Martial law: whose perspective?

I’m not, never will be, for martial law or any restrictions to liberty and freedom. Even if it’s a benign form of martial law, the fact that civilians are searched or required to present evidence of who or what they are to armed personnel instill an environment of distrust that in turn gives birth to other negative feelings (fear, paranoia, anxiety, more distrust, and the like) and thoughts (am I going crazy? am I the only one distressed over restricted movement?). I can’t help feel angry that I’m searched or asked for identification. Do the checkers really give a hoot about who I am or what I do? No. They only need to see that I am not one of those wanted men and women. The wanted individuals that’s who or what they care about, bottomline, which is why it doesn’t really matter to them if good and law-abiding citizens are made to line up even in scorching high noon heat. Who are being persecuted? But this is my perspective.

I do try, for my own sanity, to understand martial law or forms of restrictions from the perspective of Mindanaoans. They welcome it. People here, Moro and migrants alike, tell me, “people in Manila who are protesting and complaining about martial law here do not know anything, if they want we’ll exchange places, they could come stay here and we’ll go there. See if they don’t embrace martial law.” I have no response to such, just a smile. But I understand now that I’ve been here some time and have gone around in conflict areas where you don’t know if you’re going to be sniped at driving through a village while Michael Learns to Rock is crooning 25 Minutes Too Late in the background, or becoming a secondary victim of a blast in a shop next to the one you’re in. Such does things to your psyche. What more for folks who have been subjected to such a volatile environment for the longest time? I understand, travelling on the Pan-Philippine/Maharlika Highway to and from conflict-ridden areas, why people from Visayas and Luzon would want to build their homes here and why some people here would want to defend it at all cost. This place, this region, is very beautiful. I’m caught by the beauty of it’s landscapes, it’s wilderness. It’s a much-contested space. But I also understand what somebody who’s working in peacebuilding in the region for more than a decade meant when he said “pagod na din ang mga tao dito. Mamamatay tayo na baka hindi pa naayos itong problema (people here are already tired. We’d probably die without the conflict getting resolved).” What a sad, sad thought. I wanted to weep.

Whose voice? Whose agenda? Whose perspective? Whose future? These should guide us as we make a decision or a judgment about what is best for a community.

The Filipino people’s back subject

I don’t know why, in the dailies and broadcast media, people feel the need to explain their positions post-declaration. Martial law is martial law. It’s the most unfortunate thing to happen to a nation and country in the 21st century. For 21st century citizens to find themselves in such a state means only one thing- they have become degenerates, moving backward to the point in civilization where they need to be martialed forward. You know, like Brad Pitt’s hapless character in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Didn’t the President repeatedly warned, “don’t force my hand”? As it is, his hand has been forced, apparently, not by a freak accident of gravity but by…terrorists? Perhaps. But more significantly by the Filipino people. If we the people faithfully fulfilled our part in governance – you know, government of the people, by the people, and for the people – we shouldn’t be in this situation in the first place. We did this to ourselves, the nation. The finger we’re pointing at others should be directed at ourselves, each and every Filipino, the haves and have-not alike.

In my other blog, in a post showing early morning beachgoers doing the rounds on a banana boat I wrote that “resilience” cannot all be laughter and smiles but that real resilience is about sacrificing now in order to enjoy freedoms afterward, maybe not in our lifetime but at least in our children’s and their children’s. Such is the level of maturity that Filipinos in the exercise of their responsibilities as citizens need or should want to attain.

The “siege” in Marawi City is the story of Mindanao, in a capsule. If Mindanao is like the abandoned buildings in the City, it is like that sorry-looking storied building riddled with bullets, the ground a playground of forces that seem to have the supernatural ability to switch places sending the poor residents scampering confused into rat holes. While all that is going on, the rest of us, onlookers from afar, are on banana boats doing our own thing, pa-comment comment (on social media, readily accessible as apps on our touchscreens) kapag may time.

