Our misguided kindness

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Try as I might, it’s difficult to imagine a Filipino consumed by anger and resentment. I’ve lived long enough to witness the Filipino’s sense of shame, which is far greater than his reasons for personal indignation.

Not that we are incapable of the slightest display of outrage as individuals. However, our outbursts, while few and far between, also often last but briefly, like lit matchsticks. They are no less destructive.

Who wouldn’t get annoyed at neighbors mistakenly, or worse, deliberately, throwing their garbage into someone else’s backyard, or parking their vehicles in front of someone else’s driveway.

For decades, it has been a running joke among bar-hoppers that Filipinos kill, and this without a doubt, over a saucer of peanuts, or a wrongly sung “My Way” in a karaoke bar. Mere membership on the wrong fraternity often lands a college hopeful on the wrong end of the stick during a rumble.

With the daily traffic situation turning most of our mornings into something close to World War III, road rage has become an all too common sight. With the Rail Transit choking on its nuts and bolts every so often, I can only imagine the growing exasperation the average Filipino has to go through each day.

Living in a tropical country, with the white-hot sun beating down on our heads for most of the day, helps little to alleviate the sweltering emotions that drive us to behavior unbecoming of a bayang magiliw (happy nation).

But on the whole, Filipinos would rather be patient; to look the other way, to choose to be quiet rather than expend their energies on pointless, useless rage.

We’d rather poke our noses into things that matter solely to us, not another’s business. Confrontation, ergo, is a foregone conclusion, at least for the most part. Too poor and too bereft of needed time, we’d readily assume that it’s better to spend our remaining resources and strength on things and people who matter than on those who would simply waste these away.

Some say that religion has much to do with our display of cherubic tolerance. I’m not discounting that at all. However, I believe Filipinos are simply hot-wired to behave in a manner that preserves his or her peace.

Can roughly four hundred years of war, colonization and invasion be the cause? Could it be that we’ve had enough of struggle and labor and pointless killings that swallowing our pride, self-respect and honor is the only choice left for us to preserve our peace?

Make no mistake: we remain a brave and courageous lot. Triggered or provoked, we will fight to the death for principles and the sense of honor which have long shaped our heritage as a people.

Hospitality and kindness have marked generations of Filipinos, enough to make these qualities a global commodity of sorts. Believe it or not, our smiles go a long way to convincing foreigners to make return visits to our shores. Ask the nearest tourist.

Our acts of kindness, sad to say, don’t always send the right message across. The world is full of scoundrels who have taken—and will take—our acts of kindness lightly, abuse for their own advantage.

Where better to see this than in Imelda Marcos’ recent plunder case.

The former First Lady was earlier charged with seven counts of graft by the Sandiganbayan for seven Swiss Foundations the conjugal dictatorship created under their names.

The amount they filched, according to reports, amounted to $200 million spread across several Swiss bank deposits from 1968 to 1986. The three other deposits where Mrs. Marcos was acquitted belonged to her husband, former dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.

This is a perfect example of a simple mathematical equation: conjugal dictatorship plus conjugal theft equals conjugal guilt. With the charges came the disqualification from all public office, including a jail term of six years and one month to eleven years for each case.

In the wake of the issuance of a warrant of arrest (and the forfeiture of bail) against Ilocos Norte’s 2nd District representative, now 89, numerous Marcos loyalists insist that age and gender should figure seriously in the decision to arrest or jail the former dictator’s spouse.

This raised eyebrows online. With no less PNP Chief Oscar Abayalde standing as Imelda Marcos’ “spokesman” by maintaining that the police should consider her age, the statement nearly turned social media upside down.

However, the PNP Chief may have a point. In the law, particularly Article 13 No. 2 of the Revised Penal Code, which lists down circumstances mitigating criminal liability, it says “That the offender is under eighteen years of age or over seventy years.”

Does this mean that the 89-year-old former First Lady, regardless of proof and conviction of guilt by the Sandiganbayan, can still go scot-free? Is this provision in the Revised Penal Code automatic or dependent on the final decision of the court?

According to a lawyer-friend, the discretion of the High Court is important if and when it chooses to suspend the jail term. Another is if the President will waive the penalty of incarceration through an executive clemency.

Many fear that President Rodrigo Duterte’s chumminess with the Marcoses might do just that. The law does allow executive clemency.

How this will all turn out in the end remains to be seen. This much is certain: the Sandiganbayan’s charge of seven counts of graft (to the tune of $200 million) against the former dictator’s spouse will stand for all time as proof of the Marcoses’ conjugal theft.

Any show of kindness or courtesy to corrupt officials is out of the question. If the country must survive as a working Republic, then it must, with finality, decide to punish these traitors.

Yes, they, too, are guilty of treason. For it is in their own interests that they ruled, not in the interest of the nation. There is simply no other name for it. G



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