BADIL – versus – TABIL”, Which is the Mightier?

by: atty benji

Some say – The GUN is Mightier than the PEN:

In the past, &/or until the present time, the media practitioners (print & broadcast) such as, journalists, newspapermen & radio-tv reporters/broadcasters, in the country have been the subject of “salvaging” (a police lingo – for “summary execution”) & other forms of extra-judicial killings for critically exposing the anomalies & corruptions in the government perpetrated by some unscrupulous local government officials, politicians, warlords, policemen or military men, – indeed, the killings were exacerbated by the hard-hitting commentaries of the media people against the rascal government men or politicians, or warlords – “Badil an Mautas san kanira Buhay!”

This senseless and incessant summary execution of media practitioner/s in the country was meant to close their lips to prevent the truth from coming out in the open, &/or to suppress the right of the people to information on matter of public interests as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.

Ok! Perhaps, we may consider the hottest Headlines appearing in various Tabloid newspapers showing that the GUN (sword) is mightier than the PEN (tongue) of the media people (local or national), thus, – to borrow the words of one of the tv-newscasters in the late night news, “Headline Bukas, Ngayon na ang Broadcast”, as follows:

Tabloid-1: Mamahayag binaril ng Jueteng Lord! Nalagutan ng Hininga sa Ospital!

Tabloid-2: Radio Broadcaster tinumba dahil sa kanyang “hard-hitting expose” laban sa Illegal na Droga, sangkot ang Kapulisan!

Tabloid-3: Kolumnista ng Tabloid, tinutukan ng baril ni Meyor!

Tabloid-4: TV reporter, nag-expose ng “ghost project” ni Congressman, Pinaputukan, Todas!

Tabloid-5: Bahay ng isang local radio reporter, hinagisan ng Granada, dalawa ang patay!

Tabloid-6: Heneral ng AFP, sangkot sa pamamaril sa isang tabloid reporter!

Tabloid-7: Baril ginamit na panakot sa isang TV reporter!

Bicolano Tabloid-8: Matabil na Radio Reporter, Binadil ni Hepe! Gadan! Nilamayan! etc.

In all of the above scenarios, the PEN (or Tongue) of the news reporter or radio broadcaster cannot be mightier than the bullet of the GUN of the assassin! Am I correct, sir?

It is arguably undeniable that many of the media practitioners in the country, who used their pens and tongues to expose corruption, have been the subject of intimidation, harassment, or even worst they become victims of ’salvaging’ for exposing anomaly/s in government projects. They “stand up for what is right even if it meant losing their lives”, as what nonong guyala’s description of the heroism of Fr. Chubby, who spearheaded the “rally for life” in Sorsogon to stop the series of extrajudicial killings of militants, etc., (in article re, bulan blood sand).

Anyhow, I would recall last year of May, (nagbakasyun ako) & on my way to the province, I had came across with the white streamer hanging in front of the Sorsogon Provincial Capitol which reads, “BADIL -versus- TABIL”, a basketball exhibition game featuring the Sorsogon media practitioners versus the military/police force. I would assume that the objective of the organizer is to foster unity, camaraderie and cooperation between media & the military/police, instead of sowing animosity against the other.

Sure, it’s tough to be a journalist in Afganistan, Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, Bosnia, Nigeria, Burma, etc. But do you know what country is, according to the Asia Times, “far and away the most perilous place to be a journalist in Asia, if not the world?”

It’s the PHILIPPINES, where being a radio broadcaster is “riskier, on a per capita basis, than service as a left-wing activist or even as a guerrilla for the communists’ New People’s Army or militant Muslim groups.” According to an advocacy group called the National Union of Journalists, at least 42 Filipino journalists have been killed since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took power several years ago. Most of those killed have been radio broadcasters, who regularly criticize politicians, warlords, soldiers, & the police.

Arroyo has been criticized for contributing to lawlessness in the Philippines, where local vigilantes operate largely unchecked & there is, according to Amnesty International, a “lack of confidence in the criminal-justice system.” Few murderers are caught – there has only been one conviction of a police officer for the 42 journalist deaths. And that, says the Committee to Protect Journalists, “looks like an anomaly.”

Others say: The PEN is Mightier than the SWORD (the Gun):

“The Pen is Mightier than the Sword” is an adage coined by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 for his play “Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy”. x-x-x-x,
Woodrow Wilson’s 1916 U.S. presidential re-election campaign used the slogan “He proved the Pen mightier than the Sword”.

