WHEN a Filipino says Hudas ka! (Youre a Judas), it is meant as a scathing remark of the worst kind. In a predominantly Christian country like the Philippines, nothing can be viler than to be called the name of the one who betrayed Jesus Christ. To the Filipino, Judas Iscariot, apostle and a supposed friend of Jesus, is the ultimate traitor.
The Filipino will most likely cut the desperately poor some slack for stealing. Like Jean Valjean in Victor Hugos timeless classic Les Miserables, extreme poverty does invite compassionate consideration.
But the Judas brand is reserved for the unthinkable acts of betrayal exemplified by the father who rapes his daughter, the son who slaps his mother, or a public official who sells national secrets to the enemy of his country. Hudas! is the verbal equivalent of a spiteful slap meant for one who has done the most abominable deed of betrayal.
Betrayers of the Filipino nation
Obviously we are not just a nation betrayed. We are a nation abused, exploited, and crucified by the very leaders who promised and continue to promise deliverance. They are our neo-colonizers. The sins of colonizers are but par for the course even if they wielded the sword and the cross with masterful deception. These leaders are like cannibals Filipinos who fatten themselves by preying on the flesh of their own kind.
But to call these leaders and their bevy of corrupt kin, cronies and hangers-on Hudas would be an insult to the real Judas Iscariot. The real Judas Iscariot will turn in his grave when he learns that we refer to our so-called leaders as Hudas. Why, Judas was (1) a nationalist who loved his country and (2) He had a conscience that is why he killed himself. In contrast, our leader-plunderers have none of these two mitigating qualities.
Judas as nationalist
No doubt, Judas Iscariot possessed exemplary qualities that made him one of the chosen 12 of Christ. According to scholars, Judas is also the only apostle who was Judean. This made him feel superior to the apostles who were Galilean bumpkins but it also made him the black sheep. Often identified as a Zealot, Judas was driven by an intense desire to redeem Israel from the Roman yoke. His strong sense of nationalism was what set him on the wrong course that led him to eventually to betray Jesus Christ. Judas saw only a Messiah in the temporal aspect and failed to accept that the mission of Christ was for a greater kingdom that was not of this world.
Nationalism, not perfidy, had driven Judas to do what many Christian believers today think as the unthinkable deed. It was only when the prophecies of Jesus passion started to unravel that Judas realized he had betrayed innocent blood. Conscience-stricken, Judas tried to return the 30 pieces of silver to the Pharisees. When they declined to accept the blood money, Judas hurled the pieces of silver in the temple and then hanged himself.
By doing that, Judas showed remorse. Only people with conscience will feel remorse. In contrast, our politicians and unscrupulous businessmen would surely find it easy to keep the 30 pieces of silver, lie about their involvement in the crime, smack their lips and clap their hands before moving on to look for the next victim.
With the Judas story in perspective as some kind of a romantic tale gone tragic, can we in all honesty still call the people who plunder and exploit fellow Filipinos as Hudas? Neither driven by nationalism nor religious ardor, there is nothing, but nothing, that will justify their iniquity and their crime against their own kind. The very people they vowed to serve are the very victims of their own rapacious greed for power and wealth.
A number of them studied in such Catholic schools as the Ateneo University of the Jesuits. Yet instead of becoming the men for others that Ateneo Blue Eagles pride themselves to be they have degenerated into the abominable Blue Vultures who now seem to enjoy the hunt even more as their prey the Filipino poor deteriorate into a pathetic socio-economic bag of bones.
In the Ateneo, the Jesuits always emphasized that stealing P10 from a beggar is the more grievous sin compared to stealing P1 million from a wealthy man. The P10 taken from the beggar could well be his repast for the entire 24 hours while the P1 million taken from a wealthy man could merely be what the wealthy man loses in the stock market in one day and recoups with a profit in the next. No Atenean could have gone through the Jesuit school without learning that lesson at heart.
Yet how does one reconcile the phenomenon of the Blue Vultures and their feeding frenzy on the nations most impoverished citizens? Jueteng is an evil that preys on the poor by creating an illusion of sudden money. Little bets here and there from the poor will buy the poor a few hours of hope and a possible modest win, if one is lucky. But the little bets here and there are sure money, in fact million and millions of pesos for the treasure kitty of the jueteng lords and their protectors. Being powerful, their winnings are guaranteed while the poor are made to delight in staking their chances on the crumbs.
Contractors I come in contact with have one thing to say about government people bidding out contracts: most, if not all of them, request for an overprice and/or asks for a percentage of the project fee. And because this is so rampant, these government people think these practices are standard procedure. Anyone who passes up the chance to make money this way is considered an idiot.
Fifty percent of Filipinos or 40 million live below the poverty line. Yet we hear about the overprice of major road projects running by the hundreds of millions of pesos. I wonder how many infants had died, how many children had been deprived of education and nutrition, and how many of our poor countrymen had become sacrificial lambs on the altars of greed and corruption. Indeed, Judas had nationalism and conscience, these people do not.
Isn't stealing elections the equivalent of the massive theft of a nations dreams and aspirations for a better life? Isn't misappropriating government funds in order to win an election the same as robbing the people of money intended to uplift their lives? How about causing a fiscal crisis and then forcing people to reduce even more their miserable household budgets so that they can pay up the 12 percent VAT? (Value Added Tax) Nationalism? Conscience?
Im no fan of Judas Iscariot. But compared to these people, Judas begins to look honorable.
You may email William M. Esposo at: firstname.lastname@example.org