By Alex P. Vidal
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” —Desmond Tutu
YOU don’t need to take sides to condemn the brutalities and atrocities in Ukraine.
Thus the “neutral” stand of Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in the ongoing slaughter by the Russian forces of the hapless and aggrieved Ukraine is hogwash.
Lajos Kossuth said, “Neutrality, as a lasting principle, is an evidence of weakness.”
And as Dante once said, “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”
If it is the official stand of the Philippine government, officials deserve one hot place in Lucifer’s habitat. What a shame.
You don’t play neutral when badly maimed bodies (military or civilians) stockpile in an independent territory being savaged by a superior military force.
You don’t play neutral when a mad and seemingly incoherent head of state is committing a bizarre act tantamount to a bloody crime against humanity and pushing the world to the brink of World War III.
You don’t play neutral in a situation where a legitimate government was about to be decapitated and genocide was in danger of being committed.
You don’t play neutral when the safety and welfare of innocent civilians, including women, children, and senior citizens, is at stake.
You don’t play neutral when a country is being ravaged by highly sophisticated weapons and its people, caught in the crossfire, are murdered on a horrific scale.
You don’t play neutral when human rights are flagrantly abused and wasted in an unprovoked invasion widely condemned all over the world for its serious threat to global security consequences in geopolitics.
You don’t play neutral amid a potential upsurge of displaced refugees.
You don’t play neutral when international laws are openly violated despite efforts from peace-loving democratic states in America and Europe to appeal for sobriety and press for settlement of the conflict through diplomatic means.
The least you can do is denounce the violence and call for its immediate end without necessarily declaring support to one of the warring parties if you are “afraid to antagonize” China, among other Russian allies in the Asian region.
You don’t take a neutral stand when common sense, democracy and independence are at stake—unless you are guilty of cowardice and don’t have a backbone.
It’s difficult to accept Lorenzana’s shallow and harebrained neutrality.
I learned over the weekend that in every 10 media practitioners in Iloilo, two were Bongbong Marcos “supporters” while eight were Leni Robredo “fans.”
When the two leading presidential candidates held a grand political rally in Iloilo one after the other on February 24 and 25, respectively, the situation was so tense on the ground and in social media.
Even if they didn’t have to do it, some of them engaged in unnecessary debates and name-calling; they allowed politics, or election issues, to put a blemish on their friendship and camaraderie.
We expect the animosity to simmer down or end when the new president has been elected on May 9, 2022.
I didn’t want to add fire to conflagration, so I chose to tackle other subject matters in that period and didn’t write about the rallies of both Vice President Robredo and former Senator Marcos Jr.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)