Take back our government
I hear the words “hopeless” and “helpless” being used to describe how Filipinos feel about their current situation. And there is indeed basis for this. Only consider: We have a president who, without prior consultation with the appropriate agencies (DFA, DENR, DOST, etc.), and, more important, in total violation of our laws and Constitution, apparently, or by his own admission, gave China permission to explore Benham Rise.
Of course, ho-hum, his top aides have said that the permission given was merely for the Chinese to go over there and look around—like tourists, capisce? They were there for three months, as tourists? But even so, that would fall under freedom of navigation, and China knows that it doesn’t have to ask permission under those circumstances. If permission were given for China to survey the water column, or take temperatures, or whatever, that would also fall under freedom of navigation. And China is not stupid.
What is left? Back to exploration—of minerals, oil, gas. Permission to explore. And that’s where Mr. Duterte gets into trouble. He apparently has neither the right nor the authority to give that permission. Exploring and exploitation are part of the sovereign rights of the Philippines over that area, and it can be given away only by treaty, which is the Senate’s role.
And this is only the latest in a series of presidential gaffes—no, “gaffes” is not the word, make that impeachable offenses (remember, his oath includes “…do justice to every man,” even a drug user), or even crimes against humanity.
And then we have a House of Representatives that approved the restoration of the death penalty, not because the lawmakers necessarily thought it would be a deterrent to crime (all studies show that it isn’t), but because perhaps they were publicly threatened by the Speaker with removal of perks. Thus, for all to see: a House that doesn’t decide on the basis of what is good for the people, but on what is good for the lawmakers’ individual souls.
Finally, we have a judiciary. Well, no need to belabor the issue.
So, yes, there is basis. We can no longer take comfort in the fact that Mr. Duterte and Donald Trump are very much alike (both narcissistic-personality-disordered). The Americans have institutions that they can rely on to countervail Trump. We don’t have the same thing here.
Shall we then give up the ghost, as it were, or follow the advice of a former politician who said something to the effect that, if we are going to be raped, we should at least lie back and enjoy it?
Of course not.
We can’t take it anymore? Okay. Let’s fight for the good governance we hope we deserve. The people at the top are a hopeless case? Then we start at the bottom. It doesn’t have to be a top-down situation; we can fight from a bottom-up one. It may take longer, but the results will also last longer.
It starts with next Saturday, March 25. Cancel your appointments or dates for that day, and let’s all go to our respective barangay assemblies, which are held twice a year (the next one is in October).
We can’t seem to capture our national legislature, executive, and judiciary, so let’s at least make sure our voices are heard, and followed, when it comes to the local counterparts. It is much easier to do, except we don’t do it. Too small. But hey, don’t drug-dealing and -buying, and all other crimes, take place in barangays?
So let’s make sure they are run right.
The barangay is where local government starts, and the barangay assembly is the perfect place to exercise our heretofore ignored people power. We cannot afford to ignore this opportunity to take back our government.
But, Reader, before you go on March 25 to your barangay assembly, please do your homework so no one gets to snow you. Everyone 15 and above can go. How to do your homework? Go to the internet for the Gising Barangay Movement-SlideGur.com (for a PowerPoint presentation), or e-mail Manny Valdehuesa, chair and convenor of Gising Barangay Movement, at email@example.com and ask him for materials.
If you can’t do this for yourself, do it for the country. The alternative, of course, is to enjoy the rape.