Prof. Henry Francis Espiritu of UP Cebu wrote an article last week entitled “My Brother Filipinos, What Have We Become?” where he shares his reflections on the extrajudicial killings.
He laments the “general apathy that average Filipinos respond to the increasing trend of extrajudicial murders across the country giving the troubling impression that those who are murdered, who are presumed to be criminals without the benefit of due process and who often belong to the poorest section of the society were seen as less than human beings and as less valuable than the rest of us.”
It seems that people are now becoming numbed by the surging statistics of extrajudicial murders that are now happening around us. He further adds that most of us often talk about equality, of basic human rights and of basic freedoms as citizens of this country, and yet our emotions and the core of our hearts are not even bothered by the present cruelties and inhumanities against our fellow Filipinos and fellow human beings who are murdered on mere suspicion without the benefit of due process accorded to them by the law and by our Constitution.
Espiritu is deeply outraged by pastors (as well as “good-Christian-people-out-there”) preaching the unconditional mercy, compassion and love of God in their sermons, Sunday after Sunday, but themselves “enthusiastically applauding and supporting with gusto the extrajudicial killings that are now surging in our benighted country.”
Quoting the blessed words from Jewish, Christian and Islamic scriptures, he chides these pastors whom they are serving and following if they applaud and support this raging culture of death and impunity in our midst.
For Prof. Espiritu, there is something wrong now with our collective emotions as a people that in just a few months, our hearts have become hardened and so callous that we have already lost our intrinsic human capacity to empathize with the sufferings of others. He raises a few questions that we need to reflect and answer. Where is the outrage? What have we become? What happened to us? What happened to our moral compass as Filipino people? Where is the indignation to this cruelty against our fellow human beings who were deprived of their dear lives even as they were deprived of the legal protection supposedly accorded by due process to them?
He ends his reflections by reminding all Filipinos who still love our country and its people to be courageous: “We need to face this present dispensation with courage and fortitude to stand for what is right and what is just; we need to speak against the perpetrators of this culture of death and their evil propaganda of justifying State-sponsored murders in the name of a pet project or of a government agenda that blatantly disregards the safeguards of due process as provided by the basic law of our land and the jurisprudential canons of civility and humanity.” He punctuates this by stating that it is only when we become the voice of the voiceless that we can proactively struggle for a better Philippines, fight for a just world where love, mercy and compassion reign.
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Today, Mother Teresa will be elevated to sainthood and will be known as the Saint of the Gutters. Everybody knows Mother Teresa (even non-Catholics) for what she did. Overwhelmed by the extreme poverty as a young teacher while teaching history and geography in a rich girls’ school in Calcutta, India, the second most populous country in the world, Mother Teresa decided to stay and work as a missionary in the gutters of the second largest city in India, Calcutta, which used to be the capital of British India.
She founded the congregation Missionaries of Charity to continue the rescuing and taking care of the abandoned, the beggars, the lepers, orphans and specially the dying destitutes. They teach the abandoned and orphans how to read and write as well as hygiene, bathe the beggars and lepers, and make the final days of the dying destitute comfortable.
In Cebu, Mother Teresa’s congregation has a house called “Gasa sa Gugma” (Cebuano for “Gift of Love”) which is a house for dying destitutes.
In 2009, when my brother died, his remains were cremated as per his wish. Before he was cremated, Rolling Hills which took charge of the services, advised me to donate my brother’s coffin to Gasa sa Gugma, which I willingly did. This is to give them a decent burial. This was the core of Mother Teresa’s work — to make the final days of the dying destitutes comfortable, and there are thousands of them.
Despite the extraordinary work she was doing, Mother Teresa was criticized for attending to the dying destitutes when they were dying anyway. The point is that the government could not take care of them for they are overwhelmingly too many. Others criticized her for receiving donations and the money could have been used to build hospitals. But Mother Teresa did not intend to build 5-star houses or hospitals but decent and comfortable places for the abandoned, beggars, lepers and dying destitutes they rescue from the streets. Nobody can argue against what Mother Teresa did.
Mother Teresa was a friend of silence. As author Kerry Weber writes, “The reason silence was so important to her is because it offers us the opportunity to begin shedding false understandings of ourselves and the world. It clears a space for the recognition that converts. Silence and prayer become the wombs in which we’re reborn. They ‘enlarge’ the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of himself.”
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