Murderous batang hamogs and Filipino politicians: Is there really a difference?

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, “Nonoy”, 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 David’s recent TV documentary “Anak ng Kalsada” on GMA 7, she asks a 14-year-old “batang hamog” whether he didn’t fear being punished for his acts. The boy answered, calmly, that he and his fellows would not be thrown in jail, anyway: “Hindi naman kami makukulong.”

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 über-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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19 Comments on “Murderous batang hamogs and Filipino politicians: Is there really a difference?”

  1. I feel like birth control is a good thing, but abortion is not. But….. it seems like you can’t have one without the other. Catholic roots have me at an impasse. Trying to think rationally, I know that some children should have never been born. I think it is criminal to bring a child into the world that you cannot support or even remotely offer a decent life. You can offer free contraception but will folks be responsible to use it? I don’t know what the real answer is but I do know the taxpayers will end up footing the bills for uneducated, irresponsible people. Abortion? I don’t like it but I can live with it. What other alternative is there? I sure don’t know…

    1. Your qualms surrounding abortion likely has to do with the ingrained notion that an embryo or early-stage fetus is a sentient human being. What sets us apart from other animals as humans but sentience to begin with? Perhaps we should distinguish between merely having ‘life functions’ and being a human being in the sense that Wikipedia defines:

      […] it refers to a discrete life form that has properties of mind (i.e. experience and character, cf. sentience), which are deemed to constitute a more complex and evolved state than simple organisms (i.e. that have only “life functions”).

      I discussed this at length in a previous article here.

  2. I agree with you about the politicians who are adult versions of batang hamogs. In most barangays, nearly all the elected officials came from nearly the same class as the batang hamogs and when they move to higher office, presumably due to the public funds they corrupted, the mentality sticks with them.

    I have not gotten the chance to observe the tarantados from the institution you mentioned.

  3. Simply ironic, to think that “Pro-life” movements where really one of the real cause of these murderous “batang hamogs”.

  4. So why can we not blame the parents of these children for not raising them properly? Because they have no right?

    Or are we, the “learned”, the “intelligent” people of this nation, have no responsibility to teach those who are “of lesser intellect”, and educate them to the basics of child-rearing, or let alone, “responsible thinking”?

    Or should we simply eliminate through merciless genocide and massacre by socio-economic classification, these “ungrateful pests” that simply deny us our right to be regarded as citizens of a country in abundance of wealth? Is that what this article is trying to say?

  5. We should blame the society per se for having these outcome, we were living in a country, wherein, almost all Filipino knows how to recite all rituals prayers they have had in their religion, but unfortunately, they don’t understand and they continue to be blind and heartless not to take a second look on their sorrounding. You don’t need a magnifying glass to see it clearly, the perennial problem of our country is the culture itself!

  6. many people ignore the plight of street children and dismiss them as “not my problem.” these kids, if we don’t take care of them (let’s leave the govt out of this because you know they’re good for nothing)they’re not going to be doctors or lawyers or architects. they will become petty criminals and then later on become serious criminals not because they’re evil but because that’s how they have learned to survive. and who do you think they will victimize? these kids are everyone’s problem. the more we help them, the safer we and our children will be…

    1. Eric, that sounds all warm and fuzzy, but how do you suppose we “help” them? Where is the money going to come from? How much more taxation can the people stand?

  7. Batang hamogs are products of a hypocritical religious society. To begin with, religious leaders like the priests, pastors, ministers and whatever bull titles they are called should share the gross responsibility of the rotting and stinking Philippines society, not to mention the brazenly irresponsible parents who just keep bearing more children faster than a tobacco chewer can spit, mindless whether or not they can feed and have them educated properly.
    Religious leaders have their minds trapped in a box of their religion’s dogma on how a man “needs to repent for his sins for the salvation of his soul”. However, they spontaneously keep their blind eyes toward the obvious facts that new generations of people are being brought up to be more irresponsible, mindless of others and their environments, and even more and more sexually distorted and criminally minded.
    Therefore, how can the newer generations even have the chance to have their souls saved from hell if their values are getting more and more rotten?
    Perhaps these religious leaders and scholars can justify their pathetic mindlessness to the passage in the Bible’s Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but
    according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost?
    Religions have one thing in common – they are very good at offering cream-coated s..t to be eaten by their followers.
    Perhaps they need to look outside the box they are in and realize that the doctrines they keep on babbling about is redundant and dead so long ago. They need to get real that they could not have any soul saved from a spontaneously rotting society with distorted sense of values regarding what is really right and wrong and with deeper sense of responsibility.

    1. Danny,

      “Religious leaders have their minds trapped in a box of their religion’s dogma on how a man “needs to repent for his sins for the salvation of his soul”.”

      I agree with you with that one and that is the reality with the true faithful.

      “However, they spontaneously keep their blind eyes toward the obvious facts that new generations of people are being brought up to be more irresponsible, mindless of others and their environments, and even more and more sexually distorted and criminally minded.”

      To that one, I don’t agree. Please convince me by explaining that further. Obviously, for me, that notion is without basis.

      1. Trosp,
        Generally I was referring to what can be observed everyday even as one walks in the streets, take a “cheap” jeepney ride, or even in malls, coffee shops, restaurants, etc.
        In jeepneys, most people usually prefers to take the extreme end away from the driver even there are only two or three passengers there, and let the other person pay for his fare. In malls and streets, compared to that in other countries in Europe, USA, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, etc., except India, Bangladesh and Egypt, the Philippines is the noisiest. Most teens and even older people walk in the streets while making text in their mobile, and when bumped, says “sorry”? And so many more that most Filipinos (perhaps) don’t mind at all because they are used to it or just don’t care about it.
        The curbs which are full of street peddlers and kiosks force people to walk in the streets. Can this not be considered as an obvious display of arrogant greed of local politicians and concerned government officials?
        And not only in the street curbs there are peddlers but in the middle of the streets as well, which aggravates traffic congestion, not to mention the safety hazard they pose.
        On sexually distorted and criminally minded, just how fast is the population growth of this country? How many fetuses are being dumped in the streets and sewers? How many batang hamogs are in the streets? How huge is the squatter population of the Philippines (without comparing to that of other countries, which is the normal scapegoat of politicians and government officials)? I think these are clear pictures of irresponsible sex and criminal mindset.

        1. Danny,

          This is what I’m curious about your comment about religious leaders –

          “However, they spontaneously keep their blind eyes toward the obvious facts that new generations of people are being brought up to be more irresponsible, mindless of others and their environments, and even more and more sexually distorted and criminally minded.”

          Compare that with your later explanation.

          Can you comprehend your own comment?

  8. We have too much poverty in the Philippines. Slums in the squatter areas breed crime. the leaders do not care. Life in our country is going cheaper and cheaper, everyday…
    Too few rich, and too many poor people. too many thieving political leaders…

  9. I usually agree with the articles but this is one I respectfully do not agree with. But its a free country and we can agree to disagree 🙂

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