Still at it

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FROM SOME organizations working among the indigenous peoples comes the information that the slideshow called “Knowing the Enemy” is still being presented by some military units making the rounds of rural schools as part of the government’s anti-insurgency campaign. A participant in a roundtable conference on political vilification — tagging individuals and groups as “subversives,” “terrorists,” etc.– held early this week at the University of the Philippines claims that her daughter was in a class in her community elementary school where the military presented the slideshow.

“Knowing the Enemy” is a PowerPoint presentation the media and the public came to know about when the fisherman’s group Pamalakaya got hold of a copy and released its contents through a press conference in 2006, during the disputed presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

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The teller, not the tale

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IF INDEED Marine Col. Generoso Mariano was calling for the overthrow of Benigno Aquino III, few except Malacanang and its own version of the Arroyo regime’s Lorelei Fajardo seem to have been either surprised or worried.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Avigail Valte went so far as to declare that once retired, Mariano could work directly for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, since, she said, the latter’s camp has been saying the same thing that Mariano said in that video someone took of him reading what looked like a prepared statement, and uploaded on YouTube.

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Truth interred

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The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.

SHAKESPEARE wasn’t referring to the consequences of either good or evil, but to evil’s being remembered more than the good. That might have been true in his time, which was 400 years ago. Today the opposite’s more the case, and that’s true of even the most evil men (and women), who, once safely in the ground, are often remembered for their good deeds and/or qualities more than for the bad.

While the most that’s been said about Adolf Hitler is that he restored German pride (at least for some 12 years) and loved dogs, the one man demonstrators used to compare to the Fuhrer has been a bit more fortunate. Among other accolades, the late Ferdinand Marcos, insist some Filipinos, also built roads and diversified the country’s energy resources.

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Enemies of the state

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AT SOME point during her interminable occupancy of Malacanang, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said something to the effect that the police and military are charged with preserving “our way of life.”

I hesitate to call it an unguarded moment, Mrs. Arroyo not being known for lowering her guard at any time, except when she’s playing golf with the state capitalists of China. Let’s call it an unintended confession of what the country’s ruling dynasties and their instrumentalities are up to.

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Impunity’s roots

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IMPUNITY — OR exemption from punishment — has been correctly called a culture, a way of doing things to which a particular community has become accustomed. It is almost inevitably mentioned as the primary reason why journalists and political activists continue to be killed in the Philippines, where a culture of impunity has indeed taken root. But it also applies with equal validity to the killing of nearly everyone else, especially the poor and powerless. Few murders in this country are ever really solved, with the perpetrators and masterminds being arrested, tried and punished.

Contrary to the common perception that only the wealthy and powerful literally get away with murder, it also happens even to the poorest folk. If the wealthy and well-connected can evade punishment by hiring crafty lawyers, and bribing policemen, prosecutors and judges, those who are otherwise, if they’re lucky enough, can escape the law by simply disappearing in the vast countryside that surrounds the cities, or in the anonymous warrens and labyrinthine slums the poorest call home. Police inefficiency and reluctance to hunt down killers, if the victims are “not important” and won’t be missed except by their closest kin, does the rest.

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Praetorian or revolutionary?

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In the same University of the Philippines centennial lecture in which he argued for state subsidies for the mass media as well as state regulation of media content (see Vantage Point: “An idea whose time has not come,” Business World, April 11, 2008), former UP President Francisco Nemenzo urged academics to deepen their study of the Philippine military, arguing that the latter has become a major player in Philippine politics.

What’s more, said Nemenzo, “Given the situation now, it is only the military that can neutralize the elite.” And God knows the elite, having demonstrated how far it’s willing to go in destroying this country in the pursuit of its political and economic interests, needs neutralizing.

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