This comes to my mind as I try to figure out what makes some people in my beloved Mindanao kill another person simply because they have dishonored and insulted them or their relatives in public. Even as I do not condone such practice, I must say people in my place indeed have a high sense of honor and respect.
But what if you are collectively called “gago” or fools in your face and before the glare of the cameras showing the embarrassing spectacle live on national television? Is that the price you pay for working hard to become a lawyer, a congressman or at the very least a respectable human being?
Now you may have guessed that I am talking about our feisty Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and the dressing down she gave to prosecution lawyers during the impeachment trial in the Senate last week. That action caused one private lawyer for the prosecution, Vitaliano Aguirre, to cover his ears and thereby earning the senator from Iloilo to unleash hellfire on the Senate session hall.
That issue is to be resolved today as our senators are set to discuss in caucus what to do with Atty. Aguirre. Actually, I don’t know Aguirre nor do I take side in the impeachment hearing. From the first day, I had refrained from commenting on it as I tell myself that after 20 years in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and other media outlets, I’m done with talking and writing and is now intent in implementing the politics of “affirmative action.”
In short, enough empty words and platitudes. In the course of the impeachment period, I’ve concentrated in raising close to a P100,000 for relief assistance to Typhoon Sending victims; facilitating the raising of P62,000 to complete Kristiyano-Islam Peace Libraries all over the country; distributed books and medicines to about 500 babies and children; held medical missions; and do read-along programs for poor kids. I have posted all these in my blogs and Facebook walls and said nothing for or against any side or parties involved in the impeachment hearing.
Still, when I look into the eyes of poor kids who have been bullied or victimized in schools or by tough guys; Muslim kids victimized by biased, discrimination and verbal abuse; I cannot help but to recall the words of Confucius who said: “Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?”
Thus, today I am still not going to comment about the weight and value of any side of the political spectrum or key players in the impeachment trial, I leave that to the lawyers in the camp of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, the prosecution lawyers and the senator-judges. I am just going to talk about our inalienable right for respect and human dignity. Our right not to be bullied or insulted by anyone, least of all senators we have elected into office and who hold office courtesy of our taxes.
Verily, I cannot tell our scholars and thousands of users of our Kris Libraries to fight their way to move up in life if I myself do not show that I myself value our basic rights for respect for human dignity to be as precious as the air we breathe! Respect is so precious both to individuals and nations that British Prime Minister Winstor Churchill was once moved to say: “We do not covet anything from any nation except their respect.”
I must admit that I am a bit surprised why there seems to be no national outrage about this national humiliation inflicted on our fellow man. This must be a manifestation of how we Filipinos have lost all our sense of right and wrong; or lost of self-esteem; or lost of self-respect individually or as a nation.
However, no matter how lonely a voice I may sound, I will make my own gallant stand for the return of human dignity respect because as Mahatma Gandhi said as he started his lonely fight against the superior force of the British colonizers in India – “They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.”