THE FRUSTRATED GOVERNOR faced the prisoner. He knew him to be falsely accused, but in vain did Pilate seek to exonerate Him.
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
“What is truth?” Pilate asked. (John 18:37-38)
Ah, that is the question.
It is getting more and more difficult to find the truth these days.
I woke up on Saturday morning to the shocking news of the Kidapawan clash. How many fatalities? I wanted to know. It was hard to determine. The rallyists said one death and that the PNP fired first; the North Cotabato governor said two, and the PNP claimed the rallyists started it. On Saturday evening, the events remained vague.
One outraged presidentiable declared it a “carnage” even as a senatorial bet condemned the “massacre.” For its part, in a surprisingly rare display of sensitivity, Malacañang lamented the clash as a “heartbreaking tragedy.”
Voices on all sides called for an investigation to discover the “truth.” It seemed to me, however, that even as they did so, they tainted that very truth with their thinly veiled agendas.
I can only describe the Kidapawan incident as an unnecessary, unconscionable waste – of life, of time, of trust.
The drought-stricken farmers trooped to Kidapawan destitute, their voices their only resource, believing they would be heard. Considering the many casualties and their dashed hopes, I am loath to think they were used. But seeing the local government’s inexplicable delays and its callous resort to bureaucracy and procedure; and in view of the militants’ irresponsible goading of their vulnerable spirits, I cannot conclude otherwise.
The militant organizers now say they merely employed a form of “pressure politics” to make the goverment listen to the “legitimate demands of the masses” – that was all. They only taught the farmers how to sound an alarm in the desperation of their plight.
In turn, the government is now implying that the left orchestrated the rally. They allegedly misled the indigents into believing they would receive rice but actually made them pawns for their political ends. Their machination resulted in a fiasco.
Both sides claim to be speaking the truth. What is truth?
I want to know, but I am sure whom not to ask.
Bongbong Marcos and Mar Roxas have come out with campaign comic books to introduce them to the masses. Both claim that these are accurate depictions of their life stories, but to eyewitnesses and others in the know, they are more akin to fantasy befitting their fanciful format.
Vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo, referring to Marcos’s comic book, said that “historical truths should not be changed. Those who do it are fooling the public.” Journalist Lottie Salarda, commenting on Roxas’s version, simply called him “insane.”
The University of the Philippines history department and the faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University have come out with statements assailing such “historical revisionism.” The Ateneo professors decry the “deceptive distortion of history” as a “shameless refusal to acknowledge the crimes of the martial law regime,” while the UP historians assert:
“The sad thing indeed that could happen is to fall for the trap of seeking a better society from a mythical ‘golden’ past. In that past, Marcos myth-making served to hide the power grab and greed of a Malakas at Maganda. Today, Marcos deception seeks to evade accountability. We reject deception and demand accountability!”
Indeed! But increasing numbers of millennials dismiss this as the bitter rantings of a generation that simply cannot move on. While they buy into the fables of these self-professed heroes, their dejected seniors wonder why they are so easily gulled.
Ironically, one of the culprits may be the Aquino education machinery itself.
The militant group Anakbayan, citing concerned netizens, is lambasting the DepEd for its textbook “Lakbay ng Lahing Pilipino 5” (Ailene G. Baisa Julian & Nestor S. Lontoc, Phoenix Publishing House) for inaccurately presenting the precursors to the Marcos dictatorship. Its chapter entitled “Mga Pangyayaring Nagbigay-daan sa Pagtatakda ng Batas-Militar” on pages 350-51 vaunts Marcos’s supposed “achievements” in agriculture and the economy prior to his declaration of martial law.
(T)he textbook “misleadingly claims that all of the dictator Marcos’ programs were done to uplift the lives of Filipinos, while turning a blind eye to the trampling of human rights and civil liberties and systemic corruption.” – Anakbayan
The group has demanded a recall of the textbook before its continued use causes future generations to suffer from irreversible “historical amnesia.”
We are caught in a maelstrom of untruths and half-truths, and if unchecked it will suck us downward into the abyss. As a society we were gaslighted for so long by the Marcos dictatorship that it almost seems we find our comfort in the hazy grey of fiction. The black and white of truth is too stark.
I have not even discussed here the Senate inquiry into the stolen Bangladeshi funds…where is the truth there? We must find it, for the world – and our financial welfare – demand it. But so adept are schemers at hiding behind laws meant to protect us that they insinuate cracks there that might one day bring this house down.
We are in the midst of manipulators of truth who believe they can twist and pry it into the form they desire. But truth is absolute and can be found only in the One who defines it. He alone controls it. As for the rest, who lie foremost to themselves, their sins will find them out.
“…for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”