Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Unfinished Business

Bandillo ng Palawan/May 22 – 28, 2006 issue

Go not gently into the night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light
- Dylan Thomas

On a sunny Monday morning, while most people in Palawan were getting ready for another busy workweek, two men on a busy street corner had other things on their mind. They were waiting for a quarry, and as he rounded the corner, they snuffed the life out of him.

This should have been a joyful week. Residents of Puerto Princesa were looking forward to a float parade and the opening of the two-week Baragatan festival at the Capitol Park Square. Instead, the celebration was overshadowed by a grisly killing that sent chills down the spine of every principled Palaweño.

We are shocked with the brazenness of the assassination of Dong Batul, arguably the most popular broadcaster to have graced the airwaves of Palawan. It is not merely a killing, or a simple murder. The fact that it was carried out in broad daylight, on a busy street corner, and right in the heart of Puerto Princesa shows the impunity of the assassins. Many locals have commented that it could not have been done by a Palaweño. No one who was born and raised here, or who has chosen to call Palawan his or her home, could have done such a thing.

While that may be true, one thing is clear: only someone in Palawan could have ordered the killing. After all, Dong Batul only made “enemies” here. And they were only enemies in the sense that he was always seeking the truth, what is right, and what is just in this chaotic country of ours. In a city where government corruption is often talked about in whispers and most anomalies are simply swept under the rug, Dong Batul had the courage to take his crusade to the airwaves.

He was a firebrand, and often went overboard in his tirades, but in any civilized society, that is certainly no reason to take the life of anyone. After all, we have laws for that. It is only those with atavistic instincts, people who would want to take us back to the Dark Ages of intolerance and fascism, who would want to silence a voice of reason.

The challenge for law enforcers is not how fast they can catch the killers, but how far they will go in their investigation. Will they simply go after the assassins, the whodunit aspect which is the easiest to solve? Or do they have the courage to find out who ordered the dastardly and cowardly deed?

Whatever comes out of the police investigation, the killers and their puppet master failed to grasp an essential truth: killing one journalist does not spell the end of the quest to right the wrongs in society. As long as there are misdeeds to be exposed, there will always be people who will emerge as beacons of truth in any community.

The assassins have made a martyr out of Dong Batul. With this killing, they have sent out the message that truth shall not be tolerated in Puerto Princesa City. Dong Batul’s killers are afraid of the truth, but unfortunately for them, the truth always comes out in the end. And as long as the truth remains hidden, there will always be fearless people who shall continue the task of spreading the light of truth and justice.

Dong Batul is dead. Long live Dong Batul!


At 11:30 AM, Blogger Dandy Lachica said...

Many may say that after "Dong Batul", what now? What is next? Who's another Dong Batul in Palawan?
Dong's life and principle is the first of the pages in Palawan history of real journalism. Some radio reporters and commentators may reveal the public officials anomally and corruption but, there is always a reservation not to risk their jobs and their life.

At 11:54 AM, Blogger Dandy Lachica said...

Bro. Dong Batul is the mirror of the future young generations of radio broadcasters. Some radio commentators has limitations in exposing the anomalies and corruptions if they always consider " Pagkain muna sa mesa at pansariling kapakanan".
Dong is first of the pages in the history of Palawan's real radio journalism.

At 4:56 PM, Blogger Joey Palacios said...

The blight of political killings has finally reached Palawan. Dong Batul is only one of its many victims, the rest being the 800+ activists and media people felled by an insidious rightist scheme known as Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).

Like previous counterinsurgency plans, OBL has no regard for "collateral damage", meaning civilians who are perceived to be sympathizers of armed dissident group or are simply courgaeous enough to voice out their criticims of the present national government and its regional allies.

OBL has come under fire even from the international community, but the government officials behind it, a small fascist clique in Malacanang, have no intention of reigning in their campaign of murder and mayhem againt their "enemies". Only a mass movement led by the targets and victims of OBL can stop it in the future, after the stinking regime of Macapagal-Arroyo gets its political comeuppance. MALAPIT NA!


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