January 28, 2011

THE POVERTY OF WORDS

Listening to the public hearing called by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to investigate the toxic deal entered into by the Ombudsman and the Special Prosecutor with former AFP Comptroller Carlos F. Garcia, I realized the poverty of the English language in expressing the sense of anger, outrage, and disbelief that I felt while listening to Angelo Reyes, former AFP Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense, and a former comptroller Jacinto Ligot publicly claiming convenient memory loss in relation to charges that Reyes and other AFP Chiefs of Staff received retirement money running to as high as Fifty Million Pesos and monthly stipends of about Five Million Pesos.

"Angry", "Enraged" and "Appalled" fail to scratch the surface in describing the emotions running through me as I listened to a public airing of dirty linen in the AFP hierarchy by its former budget director. There were no words then and there are none now, at least in the English language, to describe the anger, the rage, the utter sense of disbelief at the moral depravity of these "officers and gentlemen" in their cavalier treatment of people's funds.

Handing out the people's money to Generals to welcome them into the fold or send them off into yet another cushy job was apparently a way of life for them, and the monies that they handed out were not petty cash. These ran into the tens of millions, and not for one occasion but were given monthly! In what government manual these comptrollers saw the justification for being able to hand out money like that I will never know; I work for the government and I have yet to see a government manual that will allow me to hand out the people's money like it was a personal expense account.

Never mind that the money that was being handed out could have been used for soldiers' welfare; never mind that it could have gone to basic, minimum, and much needed protective gear and equipment like combat boots and field rations; never mind that it could have gone to housing, let alone better housing; never mind that it could have gone to better use for our soldiers in the field.

Mind only that the money lined the pockets of those few, those exalted, those influential, those connected enough to make it to the top tier of the AFP hierarchy; mind only that they think they are "entitled" to this money because they have stars on their epaulets while our soldiers gaze at the stars in open battle fields wondering when the wars will end; mind only that even as their pockets, wallets and bank accounts are filled to bursting with these amounts that they conveniently forget receiving such amounts.

The King's (or Queen's) English is such a beautiful language, yet on this occasion I find it so poor, so mendicant, so totally insufficient and inadequate to express what I, and I am certain many others, feel while listening to an account of plunder that would stir even the most jaded of hearts to anger.

Filipino is a much more beautiful language. It conveys feelings, emotions, passions and desires with greater profundity than English. Reflecting on how I felt, I thought that perhaps nakakagalit, nakakapoot, nakakapanlumo could better capture what was stirred in me by the revelations at the hearing yesterday.

I do not profess expertise in either English or Filipino and thus may correctly, under these circumstances, profess to be a "man of few words."

And so I sit here, trying to conjure up words like nakakagalit, nakakapoot, nakakapanlumo to express how I feel more profoundly than being "angry", "enraged" or "appalled"; and the realization strikes me that while these filipino words indeed scratch the surface, they nonetheless fail miserably at conveying the depth of anger of a soul reduced to simmering silence by the stark poverty of words.

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