Christmas amnesty

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    THE Christmas season provides easy exemptions to violators of city and traffic ordinances.

    Drinking in public places is back with a vengeance and so are loitering and littering. Private parties now commonly spill out in the streets with long tables of beers and liquor. The most brazen of all is the complete deterioration of the jeepney and bus drivers’ respect for such basic traffic ordinance against loading and unloading at major roads. And never mind if the “No Loading” and “No Unloading” signs are staring at their faces in every street corner in Metro Manila. If discipline continues to fail at this level in our society with Christmas today as a handy conduit, we can be sure of its dismal breakdown at government’s higher echelons.
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    The song “Silent Night” does not best describe the first Christmas when the angels came down singing and rejoicing. The night was anything but silent when the Savior of the world was born. But when you think about it, the merrymaking throngs in heaven did not include one solitary being – God The Father. He who sent His Only Begotten Son here on earth could see in the future how His Son would be disgraced, brutalized and crucified on the cross like a common criminal.

    As a father and a person, he could not spare himself from the humiliation, agony and excruciating pain of His only Son. And as Jesus cried out for Him on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” He could do nothing but turn His back on the dying figure. Jesus had taken up the sins of the world and became sin for all of us and God the Father would have nothing to do with Him at that moment. He did not find the birth of Jesus a moment for celebration. No one can yet fathom the incredibly deep love God has for us for we are all sinners and have come short of the Kingdom.

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    President Duterte seems determined to end the insurgency but he should genuinely renew his heart during this glorious season when everybody else is striving to open theirs. After the cold-blooded killings of NPA rebels, their commanders and leftist lawyers, he now calls for the resumption of peace talks. It actually seems that the CPP/NPA/NDF is now under the gun to agree to another disheartening round of negotiations. The characteristic government response to the collapse of any of the talks has been brutal with the apparently intensified covert operations by the military and vigilantes meant to decimate the rebels’ shrinking ranks. The President should seriously consider an amnesty, especially for the aging and sick detainees languishing in city and provincial jails. DILG Secretary Ano would rather break them as their infirmities worsen in detention and see them die while they still refuse to cooperate and confess to their crimes many of which had been fabricated. One bewildering legal or treacherous violent reprisal after another has marked the end of any peace talk which will never progress under the present atmosphere of mayhem and loathing.

    The President should look to the late South African President Nelson Mandela who organized a unique but effective form of reconciliation he called the Truth Commission.

    Mandela introduced a strong spiritual aspect in the negotiations between aggrieved blacks and the oppressive and brutal rightist government of his predecessors. He brought together priests, pastors and counselors to minister both to the victims and the accused soldiers and officers of the military and the police. Before long, families or survivors of kidnappings, torture and murder would come face-to-face with the “criminals” to shake their hands and forgive them. The Commission demanded only one thing from the “criminals” – that they confess to their crimes before they are reconciled with the loved ones of the victims whom they had abused or slaughtered. One emotionally-wrenching moment came when the daughter of a butchered activist tearfully embraced the torturer and killer of his father and choked on her words “I forgive you. It is God’s will that I should.”