Philippine Canadian News.com
December 25, 2016
By Ted Alcuitas
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
As we reflect on the year about to end and look forward to a new year, one can say that 2016 was the worst of times not only for our motherland the Philippines,but for the United States of America and indeed, throughout the world.
In the Philippines, a new breed of leader came to power in June. Rodrigo Duterte was elected on the promise of getting tough on crime especially the drug problem. Less than six months into his term his “drug war”has turned the country into a killing field with close to 6,000 so-called drug addicts killed by either vigilantes or police. The killings, sanctioned by Duterte (bragging that he has pulled the trigger himself when he was mayor of Davao) is sending a chill to Filipinos who fear that they could fall victim to the indiscriminate killings euphemistically labelled ‘extra-judicial killings’ – meaning there is no due process.
The police acts as ‘judge, jury and executioner’.
The killings has been denounced both in the Philippines and abroad but Duterte remains adamant that he is doing the right thing. He vehemently and routinely lashes back at critics with his signature foul-mouthed expletives.
Yet, in a country reputed to be the only Catholic country in the region, the killings are apparently supported by the people despite appeals by the hierarchy to stop it.
The situation is spawning a spate of anti-Duterte movements and equally so, a determined movement of Duterte supporters. Using social media as their weapon,the language and vitriol of the discourse is escalating to a virtual cyber war.
The obsession with killings has eclipsed Duterte’s good decisions – the reopening of the peace process with the Reds, his progressive appointments of left-leaning cabinet ministers which has already implemented pro-people initiatives,the announcement of free-tuition for state-run schools as well as free hospitalization, etc.
Amidst this background of conflict in the Philippines and the looming threat of martial law, we see hope in the youth who have taken up the cudgels in the fight against authoritarianism and formed the vanguard of protests.
That is why we choose the painting of The Madonna and Child because we hope that the Philippines and the world will strive to be a more loving and compassionate one, despite the darkness that envelopes it at this moment.
We need to lift up the wounded in our arms whoever they maybe – the victims of the drug war and their widows and the children left behind, the people of Aleppo in Syria and the hundreds of thousands of refugees, the vulnerable people in the U.S. who are being targeted for their class.
May Peace come to us all!