Wednesday, November 25, 2009


“Immediate and relentless pursuit.”

The dictionary defines immediate as “occurring without loss or interval of time or acting or being without the intervention of another object, cause, or agency”. Relentless is “showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace.

The phrase quoted above forms part of Proclamation 1946, which President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed in the aftermath of the Maguindanao massacre: 52 dead and counting. The phrase refers to what the government should do against perpetrators of this heinous crime.

Cerge, Jess, quoting Webster shouldn’t even be necessary, given that both of you are alter egos of the President of this benighted Republic. Presumably, among the qualifications for your exalted jobs is an average familiarity with basic words in English, the language of business.

In cases like holdups and armored bank robberies, or ordinary pickpockets -- even in incidents of leakage involving supposed national security documents or silicone bags -- immediate conjures an image a posse of law enforcers, government lawyers and spokesmen racing to the scene of the crime. Immediate means cops storming hideouts, establishing checkpoints and blockades.

Relentless – well, we’re not particularly known for being relentless against crime in high and low places, which partly explains the culture of impunity that blankets the land. About the best example of relentless involves the President’s pals in Maguindanao, whether they’re gifting her with statistically improbable election results or showing the world what happens to people who defy them.

I do not know whether you guys a) do not read the dictionary; b) have not read Proclamation 1946; c) do not take your President seriously; d) know that she doesn’t take her words seriously.

To millions of Filipinos trying to grapple with the unfathomable evil that resulted in the massacre in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, the words in Proclamation 1946 should come as a balm, a reassurance that justice will be meted out against.

Yet events of yesterday and today are showing that words are truly cheap in this administration, as cheap as lives are getting to be in this land.

Cerge, Jess, I am all for due process and I am not a fan of summary executions or even illegal detention.

But I do not understand why the Presidential Adviser for Mindanao can appear on national television, calmly sitting between two Ampatuans, including the chief suspect in the massacre.

I can understand, Jess, that you want to prevent a tit-for-tat. But what am I supposed to think when you say the Ampatuans reassured you of their cooperation if called to appear before investigators?

“Magco-cooperate sila pag pinatawag sila sa imbestigasyon.
And they will also submit to whatever invitations and investigations extended to them.” The aftermath of the massacre has now become a tea party?

As for you, Cerge, how wonderful to see you so suddenly concerned about human rights.
"We have due process to be observed also, so let us allow the investigators on the ground to come up with [a case] through their investigation," you replied when asked by NUJP vice chair Sonny Fernandez why Shariff Aguak Mayor Aldan Ampatuan Jr. (or Datu Unsay) was still free and not relieved of his post.

People aren’t asking for his head, Cerge. They’re asking for his relief. It's called preventive relief or suspension. Two senior police officers were slapped with that following the massacre. Even petty bureaucrats are meted out preventive relief to ensure impartial investigation of anomalies. And you think a thorough investigation can be had if the kingpin to whom the murderous army of 100 -- including cops, soldiers and para-military forces-- swears fealty, roams free and in command of the local state apparatus?

That’s a glaring a display of double standards of justice. But this is what it’s all about, right, Cerge and Jess? The reason why the Ampatuans of this world have power of life and death over the rest of us is because government, in various ways, granted them this power, or looked away as they amassed weaponry and men, and the wealth needed for a sustained exercise of might.

No comments: