Within the mounting virtually national initiative to demonise not just United States Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton but the entire US military over the murder of Filipino transgender Jeffrey Laude, it is difficult to find any semlance of credibility among the noisiest of Filipino ‘activists’.
The Philippines is home to one of the most crime-infested societies on the planet. Thousands of Filipinos are robbed, physically abused, and murdered every year in crimes that go unpunished and unnoticed. An even greater number of Filipinos are victims of the Philippines’ renowned institutionalised injustice. Indeed, the entire nation is routinely stolen blind by its own politicians and government officials. Do Filipinos care? Consider the toddlers that line Manila’s streets in plain view who spend the day — and night — begging. Many of them are clearly victims of criminal syndicates. Still more are pimped out by their own parents. And all of these criminal practices occur in plain view to the average suit driving to work in cocooned comfort inside his airconditioned car. Go figure.
Not only is the rape and killing of children and young adults becoming rampant, these crimes tend to remain unsolved. Those that do get solved do so after languishing in investigation limbo for months, and then only to get snarled in an even bigger queue to get court time in the country’s severely-backlogged justice system.
Filipinos have taken to the distasteful practice of violence porn to get the message across. Graphic photos of the victims of these hideous crimes now proliferate — go “viral” — across social media in the Philippines. Indeed, the most recent high-profile arrest of eight Filipino police officers allegedly involved in a carjacking is said to have been made possible only because a photo of the incident as it happened taken by a bystander went viral on Twitter. Some observers have since wryly quipped:
If there are no viral photos, the crime didn’t happen
Many Filipinos are inclined to take this as an increasingly resonant truism about the Philippines’ approach to law enforcement. Filipino kids are no longer taught by their parents to seek the assistance of police officers when they run into trouble.
So I find it quite rich that the Philippines’ noisiest “activists” have suddenly latched on to this recent circus like the barnacles that they are. If I were a parent of a victim of an unreported, uninvestigated, and, therefore, unresolved crime, the bigger outrage for me would be why the vast majority of crimes in the Philippines do not attract this sort of mass indignation.
Perhaps it is because Pemberton is an American.
Of course. It is easy for Filipinos to be angry about a crime allegedly committed by an American but not shed even a single tear over the millions of crimes perpetrated by their fellow countrymen. Indeed, if Filipinos cannot even feel this sort of collective anger against local criminals, what hope is there of Filipinos ever doing something about the impunity with which their own politicians and government officials rule their country with crooked hands?
Small surprise that many are convinced that no United States military personnel will EVER serve time in a Philippine jail. For the US government to allow that will be an absolute affont to its own people…
Q: Should an American be allowed to be subject to the justice system of a country governed by popularly-elected crooks?
A: No way, Juan de la Cruz.
Philippine society is, as most people know, characterised by a culture of crime. Indeed, honour is not even a strong tradition in this society. You don’t need to look far. The current political tele-dramas that have rivetted Filipinos lately point to it. Thievery on such an unprecedented vast scale perpetrated by the elected officials of a society are proof in itself. Many of them were not elected once but twice — and their offspring and kin elected despite all that. When a mistake is made once, we can let it slide. Twice mistaken, stupidity becomes a possibility. More than that constitutes a criminal abuse of the Vote.
Champions of Philippine democracy have long asserted that the Vote constitutes the “voice of the people”. Consider then that Philippine Congress is now widely considered to be the country’s biggest criminal syndicate we can conclude from there that this is a reflection of the character of the society that elected its members.
More to the point, Filipinos do not even trust one another. Jaime Licauco in an Inquirer article dated 22 May 2001 went as far as saying that: “A nation whose policies and rules are based on the assumption that everybody is a cheat and liar unless proven otherwise cannot long endure. Take a close look at our bureaucracy and its rules. It is burdened by elaborate and often unnecessary checks and balances so that nothing ever gets done in the process.”
So perhaps Filipinos ought to get their priorities right. Justice must be served in the case of the murder of Jeffrey Laude. But we should not make the United States to look like the Evil Empire here. Memory should serve Filipinos a bit better than that. After all, they have repeatedly voted crooks to lead them in Malacanang and “represent” them in Congress for decades.
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