Taking lives

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Nothing and no one can bring Leo Echegaray or anyone else wrongfully executed back to life. But it doesn’t mean that nothing can be gained from a public discussion of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban’s assertion that the Supreme Court erred in upholding the death penalty for Echegaray.

Certainly the Filipino public as well as the anti-crime groups that have been among the chief advocates of capital punishment can gain something from such a discussion. And although the Philippine mass media may deny any complicity, and even pretend total innocence in the “wrongful death” of Echegaray, they are among the sectors that could learn something from a public review of the case and the death penalty issue. But so has the Arroyo regime much to learn from it, despite its new found advocacy as an opponent of the death penalty. Continue reading

The ignorance that kills

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The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding… The most incorrigible vice [is] that of an ignorance which fancies it knows everything, and therefore claims for itself the right to kill.

—Nobel Prize for Literature laureate Albert Camus

It’s bad enough to demand that journalists be informers. But it’s even worse to justify the killing of journalists and political activists by declaring that other crimes happen anyway, and no one can do anything about them.

Raul Gonzalez’ being justice secretary is among the many crosses Filipinos have to bear, courtesy of the so-called government of the Philippines. The other day he used the attempt on the life of Batangas Governor Armando Sanchez to argue that the government has nothing to do with the killing of journalists and political activists. In the process, however, Gonzalez succeeded in validating what everyone has known all along about the state of criminality in the Philippines as well as who’s responsible for it. Continue reading

When more is less

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Wealth distribution is extremely unequal in the Philippines. Too few people get too much while too many get too little of the wealth the economy generates.

A handful of families earn millions annually and can afford several homes, a fleet of vehicles, the most expensive local if not foreign schools for their children, the best medical care, and trips abroad and other luxuries whenever they feel like it. Continue reading

Highs and lows

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Some Filipinos aren’t doing cartwheels over those three Filipino mountaineers’ being the first Filipinos to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. I’m one of them, but I’m not so much belittling their achievement as lamenting how it’s been damaged, and made to seem so much less, by what’s going on in this country.

I’m not about to whine that many other climbers from other countries have done it before, as some grouches are alleging. There are deeds worth doing again and again, and climbing Everest is one of them. (This former mountaineer who’s climbed, among others, Mounts Pulag and Banahaw knows what ordinary climbing entails–but can only imagine what climbing Everest in sub-zero cold and oxygen-thin air is like.) Continue reading