and extrajudicial killings. Nobody from Davao expressed their sympathies for slain journalists or human rights activists, let alone for suspected criminals who should be reformed in prison instead of being summarily executed. Today, Duterte enjoys widespread popularity among many Filipinos despite his blatant disrespect for human rights and the Constitution.

But there’s another: Who can forget the more than 10,000 students, human rights activists, political opponents and innocent Filipinos imprisoned, tortured and disappeared under the hands of the Marcos administration during the Martial Law era from 1972-1981?

While this event is already generally recognized in the Philippines, many still deny its existence, particularly throngs of Marcos Loyalists who linger in the Internet and fooling netizens with their revisionist accounts glorifying the Marcos administration. While families of these desaparecidos still await justice for their disappeared loved ones, these Marcos Loyalists led by the late strongman’s son Sen. Bongbong Marcos have not expressed sympathy to the victims or remorse for the violations committed.

Before we forget: Several farmers have been killed in recent decades for merely protesting and calling for genuine agrarian reform. These farmers were killed in clashes with security forces in Lupao, Nueva Ecija; Luisita, Tarlac; and Mendiola, Manila to the benefit of land-owning hacienderos and their interests. While there is commemoration of these farmer massacres within the left political spectrum, there wasn’t much recognition and sympathy expressed for these victims within the political center and right.

Somewhere in Syria, civilians die every day simply by being caught in the crossfire between the Islamic State, regime forces and Free Syrian Rebels. In Afghanistan, the Taliban is experiencing a resurgence, recently taking over Kunduz and subjugating its citizens. In Yemen, Saudi Arabia and pro-government forces are bombing innocent Yemenis while hunting down Houthi rebels.

Sympathy, that expression of support and pity between people of common characteristics, knows no religious, racial, gender, political, geographical, economic or another other bounds.

If you have sympathy for Parisians but think of Syrians, Afghans and Yemenis as collateral damage in the War of Terror, what you have is not sympathy but a selective, discriminating mindset.

If you have sympathy for Parisians but refuse to support Filipino Muslims in their peaceful struggle for self-determination because you think they are all terrorists, what you have is not sympathy but rather indifference and prejudice.

If you have sympathy for Parisians but not for Muslims, LGBTs, human rights activists, and for humanity in general, you can’t claim benevolence.

What you have is the hypocrisy of selective humanity.

(Photo from Breitbart.com)

Monday, October 12, 2015

7 reasons not to vote for Rodrigo Duterte

Davao City mayor and summary execution enthusiast Rodrigo Duterte. (Photo from Inquirer.net)

Recently, more Filipinos have been clamoring for Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte to run for the presidency. Several Facebook pages and groups have been created to advance his candidacy and as platforms for expression of support. Some businessmen and local politicians even financed his nationwide tour to promote his ideas of "federalism". More recently, a "million" people march was organized by his supporters in Luneta and other cities in the country.

To date, Duterte has officially decided to run for president after several months of flip-flopping between acceptance and decline.

Before you get your hopes high that Duterte is the much-awaited "savior" of this republic, take time to read this nuanced list of reasons on why you shouldn't vote for this madman. This set of seven reasons was compiled by netizen Claire Cortez, which was forwarded to me by a follower of my Facebook page.

1. HE MAINTAINS A POLITICAL DYNASTY 
Since 1988, the Duterte family has ruled Davao City like their own kingdom. Before that, his father, Vicente Duterte, was governor of Davao Province for a long time. He perpetrated and maintained the Duterte political dynasty in Davao.

Our Constitution enshrines the prohibition of political dynasties in our politics.

Source: http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/iq/105955-things-know-trivia-rodrigo-duterte

2.  HE APPROVES OF EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS TO CURB CRIME
During the July 2005 Peace and Order Summit at Manila Hotel, Duterte openly expressed his support for extrajudicial killings and summary executions. He said "Summary execution of criminals remain the most effective way to crush kidnapping and illegal drugs."

Summary execution of criminals are unconstitutional and unethical.

