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A praise undeserved is slander in disguise

Guest Editorial
Movement for a Free Philippines

When I read Conrado Dequiroz's article on The PDI dated August 28, 2007 entitled, "The pen is ( still) mightier than the sword", I could not help but give also my own comment on what he read but coming from another drift.

Mr. De Quiroz said he was prompted to make that article after reading a sign that was set up by soldiers during a wake at Fort Bonifacio held for 13 of their fallen comrades, who were killed in an encounter with the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan. The sign was apparently a tribute to the dead soldiers.

The sign reads:

"It's the soldier -- not the reporter -- who has given us the freedom of the press. It's the soldier -- not the poet -- who has given us the freedom of speech. It's the soldier -- not the politician -- who ensures that we live freely and peacefully. It's the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is eventually draped by the flag."

The sacredness of an heroic act is borne by its hallowed intention. To add or detract something from that intention to make it more heroic is an undeserved praise that invites nothing but contempt as it soils the memory of the altruistic deed. Thus, when we ascribed an erroneous intention to men in uniform for having given their full measure in the line of duty is to stain the nobility of their death with calumny.

As with Mr. De Quiroz, I am here not to dishonor the memory of the dead soldiers. And it is not to disparage the honor of these soldiers to say that IT IS NOT ONLY OUR MEN IN UNIFORM WHO HAS GIVEN US THE FREEDOM OF PRESS, IT IS NOT ONLY OUR SOLDIER WHO ENSURE THAT WE LIVE FREELY AND PEACEFULLY because IT IS NOT ONLY OUR MEN IN UNIFORM WHO SALUTES THE PHILIPPINE FLAG, WHO SERVES UNDER THAT FLAG, WHO HAD DIED FOR THAT FLAG AND WHO ARE WILLING TO DIE FOR THAT FLAG.

There are so many men and women, ordinary as well as not so ordinary people, who were not in uniform but, despite which, also gave their lives for that flag. And there are many more Filipinos, from all circumstances, who , as it was before them, are more than willing to put their lives and limbs in harms way if only to see that flag, WAVE FREELY FROM A STRAIGHT POLE, FOR ALL OF US TO ENJOY AND SEE FOREVER MORE.

Yes, we owe our freedom to all of them, both living and dead; with uniform or not; known or unknown; still missing or otherwise, buried in flag-draped coffins and with full military honors or in some unmarked, lonely graves in mountain sides or some distant farms; who believed that it is a God-given right of every Filipino to live like a human being, with justice and in liberty, under a government of the people, for the people and by the people; and, who, one way or another, HAVE SHOWN THEIR WILLINGNESS to give their all for that sacred belief.

To say that we owe our freedom ONLY to our gallant soldiers, including those who died in the line of duty, is not only to detract something very meaningful about their gallantry in life and the nobility of their death but to render naught the sacrifices of all those, both living and dead, and in uniform or otherwise, who sacrificed everything, that we may enjoy the freedom that we are enjoying now. It is precisely because their acts of gallantry in life and in death were done in the name of freedom that we are enjoined to be contemptuous of any untruthfulness as to their heroic intentions, more so if it is undeserving. For in this particular case, an undeserved praise is nothing more than a slander in disguise of the true meaning of freedom and as well as of the hallowed memory of all those who purchased it with their intractable sacrifices and lives.



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