Friday, March 30, 2007

When 6 year olds are taken hostage.

The latest news to hit the on-line blurbs is the hostage taking of 26 day care kids and their teachers who were to go to Tagaytay for a field trip. These kids come from a Parola, Tondo Day Care in one of the more poorer districts of Manila.

The hostage taker actually runs the day care. Armando Ducat, Jr and an accomplice took the bus they were riding hostage. The two men were armed with an Uzi and grenades. Ducat according to the press has been involved in publicity stunts before. Now one wonders if Ducat was mad His demands about corruption in government and government's neglect of the poor's welfare seem decent enough. In fact I myself have the same demands. But I would never take a bus full of 5-6 yr olds hostage.

Obviously an event like this would create international headlines. It was in Latin America where this piece of news really made the region's headlines. What stumped readers all over the world is the reaction of the Pinoy public. The public considers Ducat a sort of "folk hero" perhaps in the same league as the bandit of Nottingham, Robin Hood. In many societies, someone who trifles with children's welfare would be consider a menace.

The public sympathized with Ducat and his demands. But while the elite and the educated may consider Ducat loony, his acts and the public reaction does not bode well for the government of Mrs Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Left and the Philippines. This shows that the usual options for the poor's message to get through to the ruling elite have been almost exhausted. The poor tried to elect a President whose movie image they believed in. They succeeded but their lot was not even improved and this movie star President was impeached and toppled in a urban revolt. Under his successor, despite the claims of economic growth, the hunger and food insecurity statistics increased. The Left which should represent the interests of the poorer classes is ideologically shortsighted and petrified and is still grappling with the "rectification" of the 1980s. EDSA 1 of course is a dismal failure in lifting the status of the poor.

It is not surprising that we have a Ducat in the news.

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