The state of our nation
President Marcos Jr. may have given his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday, but the state of our nation had already been illustrated a day prior.
The senseless violence we witnessed last Sunday is a microcosmic glimpse of our nation’s state, where political frustrations outpour the limits of patience and reason. Vigilante “justice,” after all, is a product of distrust with a broken system. And, indeed, the system is broken—so much so that, at times, we fail to do right by those who are most wronged.
On July 24, 2022, a violent attack had taken place in the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) campus. Early on, it was reported that former Lamitan mayor Rosita Furigay and two “others” were killed. We ought to remind ourselves that these victims are not faceless. They have identities and stories. They have names. With that, I extend my condolences to the friends, families, and loved ones of the dearly departed Mayor Furigay, her executive assistant Victor George Capistrano, and AdMU security guard Jeneven Bandiala.
It is both disappointing as it is disquieting to see how we can so easily statisticize the loss of human life and, even worse, along the lines of wealth and power—as if blue-collar work made anyone any less worthy of acknowledgment. That very notion of human hierarchy is incompatible with the view of equal dignity of all, enjoyed by the mayoral and the manual worker alike, regardless of the color of our collars.
But then again, this unfortunate phenomenon is nothing new. Indeed, we’ve seen it for the past six years, to say the least. In its own way, the lines of demarcation we draw, at times unknowingly and unintentionally, echo the very same othering at the heart of the Dutertian drug war. Both are cut from the same cloth; relegating the lives of those worse off as dispensable and conceiving of a realm where the protective ambit of rights simply does not reach.
We must be better than this, though admittedly that is easier said than done. What the July 24, 2022 attack in Ateneo revealed is how the demons we face are around us just as they are within us. We must guard against our own invisible prejudices. Indeed, we should stay alive to veiled partialities precisely because they are latent. We must remember the nameless and the faceless; may they be the university guard, our far-flung neighbor, the 11,103 wronged during the martial law regime, or the 30,000 dead in the Dutertian drug war.
Regrettably, however, it seems that we’re headed in the opposite direction. Under the new administration, the tendency is to forget.
Mr. Marcos’ Sona was a technocrat’s dream. A one-hour and 14-minute inundation of percentages, acronyms, and figures, but not a second dedicated to addressing the Philippine human rights situation. In the face of the International Criminal Court investigation, the Sona stayed mum.
Mr. Marcos claims that the state of our nation is sound. But for victims of the Marcosian past, the Dutertian drug war, and their families left behind, all that was heard was the sound of silence.
Quiet is the sound of apathy, and apathy the state of our nation.
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