Catholics, who comprise the majority of the population, have all sorts of devotions, novenas, etc. but in what ways are we positively changed by such? Has our knee-jerk recourse to prayer in fact just an avoidance of what we know we could or should do, right here, right now (versus “waiting” for God to send his angels to act)? Did Catholics or Christians in Mindanao have to wait for third-parties ie. NGOs to facilitate understanding and peace with Muslims? What is keeping someone, for instance, from baking a freaking pie, stepping outside your goddamned door and walk across your stupid lawn to knock on your neighbor Muslim’s house, and in utmost sincerity, offer the pie? (I cite this example of pie-giving because I have done it, when I was in grade school abroad. I baked some sconces (inspired by Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree) and went and gave some to our Muslim neighbors. They were delighted with the bread. That began exchanges of that sort on occasions between our families. It only takes a step, a gesture from either side, you know, like how lovers become; though boldness is needed to be able to make that step or gesture. And what’s the worst that could happen? Pie on your face? Well at least it isn’t acid. And at least it’s not you throwing out the pie.) Fear that a thousand cannons will be let loose on you? Let us honestly examine ourselves. Maybe it’s not fear at all. Maybe it’s pride masking as fear. If then, woe to us Filipinos especially Catholics. We have imprisoned ourselves in our misplaced pride and snobbish prejudice all these regrettable years!

Further, ML in Mindanao revealed the general state of community among Filipinos, and that is, wala na talagang paki sa kapwa Pilipino o sa kapwa Pilipino na tiga ibang rehiyon (there’s now a lack of solidarity and empathy for fellow Filipinos or Filipinos in the other regions) such that in the first few days after the declaration there was no collective action from the two islands, not even from Congress, to, you know, dedicate a moment of silent in support of people in Mindanao especially Marawi City residents. Wala man lang from broadcast media that thought of pausing their tele-seryes and katuwaan on lunch time variety shows to broadcast a word of support to people in Mindanao. Nada.

What would it take for us to learn the lesson of our history? True people power is commitment to the daily grind of stepping outside private interests (even outside security of our gates) onto engaging without discrimination with fellow citizens and those who are governing. People power is less about yak-ity-yak-yak in the streets and more about rolling up our sleeves, sweating it out under sun and rain season after season, and actually making good government happen. Only then shall we know and deserve peace, freedom, development, all the good things that are the inevitable fruits of a people’s good and hard work.

Outside the box thinking

The priority of media now is to report on the real situation of evacuees or IDPs in order to provide accurate data to people and organizations who want to help. I don’t think that their detailed reporting on the fighting – even so far as going alongside the troops as they fire their guns at snipers (thereby disclosing their position to the enemy!) – does not add value in any way except well how manly our armed forces are with their newly-acquired gears. What I’m saying is, let the armed forces do their war thing because we very well could imagine their thing even without media coverage, and not be too focused on that. The information the rest of the country need right now is the situation of displaced persons as well as estimates of trapped population or those who remain in Marawi City- what’s happening to them, their needs, and the like.

For one, the ‘no ID no entry’ rule. I understand why this rule must be enforced but then on the other hand let us also exercise common sense and good judgment as we apply the rule (at checkpoints, etc.). In other words, let us not turn away people fleeing the City without IDs on them just because this is the rule. Many who were turned away are the very people who are truly poor (eg. the old, women, children, young people the ones without vehicles who had to walk miles) and are outside of the social insurance and health systems (hence their having no government IDs at all). Turning them away because we don’t want to “break the rule” does nothing positive for security and only doubly marginalizes the already poor. Hence it is very critical that those in charge of checkpoints are persons with good judgment, intelligence, and common sense.

Second, management of evacuation centers and camps. We’re not new to this. In fact, by this time after so many natural and man-made disasters we’ve been through we should already be experts at it. By this time, sanitary, medical, sleeping, even praying or quiet-time facilities etc. should have been in place, because order on the outside brings order in the inside (ie. the human psyche) which in turn helps displaced people to heal from their trauma and loss. But how come centers look disorganized? Evacuation centers should not be like pig sties. Let’s remember the humanitarian imperative to uphold human dignity in times of disasters- it’s not just the food “relief” that humanitarians need to secure for the affected but also relief in it’s holistic meaning ie. restoration and protection of dignity.

Another, air dropping of food relief for people who remain in the City. A Director I was speaking to a few days earlier said he was very worried about the situation of people who are still in the City, whether by choice or trapped (as when a Director-friend of his went to the City on the second day of the conflict because her relatives are there and she wanted to bring them out herself). I told him, laughing, that the armed forces, it’s humanitarian arm (is it the Office of the Civil Defense?), otherwise, why not Bam Aquino’s recently-established GoNegosyo in ARMM (as it’s first outreach mission)?, should have also dropped food alongside the bombs (or, food-loaded caravans if GoNegosyo?); coordinated with ground personnel for a secure drop and holding area.

