By Omar Bantayan
Jim Paredes is passionate. At the least, I would give that to him.
During the EDSA rally, Paredes, with a very stern voice and anger-induced facial contortions and with all condescension, confronted Duterte millennials about extrajudicial killings. His arguments are compelling — if only he was as passionate as this when Cory’s police massacred 13 farmers in Mendiola. If only he condemned with all the tenacity that he is showing right now the mass killings of Hacienda Luisita farm workers. If only he showed some indignation over the never-ending terror waged by the Cojuanco family against Tarlac’s peasantry. I would have been moved.
During Arroyo’s reign more than a thousand freedom-loving Filipinos were extrajudicially erased from the face of the earth. One of the lawyers who volunteered to represent me and seven other progressive leaders in a trumped-up rebellion case was buried in a rubble of bodies of journalists and lawyers in Ampatuan, Maguindanao. Noynoy Aquino’s regime was also in no way benevolent. Aquino’s illusions and messianic pretensions resulted to scores of body bags of people who were not even engaged in criminal activity and whose only crimes were their genuine love for freedom and democracy.
So, where was Jim in all of these? Paredes turned a blind eye and shrugged cold shoulders then. Paredes was silent. You see, Paredes’ problem is consistency.
Paredes appears like the quintessential middle class, lashing upon kids who were merely doing what he was doing too — expressing one’s self. It seems like Paredes’ world outlook is the ignorant belief that he and he alone holds the correct definition of truth. For the nth time Paredes’ arrogance was on full display, acting as if he has the patent to Democracy and Freedom.
The problem is WE also fall into that trap. WE act as if this is all about the Aquinos, the Marcoses and now, Digong. Folks, this is about US and not them – the tenants of Malacañang, past and present.
Democracy is about power to the people. This is not about a yellow ribbon tied to railings along EDSA or elsewhere. This is about affording the majority of the populace the tools to live decent lives. Democracy is about land, land that has long been in the hands of feudal landlords and oligarchs. Seventy percent of Filipinos are farmers. Land distribution is the primary democratic aspiration of our people. Freedom is not just about being able to march through EDSA every February. Freedom is about giving the rest of our countrymen the elbow room to send their kids to school, bring their sick to the hospitals and the economic leeway to buy food for their families. Jim, I am sorry: democracy is not a yellow ribbon tied to an old oak tree; freedom is not an Aquino in the palace.
Jim, look at me! Look at me!!! I will not fall into your trap. I will not help you divide the people along political camps and the ever-fluid party lines. You could sing your “batang-bata ka pa” song all you want but I could tell you straight to your face that “nauna ka nga sa duyan, kulang ka naman sa yugyug!”