Fighting the new war… against ourselves
posted 26-Feb-2018  ·  
1,392 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

The recent commemoration of the 73rd Liberation Day in Virac, where the battle against the Japanese Imperial Forces in Catanduanes came to a successful end, was the most meaningful in years.

For the first time, medals and plaques of recognition were given to the surviving guerillas as well as to the families of those who died in the past decades.

The brief ceremony’s guest of honor, Brig. Gen. Restituto Aguilar (ret.), chief of the Veterans Memorial and Historical Division of the of Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), joined Governor Joseph Cua, Virac Mayor Samuel Laynes, and Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) district president Col. Jose Sorreta (ret.) in paying tribute to the sacrifices of the Filipino war veterans.

They all wished the present generation could have given them much more than the 21-gun salute, the wreath of flowers at the Veterans’ Shrine, the medals and plaques, and the overflowing praise.

BGen. Aguilar, in particular, said remembering the past, and learning its lessons, must continue to inspire young people, while the chief executive urged everyone to preserve the history of the island’s liberators so that their heroism will not be forgotten.

But there were words left unsaid by Lt. Col. Sorreta at the ceremony at the Capitol lobby that morning of Feb. 8, 2018, a message to the current generation, especially the youth. Here’s the other half of the VFP district president’s address that should have echoed in the corridors of the capitol:

“Our fight continues, inspired by the dedication and determination of our veterans. We must now face the threats to our future.

We must protect and defend our democracy. We must not shy away from new ideas or thoughts and we must allow each one their chance to speak. We must defeat intolerance of others and decry any resort to illegitimate force. Just as importantly, we must become independent from want. We must free ourselves from poverty and despair. It will not be an easy fight.

Government is our best friend and our worst enemy in this battle. We look to government to provide basic services, to maintain the peace and to deliver justice. But corruption and mismanagement is rife in government. Inefficiency and red tape hampers our growth.

We must remain vigilant. Indeed, eternal vigilance is the price for freedom. It is up to us to make sure that government carries out its mandate. We must be vigilant and not allow corruption. We must foster public accountability and promote good governance. We must not have short memories come election time.

Our fight for peace and freedom should not be left relegated to a chapter of history. This fight should continue, if necessary, every day of our lives, until the Filipino is liberated from poverty and despair.”

Fighting words, indeed, from one who has seen real fighting during his days as a soldier. The only difference is that this time, our enemy is our very selves: our tendency to morph from a citizen demanding good governance from candidates during the campaign to a corrupted voter selling his vote to the highest bidder.

     This glaring flaw in Philippine democracy - the transactional nature of elections and the government’s failure to arrest and charge vote buyers and vote sellers alike - is what makes the huge majority of elective officials corrupt. Not even the proposed shift to federalism can cure the country of this cancer that continues to eat at the ordinary people’s efforts to improve their own lives.


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