Alex Lacson
Commentary, Philippine Daily Inquirer

DURING the Spanish time, the face of our people’s enemy was very clear. It was the Spanish conquerors and rulers of our country. They used force and violence against our people, raped our women, stole our
gold and spices, exploited our natural resources.

During the American period, the face of our enemy was also obvious. It was the American rulers of our country. Like their Spanish predecessors, although to a lesser degree, the Americans just used our
country and people to advance their own country’s economic and military interests in Asia, particularly South Asia.

During the Japanese occupation, the face of our people’s enemy was as clear as the sun, the symbol in the Japanese flag.

What about today? Who is the enemy of the Filipino people? Who keeps our country poor and around 20 million of our people hungry? According to Time magazine, a generation or almost 10 million of our children are growing up without a mother or father because she or he has to work abroad.

Perhaps part of the reason we fail to defeat the enemy is that—to many of us—his/her name and face are still not so clear.

But the enemy is as clear as the summer sky: he is the “trapo” in government, of our political system—he/she who steals our people’s votes and emasculates our democracy; he/she who malversates the people’s money for personal and family use; he/she who uses the powers of the government office he/she holds to advance his/her business interests only.

The enemy is the mayor, the governor, or the congressman who has become so inexplicably wealthy, while the people they represent have become miserably poor. The enemy is the Cabinet secretary or
department undersecretary who lies so brazenly before the whole nation just to protect the people who appointed him/her to his/her position. The enemy is the president who appoints people of questionable
integrity to positions of power, and who does not condemn acts of graft and corruption in her administration, even if the acts are patently criminal.

But the enemy also includes those among us who choose to be silent or do nothing about all the wrongdoing.

There are seven capital sins, says the Catholic Church. Greed and sloth are among them. Greed leads to stealing, to graft and corruption. Graft and corruption leads to poverty. Poverty destroys families, and eventually the whole nation. Sloth—which means inaction or silence—is also a capital sin. When a murder or rape is being committed in front of us and we do nothing, our silence becomes a sin.
When we know that graft and corruption is being committed and we do nothing, our inaction also becomes a sin. “He who knows what good to do and does not do it, to him it is a sin.” (James 4:17)

Largely because of greed, as abetted by our sloth, our country has become what it is today.

The great paradox of our Philippines is this: While we were the first and only Christian nation in Asia for more than 400 years (until after the recent creation of the new state of East Timor), we are perceived
today as the most corrupt country in the whole of Asia. While our Philippines is among the richest in the world in terms of natural resources, we are also among the poorest in our region. While we are
the first democracy in Asia , our elections are also among the most backward, the most fraudulent and violent. And while the Filipino is among the most talented in the world, he/she is also among the most
abused in many parts of the world.

What must we do as a people?

In the Old Testament, God directed many leaders—David, Solomon, Samuel, among others—to fight and defeat the enemies of their people. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ reminds us to fight greed all the
time, and to defeat the ways of the greedy and corrupt.

Clearly, God wants us to fight back as a people. While God wants the best for us, He has also given us the free will, the freedom to determine the kind of life we want as a people, the kind of nation we
want for ourselves. But certainly, God wants us to fight the evil influences in our society. He wants us to fight for righteousness. He wants us to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves and their
rights. He wants us to fight for the least and the last among our people.

But how must we fight?

During the Spanish era, Jose Rizal and Marcelo del Pilar fought with brave words and ideas, while Andres Bonifacio and the Katipuneros fought with their lives. During the Japanese occupation, Luis Taruc
and the Hukbalahaps resisted and fought with arms and weapons.

But in our time, violence need not be the way, should not be the way. Today, what we urgently need to do is stage a “political revolution”—one that is driven by the power of democracy, as recently shown in the US presidential elections. As a people born of freedom, we must ensure that our country always remains free, and that our people’s free will in the choice of their leaders, is always expressed, protected and respected.

We need to recruit millions of Filipinos as political “Katipuneros” and stage a nationwide “Katipunan Revolution”—on the political stage—with one goal in mind, to defeat our people’s enemies today—the
“trapos” in Malacañang, Senate, Congress, local government units, and even their equivalent in the executive, judiciary, military and police agencies.

God’s plan for us as a people is for us to learn to live as one people, one family, one nation, one country—where no Filipino is left behind, suffering in poverty and misery, because of our “culture of
family oneness,” because we treat one another as brothers and sisters. We must pursue God’s plan for us. He has equipped us—within us—with all the essentials we need to succeed in attaining His plan.

The greatness of our tomorrow depends on the greatness of our dreams and courage today as a people. Truly, we are the answer to our question. We are the solution to our problem. We are the hope of our
people. We are the patriots and heroes our country needs. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the ones God sent to help today the Filipino.

(Alex Lacson is author of the Book “12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country.” Email: alexlacson12@gmail. com)

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