Such things, lessons derived from the one before (or, conflicts around the world) would make this martial law different. For me, and as I said, I don’t care if the armed forces pursue the bad ones to the edge of the earth, that’s their job after all, only that the effects of such a pursuit on the human population and community should also be taken cared of with as much care, commitment, and dedication. After all, the resources that are used to pursue the bad guys are the people’s resources (taxes).

A Wednesday to remember

Is there such a thing as benign martial law? I hope there is. Because I’m right here. What freakin luck! I’ve a lot of thought about this declared state in the region, foremost is that let all the armed forces, good and bad, fight each other till kingdom come for all I care, after all until now the people do not know who’s the good ones from the bad and is this again manifestation of interests ie. whenever we have leaders who have the will to facilitate change they are sabotaged. In any case, please can martial law be done in such a way that people can still go on movie dates like it’s any other ordinary day ie. without having to always look over one’s shoulders?

Meet up

Lakbayan ng Visayas
via Gabriela Women’s partylist

What’s wrong and disturbing about this lakbayan is that the organizer lumped survivors of natural disasters with Martial Law victims. The former’s needs are separate and distinct from those of the latter. Interventions to the former are different from those of the latter. One is apple, the other, orange. We who are working in their service cannot, must not, treat or sell them wholesale. Otherwise, we do them great disservice and injustice.

Survivors of natural disasters. Who are they- women, men, youth, children? What are their unfulfilled needs post-disaster? Livelihood? Shelter? Protection? Right now, post-disaster implementation in Yolanda/Haiyan affected areas is that of reconstruction, and UN agencies, I/NGOs, and Volunteer Organizations are still in the areas. Are these survivors not enlisted in any of the agencies’ programs? What about the government’s- shelter (DSWD-DPWH), 4Ps (DSWD)? If they’re not, why? These are the things we would want to know further in order to provide appropriate assistance. But, then, why travel all the way to Metro Manila to talk? Where are the survivors from? which barangay? Did they not speak with their barangay kocal government units? The LGUs are awashed in DRR funds now. Besides, LGUs could, should, refer residents to their I/NGO or VO partners if there is a need. Such things should’ve been solved at this level already. Going to Metro Manila, bypassing tiers of local government, from the barangay to the province, merely sends out these messages: (a) neither LGU or the CSOs are doing their job, (b) they’re not enlisted in any post-disaster program for one reason or the other and have not told their local authorities this, (c) they don’t know who to approach in their area about this, and (d) their agency-supporter who is the organizer of this lakbayan have not done anything to introduce or refer them to appropriate local agencies or offices.

Victims of Martial Law. What exactly were done to them? their claims? are these filed in court already? One can’t just yell in the streets thaf you’re a victim. One has to go through the justice process. What are their specific needs- legal counsel and representation, financial aid, psychotherapy in the interim? If they haven’t received appropriate assistance, it only means that the local offices of the CHR, Ombudsman or whoever tasked to assist Martial Law victims have not lifted a finger since EDSA I. Bypassing these local offices sends out the same messages provided above.

The shout-out of both groups is, rehabilitasyon ang hingi namin militarisasyon ang binigay (we asked for rehabilitation but were give militarization). Huh? Are these survivors of Haiyan and victims of Martial Law, or what? Because their words don’t jive with who they say they are.

Such glaring disconnect has made the public who are otherwise compassionate and desirous to help wary and suspicious of these campaigns. They are seen as like the “beggars” of today who are actually syndicate groups. They dress up to look like the most pitiable of creatures. Or, use children, women, and disabled persons. After you give them an amount, the singular beggar has suddenly multiplied, they gang up on you, divest you of all your valuables if not your body as well, and then, if you’re so unlucky, kill you. In Baguio City, the foreigners (who have the softest of hearts at the sight of abject poverty) have already learned the lesson. They don’t give anymore to outstretched palms.

But it’s the real poor though, who’d rather stay home and tend to their gardens and farms and look for work than go rah-rah-ing on the streets, who are given a bad name. For all what’s said about them and done in their name, many of them are folks with dignity.

Cold facts

Would the anti-Marcos protesters consider burning the Philippine flag and curse until they’re hoarse?

Just symbolic speech. But actually the US Supreme Court ruled that burning the American flag is symbolic speech hence is OK under their Constitution’s First Amendment (Texas v. Johnson 1989 ). Read here why. Insane! we here might say. But the SC contended, viewpoint should not distract legal rulings.

