By REV. LUNA L. DINGAYAN
“You killed the one who leads to life, but God raised him from death — and we are witnesses for this.” — Acts 3:15
Spate of Political Killings
One of the most disturbing trends in our country today is the spate of political killings happening almost everyday. The victims come from the ranks of militant groups and media people, including those from the church. We may ask why these people are being killed. Obviously, they are the prophets of our time. They are the bearers and seekers for truth. Truly, a government that could not withstand the truth would do everything it could to cover it up.
It is not only the bearers and seekers for truth that are being killed. Even the legitimate and peaceful processes of arriving at truth are also being killed. By not allowing concerned government officials to speak out on issues of vital importance, by killing the impeachment process that would help clarify questions on presidential legitimacy, by implementing an undeclared state of emergency or even an undeclared all-out war against every form of legitimate dissent, the people’s legal options are getting narrower and narrower. Perhaps, we have to remind ourselves that these were the kind of situations that gave birth to EDSA I and to EDSA II, respectively.
But what is more disturbing is the people’s apparent indifference on these political killings. It is like the indifference of people during the Martial Law years, wherein about ten thousand people were jailed, tortured, summarily executed, or simply disappeared. Martial Law lasted for many years partly because of people’s indifference. There was indifference because perhaps many of the Martial Law victims were just ordinary people: peasants, workers, students, and church people. Apparently, it is not far from what is also happening today. It would be different perhaps if someone among the rich and influential in our country, like Ninoy Aquino, would again become a victim of political killings.
Ninoy Aquino was not really the first victim of political killings in the Martial Law years, as Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo claimed in her speech during the commemoration of Ninoy’s death last August 21. Before Ninoy were thousands of ordinary Filipinos who really carried the torch of freedom in the darkest nights of Martial Law.
However, Ninoy Aquino’s assassination somehow opened the eyes of the middle class to the truth that no one among us is really safe until every one of us is safe. If we lived too long in an atmosphere of lies and deception, we might think that this is already the truth. Our fear is that if today’s political killings go on unabated, we might also think that it is okay for us to kill people to cover up the truth. This might become our way of life. The culture of impunity might become our own culture. The value of Ninoy’s death is the fact that it has awakened our nation from its deep slumber. But we do hope we should not wait anymore for another Ninoy to be killed before we would be awakened to the truth and do something about what is really happening in our country today.
Jesus as Victim of Political Killing
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is also a victim of political killing during his time. He was a victim of a state-sponsored execution for the crime of rebellion. According to the authorities, he claimed to be “the King of the Jews”. This was the official charge written above his cross (Mk.15:26). The King of the Jews at that time was Herod Antipas. Hence, to claim to be the king would naturally mean to declare rebellion against the constituted authorities.
But aside from that, Jesus Christ our Lord was also accused of being a “disturber of peace”(Lk.23:5), a “blasphemer” (Mt.26:63-65), as one who has Beelzebub, the chief of demons in him (Mk.3:22). The powers-that-be manipulated the people not only to be indifferent to Jesus, but also to ask Pilate for his head. Pilate played safe and gave in to what the people wanted. He knew for sure that Jesus was innocent, but he would like also to protect his own political career. It is like condemning the political killings, but at the same time praising the one accused to be behind all these killings.
Killing the One Who Leads to Life
In the Book of Acts, Peter preached and accused the leaders in Jerusalem for killing Jesus, “the one who leads to life”(Acts 3:15). Through his life and ministry, Jesus showed that he is indeed “the way, the truth, and the life”(Jn. 14:6) by healing the sick, feeding the hungry, giving sight to the blind, preaching good news to the poor, setting free the oppressed, and announcing with hope the coming of a transformed society, where love, justice, and peace prevail (cf.Lk.4:18-19).
Knowingly or unknowingly, these are precisely what today’s victims of political killings have been doing. They had been working for social transformation, for truth and justice, without which no nation could ever survive. But ironically, this was also the very reason why they were brutally killed.
Historically, killing is one of the worst expressions of political control. Wielders of political power believed that death is the end. Hence, they try to exterminate their political enemies in order to maintain their political control.
Death is not the End
However, one of the greatest tenets of our Christian faith is the fact that death is not the end, but the beginning of a new life. Life is far greater than death. Peter said in his sermon to the people in Jerusalem that God raised Jesus from death (Acts 3:5). The wielders of political power crucified Jesus and accused him of all sorts of evil things. But then God showed that He has approved Jesus’ way of life by raising him from death.
Today’s victims of political killings in our country are not dead. No, they are forever alive in the hearts and minds of freedom-loving people, ever looking forward to the dawning of a new day when political killings will be no more. #