My soul screams in pain that our fallen brave ones were not so lucky. In this moment I remind myself why I am still alive, what my purpose is: To find the truth, to deliver it mindful of the public trust I am charged with. They were strong enough to uphold our freedom with their lives. I must be strong enough to live to defend the freedom of the nation they died serving.
If there is a stronger reason for me to work toward peace, no matter how difficult that job may be, I haven’t seen it yet. As for President Benigno Aquino III‘s words to the families of the fallen#SAF44, here’s what I have to say: We mourned with your family when your father died. That’s what brought about EDSA and people power. But you dishonor his memory by marching your own loss before these people whose wounds and bereavement are so fresh, so raw. Hope you do remember that this is not about you and your pain.
The five (5) reasons why self-defense is not a valid excuse are: (1) MILF failed to take the evasive maneuver in a way that they could have walked away from the path of the PNP to avoid misencounter; (2) MILF assaulted persons in authority; (3) MILF’s superiority of strength in terms of numbers, weapons, and familiarity with the terrain; (4) MILF did acts ofmutilation, and (5) MILF did summary execution on subdued members of the PNP.”
I pause to mourn for the 44 Filipino policemen whose names and photos we now see everywhere: they and their loved ones deserve our support and commiseration. But I also mourn for the 11 or more Moros whose faces will not be projected on our TV sets, whose names will not be printed on our newspapers, and whose wives and orphans will not be seared onto our memories–even though their lives are no less valuable, and even though they too died in a tragedy that could have been avoided if only our government weren’t so reckless with ordinary people’s lives, if only our absentee President complied with the coordination mechanisms (CCHGH and AJAG) that were painfully negotiated and painstakingly elaborated precisely to prevent tragedies like this, and if only our ruling oligarchs (and their imperialist partners) did not sow the seeds for a century of warfare by colonising Mindanao. I also mourn for us all–Filipinos and Moros, Muslims, Christians and lumads–who are caught in this spiral of war and have never known peace in our lives. May we all have the courage to resist some self-interested parties shout for bloodlust and revenge, and may we have the fortitude to build lasting peace with justice.
How do we move on from here? From grounds stained with too much blood? How does one correct a decision that dealt a final blow to the fallen? Easier said than done. Yes we mourn; yes, we rage, all because for now that’s what we can and must do. We weep for the tragic loss that has befallen these families; we rage against the stupidity that started it all. While this nation limps on account of its leaders’ stupidity, another blow is dealt to our country’s sense of itself. No matter how much we strive for peace, there will always be those who will choose death and destruction and war.