Arroyo should listen to the mothers of Parola
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-04-03
The unfolding story of hostage-taker Jun Ducat and his children affects many people in different ways. The interesting part is that a person’s reaction to the hostage-taking can actually provide a barometer of the character and humanity of a person.

My fellow heavyweight in the STAR Op-ed Section, Cito Beltran, was right in citing the similarity between the Nazarene and Jun Ducat in their love for the poor and the children. It’s also timely that Jun Ducat did his thing shortly before Holy Week, a period of introspection for Christians.

Jun Ducat got more than his 15 minutes of fame when the hostage-taking story was flashed as breaking news in CNN, BBC and Channel News Asia. Understandably embarrassed, Madame Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) reacted predictably defensive and self-preserving. Arroyo branded Ducat as "no hero and a prank terrorist" who must be punished to prevent other such copycat hostage-taking from taking place.

Her pathetic apologists were also quick to promote the GMA line and attempted to shift focus from the issues that Jun Ducat brought to fore the legality of the means and psychological state of the hostage-taker. DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno was fuming mad on television and immediately acted to castigate the PNP’s SWAT team for violating the standard rules of handling a hostage-taking incident.

Neither Arroyo nor Puno showed any hint of compassion or understanding for the circumstances under which Ducat had done what he did. To do so would expose the truth about their failure to address the real problems of the people. To do so would be admitting that the extreme act of protest matched the extreme seriousness of the poverty problem.

Obviously, Jun Ducat did not intend to harm the children. But if the PNP SWAT team had followed what Puno said were the standard rules of engagement for such incidents, the ending could have been messy. That would have made the police squads act like programmed robots who want to save only the hostages, to hell with the hostage-taker.

But in the Jun Ducat hostage-taking incident, the PNP acted with common sense. They assessed the problem on the ground, trusted the situation to be well in control and inclined to end well — and it did. Most successful outcomes are those where instincts and heart come into play with skill and expertise.

The most moving part of the story of Jun Ducat and his children was the refusal of the parents of the 26 children who were held hostage to press charges against the man they hail as their champion. I have watched the mothers being interviewed on television and their admiration and respect for their benefactor "Sir Jun" is genuine and sincere.

But of course, the Arroyo regime is unmoved by all this. How can Madame Arroyo, a mother herself, be so callous? Why is her regime so bent on locking away Ducat for good when he has done more than most in helping the poor?

If she listened to the mothers of the children of Parola, she will know the truth of mothers. The truth of the mothers of Parola is about their respect and love for the champion of their cause. They know him so well that they know in their hearts he was only driven by his love for their children.

Wise King Solomon knew the truth of mothers. When two women approached King Solomon, claiming that they were the mother of the same baby, he settled the issue by threatening to cut the baby in half to give a half to each of the claimants. One woman accepted but the other one pleaded King Solomon to give the baby to the other woman. That was how the wise King Solomon had learned who the real mother was. That is because the truth of mothers is about self sacrifice, one that transcends pride and arrogance.

Parola’s Sir Jun knew that his wards’ chances of getting a good education and a fair head start in life was nil. He did what he believed and hoped might create a breakthrough.

Jun Ducat chose not to retire in comfort. He chose to be a public servant without the perks and power of one holding a public office. He did not preach a religion but he lived the gospel of love and did what he could for the children and the least of his brethren. He used his own money, spent time with the poor, put up a day care center for their children and became the poor community’s recourse for funds for survival needs big and small.

People who see Jun Ducat as a threat who should be locked away are the kind of people who have eyes but will not see. Unfortunately they happen to be the ones in power.

For those who find Jun Ducat’s act of courage an exemplary act of heroism, I salute your wisdom and your humanity — they are virtues this country badly needs.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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