Saturday, July 07, 2018

The Presidential Question

Dear Mr. President,

I'm sorry to say Mr. President that I cannot give you a selfie picture with God.

I know that at your age, that you may be nearing the valley and that is why you are asking for the improbable, despite the strong need to address other more pressing worldly concerns.

If I could, Mr. President, I would.

But that is beyond me.

I can understand how you may be feeling right now. When my grandfather was about to die a couple of years ago from cancer, on his death bed, he made one wish, "that he could be young again - like a child."

It baffled our family during a very difficult moment.

But we all knew, that we can never turn back the hands of time.

We could not time travel to fix regrets, correct some mistakes we did and alter whatever it is that we have decided, done or what has been done to us in the past.

And that's part of the beauty of life - and death. There can only be one time that we could right all the wrongs, and that is the present.

Nobody could ever convince you Mr. President, if there is a God or not. No amount of logic could erase all the pain, all the regrets and all the questions and doubts floating in your head.

As it is, Mr. President, the same question is being asked by any child who is begging for alms in front of a church. The same question is being asked by the families of victims unjustly killed by an unrelenting state. The same question is being asked by the poor and the suffering. The same question is being asked by so many.

I am asking the same question too, but unlike you, I do not have the power to stop the killings and the murder. My words, are of so little consequence that they cannot temper the actions of men. I have no men who follow my orders, Mr. President. I cannot order anybody to, "Feed the poor. Clothe the naked. Love the unlovable. Stop the killings and bring justice for all."

But you have, Mr. President. You have that power.

Right now, a daughter is grieving the violent death of her father. She may be asking, "Where is God? Where is justice in all of these insanity?"

No righteous answers are given to her, Mr. President. Only words of pain, condemnation and anger.

"Your father was a drug lord, he has to die." is a sentence that keeps repeating again and again in her mind as they bury the dead tomorrow.

Words can bring life, justice, love, honor - but they can also bring death, destruction, pain and agony.

And tomorrow, these are the words that will be spoken:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Leadership that Inspires: Part 2 The Assassination of Mayors

Justice Denied

I remember an episode of Marvel's Agents of Shield, season 4 episode 13.

Senator Nadeer was a political nemesis of SHIELD and one of its staunchest critics. Later on in the series, she got assassinated by her allies, the "Watchdogs", an anti-meta human group that espouses exterminating meta-humans.

SHIELD director Mace's dialog with Quake after the event went like this:

We're just getting confirmation from the FBI.We have four confirmed casualties and one positive identification.We are sad to confirm that Senator Ellen Nadeer, leader in the Humans First movement, is among the dead.Reporting live for CNB, we'll send it back Okay.
Quake: Well, we can't be too sad.Quake: She did try to have you killed.Director Mace: She could've been brought to justice.Director Mace: Now we won't get that chance.
Back to Reality...

Today, the Mayor of Tanauan City was assassinated in broad daylight, during the flag ceremony, along with City Hall employees - while singing the national anthem.

Malacanang was quick to denounce this. [Source: Rappler "MalacaƱang vows punishment for Tanauan mayor Halili killers].

Malacanang's statement is important. Malacanang usually says 'other things' when mayors who are suspected of having narcotic linkages are killed.

It could mean that unlike other mayoral assassinations,  this event wasn't state sanctioned, covertly or overtly.

It is chilling to see the event play out on social media, youtube and various news websites. I won't share the links as I think everybody has had enough of the macabre display of anarchy and violence.


Mayor Halili of Tanauan City was known to exercise unorthodox methods of 'shaming' narco traffickers and criminals. He did so by parading them on the streets beginning May 24, 2016 when international media covered such events.

May 24, 2018: Daily Mail UK. "Drug dealers in the Philippines forced into a mass walk of shame while wearing signs reading 'I am a pusher, do not follow me'" 

It should be noted that the Presidential elections were held on May 9, 2016 where President Duterte won with 16 million votes, on a platform of launching a war on drugs, "turning Manila Bay red" and "executing criminals and drug personalities"

Human rights defenders are quick to denounce such practices.

Surprisingly, some Born Again Church leaders I used to look up to, were quick to defend this practice of parading suspects, by utilizing ad hominem tu quo que or the "you too" logical fallacy.

I can only shake my head in sadness for all of us.

Where does this lead us?

It is not a war, if the other side doesn't shoot back.

The Tanauan event was broadcast in social media and many news outlets again and again - it was a clear message. A message of fear for all of us.

Thus, it is within the realm of possibility that these things will escalate - and when they do, they could become a pretext for an authoritarian regime with no limits and bounds to what the government can unleash. They only need a reason and a justification for such an event.

Leadership inspires.

What our leaders imbibe on us, through their words, through their actions will get copied and replicated by others.

I remember before May 2016, that I once had a conversation with some of my real estate broker friends.

I remember saying, "Unleashing a leader like this, will only spur copycats and many, many, many abuses."

My prediction came true.

Turning away from the Christian God is a renunciation of the supreme law handed down to Moses.

Thou shall not murder. 

Once again, I implore all reasonable minded individuals and leaders to recognize that 'leadership inspires'. Theirs, the Presidents and other leaders. If we are to descend into chaos and oblivion, and if these tides of violence are insurmountable - the very least that we can do as individuals, is to pray.

Pray against the Pandora's box that we have all unleashed upon ourselves.