7/14/2017
Blood

Today the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of charges against former president Noynoy Aquino for playing a role in what became the massacre at Mamasapano, where 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force were killed in a counterterrorism operation.

It was determined that Noynoy allowed former police chief Alan Purisima to take part in the planning of the operation, which led to the death of international terrorist Marwan, despite the latter being suspended for corruption allegations. The Ombudsman said that, without the former president's influence, the disgraced Purisima wouldn't have had a seat at the table.

There you go. Blood. Blood for a thirsty nation.

In the immediate aftermath of the Mamasapano incident I wrote about a different - subtly different, but at the same time loudly different - response to it, from the first details of the "misencounter" to the perceived callousness of the then president's response. It felt different. It did not just come from his usual critics. It came from more people. Our forces were involved. Our forces were killed for questionable ends. We may have killed a terrorist, but it did not seem much to celebrate about, not after what happened immediately before.

Turns out Noynoy's defensiveness was because he had a much bigger role to play: he bypassed relevant authorities (including, notably, his anointed one, Mar Roxas, who oversaw the police as head of the DILG) and coordinated with Purisima in implementing a police operation that the latter should not have had a hand on, considering he was suspended.

I remember wondering if that anger would lead to something more substantial. "Will this outrage foster a patriotism that the Philippines has been sorely lacking?" I wrote two and a half years ago. "Or will all this be forgotten when the next big thing comes along?"

By "next big thing" I meant "next big scandal", but then, something else happened. Rodrigo Duterte became president. 16 million people rose up and declared they've had enough of the usual corruption masquerading as decency, voting in someone whose off-the-cuff, perhaps reprehensible demeanor belies a true concern for the country.

While Digong's election provided them hope that, finally, something will be done about the Philippines' perennial woes, it has not replaced anger. Our fondness for the dramatic, indeed. We cannot fully move on until we have sought revenge. There must be blood. The antagonist must be made to pay for his trespasses, and in this scenario, Noynoy has had many. He may have given some people confidence that things will get better for the country - and, at least for the economic, there's some tangible results - but for others, all he did was enrich himself and his cohorts in that damn yellow party.

Well, there you go. Blood. Blood for a thirsty nation.

Now, I'm not defending Noynoy - what he did there is indefensible, the very epitome of the corruption he supposedly eschews. (But we all know he abetted it.) I'm not saying he's just a victim of our tendency to seek revenge, one perhaps fostered by nightly soaps and how the news presents political developments as a he-said-he-said thing. I'm thinking of how we are now, under Duterte, a president who, in his first year, has also seen his share of indefensible allegations: the steep rise in extrajudicial killings tied to his campaign against illegal drugs, questions over how he will fund his much-ballyhooed "golden age of infrastructure", his dilly-dallying around the question of Philippine sovereignty over segments of the South China Sea.

When he steps down, and provided he will still be alive by 2022, will the tables be turned again? Will the prosecuted under the Duterte era seek revenge? Will the success of these hopes be portrayed as a sign that things are getting better? It's easy to guess the response to the Ombudsman's recommendations today: This is change! No more corruption! (The irony of Conchita Carpio-Morales being a Noynoy appointee - who assumed the position after he forced Merceditas Gutierrez out - as well as later calls for the former to resign for not prosecuting the former president will be lost to some.)

Is this all there is to it? Will we all just throw allegations, hope for prosecutions, and when we get our desired result, proclaim victory and bask in the satisfaction that things are finally changing?

Granted, things are different today. We're much less tolerant of other opinions - even those who say they're for decency tend to frown upon others for being different. Now, there are more opportunities for blood. There you go. Blood. So much blood for a thirsty nation.

And your responses...

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