It’s the rallying cry of the “Pro-Life” mob: The right to life. The thinking there is that it is a heinous crime to the the heavens to deprive a brainless embryo floating inside the body of poor teenage girls of the “right” to be conceived, or to be born. Missing in this half-brained conceptual formula is the context of the poverty that backdrops just about any issue to do with the Filipino condition:
Poverty is an outcome of habitually entering into commitments one is inherently incapable of honouring.
Having kids is a commitment to raise them to be good citizens. Having a kid and lacking the resources to raise them as such is a recipe not just for a lifetime (and probably subsequent generations) of poverty, but a crime to society at large.
Take the latest of these inconceivably horrid crimes that transpired lately involving a nine-year-old boy who was reportedly murdered by a gang of Manila’s enormous number of street or batang hamog children…
The victim, â€œNonoyâ€, was playing with a friend in a playground in 26th St. when two street children approached them to ask for money.
When Nonoy and his friend said they did not have cash, they were threatened.
Nonoy and his friend ran, but the street children eventually caught up with them at a construction site and were beaten up.
Nonoy’s hands and feet were bound.
He and his friend were then pushed into a 5-foot hole filled with water, where Nonoy drowned.
It took authorities 9 hours to recover his body.
Some parents plan pregnancies, put their careers on hold, and make resolutions to apply the necessary measures to raise good kids. Some town planners apply some good and considerate sense to set aside land for greenery and playgrounds where kids can, we hope, safely play. But the unfortunate reality in the Philippines is that for every one good intention, every one great achievement, and every one well-thought-through initiaitve, there will be stuff that number in the hundreds of thousands that will simply flatten these to smithereens.
For every Nonoy born, there will be a hundred thousand batang hamogs in the Philippines conceived in the country’s teeming human cesspools that line the train tracks and infest the breakwaters. Every asset produced by Da Pinoy will always be swamped by the hundreds of thousands of liabilities conceived by “prayerful” people who do not think.
Is it fair that the poor parents who raise kids to be batang hamogs cop the blame for the actions of these mendicants? According to the Inquirer.net Editor, the answer to that question is a ‘no’…
[…] in a fraying, overpopulated metropolis like Manila where millions of destitute families live in hovels and squatter communities, where jobs are scarce and living conditions are a nightmare, penalizing parents for the acts of children they are unable to supervise can run the risk of being a rather simplistic solution, one that reduces the issue to a law-enforcement problem.
I agree. For one thing, Filipinos suck at law-enforcement. So the idea of law-enforcment in the context of the Philippines is, by itself, a hilarious oxymoron. Second, putting criminally-insane minors behind bars will not bring back kids like Nonoy. And third, a “modern” criminal justice and penal system that, in principle, aims to reform rather than exterminate criminals simply does not work on the unreformable mind — minds that had gone through their formative years in the absence of any concept of right or wrong and have, in effect, become embodiments of pure impunity…
At one point in Kara Davidâ€™s recent TV documentary â€œAnak ng Kalsadaâ€ on GMA 7, she asks a 14-year-old â€œbatang hamogâ€ whether he didnâ€™t fear being punished for his acts. The boy answered, calmly, that he and his fellows would not be thrown in jail, anyway: â€œHindi naman kami makukulong.â€
Quite simply kids who become batang hamogs should not have been born or even conceived to begin with. As Tod (played by Keanu Reeves) in the movie Parenthood quipped: “You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car – hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.”
And we wonder, actually wonder, why the Philippines is the renowned Land of Impunity that it is. Like country like politicians. We presume to slap the label batang hamog on such kids and utterly fail to appreciate the irony in how we continue to elect adult versions of these salamnders to “lead” this nation.
Come to think of it, growing up and studying in that Ã¼ber-exclusive Jesuit school up that proverbial hill, I had observed that it was usually the sons of politicians (many of them friends of mine) that were among the most tarantado of the lot. Go figure.
[Photo courtesy AnaSantosWrites.com.]
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