We Are Hostages Too

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    We are hostages too: A hostaged democracy and the tragedy of invisible institutions

    As a Christian-Social Democratic community, we, the Christian Union for Socialist and Democratic Advancement (CRUSADA) Board of Trustees, condemn the violence that occurred at the QuirinoGrandstand on August 23, 2010, which led to the loss of nine lives and a collective sentiment of helplessnessin the face of unresponsive institutions.

    We mourn with those who have lost their loved ones in this most tragic event and offer them ourmost sincere condolences as we stand in solidarity with all those who condemn such manifestations ofviolence which desecrate the value of human life. In mourning, we simultaneously call for contemplation:first, to rethink the discursive structures prominent in our society; and second, to reflect on the very meaningof our humanity and spirituality. As Christians, we pray for the souls of the departed in deference to thesanctity of life and also as a continuing reaffirmation of our communion with Christ.

    We recognize, however, that the responsibility for the detestable acts of violence that ensued doesnot lie solely on Senior Insp. Rolando Mendoza the incident, we insist, must be confronted not as anisolated instance of visceral madness, but as a compelling testament to how fragile in faith and solidarity theFilipino community has become. This, we believe, is due to the prevailing political structures that took

    hostage the avenues that will allow Filipinos to converse with their fellows, to stand together in faith, and toengage in the lives of one another.

    It is our fervent belief that to impede upon these very capabilities of people to gather together as adiscursive political community is to render the people docile and mute, isolating and alienating them fromtheir humanity, reducing them into objective facts that could be submitted to various procedures withouttaking note of their human features.

    What transpired on that unfortunate day exposed these prevailing political structures: first in thereasons Mendoza gave and the need to attract attention and hijack the bus, and second, in the way the mediaexemplified a rabid consumerist culture and the presumption of a totalizing and universalizing Filipinoidentity that is viewed as separate from the roots of what had enabled this incident to occur -- the lack ofcivil participation and the presumption of a sovereign entity which isolates other discursive narratives tomobilize. By rendering Mendozas case as insignificant for the Ombudsman, these political structuresconcealed the human character of Mendoza, of his impending poverty, hopelessness, and despair. Theimpersonality of bureaucratic affairs, the obsession on protocols and procedures particularly with theobjective fact of Mendozas supposed misconduct, rendered Mendoza himself as a victim, who is unable tospeak and vindicate his self, helpless against the very structures purporting to uphold justice and equality toall. We contend that his case is not an isolated one; many more are being marginalized, unnoticed, andpurposely hidden away from scrutiny, rendered irrelevant for any public discourse.

    More than that, these structures of disempowerment and detachment from the very operation ofcommunal institutions were even more made visible by how people responded to what had happened.Members of the media scrambled against one another to capture the whole crisis on camera, perhaps for thesake of higher ratings, as if inviting the people to look on, to consume the spectacle, to detach themselves

    from the scene, to become mere observers rather than participants, indifferent to what Mendoza had thoughtof as legitimate grievances. What should have been a medium for dialogue was twisted by those in power toserve as an avenue for them to showcase personal antics, idealized heroic exploits, and supposed competencyto handle the problem, telling the public to stand back, to become passive, and to let once again thesestructures to take their hold.

    This encouraged passivity--this disavowal of Mendoza as an isolated incident and to spaces fordialogue--further concretized and legitimized an ideal identity, a presumption of a Filipino nation, whichhas been repetitively formed by these political structures. By assuming this identity, these structures have

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