2:53 PM

Justice based on Truth!

Posted by Prosy Delacruz

When President Noynoy Aquino spoke of a truth commission, and that there will be no reconciliation without justice, it sets his administration apart from others.

“To those who talk about reconciliation, if they mean that they would like us to simply forget about the wrongs that they have committed in the past, we have this to say: there can be no reconciliation without justice. When we allow crimes to go unpunished, we give consent to their occurring over and over again. Secretary de Lima, you have your marching orders. Begin the process of providing true and complete justice for all,” he said in his inaugural speech.

Remember that South Africa’s apartheid became an opportunity for Nelson Mandela to usher South Africa out of the darkness of apartheid -- where blacks, like Steve Biko, were sacrificed like animals, chained to the back of a Land Rover, naked, and driven from Pretoria to a prison with medical facilities, some 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) away to their ultimate death -- into a more democratic nation for blacks and whites.

“I remember when cabinet minister Jimmy Kruger heartlessly declared that the death in detention of Steve Biko 'left him cold'. It is not too surprising that, having been involved in a policy as evil and dehumanizing as apartheid, he had lost his sensitivity, his empathy for others’ suffering, he eventually had lost a share of his own humanity,“ Bishop Tutu described.

I wonder if those accused of murdering 57 folks in Mindanao last November 2009, carry the same ‘feeling cold’ as Jimmy Kruger heartlessly declared. I wonder if they silently feel that they have lost their civility, relying on their primal instincts to survive and tighten their grip on power. I even wonder how those who carried the salvaging acts of Ferdinand Marcos, including the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. are faring with their souls and conscience.

Tony Meloto referred to this as “ kulturang hayop, hindi makatao, lalo na sa mahirap! Dahil ang trato natin sa mahirap ay wala silang kakayahan, ang turing natin sa kanila ay para silang hayop, napapagbuhatan ng kamay, inaabuso at ginagamit parang hayop. “

But, that is now in the past . As Governor LRay Villafuerte shared, “Camarines Sur illustrates how progressive thinking can triumph over poverty. Camarines Sur shows how opportunity can be found. Turn a local community into a global success story. 39th poorest leaped to 10th richest province.”

Camarines Sur leaped to being a richer province, when it collected Php 5.2 million more in revenues. With these increased revenues, and the threat to do public auctions on real properties not paying taxes, it more than tripled its original tax income, which may even quadruple, as they collect on tax arrears.

President Noynoy Aquino’s campaign slogan was not simply empty rhetoric: “ Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap. “ It holds true for Camarines Sur, Davao and Cebu. When public officials serve the people, the revenues are there for the public to benefit from.

Over 15 million Filipinos voted for Aquino. They are hoping for a nationwide renaissance for the Philippines, a coming back to the soul of a nation, whose innate values are “ pakikipagkapwa – tao “ and “ pakikisama. “ These values make it a hospitable country to its citizens, and do not make its own population vote with their feet, as President Noynoy Aquino said.

Voting with their feet means leaving their country of birth, to provide for their families, even if it means living a life of loneliness, sacrifice and discrimination. Sometimes, it takes an overseas worker 40 years to work in a foreign country. Some are unfortunate to return home in a box, to be buried in the provinces that they left.

In one media interview during the campaign, President Noynoy Aquino said that judicial reform is necesary for the Philippines where resolution happens in only 12% of the cases filed -- compared to 85% for the United States and 95% for Japan.

Justice eludes the citizen when investigations do not start until four years after the complaint is filed, and trial in court takes another six years. Justice delayed for a decade essentially is justice denied, particularly for those who have no resources to wait for the judicial rulings to be completed.

This is why it must no longer be a culture of impunity. This is why the Philippines must nurture a culture of transparency and accountability. Not unlike what Henri Nouwen describes as: “ Christ is Risen means that guilt, loneliness, hunger, poverty, war, and devastation no longer have the last word. Death and all its symptoms in our individual and communal lives are not the final reality anymore. Depression, resentment, revenge, and hatred are all forms of surrender to the power of death and signs of our inability to see that, in and through Christ, death has lost its final power. Death is a gateway to a new life. “

We can be a more living nation, a nation that is vibrant, not just for the rich, but also for the middle-class and the poor. Not just for Christians, but also for the Bagong Lumad, the Muslims and the Igorots. As P-Noy promised, “My father offered his life so our democracy could live. My mother devoted her life to nurturing that democracy. I will dedicate my life to making our democracy reach its fullest potential: that of ensuring equality for all. My family has sacrificed much and I am willing to do this again if necessary.”

Mr. President, my high schoolmates recently floated a message of support in social media, enlisting us to support your administration, as you lead our country of birth in a path of righteousness, truth and justice, and reclaim our dignity as a nation, in the pantheons of democratic nations, proud of what it will do to root out poverty, corruption and injustices! I pledge and take the oath of supporting you and our country towards positive social change and justice! May God Bless the Philippines, a country I love, as much as America!


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