Ronald dela Rosa 073116 (cropped)seems to be a Filipino specialty. Remember Rolando Galman? He was also conveniently dead. Or Mayor Espinosa? “Fought back” when being arrested – inside his cell. Now the gunman at the Resorts World Manila is dead after.. what: getting shot, shooting himself, burning himself – in what order and which of the options are true? Somehow hard to believe he wanted to steal only chips. And how did he get into a casino with a “Baby Armalite”? In Manila where even malls are guarded by security?

The motto of this blog is “the first duty of a man is to think for himself” – something the Cuban Jose Marti said. He was Jose Rizal’s contemporary. Somehow I don’t remember Jose Rizal having written anything similar. Bonifacio much less – he seems to have been the traditional Filipino kuya or elder brother, took over the father role early. I don’t think traditional Filipino families promote much independent thought. What elders say is truth, questioning their opinion is like questioning their authority.

So you see a lot of people repeating the arguments of “Tatay Digong”, “Ate Mocha” – and occasionally even SolGen Calida. Often things brought forth are total nonsense. But from the family onwards through the authoritarian school system, Filipinos are not trained to really think for themselves. Asking WHY is the first step in learning. Unfortunately there are so many who see WHY as questioning not a specific conclusion, but the person being asked and his judgement. They know no “polite inquiry”.

The problem of police killings may indeed be less bad as assumed by the opposition. But the attitude of the administration – brushing away all inquiry, refusing to clarify what really happened – leaves the field to the critics and increases possible suspicion. In fact the pissed-off attitude of President Aquino when inquiries came about Mamasapano also made those who did not like him more suspicious. But putting oneself in the other person’s shoes is even more un-Filipino than inquiry. So forget it.

Not having to confront inquiry also makes those in leadership succumb to lazy thinking – a natural reflex we all have, but I have seen how persistent inquiry keeps you on your toes and prevents you from making the usual simplistic assumptions. Genuine inquiry leads to sharper thinking, especially if one has good sparring partners. This is why I hope that Filipinos continue asking questions – and media helps piece the puzzle of Resorts World Manila together. Hopefully before a stupid Senate hearing starts.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 2. June 2017