According to the website, the book The People’s Almanac by Irving Wallace and David Wallechinsky lists several supposed predecessors to Bulwer’s phrasing. Their first example comes from the Greek playwright Euripides, who died circa 406 BC. He is supposed to have written: “The Tongue is Mightier than the Blade.” If the People’s Almanac is correct, it should be possible to source this to an extant work by Euripides; however, the quote does appear in the 1935 fictional work Claudius the God & his Wife Messalina by Robert Graves, & is thus possibly an anachronism. (source: wikipedia, free encyclopedia)

Several possible precursors do appear in the Old and New Testaments, for example, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, whose authorship is uncertain, verse 4:12 reads: “Indeed, the word of God is living & effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints & marrow, & able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.”

Abu’l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, who died in 1602 & was personal scribe and vizier to Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar (Akbar the Great), wrote of a gentleman put in charge of a fiefdom having “been promoted from the Pen to the Sword & taken his place among those who join the Sword to the Pen, & are masters both of peace and war.” Syad Muhammad Latif, in his 1896 history of Agra, quoted King Abdullah of Bokhara (Abdullah-Khan II), who died in 1598, as saying that “He was more afraid of Abu’l-Fazl’s PEN than of Akbar’s SWORD.” (source: wikipedia, free encyclopedia)

Robert Burton, in 1621, in The Anatomy of Melancholy, stated: “It is an old saying, “A blow with a Word strikes deeper than a blow with a Sword”: & many men are as much galled with a calumny, a scurrilous & bitter jest, a libel, a pasquil, satire, apologue, epigram, stage-play or the like, as with any misfortune whatsoever.” After listing several historical examples he concludes: “Hinc quam sit calamus saevior ense patet”, which translates as “From this it is clear how much more cruel the PEN may be than the SWORD.” (ibid)

Thomas Jefferson, on June 19, 1792, ended a letter to Thomas Paine with: “Go on then in doing with your PEN what in other times was done with the SWORD: shew that reformation is more practicable by operating on the mind than on the body of man, & be assured that it has not a more sincere votary nor you a more ardent well-wisher than Y[ou]rs. &c. Thomas Jefferson”.

The French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), known to history for his military conquests, also left this oft-quoted remark: “Four hostile Newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand Bayonets.”

When the PEN proved mightier than the GUN:
As a hardcore militant, Hemanta Jamatia was, in his heydey, one of those who terrorized Tripura. But the musician in him overpowered the insurgent, leading to him being selected for a Sangeet Natak Akademi award.

“Music often Triumphs over Guns,” says Jamatia who bade farewell to arms 14 years ago. But the lines he composed during his underground days still haunt him.

“Whenever I sang in the deep forest hideouts, my other rebel brothers would leave their arms & join me,” he said. (source: posted in the internet)

“My Pen, the Only Tool I Had”, by Rizal

Dr. Jose Rizal’s speech was immediately published in the newspapers of Madrid, & not long after in the Manila press. Rizal’s parents & family had long worried about the effect of his thinking & ideas. After the publication of this speech in the Philippines, many doubted that he would ever be allowed to return home.

I would say that Rizal has been inclined to believe that the PEN is mightier than a sword (a gun), while Bonifacio may have opted to believe otherwise! Maybe!

Which do you think is the mightier, the PEN or the GUN?

PS: …. though, there were reported incidents of extra judicial killings in the towns of Bulan & Irosin, or in the City of Sorsogon a year, or years ago involving members of the law enforcement agency/policemen as victims, or even lawyers as victims too, but not of the media/press people. Up to now, the name or identity of the perpetrator of summary execution is still a big question mark to us tagaBulans.

Who was the mastermind? And, who pulled the trigger? Bang! Bang! Bang!

If a particular crime is not yet solved nor closed, everybody is a possible suspect!

