May 19, 2024

(Editors’ note: The Courier is reprinting the columns of the late Atty. Benedicto T. Carantes as a tribute to one of its long-time columnists. This piece was published on March 26, 2017).

The sins of the rich are numerous and far reaching, but can be lumped in one word – indifference.
The rich live in a world all their own, unmindful, even uncaring, of the plight and suffering of their less blessed countrymen.
Alas, there is no chemistry between the filthy rich and the dirt poor, but they seem to share a common denominator – which we shall speak of later in this column.

Criminality, always on the rise and never ebbing, is a concern among all, and the rich fear for their kids when they are out of the house, but the rape of a 10-year-old farmers’ daughter, or the killing of a balut vendor by drug crazed thrill seeking teeners neither enrages nor outrages, making no plea to authorities or God.

We live in a country where crime has become a cottage industry, where every citizen is a potential victim, robbed or mugged, and shot to death if he stubbornly refuses to give up his or her cellphone or other belongings.
When police officers are the perpetrators and not the rescuers, where a motorbike means trouble and not travel, and crimes are heinous, petty, or greedy.
In the safe haven of their guarded homes, the rich see all these on T.V. and their reaction is to stand up and instruct the guards to double check the locks, and shoot down intruders trying to climb the walls.

Weekends are family days for the rich, but a bit more lavish than us ordinary mortals.
Lunch in a classy Chinese or Italian resto, followed by movies complete with popcorn and drinks, a little shopping after, snacks, and maybe one more hit classic, then dinner before heading for home.
Along the way, beggars knock on their car windows where the traffic has stalled, if not urchins selling sampaguita necklaces.
They do not endanger their lives by rolling down their windows, and besides, it isn’t Christmas yet.
Their kids, who go to La Salle or the Ateneo, do not take to the streets to protest government wrongdoings – let the University of the Philippines students do that, after all they are “communists.”

But the sins of the poor are just as deadly if not more so.
With education beyond their reach, they resort to crime for a living, many starting out at young ages.
Pretty soon they are into glue, later on graduating to the more dangerous stuff.
The poor are thus emboldened to squat on vacant government property, refusing to give up the land by fighting back when being evicted by the police.
I remember a streamer put up by squatters in U.P. Diliman which read; “Bakit ang Intsik may lupa, kami wala?”
Funny and ironic, it is now the Chinese squatting on Philippine own islands along the China Sea.

Of late, the poor have invaded and occupied government dwellings, anchoring their supposed claims that they have a right to the property being poor and homeless.
Five lawmakers, whose love of country is misplaced, are providing them encouragement.
With different sets of minds among our so-called leaders, will we ever get our acts together?
So which color are you?
Blue, which makes you rich with Chinese roots, or green, which means you mestiso wealthy.
Maroon? You are an angry person eagerly wanting to stage a revolution. The anger does not subside when you go to law school, but once a lawyer, you are even angrier because you are only making millions and not billions.
Take to the hills now before the system eats you up, or before age makes you think well.
How does that old UP saying go again?
“Kung disiotso (18) ka na at hindi ka pa communista, wala kang puso, pero kung trenta (30) ka na at communista ka pa rin, wala kang utak.”

Close to home, the Dairy Farm informal settlers far from being evicted despite threats (empty yata kasi) from the city government to remove them soonest, continue to make improvements, and one wonders why?
Could it be that the place will be taken over by unscrupulous officials after paying off the squatters, who will then move to other large vacant properties under the protection of a pseudo paramilitary group?
Is government so useless and helpless? Ibalik kaya si Marcos. Sometimes tyranny is better than anarchy.
We suspect that is President Rody Duterte’s agenda, but how to be benevolent and at the same time cut off the greedy fingers of relatives, friends, and cronies.
As Hamlet discourses “To be, or not to be.”

Once again we offer the Shakespearean solution – kill all the hotshot lawyers, particularly those in politics, targeting first the longest staying ones.
But I wonder, if we get rid of the rich, and the poor, will we be better off, or should it be one or the other?
Ah, but why not the useless and indifferent middle class, ever living the good life – going to the cockfights, drinks scotch, making no effort to bring down the rich and powerful.
But why bother? Who benefits anyway, the sinful poor, the greedy soldiers behind your backs at the time of takeover.
Better for all these 7,200 islands to sink to the bottom of the sea.
We console ourselves with the fact that the U.S. will sink ahead of us with Donald Trump desperately hoping for a Russian oil bunker to rescue him.
The Americans need to impeach the fellow fast before that happens.
His impeachable offense? Treason, selling his own mother country to, no, not the Russians, but to Vladimir Putin.
Hooray for summer!