COMMENTARY: The flipside of grief

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 October) — We have seen mothers, widows and children grieve for the soldiers who perished in the Basilan ambush.

We even saw brothers-in-law die in separate encounters within days from each other – one in faraway south of Mindanao, the other up in Northern Luzon.

One child was not able to keep her anger from bursting.  Holding her tears, she echoed sentiments, to go all out war against the armed men that killed her soldier father.

But for every relative of slain soldiers who the press deservedly gave honor, how many brothers, sisters, parents and widows of armed rebels killed in combat are given the same media treatment?   Except perhaps when they go by the name of Gregorio Rosal, a.k.a Ka Roger or ones with the pedigree of Jonas Burgos, son of publisher and freedom fighter Jose Burgos Jr, majority of them will slip into oblivion.  Some most likely will not even be given decent burial.  Their orphans not likely to be offered scholarships and assistance like government soldiers killed in combat.

How many of them will be accorded the color parades and guns of salute usually given to combatants killed in action?

Think of every Moro rebel who will not be given eulogy or necrology by reason of faith because he had to be buried before dusk on the day of his death.  Think of the rebels whose dead bodies will be carried away by their comrades and buried in unmarked graves and can only wish that their kin are immediately notified  of their death.  Think of their families who cannot even pay respects and grieve over their dead.  Think also of the pain and anger that are left behind by every dead rebel.

Rebels are people too.  They, too, have families.  They also have loved ones they will leave behind when they are killed in combat.

Put into their proper context and purpose, showing and relating such grief and emotion will help people, more so for policy makers and protagonists in the war, rethink their chosen path to peace.

We have seen brothers and friends shot at each other from the opposite sides of the conflict to not empathize and sympathize with either side.

We all like the people to see the ugliness of this war and how it is tearing apart families and the society.

But when these are graphically and unabashedly shown to shock and stoke more anger, they become the purveyors of war.

The flipside of grief is outrage.

Showing grief should be meant to give a human angle to the story not precipitate anger and hatred. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Edwin Espejo writes for