Exactly. The Philippine SC did just that ie. stick to the issue and facts. Former President, check. Medal of Valor, check. Unconvicted, check.

The same applies to, and as what many commented, the Dayan-De Lima affair- whether or not she had an affair with Dayan is beside the issue (illegal drugs) cited against the Senator. The affair can be tackled at a separate trial, not filed by government but only by Dayan’s wife.

Similarly, it should be the Aquinos and direct victims of Martial Law and not third parties who have a case against the former President but since he’s dead, the surviving authorities of the regime. But for so-called victims, they must know that certain rights are constitutionally suspended under Martial Law, one of which is going on public protest or hatching treacherous acts against the government. In other words Marcos in as far as rounding up protesters and the like was covered under the constitution.

There are of course exceptions. Like, rape and torture. This is why I said direct victims, because who did it to them? The court needs data- names, etc. If the answer is “Marcos”, that’s one going down the drain. One must in criminal cases establish the connection to “Marcos” beyond reasonable doubt. Otherwise, without these standards, anybody could just accuse anybody.

Unfortunately the media perpetuates this practice. It’s rife these days of articles exposing what is other people’s past cases against the Marcoses and then using those to stick into readers the evil that are the Marcoses. The fact that they are third parties – reporters and not the victims – escapes them. They add to or stretch the story thereby convoluting first person experience and third party interpretation. Journalists, like humanitarian (eg. Red Cross) and medical workers, should be neutral to be effective and relevant. Just as a medical doctor is obligated to attend to all in need of medical care, the journalist is obligated to report all facets of the truth. The audience decides. 

So yes, all those MRs are really dependent on the quality of evidence presented by those they say were victims. Lack of evidence, no case.

My Christmas wish: grace and a generous dash of obedience

what is grace?

Different was what I was looking for from the protesting “exclusive Catholic schools” of Ateneo and St. Scholastica. It wasn’t that they protested per se but rather their un-godly strategy (which includes their choice of words and statements), game plan, or driving force in their protest that was, to me, a Catholic and also schooled in Catholic schools, a scandal and huge disappointment. Well, I understand UP. A State university, their words and actions on the streets are purposely of the masa although much is still to be discussed and agreed upon as to the ethics of publicly protesting State actions given that it’s State funded/paid for by the people hence it’s (institution) voice should mirror the people’s or the majority at the least. But “exclusive Catholic schools?”

Ateneo Manila espouses the motto Lux in Domino- light in the Lord. Ateneo de Naga’s is Primum Regnum Dei- first the kingdom of God. St. Scholastica’s at least the missionary Benedictines- apart from humility, silence and obedience, to establish a community that would proclaim the kingdom of God among those people who have not yet heard the Gospel.

“Exhume the cadaver!” These are not the words of a Catholic or a Christian. Where is the lux in Domino here? Or, the kingdom of God? Or, community living the Gospel? Besides, as any Christian we were taught not to speak in this way, or weren’t we? What if the other group told your group back: “We will if you also exhume the cadavers of your not-so-perfect parents and founders!”? Undoubtedly, such fires up war. And precisely. Is why I was looking for these Catholic schools and religious to offer a different framework of protest.

In another part of the world, in the US, protesters have camped on the site where the Dakota oil pipeline will be laid to ground where recently the group encountered a controversial hosing incident from the police. You know that they really care about the issue and that they’ve been doing everything they could to attain their objectives, but all within democratic bounds. I was touched by somebody in the group who tweeted that they know that they might lose that war. You could sense humility and objectivity in there. Also hope that they may not. But regardless, acceptance. Who was it who said that it is also about the journey (besides the goal)?

In Twitterlandia recently, there’s this foundation that will be anointing 19 “heroes” of the oppositionists in the time of Marcos. Fine. But, they won’t get to be buried in LNMB. They’re not former Presidents nor bemedalled uniformed men or women these being the qualifications of hero or bayani in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. In the UK, medals and honor can be confirmed by knighthood, only by the Queen. In a democracy, perhaps by legislation although knowing our Pinoy streak, it’ll be all or no one at all. But supposing Congress did legislate those 19 oppositionists as heroes. What do you think will happen across the country?