Categories: Atty. Benji's Column, Over a Cup of Coffee, Views and Concern

3 replies

  1. To atty benji,

    According to Bulan Observer’s statistics , you have the fastest growing readership by now- so keep up the good job! People like reading your articles. People love reading also my little article “The Fight for Progress”, which is actually a letter to you, and is on top of the chart (top post) as you can see since yesterday. I surmise that our kabungtos appreciate the word Progress, as we have tried to explain it in our writings. So keep writing for Bulan for I think the pen is far more interesting for our people than the sword (gun). TagaBulans are intelligent and educated people. The use of swords (guns) against people who fight for Progress is not education but intimidation, is not progress but regression. With the current economic crisis, no more money and bugas, guns are not interesting. With our pens, we stay side by side with our hungry TagaBulans and offer them at least food for thought, positive motivation and the feeling that they are not alone and forgotten. No gun could offer such things! TagaBulans have survived crises before and they will survive this one for sure. Good Times are coming in Bulan if we act as one in our fight for progress!
    Thanks again for your write-ups!

    jun asuncion

  2. My heartfelt thanks and sincerest appreciations to you mr. Jun A!

    I’m humbled by such feed back, and interest of the Bulan readers to this blog!

    Maybe someday, or in the years to come, the town of Bulan will step forward as a progressive & first class municipality in the country thru the initiative of our local executives and politicians, sans political bickering and animosity.

    In its fight for progress, LGU-Bulan shall endeavor to undertake the following program, (unsolicited advices)

    1. To properly address the root cause of poverty, (review the economic & livelihood program) and alleviate the same by creating more jobs. And by all means, accelerate anti-hunger campaign as a priority program of the LGU-Bulan. Because, in order to combat poverty alleviation, we must eradicate corruption (stealing of funds or red tape is prohibited) in government projects so that both the big and small entrepreneurs could create wealth and jobs with least expenses.

    2. To continuously encourage & invite more and more businessmen (local or foreign) to invest in the town’s economy.

    3. To address the peace and order in the locality, because the economic development or progress of a particular place is solely dependent upon its peace & order situation/political stability. (kapag magulo, may patayan, at laging may bangayan, walang investor na mamumuhunan sa isang lugar)

    4. To accelerate and increase (LGU) government earnings or revenues either thru raising the effective collection of taxes, etc. as one component of poverty alleviation. (similar to that of the Quezon City Govt. Tax Collection program)

    5. To improve healthcare system thru subsidize medicines available in all barangay health centers.

    6. To conduct monthly feeding program in all government elementary schools in the barangays. (as there are thousands of malnourished pupils in the public elementary schools right now)

    7. To access to education, especially the poor, and the deserving, as education is one of the most important weapons in the fight against poverty.

    In FIGHTING FOR PROGRESS OF BULAN, cooperation, and unity among the tagaBulans is a must.

    mr. Jun Asuncion, God bless us with overflowing blessings, and shower us with knowledge, wisdom and good judgment to write, for the consumption of the Bulan readers. We can attain progress thru the use of pens, not by guns, harassment, intimidation, threat against the lives of those who are critical of this present administration in Bulan.

    As you always declare, “Bulan deserves a better future!”

    Best regards! Mabuhay ka!

  3. June 30, 2008: SARIAYA, QUEZON – A gunman and his accomplice murdered a 60-year-old newsman here and missed their mark when they tried to kill the newsman’s daughter next, wounding her in the arm.

    Bert Sison, contributor to the weekly development-oriented publication Regional Bulletin and host of a music-oriented program in radio station dzAT, was murdered as he was driving home.

    The gunman, riding in tandem with a lookout in a motorcycle, shot Sison repeatedly. Nine of the shots found their mark, hitting Sison in different parts of the body.

    Police said the gunman turned next to Sison’s daughter, Liwayway, 30, who was in the car, and shot her, too. She survived with a bullet wound in the arm and is now in a hospital in Lucena City.
    Another daughter who was also in the car, Almira, 24, played dead and was unharmed, police said.

    The killers cut the path of Sison’s blue Toyota Corolla in Barangay Lutucan and the gunman started shooting.

    Verily, the senseless killing of a newsman would strengthen the premise that, perhaps, the GUN (sword) IS MIGTHIER THAN THE PEN.

    Others may suggest otherwise, re, article, “badil –versus- tabil”.

    – I wish that it was…but nowadays, people won’t listen to you if you write them a letter to complain, but they probably would listen if you held a Gun to their head. (By: The Silent Pen).

    – All day long I have to read Poetry and short stories for a living. Believe me, The Sword is mightier. (By: Neas).

    – Wars begin with the Sword but are ended with the Pen. (By: Kevin V.)

    – The Pen is mightier than the Sword in the strategy room, but I’d rather have a Blade in my hand that a Pen on the battlefield. (By: Pandora’s Box).

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