Treason: treachery towards one’s country or government; betrayal of one’s country to an enemy.
Traitor: one who is disloyal; one who betrays his country, cause, friends, etc. – Webster’s Dictionary
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 28 Nov) – One doesn’t use a loaded term like treason or traitor lightly. But faced with so many instances of betrayal and treachery that no one bothers to address, much less to redress, it may help to bring the issue into the open so people can confront it.
Half a century of independence, wars, insurgency, and related problems should have taught us enough to deal with abusive or irresponsible citizens who threaten society, betray its interests, or cause harm by supporting or selling out to people with bad intentions.
But it seems we haven’t learned enough; so we perennially face problems arising from the acts of betrayers and assorted wrong-doers with treasonous attitudes including officials who do not value their oath of office.
Out in Maguindanao, the very officials charged with safeguarding the people of their province, their towns, and their barangays, conspired and executed the atrocious massacre of 57 civilians including journalists in Ampatuan.
It was an outrageously evil betrayal of public trust, a heinous violation of their oaths of office, from governor to lesser officials including policemen. But the case remains pending and drags on, the prosecution stymied, with no end in sight. It’s been 5 years! Treachery is unpunished. Impunity prevails.
In Surigao, there’s a missing absconder from Dinagat Island, ex-congressman no less, and cult leader, Ruben Ecleo, wanted for murdering his wife, now missing and unaccounted. Traitor!
In Palawan are two Reyes brothers—Joel, provincial governor, and Mario, Coron Town mayor—both wanted for murdering broadcaster/environmentalist Gerry Ortega, A.W.O.L. to evade arrest, fugitives until now. Betrayers of public trust!
Jovito Palparan, retired army general, on the lam for years to evade human rights offenses, now finally in custody: did he commit treason? It’s unclear how his case will pan out. Earlier, two other generals, Carlos Garcia and Jacinto Ligot, apprehended for financial mayhem, their cases still unresolved, betrayers of public trust.
In the Senate Panfilo Lacson went absent-without-leave for over a year to evade arrest, resurfaced, and simply resumed his post without a ripple, no questions asked, no explanations offered, no apparent consequences—lucky, clever fellow; now P-Noy’s rehabilitation “czar” for typhoon-ravaged areas. Treasonous? But free!
There’s Nur Misuari, Moro National Liberation Front founder and erstwhile MNLF Chair and ARMM Governor, went fugitive since the disastrous Zamboanga caper in September last year, still loose and at large, now mouthing secession. Traitor?
What of the Marcoses? Still shamelessly flaunting their plundered wealth, grandstanding, actually hoping for a reprise at Malacañang with scion Ferdinand Jr. gunning for 2016! The other half of the Conjugal Dictatorship, Imelda, is free as a songbird—wasn’t plunder and shutting down the country treason?
Then there’s the long-running thorn in our society’s flesh—the Communist New People’s Army, victimizing hapless communities, burning businesses, wrecking public facilities, destroying property, generally sabotaging progress and development.
That these out and out traitors get away with their depredations says a lot about the inadequacy and incompetence of both our civil and military establishments. With all the personnel, ordnance, intelligence networks, and technology at our government’s disposal, it’s perplexing how it gets outfoxed by these marauders.
It’s the government duty to clear society of such elements; it’s why we have correctional institutions.
If it’s not the Communists, it’s the jihadists and plain bandidos, lawless elements roaming the countryside, brandishing long arms, trespassing jurisdictions supposedly controlled by barangay and municipal enforcers and patrolled by government forces.
Moving about at will—sowing fear, dealing death and destruction, kidnapping for ransom—it all suggests connivance and complicity involving civil and government people in the very communities being victimized.
Clearly, we have fellow citizens and officials who, instead of protect, endanger the community. In the process, they sabotage government and put their neighbors in harm’s way.
And so the government’s capability to serve justice is under a cloud of doubt. They can’t put an end to traitorous acts. They can’t even identify the traitors, civilian or official, who threaten entire communities.
Traitors deserve infamy and disgrace, not freedom or favors from society. They should be flushed out, neutralized, identified, indicted, and taught a lesson.
[Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asia Publishers Association; director, Development Academy of Philippines; member, Philippine Mission to the UN; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Government’s Peace Panel; awardee, PPI-UNICEF outstanding columnist. He is president/national convenor, Gising Barangay Movement Inc. [email protected] ]