Commentary: The backhoe spell
By Bong Pedalino
Maasin City (7 December) -- Poor backhoe. This heavy equipment is very much useful in scooping dirt and digging earth, and any other major excavation that requires speed and efficiency.
When the Maguindanao carnage took place, the backhoe was prominently featured -- not in a heroic mood, but rather as an accomplice to an embarrassing assignment completely alien from its primary function.
Now the backhoe looks menacing -- not out of its sheer size, but out of a grisly reality that such a tool for construction to enhance lives was used instead to destroy lives.
But the backhoe per see is not the culprit here, let us be clear on that. It is the ______. Sorry for the blank space. I cringe to even mention their names.
The sight of a backhoe will forever haunt Journalists. Its awesome strength can do much wonders for a speedy work. Close friends and immediate families of civilian victims in the Maguindanao slaughter may also look at it with disdain.
No, we do not blame the operator, or the driver, for he was simply doing his job. Somebody must answer why it was there in the first place and for what reason, even how obvious, or how plainly stupid the reason as we now knew it on hindsight.
The ______. Sorry for the blank space, but they should have their day in Courts.
Others may call this GABA. Or KARMA. But for any Juan, Pedro and Maria, this is JUSTICE.
Martial Law has been declared in Maguindanao. Cheers to that. Yeheeey! This may be pandering to the catcalls of the gallery, as some sectors challenged, but the gallery must be there for unlimited vigilance and, yes, to sustain the catcalls.
Overkill? No, definitely not. The real victims of overkill are the overkilled victims themselves. At least the rounded suspects are still alive -- and were unable to arm their twisted supporters with the uncovered armory-strong caches of high-powered weapons enough to equip two battalions, or no less than 1,000 people.
We are not trying to grasp the law in our own hands here; we are trying to hand the law to the hands that matter: the government, the authorities, the widows and widowers.
And this may be something weird: imposing exceptional military rule in a place where the rule does not seem to care for any exception, much less show any iota of respect, on the likes of women, defenseless civilians, and reporters, is one way of cleansing the spell of the backhoe.
For until everyone -- and I mean every one -- is satisfied that justice was served, the backhoe’s spell will still be there.
The entire civilized world is watching us.
We cannot afford to fail.
LOCAL FRONT: Local Journalists last week traveled with DPWH for an ocular sight-seeing on the various projects implemented by the agency, the premier builder of the government. In one of the sorties along the pacific side of the Liloan-San Ricardo road, where construction was in progress, we found -- yes, you guessed it -- a backhoe. We stopped and posed for souvenir pictures with the rested backhoe as background. Our hope and prayer is that never again should this useful machine be used for a heinous crime.
ODDLY YOURS: In 2004, it was estimated that all over planet Earth there were about 6.2 billion human inhabitants. Overall, the males outnumber the females by not much really, for in every 100 gals, there are 101 guys. But this slight numerical dominance drops with age, so that upon reaching the age of 50, the ladies start to outnumber the gentlemen. So who says that women are the weaker sex than the men? (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]