I hope the young protesters read and understood the individual arguments of the SC judges. The penned individual arguments are eloquent and profound. “Not pure evil.” What does that mean? True history students are curious enough to search high and low for data and information about why the former President was deemed not evil as everyone was saying. Research if data’s not readily available. Diverse perspectives about that era are what our country lacks. Why? What keeps us from exploring all the angles (rather than be stuck with just one hand me down story)? 

So yes it’s not as if nothing’s being done to acquire justice for victims because they’re all filed with the Court. Only that the former President is dead a long time and his “sins” as the elected of the land simply cannot be shouldered by his surviving family. The protesters believe otherwise and this belief is precisely what instituted this country’s political dynasties and patronage politics. We believe we could go to the wife, the son, or daughter, the grandchildren even (is why no one from the decent middle class aspire to public office)- like this country’s a royal kingdom not a democracy. There are among us surviving authorities of that Martial Law regime. Question is, does our honored Court has the strength and courage to summon them? Also, this so-called ill gotten wealth of billions. Who in his or her right mind believes such a thing? The amount’s so preposterous and beguiling it inspires tales and searches that rival those of the Yamashita gold! Finders keepers too! A case to recover certain properties has long been filed in the US, so let’s ask the US court. And please don’t agitate people unnecessarily (the media did) by asking to whom these belong- we’ll know once the case settled.

The fiery and enigmatic Cuban Fidel Castro has divided his country by his rule and ideals but in the end both sides acted with fairness and above all, grace and great hope for the future. This because I think the Cubans are aware that greater forces were also involved in the shaping of their history eg. US’ backing of their dictator President Batista who eventually abandoned his presidency to Castro whose rebellion was initially supported by the US that later on staged the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion in order to topple Castro.  Now, both countries have made steps toward reconciliation. The curious tide of time.

We were in the same boat too.  The forces that shaped and are shaping our history, economy, and politics are not necessarily confined within the national. We have to recognize this because it then shapes our attitude toward and perspectives of events. It’s why the call is to stick together as a nation.

The Cubans chose grace toward that time of their history. They chose to be forward looking. We need to be that too. It won’t be surprising if with their graceful attitude and perspective, Cuba will have outpaced our country (if we remain wallowing like carabaos in our shithole). 

That reminds me. I read somewhere that one reason Singapore, Japan and other SEA countries have overtaken us is, people in those countries, relative to Filipinos, are obedient and respectful of their elected leaders. Once decrees are passed, the people execute them at once no questions asked. True. We, here, modelled especially at government level, argue about better ways without actually getting to doing things, we make fun more than sweat, and along the way try to up the other because we believe we’re each the hero more than others, and before we know it centuries have passed us by. 

Time reveals to us the truth

The Allies, after World War I and with it the defeat and demise of Hitler, went after the generals and executioners who had survived their leader. The search took several years and spanned the globe but search they did. Found, those individuals were made accountable even if they were already bent and aging. Same in Cambodia with Pol Pot’s generals.

In the Philippines, not that Marcos was like Hitler or Pol Pot, far from them, but the surviving leaders during Martial Law pro and anti-government are in contrast still at large and horror of horrors some were actually elected to venerable positions over the people! And now we have these protests for “national unity and rage” against what protesters see as “the evil”. 

National unity? This country is a nation of 100M citizens over 7100 islands. Protesters number 5000 at most. That’s .005% of total population.

Rage of what precisely? Details and statistics, please. I remember that travel in the late 70s and early 80s was not restricted. In fact, the expat community thrived then. We were stationed abroad (Africa) and came back summers for vacation. We kids spent it with our grandparents in the province and some time with relatives in Metro Manila. These times were my happiest. Were we or our communities restricted? No. As I mentioned in my previous post, Martial Law targeted enemies of the State. By enemies I mean those who insist on what they wanted and go toe to toe against the legitimate / elected leader (by the way, anywhere you go in the world such act is traitorous because not only does the act violate the individual but the people/majority whom the leader represents. Cross the line against the King in Saudi and the penalty is practically, off with the head (guillotined)! Do that to the President of the United States and you’ll probably be shipped off naked to the farthest star in outer space. Openly confrontating the authority of State leaders is like trespassing- the Constitution provides for the protection of the property owner and the trespasser goes against this at his own risk. We’re lenient here compared to most countries. We should be thankful for this everyday.) So, yes, rage against what? The leaders during Martial Law who are still here? Then we don’t have to go to the Lady at EDSA or to Rizal at Luneta to say that. 

