If you have nothing good to say, don't say it

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - April 24, 2020 - 12:00am

Where Kiko Pangilinan got the crazy idea that President Duterte was even remotely considering the imposition of martial law, or a martial law-like "crackdown" as he puts it, in order to hasten the distribution of aid at this time of the coronavirus crisis, I don’t really know. I can only surmise that either the crisis has screwed up his thinking, or Kiko is just grandstanding again.

It’s true that an exasperated Duterte has threatened to throw the military into the crisis, in something that he described as martial law-like. But the threat was his response to the lack of regard by many for the rules and guidelines imposed as the country goes through this terrible crisis. The rules are for the safety and well-being of everyone. And threatening military force is to ensure everyone respects these rules, not to speed up aid.

Okay, let us not play around with words. Let’s assume that real martial law is what Duterte has in mind. To me that is good. In fact martial law should have been imposed right away because being tough with the rules is what is needed in a crisis like this. Can you imagine cockfights, drinking, market crowding, and similar dangerous transgressions of quarantine continuing as if life as we know it is still the same?

Such recklessness cannot be held in check by mere barangay tanods, many of whom are related to, are friends with, or simply scared of the transgressors. Unless we want more positive cases and see this country swamped by the scary statistics of more deaths, there has to be discipline and order everywhere, without exception. Everyone has the civic and humanitarian duty to act responsibly for family, for community, for country.

But since not everyone is apparently made of the same mold, we need enforcers of the rules who can really enforce the rules. And if it has to take the military to do that in a state of martial law, then so be it. I would rather be strictly regulated and come out of this alive with my loved ones and fellow countrymen than, with apologies to Shakespeare, have my reckless moment on freedom's stage and then is heard no more.

Besides, this martial law is not the Marcos martial law that overly-politicized people like Pangilinan love to never-endingly romanticize. This is not a political martial law where political enemies are targets for harassment and even murder. This is a martial law to save us, to save us from ourselves. If Kiko has an idea on how to speed up aid, then he should contribute to the national effort and tell the president, not engage in foolishness.

Filipinos are inveterate movie lovers, Kiko himself included, having married into megastardom. Surely Kiko could not have missed the fact that in movies that deal with catastrophes, including outbreaks of diseases, the military is always called in to instill order. That this is just in the movies doesn’t detract from the fact that the need to call in the military is rooted in a very real-life need.

But even worse than Kiko mouthing inanities is the editorial decision-making of some media entities, in this particular case, CNN Philippines. What merit, for God's sake, did the network see in Kiko's views that it would carry it? Just because he is an opposition senator doesn't mean there is always sense in what he says. Read your story again, CNN. What in heavens is the news value you saw in it? What a shame.

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