Human Rights

Armed and dangerous

23 years ago, this man held the country hostage for a day.

23 years ago, this man held the country hostage for a day.

Lost in the flurry of reports on the tragic outcome of the hostage crisis in Luneta last August 23 was the nine-month commemoration of the even greater (in terms of loss of lives) tragedy that was the massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao. During the same day, the Supreme Court continued the oral arguments on the Hacienda Luisita dispute.

Meanwhile, flipping through a 1987 issue of the defunct magazine National Midweek, I came across another date: August 28, the same year. It was when the bloodiest coup attempt in Filipino history happened. Led by then Col. Gregorio Honasan, the rebellion ended during the night of the 28th, with 53 deaths and more than 200 wounded. Then presidential son Noynoy Aquino was seriously wounded in the seige of Malacanang that Honasan orchestrated.

These are four events occurring in different administrations. Yet they are connected to each other, each a manifestation of the orientation and nature of the institutions that bear arms and proclaim to protect the citizens. These events were perpetrated by soldiers and cops (or ex-cop, as in the incident last Monday) who turned their guns against the people. They consider their inconveniences and dissatisfaction — with a “liberal” government, with striking workers, with an election opponent or with a dismissal from service — more important than that of the rest of the people.

And they have the guns to enforce this belief, democratic processes and plain respect for human life be damned.

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