It stands for something fearful and shameful. It means lawlessness and inhumanity of man to man. It proclaims the reign of cruelty and terror. It signifies the atrocious and disgusting reality of political dynasty. It publicly and distinctly announces the regime of iniquity and injustice in a given place, among a given people. It does not simply forward an unlucky number but in effect shouts how cheap is human life, how quixotic is the claim of human rights, the allegation of human dignity.
58 human lives exterminated without scruples, without conscience. 58 individuals killed as a matter of course, for the sake of political convenience. 58 persons nonchalantly done away with for good. 58 people massacred with gross brutality, unique savagery. 58 Filipinos permanently lost to their families, their friends, their professions. 58 is but a handful of the men, women, and children killed almost daily all over the land. Yet, 58 is enough to bring the country to the dishonor roll of conduct.
And to this writing, more than three years after the infamous Maguindanao Massacre, no one- and this means no one – has been brought to justice for its planning and execution. So many persons inhumanly treated after their merciless extermination. Yet everyone associated therewith are still considered faultless, guiltless, sinless. The assumption then is that after all, those who were cruelly disposed with must have simple killed themselves and buried themselves as well, thereafter.
Without really questioning the ethical features as well as moral underpinnings of the judicial principle that everyone is presumed innocent unless proven guilty, there must be exceptional hideous cases when the accused is presumed guilty unless proven innocent. Would the Maguindanao Massacre not readily pass such an inverted presumption – considering its singular inherent savagery, its signal intrinsic hideousness? Would elementary reason and logic side with the innocence of those key personalities accused of the most heinous crime of the decade?
“Justice delayed is justice denied.” This adage eloquently says that when justice is being denied to the victim in favor of the victimizer, then the former (innocent) is the loser while the latter (guilty) is the winner. And this is an understatement – when what is herein more applicable is that the atrocity is said to be “crying to heaven for vengeance.” No. This is certainly not a plea for revenge. It is merely saying that when justice that is such a precious reality, is sidestepped by man, then, no less than Divinity takes over. Even forgiveness is premised on equity.