A change of perspective is needed PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 15 December 2014 11:42



The other facet of the Ferguson turmoil is that of the use, or abuse, of authority. This issue is not as plain and simple as it may appear.

A policeman has the authority to make life difficult for someone who is about to break the law or has already done so. The policeman can haul the person concerned to the station where he can end up in jail, eventually. Even if the policeman has followed procedures to the letter and no injustice has been done, the role of the policeman is still not an easy one. How the procedure for making an arrest is  followed is influenced to a great deal by how the policeman sees the perp or the suspect.

Enter now what has been called “profiling”. This word, not very familiar to many Filipinos, can be taken as synonymous to stereotyping. If I have been conditioned to think of a racial group as prone to behavior that  can be called antisocial, I will also be prone to think of a member of that group as already committing an anti-social act when I encounter him. Let us just call it pre-judging a  person because of his color.

Statistics in the US weigh against African-American males, whose proportion of the  prison population  outstrips  their own percentage in the total population of the country. But of course this does not mean that every African American male out in the streets at a certain time is about to commit a crime. Not unless a policeman is guilty of profiling and is not even aware of it.

Let us put this in our own context here in Mindanao.

The rebellion led over the many years by the MNLF, the  MILF and whatever alphabet soup you might want to bring up, has over the last 40 years or so been responsible for much of the violence in Mindanao. Unfortunately, while many victims have also been Muslims, the violence has mainly been because of the actions of the rebel groups who also happen to be Muslims.

But as it is said, it takes two to tango. The military response to address the violence created in its turn violence that victimized  innocents on both sides. Not only that, but individual actions colored by perceptions of the “other” have led to over reactions as well as decisions that were strictly contrary to official policy. Both the surrendered rebel groups and the government troops need to sincerely accept that these things happened and greater efforts need to be done to prevent these from happening.   Otherwise, there will be no change in how we will act in the future. On the brink of the creation of the Bangsamoro  Entity, this is  essential.