And these exclusive schools! Were you closed down during Martial Law? Did the State then prohibit you from practising your religion? Were you rounded up and disrobed of your habits? Were you not thankful that the Communists were not sucessful in taking over the State (because then you’d really have to go underground)? So what are you against during that time? The attitude the leaders of these schools have adopted does not mirror the intelligence and wisdom of their founders.Their example partly explains why there’s a dearth in the religious vocation. Personally,  it scandalizes me to see these days religious in their habits shopping in the malls! Their public support of individual elites while remaining silent about the unmoneyed ignorant in inhuman shelters near them brings back to our collective memory those centuries of captivity when Church leaders were our oppressors (for keeping the Indios in their place, ignorant of the whole truth).

It is the young who are being recruited into extremism, globally, because of their formability and also culpability. They are the ones sent out with fire in their heads and explosives on their bodies (while the adults secure themselves at base camp, feasting). Shame on their recruiters and teachers who feed them self serving  half baked truths! It scares parents around the country observing this happening right in their backyatds. Is institutionalized hatred really here already? How can we entrust formation of our children’s minds to such institutions?

These show how shortsighted and little the protesters now of the Martial Law period, or if they do, continue to protest in order to protect vested interests. Popular knowledge is not necessarily the truth. The complexity and intricacy of history cannot be summarized in just one hashtag #neveragain or #neverforget. Which part of that history are we referring to? Never again the good infrastructures that were built then and we’re using until now? Never forget that because of Martial Law we were saved from the Communists and other questionable factions that want entry into our hallowed grounds? Never forget that it is this generation who let them in? Never forget that while they were given a chance they did nothing to uplift the masa? What? We say if only we have a Lee Kwan Yew to manage our country. But when there’s actually one in our midst we quickly push him down the ravine. Parroting and readily embracing popular knowledge that’s obviously one-sided is a mockery of (blind) Justice and Truth itself. Also our history of electing our leaders tells us that as a people we have not matured in our ability to discern who are true and sincere from those who are charmers or mere whisperers of sweet nothings. Somebody who’s always smiling, polite, and open is readily judged an angel and who’s austere, foul mouthed, and unsociable the devil. Experience tells us this is often not the case. We still put a premium on form than substance so that we have always missed the train. 

If we want to protest let’s at least do some research or investigation on that period of our national history. Who? What? Where? Why? How? I’m sure in the process as long as we go by it truthfully we’ll find that there is more to the case than just one vested interest and the name or person, Marcos.

Flip side of hero worship

Conrado de Quiros in his article, Whole Truth, for Philippine Star informs readers that “the Senate has just passed a law that would create the Memorial Commission. The Commission will oversee the teaching of martial law’s atrocities in schools” in the basic, secondary, and tertiary levels.

In this task, the Commission is likened to one stricken with a bizarre form of OC in which, over and over, you go to the cemetery to dig up your hated dead, reminisce its act when it was alive, curse its bones and all, and worse do all this in front of children. Unless you decide that your OC has to stop and therefore free yourself from the power of this dead on you and your life, you can declare yourself dead too. This is no way to live your life or inspire other lives.

To regularly and perpetually teach children and young people about one man’s “atrocities” in a one-hour subject is tantamount to brainwash by an institution and as a result violence to their psyche.

Let’s have an analogy: say, parents who separated or divorced, maybe bitterly. What do you think their children will feel, think, and conclude when one of their separated parents constantly dump on them the bad things their spouse, the children’s other parent, did? These children are candidates for the psychologist’ chair in no time.

Another analogy: take Hannibal and Hitler. How do you think school children will turn out studying under a microscope the extreme behavior of Hannibal the cannibal in all its gory details? How do you think school children will turn out when they study Hitler’s extent of crimes? We’re talking here school children – elementary and high school – studying criminals’ extreme crimes. Me thinks there would be among them who because of the regular exposure to this study of extreme violence will turn out to be violence itself, ala Hannibal or Hitler – the flip side of hero worship.

We’re again seeing in this policy a blanket approach which, experience tells us, is a misdirected approach to policy making.

The Commission’s task, while perhaps good in its intention, will backfire in ways that outweigh intended benefits. The study is more appropriate for university students who are, say, specializing in Ferdinand Marcos, Good Governance, Philippine Revolutions, Philippine History, Philippine Politics, and the like.