Starweek Magazine

Truth at hand

SINGKIT - Notes from the editor - The Philippine Star

I spent the EDSA People Power anniversary last Wednesday monitoring the standstill traffic around me in San Juan, as major roads were closed from midnight to 4 p.m. for the commemoration. Since it was obvious I could not get to work by my usual route, I took out my Metro Manila road guide to plot an alternate route. I had that down pat but ended up not needing it, as towards early afternoon the roads almost mysteriously cleared up. The simplified ceremonies had apparently ended early.

I have to admit with a good degree of embarrassment that that wasn’t a very patriotic or noble way to commemorate our history-changing peaceful revolution almost three decades ago. So I dusted off that old People Power book from the top shelf, and leafed through the yellowing pages, remembering the countless cheese sandwiches we made, the rice and luncheon meat meals we packed – even my mother came to help wrap the sandwiches and measure out the rice (I wouldn’t let her go with us to distribute the food at EDSA corner Connecticut, in case we had to run if something untoward happened).

That was a time when each one of us, without anyone asking or instructing, simply stepped forward and did what we could. We went out, saw a need – any need, big or small – and tried our best to meet that need. The actions were unscripted, unrehearsed; who thought of bringing flowers to a revolution? But that became a world standard for peaceful uprising – flowers in the barrel of a gun.

Cynics say we have wasted that opportunity, and when we look around us we’re inclined to think they’re right – a bunch of squabbling politicians, crooks and cowards again occupying positions of power, strutting about without shame or remorse, and citizens like me concerned more with avoiding traffic than celebrating an historic national moment.

This year’s commemoration was held under the shadow of another defining moment, albeit a most tragic one – the Mamasapano encounter exactly one month ago between our police commandos and rebel forces. We lost 44 of our young men, plus five civilians and 18 rebels, in a horrific gunbattle and subsequent massacre – again I say it is by no measure a “misencounter” – and the whole truth of that mission is still not clear.

Hopefully, the release of the full report of the PNP’s Board of Inquiry this week will answer many of our questions on what happened, what went wrong, who did what and even why; and when we get those answers we might begin to find peace again – peace within and among ourselves, and peace in the South that has eluded us for so long.

The President pointed out at the EDSA commemoration that “if back then God guided our nation towards peaceful change, I have faith that in spite of these new challenges, our trust in each other will prevail.” Yes, but in order for trust to prevail, it must be undergirded by truth and justice – the whole truth, and justice for the slain, the wounded, and the nation torn and grieving. Hopefully, we will have that truth this week.









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