Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Immunity index
By Bong Lacson

Nov 02, 2017

NOVEMBER 2 is International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013.

Impunity comes in various guises, feeds off indifference, then impacts all too terribly on the people. My take on the subject in this Zona piece of June 2012.

CULTURE OF impunity. The phrase so oft applied in unsolved media killings, extra judicial executions, abductions and disappearances, that it assumed exclusivity for human rights violations.

Enculturation though starts in small, petty things, which often repeated, graduate to big things. Like the culture of the lie attributed to Goebbels: If a lie is repeated often enough, it becomes a “truth.” Or something accepted as a relative truth.

Hence, if a wrong is done often enough, it becomes not necessarily right, but altogether tolerated, aye, accepted as a no-wrong.

Thence – to my simple mind – rises the culture of impunity. Impunity, if I remember my seminary Latin right, rooted in im – without, and punitas – punishment.

So, even as I continue to join my media comrades raise clenched fists every 23rd of the month to remember the Ampatuan Massacre of November 23, 2009, and shout for an end to the culture of impunity, I keep my own impunity index on the petty side of things un-right, if not illegal.

Like the passenger jeepney drivers dropping and picking up commuters in No Loading/No Unloading Zones right under the very noses of traffic enforcers. Like the passenger jeepney drivers – again! – taking the outermost lanes and zooming through red lights right on plain sight of traffic enforcers.

Like the passenger jeepney drivers – again, again! – keeping their vehicles’ headlights off in the dark of night. That’s no simple driving with reckless imprudence, that’s wanting – not waiting for – an accident to happen. So, where’s the LTO?

Then there are the tricycles traversing stretches of the national highways in direct violation of the law, being confined only to crossing them. So, where’s the local government?

There too are the whole families of three, four, five, once I saw even six, on board single motorcycles, where but tandem riding is decreed.

And helmetless motorcycle riders or those who wear them on their elbows not on their heads. Notwithstanding all those No Helmet, No Travel rules posted just about everywhere.

And what do you make of the padyaksikels who lord it all over city streets – making terminals atop bridges, counterflowing traffic at will, do pick-and-drop passengers wherever?

The culture of impunity most manifest in our roads and highways.

They all flout the law with nothing more than their stupid grins to fl aunt, but nobody dares apprehend them. Not even reprimand them. Veritably empowered with an immunity from suit! And these are but the “small folk” far below the ladder of power and influence in local society.

If, in their “lowness” they can get away with these small violations, so can the high and the mighty get away with bigger violations, murdering newsmen not exempted.

Ending the culture of impunity in this country is ever invoked at each unsolved high profile or extrajudicial killing, abduction, disappearance.

Ending the culture of impunity in this country should be invoked at each unpunished illegality, no matter how seemingly trivial.

Ending the culture of impunity in this country demands the draconian exercise of political will. By all persons in authority. With full respect to the rights of the people, but of course.

Will. Will not. A whale of a difference in the nut.

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