With Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno thrown out the door of the Supreme Court by eight (of 14) of her fellow justices last Friday the eleventh, many more things are coming to light. In fact more things that were heretofore not in our imagination have been laid bare in the recent months and weeks.
Are end times of a metaphorical kind upon us? Is it “Apocalypse Now,” to borrow the title of Francis Ford Coppola’s war movie, or an “Apocalypto” of sorts of Mel Gibson’s cinematic imagination? Not that kind in our present setting, please, God. National Artist Nick Joaquin’s novel “Candido’s Apocalypse” is more into the idea of reveal, which is what the word “apocalypse” really suggests.
“Apocalypse” comes from the Greek word apokalypsis, which means “revealing, disclosure, to take off the cover.” The Bible’s last book, “The Book of Revelation,” is also called “The Apocalypse.” It conjures images of chaos and destruction so that the word has become associated with cataclysmic events. Hear ye, the book ends with a warning for those “with false speech and false life.”
Revelations could be unsettling, terrifying. They could also herald change and renewal.
The “big reveal” is that Solicitor General Jose Calida has awesome powers that blow the mind. Many citizens, law practitioners, constitutionalists, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, senators, and the Supreme Court justices who voted to throw out the quo warranto petition Calida filed against Sereno are aghast that his move put the constitutionally correct impeachment option in deep freeze. He jumped the gun on the (deliberately?) dilly-dallying House of Representatives as well as the Senate that was eager to give Sereno the day in court that she wanted.
In the case of those who voted to oust Sereno, five were also her accusers who did not inhibit themselves. Her accusers sat as her judges.
A not-so-secret reveal was printed on a big tarpaulin at the May 11 protest rally against the quo warranto petition in front of the Supreme Court. On the tarp were pictures of the strong women whom President Duterte has issues with (or have issues with him), clashed with, or wants out of the way. A number of them he had verbally attacked.
Sister Patricia Fox, an Australian missionary who has worked among marginalized Filipinos for 17 years, was given 30 days to pack up and leave; Sen. Leila de Lima is in jail for what her allies call trumped-up charges; Vice President Leni Robredo was unceremoniously banned from Cabinet meetings. The others were Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and reporter Pia Ranada, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, three Muslim women, a grieving mother, and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales whom Duterte allies threaten to impeach.
Another revelation is that the so-called millennials are taking up the cudgels for their future by braving the streets to protest what they believe is a travesty of justice, what they believe are wrongs that are to be righted. The twilight rally of students on Katipunan Avenue, held hours after the Supreme Court decision was issued, was proof that the young are waking up to harsh realities now staring them in the face.
Church people are still a strong presence in the streets, they who, during the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship, cut their teeth on Martin Niemoller’s words: “Then they came for … Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—/Because I was not a Jew./Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
I met the Siervas de San Jose, the Holy Spirit Sisters and the Missionary Catechists of St. Therese. There was Sister Teresita Alo, 79, Franciscan Sister of the Immaculate Conception, who had fasted and prayed for days in front of the Supreme Court.
And Benedictine Sister Mary John Mananzan of the Office of Women and Gender Concerns of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines. Her apocalyptic words: “The Supreme Court which should uphold the law is breaking the law in a most blatant way. This is a fight between good and evil. Now is the test. If we no longer trust the executive, the legislative and the judiciary, we are the ones left. We will be like an atomic bomb, we will form a critical mass. All we need is a spark.”
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