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.
Culturization though starts 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 the 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 fi sts 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 unright, 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.
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.
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?
They all flout the law with nothing more than their stupid grins to fl aunt, but nobody dares apprehend them.
Not even reprimand them. And these are but the “small folk” far below the ladder of power and infl uence 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, plundering the government coffers not excluded.
Aye, Napoles – though in jail – makes the face not only of the pork barrel mess but of the culture of impunity as well. The honorable senators and congressmen tagged in the scam too. Moreso. They don’t even get suspended from their august bodies.
Ending the culture of impunity in this country is ever invoked at each unsolved high profile killing, abduction, disappearance. Nothing wrong there. Aye, it is to be so. Ending the culture of impunity in this country should be invoked at each unpunished illegality, no matter how seemingly trivial.
As in presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s byte on then-Senator Mar Roxas’ questioned PDAF: “This is just a P5 million fund that’s being stated. I don’t know why this is being made an issue.” So insensate, this blabbering mouthpiece.
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. (A column from June 2012 updated)