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Hell in Virac

To say that the residents of Virac were shocked by the recent kidnap and slaying of 8-year-old Sear Andrie Agripa is to fail to give justice to the complexity of emotions that gripped the town. What they felt was a mixture of fear, grief, confusion, disbelief, and anger at how the incident could so easily morph their once postcard happy paradise into a dreary dystopia.

Across town, and even the region, people were asking the same question: how on Earth could this have happened? Some instantly blamed the government or the police for failing to keep the peace and order. Most, of course, condemned the suspect and the crime, yet others felt that we were all somehow responsible for the state of this society where children and their parents may no longer feel safe. Lacking answers, some bashed technology or the media for supposedly inspiring such deeds, while others simply prayed quietly for the victim and his family.

To seek for answers in such a situation of helplessness is a normal human reaction. When events cannot provide answers, it is in our nature to go to great lengths to pursue them.

Yet now that the deed is done, the body buried, the suspect charged, and the tears wept, we must go beyond mere questioning to taking action.

If there is a lesson to be learned from the incident, it is, perhaps, to not take peace for granted, to actively work to ensure it, and to never be content with simply relegating its keeping to the government or the police.

How ironic and chilling that such a vile crime should happen this September, the National Peace Consciousness Month, when Filipinos are urged to take a more active role in working for peace. Yet how apt: it took a crime to make us appreciate how difficult the quest for peace is, even in towns where we usually do not expect to ever lose it.

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