POSTSCRIPT / December 31, 2017 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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No choice, but to just keep hoping

A YEAREND survey by the Social Weather Stations has made the expected conclusion that the Filipino, the inveterate optimist, exudes boundless hope as he braces for the rolling in of an uncertain, but new, year.

We think the likely reason behind its finding that 96 percent of Filipinos, or nine out of every 10, are hopeful that 2018 will usher in a better life is that the people have no choice anyway but to hang on — while hoping for a possible change for the better.

The SWS reported Friday that the 96-percent score in its survey of 1,200 respondents from Dec. 8 to 16 beat the results of similar yearend polls since 2010, when the score bounced back to 93 percent after dipping to 89 percent in 2009.

It said the 96-percent score is the highest ever, surpassing the 95 percent achieved in 2002, 2011 and 2016. This year, only four percent of respondents said they enter the New Year with fear, the lowest recorded score since 2011.

The latest survey showed hope rising in all socio-economic classes: 97 percent among classes ABC, 96 percent among Class D, and 97 percent among class E. It was also noticed that those who looked forward to a “happy Christmas” generally also awaited a better new year.

Aside from the “eternal optimist” theory behind Filipinos’ always seeing a better year ahead, there is the political conclusion, awaiting validation, that the Duterte administration’s bearers of good news — sometimes mixed with “fake news” — are somehow connecting to their targeted audiences.

While the administration propagandists’ “good news” has not been translated into the hoped-for “good life,” the decimated political opposition is still unable to find a saleable rallying figure and present an alternative progressive program that is doable in the medium term.

In short, there being no viable socio-political alternative in sight as a new year dawns on the nation, the Filipino seems to have no choice but to just hold on – and hope that the administration, bloody warts and all, could somehow hack it until the midterm 2019 elections.

• ‘Licensed to kill’ monster?

AN INCIDENT such as the police mistakenly gunning down two persons Thursday night in Mandaluyong with a group rushing to the hospital a wounded woman in a van was bound to happen — and happen again – with the police having been given extra-wide latitude in anti-crime operations.

The incident, which is being investigated by the police themselves while their Mandaluyong chief and 10 of his men have been relieved, prompted one to ask on Twitter:

“Given license to kill and assured of protection, have Duterte’s (“my”) police turned into a Frankenstein’s monster?” That refers to the Commander-in-Chief’s instructions for them to shoot suspects who “fight back” (manlaban), and to his assurance that he would back them up to the hilt.

This is part of a CNN Philippines report on a briefing on the mistaken chase and the overkill that has inflamed social media:

The police did not listen to the plea of the victims in the deadly Mandaluyong City shooting incident, a survivor recounted on Friday.

Survivor Mhury Jamon described how the police and barangay officials from Addition Hills continued to fire at them late Thursday night despite their explanation they were taking a shooting victim to a hospital.

“Sumisigaw kami na pasyente ang dala namin, pero hindi kami napakinggan, pinadapa lang kami ng mga pulis. Pero hindi kami pinakinggan na pasyente ang dala namin,” he said in a media briefing Friday.

Jamon said the police warned before they were fired upon: “Bago sila magpaputok, nagsabi sila na, ‘Kapag hindi kayo bumaba, papuputukan namin kayo.’ Eh hindi nga po makababa… Hindi talaga makakababa kasi yung pasyente namin naka-dagan dun kay Kuya Bobot kaya hindi siya makakilos.”

Bobot or Eliseo Aluad is the live-in partner of Jonalyn Ambaon, the victim of an earlier shooting incident at Addition Hills who was being taken to the hospital.

Jamon, along with two companions from a construction site alighted, but Ambaon, Aluad, the driver, and another colleague stayed in the van despite the police’s order.

He said the police did not understand why they were not alighting, prompting the officers to open fire.

“Yung mga pulis ang nagpababa sa aming lahat. Kaya nagpaputok ng husto yung mga pulis kasi akala ayaw bumaba yung natitirang kasama namin. Syempre, pulis, hindi bumaba ang subject, puputukan talaga pero hindi nila alam na hindi makababa,” Jamon said.

Jomar Hayaun, one of the passengers, was killed in the shooting with the barangay officials and policemen, while Ambaon eventually died in the hospital. Aluad and their companion Danilo Santiago are in critical condition at the Mandaluyong City Medical Center.

Metro Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde said on Friday no firearms were recovered from the vehicle of the victims. He said barangay tanods who responded to the first shooting gave wrong information to the police.

“Hindi natin masisi, siyempre, yung ating mga pulis doon na initial na thinking nila, may talagang armado,” he said. “Kasi there was a shooting incident and ‘yun yung fineed ng mga barangay sa kanila. Armado yung nasa Adventure.”

On Thursday night, barangay officers fired at a white Adventure van on Shaw Blvd. that was reported to be carrying the gunman in a prior shooting in Addition Hills in Mandaluyong.

However, now-sacked Mandaluyong police chief Senior Supt. Moises Villaceran said they found out the van’s passengers were helping Ambaon and were rushing her to a hospital.

“Allegedly habang hinahabol, nagpapaputok rin yung mga barangay tanod. So na-alarm yung mga pulis natin, nag-conduct kami ng dragnet operation para ma-corner ang suspect, not knowing na hindi pala ito ang sasakyan ng suspect,”  he said.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 31, 2017)

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