Starweek Magazine

Freak show

SINGKIT - Notes from the editor - The Philippine Star

I will not listen to congressional investigations on the car radio again. I nearly got into accidents several times driving down to work last Wednesday out of frustration listening to the hearing on the Mamasapano encounter at the House of Representatives. It’s a total waste of taxpayers’ money that we are financing that freak show of a congressional hearing. I guess those tong-gressmen were jealous of the media exposure the senators got over the two days of their hearing. I pity our poor police officials who had to endure several hours of such idiocy, and to have to call them, with a straight face, “your honor” (“your horror” is about the kindest words I have for them at this time).

One tong-gresswoman had some sense to say that since there were other investigations going on, shouldn’t the House committee just stop what they were doing. But of course nobody took her up on that, or maybe hers was merely a rhetorical question (what? give up my time on national television? what are you – lucky?). I think the television networks should stop airing the hearings live; without cameras, the hearings will probably not even last 44 minutes, with probably more than half of the committee members absent.

That extended freak show at the House last Wednesday does not by any measure give justice or honor to the SAF men who died, were wounded and who carried out the operation. As gallant as our policemen were is how idiotic those tong-gressmen were. Shame on you!

* * *

I must admit I’m not a great fan of that particular senator, but I appreciate a question he raised during last Tuesday’s Senate hearing into the Mamasapano massacre: Do we negotiate with terrorists? We also have to ask: Are people who coddle and give safe haven to known terrorists considered terrorists as well? With all their base commands in the area, and one commander reportedly living but half a kilometer from the hut where the international terrorists were, it is inconceivable that they did not know who was in their midst.

So where does that leave the current peace process? Nobody – especially not our soldiers and police – is against peace, but what kind of peace are we forging? The signing ceremonies are nice, the mutual praises is music to a lot of ears, but the Jan. 25 encounter starkly points out the need to go beyond generalizations and concepts, and look at peace on the ground.

The peace panel and peace process people from both sides must sit down and talk turkey; there are immediate, concrete things that can and must be done to show good faith and sincerity – return the firearms and personal belongings stolen from the slain policemen, find out the barbarians who mercilessly finished off the wounded and bring them to justice (what they did is way beyond self-defense or conduct of war) and turn over that other terrorist.

Everyone has invested a lot in this peace process, but it will be a meaningless peace unless it is undergirded by justice and trust, two things that, at the moment, despite the rhetoric, are in quite short supply.






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