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THE WORM’S EYEVIEW: Heroes or villains?

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 20 Nov) – The Senate Blue Ribbon Sub-Committee hearings are alleged to be in-aid-of-legislation; in reality they’re less of a hearing and more of accusing. They confuse and confound rather than enlighten, obviously bent on something much more than fuel legislation.

It should be enough that the object of the hearings has proved evasive, obviously caught in bind he cannot disentangle. The rest should be up to the Ombudsman.

Between the prosecutorial conduct of the senators and the obvious dissembling by a vice president, people wonder who are the heroes and who are the villains: the presiders? the accusers? the accused?

Are the hearings a pretext for skewering a political or potential enemy? Or are they merely grandstanding? Who is and who is not clean? Even the media are off-putting, sensationalizing, polluting airwaves with innuendo, gossip, speculation. How helpful are they?

It helps to know who are the heroes and villains. People shouldn’t be confused, especially the young or immature, and others who simply need to know who to follow and who to avoid.


To clear the air, it’s important to know who is one and not the other; who is the other and not one. Even in the province, there’s confusion: hard to distinguish one from the other. Too many gray areas; too many characters tax credulity. It used to be clear that heroes are admirable; villains repugnant.

Take that guy Ruben Ecleo, cult leader on Dinagat Island in Surigao, former mayor, suspended congressman, now on the lam evading prison for murdering his wife. Clearly a villain, as are the De los Reyes brothers of Palawan who killed ecowarrior-broadcaster Jerry Ortega, also at large.

There’s Ameril Ombra Kato, ringleader of the so-called Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), playing war-games with authorities all over the place, mocking civil, police, and military authorities. Hero to some, villain to most? How about the villainous Abu Sayyaf or the New People’s Army?

Is it because there are too many uneducated or misinformed people around, and too many demagogues and weird officials, that no one acts decisive about dealing with barbaric elements?

Is it a reflection of how poor our educational system is, how wild and woolly our media, how low the morals of our leaders, or how prolix is our society’s ethics?

Perverse attitudes are blending with insane loyalties; lousy values with weak, faulty institutions. No wonder people fill barangay halls with ignoramuses, city halls with greedy oligarchs, and Congress with unsavory characters that include coup plotters, B-Grade actors, dubious lawyers, hoopsters, and a pugilist.


We’re a mixed up society. On one hand, we crave decency and nobility in public life and leadership; on the other hand, we elect charlatans and thieves and scalawags. We also send thousands to law school; when they pass the bar, we let them worsen lawlessness by exploiting loopholes, invoking technicalities to exonerate criminals.

Pity our society for its woes, for its lousy bureaucracy, overcrowded with shameless, unscrupulous trapos who turn public service into self-service and a family enterprise.

Even the police are confused; are they supposed to end criminality or join the crowd and be the criminals? Trust is becoming a scarce commodity.

Ask about the Communists and the so-called New People’s Army: are they heroes or villains? Both officials and citizens are uninformed, clueless, no opinion. Others won’t answer (too scared!). Others can’t decide (too compromised!) Still others run away and swell the ranks of banditry, ignorance prevailing over decency.


So the Communist Party, the National Democratic Front, and other fronts have the time of their lives—their party-list comrades feasting on congressional allowances, their rural partisans extorting “revolutionary” taxes, their urban units joining parades with outsize banners, or march across the countryside, marauding and pillaging with impunity.

They continue to multiply and build up strength, raiding factories, torching buses, terrorizing businesses. Are they heroes or villains?

Heroes build, villains destroy. Heroes inspire and uplift people’s hearts; villains strike fear in them. Heroes ennoble, villains sow violence and hate. Heroes respect and promote human rights, villains victimize people and trample their rights.

Heroes are leaders who listen, serve, and give of themselves; villains demand, exploit, and take for themselves—violently, corruptly, if need be.


To life, heroes conjure up dreams and aspirations; villains spread nightmares, douse hope and extinguish light. Heroes harmonize and democratize, villains manipulate, dominate, control.

Of the truth do heroes tell or die for; villains lie, deceive, and live off others. Heroes uphold Rule of Law; villains impose Law of Force.

Johnny Flavier, a modern hero, just died, as if a whole era passed away with him. Do we have certified heroes? When do we learn to deal with villains?

Will we learn to sort out hypocrites, thieves, and exploiters—and shine a light on heroes? How about big campaign spenders who buy their way to power? Profligate where it concerns power-seeking: billions for president, hundreds of thousands or millions for congressman or senator; beggarly where it concerns decency, honesty, dedication, or statesmanship.

(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. valdehuesa@gmail.com)

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