Clear and present danger

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WE CAN all sleep soundly each night in the certainty that the Armed Forces of the Philippines is on guard and watching over us. Regardless of such technicalities as due process and human rights, it is at this very moment protecting us not only from explosives experts pretending to be health workers, pregnant mothers and nine-year old girls able to carry and even fire M-16 assault rifles taller than themselves, but also from trade union leaders, community activists, lawyers, church people and even a botanist or two.

Like that other model of selfless, honest and efficient public service, the Philippine National Police, the AFP’s job is also to serve and protect. Neither always says who they’re protecting and serving, but they do occasionally mention something called “the people,” by whom we can reasonably surmise from their near-common histories and current actions they mean the hacenderos, the warlords, the foreign mining companies and the other worthies who have made this country such a heaven for themselves by making it hell for the 90 million others who have to live in this archipelago of fear. After all, there’s a rumor that even your friendly local warlord and hacendero are human, too. Think Ampatuan. Think local officials who mastermind the assassination of journalists. Think certain Philippine presidents.

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