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Killing fields

First it was drugs. Now it’s under the excuse of terrorism. When will the killings end?

As the day ended Monday, we heard the news that human rights activist, Zara Alvarez, was gunned down and left to die in her own pool of blood, mixed with pouring rain. She was just 39.

The incident happened on the same day that Randy Echanis of Karapatan and Anakpawis was laid to rest, after he too was gunned down inside his apartment in Quezon City a week ago.

I have never met Zara but many activists in Negros Occidental who knew her condemned her murder. In news reports, Zara was once tagged as a “terrorist” by the DOJ in a case a couple of years back, but she was eventually cleared.

Unfortunately, this petite lady whom many described as a dedicated defender of human rights abuses, remained a threat to these brainless idiots who hide behind the power of their guns and bullets, and silenced her forever.

How many activists have been killed under this administration? How many more will suffer the way of Zara? More so now that our House of Clowns just gave this government extra ammunitions to sweep them away via the anti-terror law.

While many are shocked and mourn the murder of Zara right in the middle of a residential village, there were people who made disgusting comments about this crime and view it even as a ploy of the insurgency group to discredit this government. Geez!

San Carlos Bishop Gerry Alminaza, one of our outspoken church leaders who incessantly cries out against injustice said, “I bleed of this never-ending injustice and violence, someone closest in my work with the oppressed is murdered. I just cannot believe this continuing madness of senseless killings!”

Yet even this statement of Bishop Gerry was vilified by many and it saddens me how some were even ecstatic about the murder. All they can see is that this murder should not be placed upon the shoulders of their president. They cannot see the bigger picture that these senseless killings have made us a nation that wantonly kills our own citizens.

That very night, the president went on air close to midnight again and apart from reiterating that he is hopeful we will soon get vaccines for COVID from China and Russia even if it means to borrow money again, he ranted about his never-ending threat to end illegal drugs.

How many more summary executions must we deal with, be it in the guise of illegal drugs or terrorism in the next two years under this administration?

Whilst we look upon the police and the military as defender of our lives, in the last four years since this country has turned into a killing field, there is nothing but deafening silence from their side. The brave and idealistic soldiers and officers that we hoped would see through the atrocities are nowhere to be found. They too have been swallowed by the system.

So much senseless killings have been committed in our community in just four years. Not one of them have been resolved yet we hear no condemnation from our local leaders. Those who cry for justice are the same human rights workers and religious leaders who are immediately tagged as ‘reds’ and if they can’t be silenced by trump-up charges, they are summarily executed.

We are dealing with one of the biggest crisis in our lifetime and instead of unifying ourselves as a nation, we have to contend with these slaughters which divides us even more.

We have got to stop being afraid. It is evident why our local leaders have been silent about these carnages. They fear the retaliation from the powers-that-be, or be the target of public-shaming. If they go against the high and mighty, they know they will lose in the bidding war for public funds.

But with what has been happening, I don’t see any public funds left after this pandemic. In fact, we will be lucky if by the end of the year, this government can still manufacture a myth that we are financially okay unless they borrow heavily again.

It does not need Charter Change to see that the idea of federalism may actually happen because of this crisis. We are on our own, we have been left to fend for ourselves and even without uttering so the local government units know this.

Are there funds forthcoming from the national government? Nah, it’s all in the drawing board. That’s the reason why despite the desperate cry from medical frontliners to put us back on lockdown mode, no such thing will happen because our leaders know that our local coffers are drying up in fighting this pandemic.

We live in the times that reminds me of that line in the movie, “The Killing Fields,” and it says “The wind whispers of fear and hate. The war has killed love. And those that confess to the Angka are punished, and no one dare ask where they go. Here, only the silent survive.”

Have we become that? Be silent, to survive? Ahh…so sad indeed.*

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January 2022

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