WAYWARD & FANCIFUL: Honor in battle

My last article on the rush to judgment on the killing of Janjalani drew a lot of reaction. It looks like that won't be the last from me on the issue. Expect more next week then.  


For now, I'd like to share this one from a young man who sat in my class four years back. I remember him to be especially critical of military conduct, and I had to teach him to stop and call all the facts in before the rush to judgment. He has some way to go yet, but he's improving. I am printing this in toto sans edits.


Yes, I am proud to have been his teacher, and that he still continues to view me as one. Here's his email:

who killed janjalani? who gives a (expletive)! the question should be, who are the filipino soldiers who were killed in the line of duty? what about their families, who will now take care of them? that should be the focus instead.

sure, janjalani was now confirmed dead by the FBI. but there are others willing to step into his shoes. another chapter ends, another one begins. that unfortunately is the hard truth. unless the core problem is acted upon, we will still have to deal with the Janjalanis and solaimans, just as the world had to deal with the Qhadafi's of yesteryears and the bin laden's of today. and the beat goes on…

what about the reward money? unfortunately, the soldiers are not eligible, since, as members of the armed forces, it is their duty to deal with the perceived threats to the nation's security. the reward is only for those who can give information that will lead to the capture or neutralization of the target. but did any such person provide that crucial information? since no such information exists as of today, then who gets the reward?

how about using the money to set up a foundation for the families of the fallen heroes? that is a good start.

i came across a website, www.cryptome.org which lists the names of the fallen soldiers in Iraq, their hometowns, ages… in short, it personifies those who were killed in the line of duty, putting a name to those numbers, ensuring that they will not be just a statistic. we should also have that here. late last november, while driving along SLEX, i came upon a procession on its way to the Libingan ng mga Bayani. i don't know what came over me, but i was so moved upon seeing the casket draped with the flag, i came alongside the hearse to give a solemn salute to the flag and the soldier underneath it. members of his family returned that salute, sending shivers down my spine as i absorbed that heart-rending scene.

where is that family now? only God knows. but dear God, let it stop.

Well taken, my boy, including the expletive.


Let me just say that there is honor in the battlefield. There, too, is dishonor in the battlefield. Sometimes, dishonor gets to be interpreted as valor by the lashcurler brigade in the media who are just so happy that the military are finally talking to them. They would rather not ask why.


But I taught you to ask why.


I taught you to ask a lot of questions. Good to know you learned the lesson well.


(Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan's column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to gail@mindanews.com. "Send at the risk of a reply," she says).