Chapter 49: - Page 4 of 9

The Voice of the Hunted

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Say rather that by this fear the number is increased, corrected Elias.  Before the creation of this corps almost all the evil-doers, with the exception of a very few, were criminals from hunger.  They plundered and robbed in order to live, but when their time of want was passed, they again left the highways clear.  Sufficient to put them to flight were the poor, but brave cuadrilleros, they who have been so calumniated by the writers about our country, who have for a right, death, for duty, fighting, and for reward, jests.  Now there are tulisanes who are such for life.  A single fault, a crime inhumanly punished, resistance against the outrages of this power, fear of atrocious tortures, east them out forever from society and condemn them to slay or be slain.  The terrorism of the Civil Guard closes against them the doors of repentance, and as outlaws they fight to defend themselves in the mountains better than the soldiers at whom they laugh.  The result is that we are unable to put an end to the evil that we have created. Remember what the prudence of the Captain-General de la Torre [1] accomplished.  The amnesty granted by him to those unhappy people has proved that in those mountains there still beat the hearts of men and that they only wait for pardon.  Terrorism is useful when the people are slaves, when the mountains afford no hiding-places, when power places a sentinel behind every tree, and when the body of the slave contains nothing more than a stomach and intestines.  But when in desperation he fights for his life, feeling his arm strong, his heart throb, his whole being fill with hate, how can terrorism hope to extinguish the flame to which it is only adding fuel?

I am perplexed, Elias, to hear you talk thus, and I should almost believe that you were right had I not my own convictions.  But note this fact—and don’t be offended, for I consider you an exception—look who the men are that ask for these reforms, nearly all criminals or on the way to be such!

Criminals now, or future criminals; but why are they such? Because their peace has been disturbed, their happiness destroyed, their dearest affections wounded, and when they have asked justice for protection, they have become convinced that they can expect it only from themselves.  But you are mistaken, sir, if you think that only the criminals ask for justice.  Go from town to town, from house to house, listen to the secret sighings in the bosoms of the families, and you will be convinced that the evils which the Civil Guard corrects are the same as, if not less than, those it causes all the time.  Should we decide from this that all the people are criminals? If so, then why defend some from the others, why not destroy them all?

[1] General Carlos Maria de let Torte y Nava Carrada, the first liberal governor of the Philippines, was Captain-General from 1869 to 1871. He issued an amnesty to the outlaws and created the Civil Guard, largely from among those who surrendered themselves in response to it.—TR.

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