Monday, July 30, 2007

magnified madness

A SECURITY GUARD is dependable as long as he stays alert where he is supposed to be, vigilant at any given time but at a safe distance . Something's iffy, however, when notions of security come masked in the face of paranoia. About the anti-terrorism law recently passed in the Philippines, here's a reprint of my column in the op-ed pages of Sun.Star Cebu (July 24, 2007):

Me, You, and Everyone We Know: A Peep Show

NOT unless you’re an exhibitionist or an attention-starved KSP, nothing is more self-annihilating than anonymity.

But for some of us who find a corner of sky by basking in the devil-may-care bliss of being unremarkable, it’s a monstrosity when the freedom of our privacy is going the way of the dinosaur. It’s cold comfort, indeed, when the sanctuary of confidentiality stops where the Human Security Act ((HSA), the anti-terrorism law, begins.

Who cares if minding your personal affairs is nothing more than a hill of beans?

In the eyes of the government, it may heave up like what Rufa Mae Quinto hides under her tank top.

If I sound suspicious in the face of President Arroyo’s assurance that the HSA or Republic Act 9372, it could be due to my allergy to legalese. Swallowing the law’s nuances, I confess, renders me fit for a Heimlich maneuver. Go wring my neck, but why do I feel choked about this well-meaning edict?

If there were many who’d rather grow genitals on their foreheads than bow down to HSA, it’s because there’s a lot to raise eyebrows for in the law’s provision “to secure the state and protect our people from terrorism.”

According to detractors of the law, all it takes is mere suspicion for law enforcers to subject the accused like a nude offering to the lions: preventive detention, warrantless arrest, house arrest, prohibition from the use of cell phones, computers and any other means of communication even when granted bail, surveillance and wiretapping, and examination, sequestration and freezing of bank deposits and other assets. Geez!

When the enforcement of the law jerks away the presumption of innocence like a used condom, suspicion renders it smooth to spawn more wariness. Or a sense of doom.

HSA is supposed to show how the government loves us enough to spare us from terrorists and the obscenity of their hate. But who was it again who thought, “Pure love and suspicion cannot dwell together: at the door where the latter enters?”

Isn’t suspicion a mental picture seen through an imaginary keyhole? It is, one writer remarked, “the courageous side of weakness.”

Look whose pants are down when the law started limbering up last Friday. The enforcers might as well be no more than fumblers at sixes and sevens with virginity. Or so reveals Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Silverio Alarcio Jr. “Even some lawyers do not know some of the provisions so how much more our policemen on the ground?” Alarcio minced no words, stressing the need for education “everybody, every sector…as far as that Human Security Act is concerned.”

Far more preferable, indeed, is candor compared to the bravado of paranoia. Which engorges itself like a voyeur’s drool-greasy gratification out of cocking an eye at unsuspecting people.

Behavioral science explains “voyeurs generally have a history of insecurity and fear of rejection.” If that’s merely psychobabble worthy of the government’s roll of eyeballs, the incumbent administration is hardly exuding a post-coital glow after the majority spurned the advances of its senatorial slate last elections. The president’s popularity rating, in fact, has been no higher than the moan of a woman pretending orgasm.

Excuse me, but how comforting to heed the call of the toilet bowl. As I grunt and groan, I hope there’s no camera secretly seeking a terrorist splashing and swimming below my waist.


aryo said...

He he. This smells like paranoia but I do agree that with this administration's record for power abuse, there really is no stopping people from feeling insecure. There is therefore utmost need for heightened vigilance, and just hope, or better yet, pray, that such activism will not be branded terroristic.

Michael U. Obenieta said...

Hi, aryo!

Thanks for visiting. Let's just hope this piece of legislation would prove the skeptics like us wrong. Or heaven forbid...