Source: Cullen, Fr. Shay. "We must stand against the death squads". The Manila Times, May 7, 2006

3.  HE HAS ADMITTED LINKS TO THE DAVAO DEATH SQUAD
Duterte has admitted his links to the Davao Death Squad on May 2015. "Ako, ako daw death squad? True, that's true," he said in an interview with Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa. He also warned he will kill up to 100,000 criminals if he is elected president. There is no death penalty in the Philippines.

Summary execution of criminals are unconstitutional and unethical.

Source: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/…/duterte-admits-links-davao-dea…

4.  HE ENFORCES LAWS IN HIS OWN CRUEL MANNER
His policies are cruel and unconstitutional. Once, he forced a tourist to swallow a cigarette butt for refusing to follow the cigarette ban ordinance. Peter Lavina, Duterte's spokesperson, recalls the exact events. “It was at this point sinabihan siya ni Mayor, 'Gago ka pala, bastos ka! Sige kainin mo ang sinabi mo at kainin mo ang sigarilyo mo.'

Source: http://www.rappler.com/…/104625-duterte-forces-tourist-swal…

5.  HE IS A WOMANIZER
He is a womanizer who doesn't respect women. Court records show that his ex-wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman Duterte, was on the receiving end of “emotional abuse” from Rodrigo whom she described as a “womanizer” who had frequent “outbursts of temper.” Recently, in his campaign sortie in Taguig, he admitted to currently having three women in his life aside from his current wife: the first is a nurse from Bulacan, the other two are employees at a Davao City mall. He treats women as sexual objects for his satisfaction.

Our Constitution, through the Violence Against Women and Children Law (VAWC), protects women and their children against abuse from men, groups, and institutions, including husbands.

Sources:
http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/inside-track/100729-philandering-rodrigo-duterte-marriage-annulment
http://www.rappler.com/nation/politics/elections/2016/114416-rodrigo-duterte-womanizer 

6. HE IS IN CAHOOTS WITH THE NPA
Duterte helps maintain the Leftist insurgency in the Philippines by paying revolutionary tax to the NPA. In 2012, he visited an NPA camp ravaged by Typhoon Pablo. Duterte entrusted an unspecified amount of money to the NPA unit in the area explaining that the money would be used to “rebuild the lives of the people”. He said the amount is "apart from the tax I am paying to the NPA.”

We don't pay income taxes just so this madman can pay the NPA to continue their insurgency and wreak havoc on civilians and their livelihood.

Source: http://www.rappler.com/…/18759-duterte-visits-typhoon-ravag…

7.  HIS CLAIM THAT 'DAVAO CITY IS THE SAFEST CITY IN THE WORLD' IS A HOAX
The idea that Davao is fourth safest city in the Philippines is highly questionable. The source website, Numbeo.com., ranked Davao based on crowdsourced data, meaning data contributed to the website by ordinary netizens. This data has not been reviewed and verified by independent experts. Numbeo's terms and conditions says "No warranty whatsoever is made that any of the articles are accurate. There is absolutely no assurance that any statement contained at the website is correct or precise." Recently, University of the Philippines professor Solita Monsod expressed the same doubts about this claim.

Sources:
http://www.numbeo.com/common/terms_of_use.jsp
http://opinion.inquirer.net/90692/talking-about-the-next-president

The idea of a "benevolent" dictator like Duterte as our leader is absurd. It assumes that we, the people, are not capable of deciding for ourselves a benevolent course in our lives, let alone the course of our nation.

Our democracy has recently gained for itself the best performing economy in Asia after China, the most transparent budget in ASEAN, and has improved its negative ranking in the corruption index, all without Martial Law or any form of iron fist rule. It shows that we don't have to rely on one person, but in ourselves to bring about the change we want for our country. Nation building is a 24/7 team effort.


ANG KAILANGAN NATING PANGULO AY YUNG MATAPAT, MATUWID, AT MAY RESPETO SA BATAS AT KARAPATANG PANTAO. HINDI ISANG DIKTADOR AT KINGPIN NA NAGHAHARI-HARIAN SA DAVAO CITY!
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