Lessons yet to be learned

History has again repeated itself in the sense that the ongoing investigation of the SAF operation in Mamasapano will result to nothing beneficial for the country except taking those who are watching it on a free roller-coaster ride as was the fate of the PDAF Scam investigation and other similar high profile cases. If the nation wants justice for the 44, and if the 44 were soldiers, the right juridical venue should’ve been the martial court. But the 44 were policemen and the operation, by the PNP which begs the question who polices the police? It’s the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM). On it’s homepage,

The National Police Commission is the agency mandated by the 1987 Constitution and the Major Police Reform Laws, Republic Act Nos. 6975 and 8551 to administer and control the Philippine National Police. Under R.A. 8551, otherwise known as the “PNP REFORM AND ORGANIZATION ACT OF 1988” the Commission gained the powers to investigate police anomalies and irregularities, administer police entrance and promotional examinations and summarily dismiss erring police officers.

This is the agency that should be primarily interested in resolving the case and therefore conduct the investigation, not the Senate which as the “court of choice” of late has only exposed itself to all manner of public ridicule. Without the legal hold that courts have over the procedure and respondents, who cares how the truth is told? Nobody’s pressured to give a ruling on the case at the end anyway.

As to the encounter between the combatants, brutality is expected. In fact, it had been happening for a long time already in Mindanao, between the AFP and armed groups. Before the 44 SAF, there were the soldiers captured by armed factions and subjected to brutal deaths (e.g. butchering). Similarly, soldiers when they too have captured the enemy were wont to avenge their comrades’ fate as brutally. (This is the reality of war and it is why we do everything to have world peace.) But unlike the 44 SAF, the soldiers’ torturous deaths in the hands of the enemy were not once elevated to the front pages of national dailies. Media should not therefore report as if this is the first time such events have happened. It has to provide adequate contextual background of the Mindanao crisis. This helps in the education and maturation of the Filipino public in it’s socio-political and civic responsibilities.

The video showing the close range shooting of a downed SAF commando conveys an important message beyond the killing (what’s essential is invisible to the eye). But what’s happening is that we’re stuck with the externalities: who uploaded? who took it down afterward? the physical motions involved in the killing. These things don’t provide the answers that we seek now that the killings are in the past. So what is the video trying to say, essentially? Media as the neutral party has the responsibility to initiate exploration of the issue from members of the community in order to raise the public’s consciousness on the matter.

And contrary to what is being portrayed by the media, most Filipinos – remember we are 20M in all – have already moved on since after the first breaking report of Mamasapano and now don’t generally give a fuck. Because, one, equally signficiant cases such as the PDAF Scam and massacre of journalists in Maguindanao remain unsolved and without closure; two, it is funny that the Senators’ voices are all over the air over Mamasapano but we haven’t heard anything from the locals themselves in Mamasapano (or other localities where the armed factions are for that matter). Same with journalists. As an organized group what have they been doing in order to fast track justice for their massacred colleagues who, unlike the SAF, were non-combatants?

We are all back to square one of the vicious cycle: beginning but never finishing things. The Filipino public, in the advent of social media, is generally content to join in nation building by merely liking a discussion or reposting a hashtag. With the PDAF Scam the hashtag was #onemillion. These days it’s #onebillionrising. Do we understand what these are at all? It takes some study of the issues before one can understand and hence decide what one stands for and how one could take that stand forward. But first, as what the fox advised The Little Prince, it is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important, or as it applies here, one must waste time in order to get to know one’s country and in the process grow to love it (amongst all other roses). Then the fox went on to say, people have forgotten this truth but you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.

3 thoughts on “Lessons yet to be learned

  1. Very well said. To my mind, the ongoing inquiry of Congress on Mamasapano encounter gives us also an opportunity to engage in a discourse relative to the spirit and intent of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and many stakeholders and issues that still need to be considered before passing the said measure. Indeed, we as a nation have lessons yet to be learned.

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