…at ang hustisya ay para lang sa mayaman.
I took up at least a week reflecting on whether or not I would write this post. After all, everything I experienced last Thursday was not only deeply personal – it was highly controversial. But then I thought, you know what, this is my blog, and anyone who doesn’t like what I write is certainly free to disagree and/or leave.
As many of you know, last Thursday, September 21, was the anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law. Many groups mobilized to attend a rally in Luneta Park in protest of the historical revisionism happening today, as well as the fascist governance this administration seems to be heading toward. Along with some friends and classmates, I decided to attend the rally. At two o’clock, we headed to the Mendiola Peace Arch to listen to the speeches and watch the activists burn the effigy of strongman Ferdinand Marcos and President Duterte. Then we marched to Luneta Park, where the main rally was to happen.
But that wasn’t all I did that day. More than marching from Mendiola to Luneta, more than chanting and waving placards, more than shouting and protesting, that day, I listened.
I listened to a young woman talk about how her father was invited for questioning by the police and never returned home.
I listened to a mother talk about how she sent her son out to buy toyo, and next saw him dead in the morgue, hearing him tagged as “collateral damage” in the news the next morning, his death necessary to stop the alleged drug menace.
I listened to an Igorot elder talk about the army coming into his village, ostensibly to protect them from the NPA, but the abuse they suffered was at the hands of soldiers, not Communists.
I listened to an old woman who was tortured and raped during Martial Law. She was electrocuted, and had the barrel of a gun inserted into her vagina.
I listened to Lumad leaders whose schools were burned down and whose teachers shot – not by members of the Maute group, but by soldiers.
I listened to students from Mindanao who were harassed and accosted – again, not by Maute terrorists, but by soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
So many stories of pain and death, corruption, and selective justice. While Kian de los Santos and other innocent children who had not touched a single ounce of shabu in their lives lie cold in their graves, Paolo Duterte and Peter Lim walk free. Journalists just doing their jobs receive death threats, while Mocha Uson is in New York. Our streets are awash in blood.
And we? We shrug, log off the Internet. Unfollow political posts and pages because, “Good vibes lang dapat,” and, “Nakakaumay na ang politics.”
“What about the Ampatuan massacre? Or Hacienda Luisita, or the SAF44?” you might ask. Well, what about them? These are evil things that have happened, and it is a crime against humanity that the wheels of justice for the victims of these and similar incidents under previous administrations have ground to a halt. But are we to excuse Duterte for the evil things he’s done because the Aquinos did evil things too? Are we to say that the culture of corruption and death Duterte has created is all right because his predecessors did the same thing?
I learned a long time ago that the bad things committed by others don’t mean that I get a free pass. It’s a lesson Duterte’s supporters need to learn as well.
Here’s the thing: I am not personally affected by the evils of this administration. No one I know was killed in the war on drugs. No one I know has been invited for questioning by the police, only to disappear forever. I don’t have family in Marawi, or in the Cordilleras, or in Cagayan. I am not of Moro blood. I am not a Lumad.
But I have no right to be calm. I have no right to relax. I have no right to say that I’m sick and tired of hearing about current events. I have no right to say that I support the president just because my life is supposedly okay. These are just stories on my phone screen for me; but for others, these are their lives, and they can’t walk away.
I cannot be at peace when the people I share home, blood, and heart with cannot. say the same.