Saturday, December 12, 2009

The devil’s advocate

This might be a tad late but I just have to say my piece on Neal H. Cruz’ column last December 7. It was titled “Maguindanao folk welcome martial law?”
Mr. Cruz started by commemorating the Pearl Harbor bombing on 1941 and the bombing of Manila a day after it. He further said that today we “have been hit by another sneak attack” that is “homegrown this time”, referring to the recent highly-criticized Martial Law declaration in the province of Maguindanao. He clearly states that he is against this proclamation, saying it is an “overkill,” even going as far as reminding the readers that a previous edition of his column has already “predicted it, quoting a Muslim leader Amina Rasul.”

Then, Mr. Cruz proceeds to share the views of “several friends and relatives living in Maguindanao” which incidentally are the opposite of the prevalent animosity to the proclamation.

Mr. Neal H. Cruz plays the devil’s advocate when he posed the question which “people on the receiving end fo the terrorism of the warlords”, would prefer “between a rock or stone wall.” He then proceeds to echo the reasons the administration made to justify Proclamation No. 1959 and taking a stab at the High Court’s statement disproving allegations that the local court has not been functioning and is one of the reasons why Martial Law had to be declared. As an afterthought, Mr. Cruz said that Congress will convene “anyway” to decide whether or not to revoke the declaration. Even more lamely, he ended that “in any case, Martial law lapses in 60 days.”

This is the kind of defeatist logic that we do not need today. A state of emergency in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and Cotabato City was announced a day after the murder-massacre. Was that not enough? Day after day, arms caches are being unearthed almost everywhere. The Ampatuan arsenal is enough to arm a battalion or two. Is the AFP inferior to that force that they cannot handle it without having granted extraordinary powers to them?

Could Mr. Cruz not see that this Martial Law is part and parcel of a grand design of the devious sort to cover-up a huge can of worms that stinks to heaven? I understand that it was done all for the sake of journalism and fair play, to tickle our senses, jumpstart our brain cells, to present another angle of the biggest story of the year. I even understand the sentiments of his friends and relative, who after being scared to death of “fully armed goons” which has “the police and military… in their employ,” now are living in the midst of a “war zone” were countless uniformed men roam the place, replacing the goons. What I cannot understand is that apart from warning his friends and relatives to “be wary” because “in time, soldiers will also commit abuses”, reminiscent to Marcos’ version of Martial Law, Mr. Cruz, seems to be taking this matter sitting down.

I only found appeasement when I saw that his was a voice in the wilderness in that December 7 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, his column being fenced in by others very critical of the proclamation.

One such column is Kris-Crossing Mindanao which Ms. Noralyn Mustafa authors. The columnist of Kris-Crossing Mindanao, in her column that day paid tribute to the 57 victims of the brutal killings by “making sense out of the senselessness” after it apparently pushed the president to declare Martial Law therefore “generating more fear and uncertainty among the long-suffering and long-oppressed people.” Unlike Mr. Neal H. Cruz, Ms. Noralyn Mustafa ended her prose with a clenched fist thrust in the air, appealing to everyone who ‘do not wish to live under a continuing reign of eveil, of slavery, hunger, oppression and fear’ to ‘stand up NOW’ (emphasis mine) because ‘we may never have this chance again.’

THIS is what I, and possibly, most people, want to hear. The voice of action and inner strength, of trust in the power to change things deemed unchanging. I remember a part in the movie SAKADA *insert Hyperlink to old entry* where a farmer was trying to organize a union, he said “Mahirap talagang kumilos kung nakaluhod, pero kung nakatayo, lahat magagawa. (It is indeed hard to move when on your knees, but when you’re on your feet, everything is possible)”

Whereas Ms. Mustafa translated herself to be one of the many movers of change, Mr. Neal H. Cruz is an agent of the status-quo. With Ms. Mustafa calling the Maguindanao Massacre the “metaphor of Ms. Arroyo’s reign of evil,” Mr. Neal H. Cruz might also very well be playing the part of a devil’s advocate literally.

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