A few days ago I was informed by my friend that a statue was built to honor the SAF 44. It would be interesting to see years from now how the collective memory of our society: the Philippine society will remember the SAF 44. Will their legend be remembered like the 47 ronin or perhaps it would be something altogether different.
The tale of the 47 ronins began when their Liege Lord was through a trick forced to commit suicide by his enemy. Naturally the author of this deed, the enemy lord, hid himself behind his men and fortifications. He was wary of what the men of the late Liege Lord would do. The 47 abandoned their status of samurai and embarked as ronin, or masterless samurai. A number took up different professions, while the others became beggars and drunkards. Years passed and the 47 ronin were firmly settled in their new life. The guard and caution of their late lord enemy was soon relaxed. He let his guard down. This was the moment the 47ronin had patiently waited for. And that night they entered the castle of their enemy and forced him to commit sepuku and bringing his severed head took it to the grave of their late liege lord. Completing their duty to seek justice for their master, all of them committed sepuku. The tale of the 47 Ronin has endured and outlasted the Tokugawa shogunate. Stories and art have depicted, told and re-told their tale.
I wonder if something similar would happen in the near future to the SAF 44? What would the collective story that would be remembered? For Ninoy Aquino what towers above anything else is his rivalry with Ferdinand Marcos that led to his incarceration and down the line his assassination at the tarmac. All the rest are sidelights. His death or martyrdom, depending on which side of the political fence one is sitting one, has catalyzed the downfall of the Marcos Regime and has propelled two of his family to becoming Presidents. The execution of Gomez, Burgos and Zamora was one of the factors that led Rizal to his own execution at Bagumbayan. What of the SAF 44?
Members of an elite military force who had fallen as a result of a misplanned and mismanaged police operation. Men who died in pursuit of a terrorist. Men who died because of lack of coordination and delayed actions from both sides of the conflict. Men whose remains were brought to the capital was not met by a President who found it more important to open a car plant elsewhere. A President who slowly and grudgingly took responsibility but was quick in laying the blames on others. A President and his Government who tried to avoid the blame. The Aquino Government that saw its legislation with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front slowly being questioned both in Congress and in public opinion. It would seem the SAF 44 will be remember for the dishonor done to them by their President and also the unmasking of the flaws of the Bangsa Moro Basic Law.
The sacrifice of the SAF 44 achieved and will be remembered for three things:
The end of a terrorist life.
The unmasking of a President and his Government – warts and all: Killing myths and cult surrounding the Aquino Family : Even an Aquino can be a bad President
The unmasking of the Bangsa Moro Basic Law’s flaws in order to correct them. Peace cannot be built on earth sown with dragon’s teeth – and the flaws are dragon teeth that will lead to further conflict down the line.