The fight continues
Cold comfort on “the morning after.” With the allegedly “solid” win of Duterte’s candidates—favored minions and proven thieves included—we face three more years of Duterte “rule.” By the yardstick I most often use these days, my 4-year-old grandson will just be 7 years old when the “sick old man from Davao” takes a bow from public office. That is, unless events intervene and we fall in for a much longer night than we anticipated.
But then… Recall how, in just three years, The Digong has managed, by capturing all supposedly independent equal but separate branches of government, to turn our democracy into virtual one-man rule. He has all the aces in hand: judiciary, legislature, police and military. No thanks, of course, to the men and women who willingly, even eagerly, “bent the knee” to grant the President unrestricted power over policy, programs, treasury and even diplomacy.
If Mr. Duterte has been able to overturn the most basic and bedrock values of the Republic in just three short years (feels like three decades, doesn’t it?), I shudder to imagine what three more years — during which he will wield unrestricted power — will wreak on the most basic institutions of our democracy. Even if he has no plans to extend his stay in office, Mr. Duterte may leave behind a Philippines that may well nigh be unrecognizable, perhaps even unrecoverable.
So, our work is not ended. Already, people are talking about searching for a middle ground, a way of working with the more independent-minded legislators and urge them to form more outspoken personae and adopt progressive advocacies that could very well work in their favor when once again we return to the polls.
One possibility is organizing the Otso Diretso, their political machines and the team’s army of volunteers—maybe not numerous enough to overwhelm the government’s machinery, but making up for it with energy, drive, faith and faithfulness—into an active “shadow” government. They could join forces to continue the work of currently missing oversight, seeking alternative explanations for events and policies, holding the administration’s feet to the fire when anomalies occur, and holding administration factotums to account.
The Otso Diretso candidates have lives and careers to go back to, true. But with the remaining opposition figures sitting in the Senate — Drilon, Hontiveros, Pangilinan and the detained De Lima — they could add their voices as a counterpoint to the expected hallelujah chorus of the true Duterte believers.
Followers can do no less. Now is not the time to fold up their tents and retire to the comforts of their precampaign and election existence. There is much work to be done, and so much more at stake.
A young(er) friend, Regina Layug Rosero, who is very active on Facebook, let her feelings loose in a recent post. “Today, let me have my tears,” she wrote. “Let me have my anger. Let me have my despair and heartbreak. Let me weep, drink, hang my head.
“Today, let me mourn.
“Tomorrow, I will fight again. Because this is my country, even in heartbreak and despair. Because this is my son’s country. Because my heart is here.
“Tomorrow, I work for the country I deserve, the country my son deserves.”
Indeed, there have been reports that “migrating out of the Philippines” made it to the top most-searched topics on the internet, fueled by the apparent disgust of Filipinos at not just the outcome of the midterms but also at the mindset this seemed to indicate, the blinders so many of our countryfolk wear. Who would want to raise children in such an atmosphere?
But, cautions Sr. Mary John Mananzan, feminist and woman of faith, we should not lose hope. “The thing to do now is to plan strategies to counteract whatever actions will be done that will be detrimental to our country like approving the death penalty, Cha-cha to give foreign ownership to our lands, etc. If all the agencies of the government are controlled, it is imperative to resort to peoples’ power!”
Prayer or marching orders? We can gnash our teeth, rend our clothes, cry out in anguish — today. But tomorrow, we must roll up our sleeves and continue the fight!
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