I apologize for being a critic

Sylvia Estrada Claudio
As a way of repentance I shall henceforth stop all criticism of this government until I am able to achieve moral perfection. Or perhaps, I shall go in search of that perfect person who has denounced everything that needs to be denounced, worked on everything that needs to be solved.

In truth I really wanted to decry the death of Kian Loyd delos Santos, a Grade 11, 17-year-old boy, who was murdered by police forces last August 16, 2017. I wanted to give my support to groups seeking to end the killings related to the ongoing drug war. But I realized, based on the arguments I have been receiving, that I really have no right. I realized that I am a hypocrite who remains silent on so may other things.

List of sins

Let me list my shortcomings.

When I mention Kian delos Santos, I fail to also mention the suffering of so many others. After all, I have not denounced the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Marawi for some time now. So I was going to do that to gain some integrity. But on second thought, maybe I don’t have the right to say anything because I haven’t really been to the evacuation centers of Marawi and actually given out food and water and clothing. Besides, maybe I really don’t have the right to say anything because I am not from Mindanao, much less from Marawi.

And even if I was from Mindanao and had helped in the relocation areas, I still would not have the right to criticize government over the handling of Marawi because I am not a victim of terrorism myself. And even if I denounce terrorism now, what have I said about it in the past?

But even If I had fulfilled all these requirements for the right to say something about Marawi and I could prove my genuine sympathy for the suffering, I still could not call for justice for Kian delos Santos and all the victims of the war. Not until I prove that I actually am concerned for those who were raped or killed by drug addicts.

Now I have been working with rape victims regardless of whether they were raped by addicts or not, but that is really not enough. After all, I haven’t called for, nor attended a rally for the victims. So I guess that I am not giving equal importance to the matter and therefore I am really biased. And I understand now that the only cure for this bias is to be raped by addicts.

But then even if I could prove to you all that I have had a sterling track record of sympathy and action for the victims of drug addiction, the victims of terrorism, the plight of the people of Marawi, the victims of the drug war – still, I have no integrity calling for justice for all these people. After all, I have common cause with the Catholic Church on several of these issues.

Now why should having common cause with the Catholic Church on certain issues prove that I am an unworthy critic? Because the Catholic Church has a history of sexual abuse.

And more sins

But even if I were to prove to you that I have actually been critical of the priests who are abusive, I still cannot be believed when I denounce the death of Kian, the other victims of the drug war, the miseries of the people of Marawi, the rape and death due to drugs.

Because  what have I done to denounce corruption? So now I wish to denounce corruption with all my might and express concern over the shenanigans at the Bureau of Customs that allowed P6.4-billion worth of shabu to enter the country.

But then I thought, “why only now?” Corruption has been going on in the past so maybe I should first show evidence of my disgust over corruption in past administrations before I criticize.

But even if I were the kind of person who is critical of abusive priests, critical of the current corruption  in the Bureau of customs, critical of corruption in previous administrations, sympathetic to the victims of drug addicts, sympathetic to the family of Kian, sympathetic to the victims of terrorism, sympathetic to the suffering of the people of Marawi, still this would not be enough.

Because who did I vote for in the last election? Did I vote for yet another corrupt elite person or did I vote for the candidate who is trying to do something for the people and who has put his life on the line for the country? What, by the way, have I ever done for the country? Or the environment and climate change or world peace?

Furthermore, I should examine every critical impulse I have because maybe I am being critical because I am just a hater.

I am so unworthy

It is not enough that I am an ordinary citizen, someone who reads and tries to be informed and a professor at a government university who has always thought that it is part of her duty to hold government accountable. Certainly this is not enough.

I apologize for not having a thousand mouths that would scream about all the ills simultaneously. Or should it be a million mouths?

I apologize that my heart is not big enough to have compassion for every suffering human being at every moment.

I apologize for not experiencing all the victimizations for which I was seeking justice.

As a way of repentance I shall henceforth stop all criticism of this government until I am able to achieve moral perfection.

Or perhaps, I shall go in search of that perfect person who has denounced everything that needs to be denounced, worked on everything that needs to be solved. Someone who has never had a single misinformed opinion or shallow motivation in her or his life. I will start by looking among those who keep telling me how unworthy I am for criticizing. That is very likely where I will find this paragon of virtue.

When I find this person I shall tell each and every Filipino to just obey this person.

That would be my real contribution to the nation.

A small P.S.

From what I have said, it is obvious that I have not found the perfect person, not even our President. And I really apologize for saying this because I have no right to criticize. – Rappler.com

Sylvia Estrada Claudio, MD, PhD, teaches Women and Development Studies at the College of Social Work and Community Development, University of the Philippines.