When they gave him vinegar: From Christ to Raymart Siapo
It is one of the seven last words. But missing its point is easy as one waits for the climax that is the death of Christ on Good Friday.
When Christ told them he was thirsty, the soldiers, instead of giving him water, held to his mouth a sponge soaked in vinegar. Other translations refer to it as sour wine – wine that went bad.
That was contemptuous. Christ, seeking mercy, received cruelty.
I bet he also sought mercy. Raymart Siapo was brutally murdered at the end of March. Howie Severino narrated the harrowing account of his mother in a series of posts documenting murders around the country. Initial accounts recorded in the media only offered cold facts. It took listening to the mother to see that Raymart was not just another statistic.
An OFW, Luzviminda Siapo had to kneel in front of her employers in Kuwait to beg her release. They were not convinced until she showed them online reports of her son's murder in Navotas.
She came home and did her own investigation. Doing this must be unbearable for any mother. The details offered no mercy.
Men in a motorcycle, according to witnesses, abducted Raymart. He was then brought to the nearby bridge where they sat him down.
They told him to run. That was an insult. He could, of course, not run. Raymart was a Person with Disability. He was born with a congenital disease that gave him two club feet.
They shot him in the head. That was the end of Raymart. He was supposed to begin his new job the next day, a hopeful feat for a student of Alternative Learning System.
Howie's post includes a selfie of Raymart he sent his mother to thank her. That was one of his last messages. Like any proud mother, her response would have made anyone smile: "pogi".
The community blotter reports he was a drug suspect. In a twist of plot that no longer surprises us, "two plastic sachets of shabu were found beside his body".
This is just one of the many other stories that now fall under the category "deaths under investigation". You will get tired reading all the names on Inquirer's Kill List.
The defenders of this administration's war on drugs will hide behind questions: Is this really extrajudicial killing? Or isn't this just another murder that rides on the war on drugs? How likely is it that this is collateral damage – necessary evil for the eradication of crime in the country?
The defenders will also say that murders also happened even before Duterte became president.
These questions are a distraction. Stories like this should break our hearts.
And we should find it repulsive that government officials are instead embarrassed whenever they are asked if it is still safe to visit the Philippines. We need to take offense too at OFWs who lambast the media and other critics for destroying, in their view, the image of the Philippines abroad.
Between murder and shame, they choose to be embarrassed. They offer vinegar.
Stories like Raymart's should at the very least tell us that when people are murdered, they die. When they die, families are affected for eternity. There is nothing in this world that can turn that around.
The war on drugs, with its collateral damage that even the President admits to having, should haunt us.
But it does not, unfortunately.
The death of Good Friday
Why should it? It did not bother the soldiers that Christ was suffering. In their eyes, he was a criminal, after all. His thirst should be the least of their worries.
That Christ was given vinegar was a fulfilment of Scripture. It echoed the cry of the helpless in Psalm 69: "They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."
That final act of cruelty embodied the very message of Christ on the cross: to imbibe the pain and suffering of the world. He yielded his spirit and gave up his life. That was the end of Good Friday.
One can only wish that with Christ's death all cruelty faded away too. But the record of history testifies against it.
On Good Friday, in the Philippines – a country that celebrates its long Christian heritage – we see not the death but the persistence of cruelty. – Rappler.com
Jayeel Serrano Cornelio, PhD, a sociologist, writes about religion and other truth claims that should bother us. Share with him your Lenten reflection on Twitter @jayeel_cornelio.