You don’t simply “oppose” extrajudicial killings (EJKs). You find the root cause as to why Filipinos tolerate it. The trouble with hipster “human rights activists” is that they believe being all emo about EJKs will move ordinary Filipinos and suddenly turn them into druggie-sympathising new age crusaders.
That’s not gonna happen anytime soon. The sentiment that motivates Jesuit-educated “thought leaders” tapping their quaint thoughts onto their iPads from their ivory tower offices and the Filipinos who, everyday, take jeepneys, buses, and trains to and from work, have to live in housing developments not fortified by armed private security guards, and have to deal with police corporals (and not police generals) when reporting a crime is literally a world apart.
The uppity concept of “human rights” sits well in a mind conditioned to believe that justice is an entitlement. In contrast, for the average Filipino schmoe, “human rights” is a mere fashion statement they only see mentioned through a TV screen. The reality on the ground is that the Philippines is an inherently unjust society so much so that even small incidences of Filipinos doing the right thing or simply treating people fairly make for big news stories.
Big news stories of do-gooding Filipinos are celebrated because they are backdropped by a vastly bigger landscape of ill-bred behaviour (at best) and banal criminality (at worst). The fact that most middle-class houses in big Philippine cities are ring-fenced by hollow-block walls topped with shards of broken glass and that every Seven Eleven store includes an armed security guard as essential staff attests to the sort of society the Philippines is. Filipinos, as a rule, don’t trust each other and lack any confidence that the other will do the right thing left to his devices. This is a country of routinely-breached contracts, baldly broken promises, and stunted potential.
Indeed, in a society where justice (delivered swiftly, fairly, and by the book) is more the exception than the rule, it is easy to get ordinary folk to see the merits of more radical approaches to getting things done — maintaining jeepneys as the nation’s public transport backbone, using Senate “inquiries” as proxies for court hearings, relying on Eat Bulaga to educate the nation’s youth, and, yes, resorting to vigilantism to keep crooks off our streets and front doors.
The big picture is a bitch when presented to a society of small minds where a Heritage of Smallness shapes the political discourse. The Philippines is fertile ground for injustice — because Filipinos are not sticklers for regarding the law as a key pillar of their way of life. They made their bed but are now, funny enough, loath to lie upon it.
[Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune.]
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