January 24, 2010 in Featured
January 23 marks the second month since the Ampatuan massacre when 57 lives were mercilessly snuffed out by a political clan that have started to play God with powers over the lives of men and women in that corner of the country.
The prime suspect in this dastardly crime is now undergoing trial even as the witnesses and their relatives are being harassed and threatened with harm if they do not desist from testifying. Judging from government’s handling of previous crimes with political overtones, the chances of getting justice for the victims in this case is not guaranteed.
January 23 also marks the day when protesting peasants and their allies were gunned down by security forces along Mendiola bridge during the term of the late President Cory Aquino, claiming the lives of 13 protesters. That was 23 years ago and justice has not been served to the victims of this Mendiola massacre.
Aside from the date, what connects these two tragic incidents is the impunity with which people are killed, lives are wasted in this supposedly civilized times we are living in. As a result, the norms of humane behavior breaks down and more lives are lost in a continuing spiral of violence.
This is true in the case of elections in this country. Never has there been an election when no violence against person did not take place. Our pretensions to democracy remains largely just that – pretensions; the fear and violence, vote-buying and vote-rigging that accompany our electoral exercises make the choice of our leaders largely an exercise in make-believe.
If the situation is bad when it comes to elections, the situation is far worse in the case of the peasants’ struggle for genuine land reform. To underscore the landlords’ resistance to any meaningful land reform, the Mendiola massacre would be repeated in the Hacienda Luisita massacre when a dozen or so farmers were again killed a few years ago.
And so the country’s peasants and their allies have had to undertake another “long march” to bring to the public’s attention the continuing injustice Filipino peasants are going through for several decades now.
This is also the reaon why the issue of land reform especially that pertaining to Hacienda Luisita has become a burning issue for presidential aspirants, particularly for Sen. Noynoy Aquino. Will he or will he not bring justice to the tenants of Hacienda Luisita if he gets elected president?
Land, elections and violence are themes closely interconnected in the Philippine landscape for decades now. Going deeper, these have to do with how wealth and power is shared or monopolized in our country.
It has been said that in this country wealth begets power, and power, in turn, begets more wealth. Attempts to change or alter that equation usually begets violence, if not death.
In other words, those who monopolize wealth and power in this country do not really want to share, much less democratize the wealth and power now in their control. Crumbs, as in meaningless reforms, yes. But real sharing, never.
Is that what is at the bottom of these tragic days of our lives? Can somebody tell us another, less brutal theory to explain all these tragedies? # nordis.net