by Nestor Ravilas
It was commonly argued that the shift of execution of criminals from open public square into a secluded chamber bespeaks of a moral progress of every civilized society. This was even touted as the rationalization of once primitive way of dealing with wayward members of any given society. The public has to be spared from the horror and trauma of public executions. The justification that public display of execution was being done in order to warn the public that crime does not pay does no longer hold water, they said. It traumatizes more the public than affecting the criminal-would-be. Thus, punishments and executions for felony are now being exercised in private.
Social critics, however, see sinister motives beyond this shift. Michel Foucault, for one, argues that the transfer from public to private was not a move from barbarism to civilized way of dealing with criminals. Rather, it was a move to hide from public scrutiny the atrocities and abuses of people assigned to administer punishments. It was attested that most public uprisings occurred in history were actually inspired by public execution of people allegedly accused by the state as criminals, but perceived, on the other hand, by the public as innocents. The public execution of “innocent criminals” agitated the public and provided them courage for uprising. This is what happened in the first half of the first century in Palestine when they publicly executed an innocent man by hanging him on the wooden cross. To stave off these kind of revolts to occur again, punitive societies then moved to hide torture, punishment, and execution of alleged criminals inside prisons and in secluded chambers.
What, therefore, is the difference of Kian de los Santos’ execution from those of other minors killed in this war on drugs of the state covered under the darkness of the night? Kian’s happened to be partly caught by surveillance camera while he was being dragged by his executioners. And more to this, there are witnesses that could vividly describe the last moment of Kian in almost high definition narration of the fatal event. The morbid state of the dumped carcass in the mud was photographed before the complicit funeral parlor arrived to hold hostage of the body in exchange of ransom called funeral service charge. All this public display of the brutal killing of an innocent boy tagged as criminal by the state is now hammering our sense of mercy and justice and our love for the value of life in general. The same agitation instigated those bystanders who witnessed the execution of innocent people during the despotic age of the monarchs.
By providence probably, Kian’s brutal execution was publicly displayed before us. The next steps are now left to us. What will we do next determine where this nation is heading into! May the good Lord enlighten us all!