OPINION: Just being Filipino

Teddy Locsin Jr.

Posted at Jan 01 2017 03:57 PM

HUNDREDS of thousands of Syrians have been killed since Western-back protests were started to topple Assad, turn Syria into a Western protectorate or colony, and bring Western power closer to bear on Iran.

Never mind if Syria turned into a murdering, gang-raping caliphate, sex-trading Syrian girls, throwing homosexuals off rooftops, displacing half the population, and turning millions into refugees in the Western countries which are to blame for the war in Syria. The U.S. did nothing but arm “friendly” rebels against Assad which is to say those who wouldn’t fight him but sold their American weaponry to ISIS.

In the last year, the tide has turned. Russia and Iran have gained the upper hand, and Syrian government forces are retaking one ISIS hell hole of a city after another, including Aleppo (whose entirety finally fell to Assad’s forces).

But earlier, rebel forces had to painfully dislodged from the areas they held. The rebels had used civilians as human shields. Disappointingly, as Syrian forces liberated section after section of Aleppo they started taking reprisals, presumably against Syrians who were either accepting of what they could not reject, or actively participant in the horrors of ISIS. How could they tell in the smoke of battle who among the civilians sided with whom?

The world expected the worst.

Would Assad seize the chance to turn on civilians in the confusion of the last stages of battle? It might eliminate future opposition to him.

This is the Assad way. Three decades ago, when strong resistance developed against his father’s regime, his father marked out a section of a city for extermination as an object lesson.

And 30 years of a graveyard peace followed.

When Assad’s foreign minister asked me for advice when the recent demonstrations were just starting, I suggested that Assad speak to the opposition on the possibility of power sharing—provided the opposition picked only one of themselves to speak to him. That way, I opined, the opposition is sure to turn against itself and kill each other to be that one to speak to Assad. But later she told me that the old generals preferred the original approach, kill off a section of the city as a deterrent to the rest. Oh, well.

In Aleppo, Assad’s troops did just that, going house to house and shooting men, women and children out of hand. A kind of insurance against future dissent.

Who is to blame for this bloody mess we know—the United States of America.

But that is past.

Meanwhile tens of thousands of civilians were under fire.

And meanwhile the U.S. government continued to quibble over which was worse—more of ISIS murdering, gang-raping and sex-trafficking 11 year-old girls and throwing homos of rooftops—or Assad fully restored to power.

Fortunately, Russia and Turkey—yesterday at each other’s throats over the downing of a Russian fighter plane—hammered out a truce between rebel and Syrian forces to get civilians out of the killing zones. The truce went into effect but there were no civilian takers. People feared to stick up their heads and get them shot off by either or both sides. This lull permitted the U.S. to fulminate at the United Nations about the total lack of decency of the only two powers with any decency to stop the carnage. The truce eventually held and the civilians were evacuated.

About this horror and others to follow, there is nothing we Filipinos can do. But Turkey has set up a tent city to take in 80,000 Syrians who fled Aleppo. it is our tradition to take in those the rest of the world rejects.

We took in Jews fleeing the European holocaust—it wasn’t only the Germans, all Europeans pitched in. Only 6 million Jews could be herded to the death camps from all over Europe. The Jews were denied refuge by the United States. But we took them in.

We took in the survivors of the half million Vietnamese who fled the American defeat, only to perish at sea.

Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima did not blink and offered haven to refugees fleeing BBB—Buddhist brutality in Burma, although DSWD balked at resources wearing thin from disbursing CCT for the coming election.

The Syrians are brothers in the faith, people also of the Book. Most are Muslims, as are some of us. The Syrian church is the oldest in Christendom. So whether we deliver or not, offer we must to take in those no one else will because we are Filipinos—the only race on the planet that’s never committed mass murder, never did ethnic cleansing or conducted religious and political persecutions. In short never violated human rights on a national scale for reasons of ethnicity, religion, politics or sexual orientation which are the only grounds for charging human rights violations. Ours is the only race to consistently meet the standard of what it is to be human.

Let us not fail ourselves by failing the refugees.

Ours may be among the poorest countries on earth but we must seem like the richest to those with absolutely nothing—not even a say on whether they live or die today.

Where all other nations are turning their backs, let us face the problem, embrace it and take upon ourselves as much of the problem as we can—just because we are Filipinos. 

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.