Thursday, December 14, 2017

Power never says enough


WE have experienced once more the intoxicating effect of power. Martial law was declared in Mindanao last May 23 in Mindanao due to the Marawi debacle. It was extended by congress till December 31 on July 22, now with the excuse that the situation cannot be controlled without extraordinary powers.

Today December 14, it is again extended by the same subservient congress for one full year. Once one has tasted power, it is hard to say it is enough. This is true for Duterte, this is true for the police and this is true for the armed forces. Even if congress has extended it – does this make it right? Martial law is supposedly an answer to an extraordinary situation, like the case of rebellion. With this extension – and for one year! – are we making the extraordinary situation ordinary? Can the police and the AFP not address the situation with the ordinary powers that they have? Or is martial law now being used as a tool to oppress dissent, and not even dissent – just divergent views?

It cannot be said that because we are not from the military, the people can no longer know what is happening in the country. It cannot be said that because we are not from Mindanao we can no longer speak about what is happening in Mindanao. Suppression of the rights of a part of the people is suppression of the rights of all. We cannot remain silent in front of the machinations of congress who are acting not as representatives of the people but representatives of the one in power. Congress can no longer be trusted that they serve the interest of the people. They give a veneer of legality to martial law but  they are making the abnormal normal, the extraordinary ordinary!

Not only that! This extension of Martial Law is conditioning the minds of our people that Martial Law is alright, that it is normal. Authoritarianism is creeping surreptitiousness among us – unless we react, and say teka…kailangan ba talaga natin iyan? Can our police and AFP not maintain peace and order with the normal mandates of civil law? Do they need extra powers to do their job? But they have been set up and are supported by the people to do their job not with extraordinary powers but with the ordinary powers of the law.

Now that Duterte has tasted support from the subservient congress, he is boasting again. It can be done all over the country. All the cards are on the table! He can declare Martial Law all over the whole country. This is what we get when we toy with power. One is never contented with enough power. It gobbles more power – unless people stand up and voice out – it is enough! This not right! Tama na! Sobra na!

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

No to Revolutionary Government


“We must obey God rather than men” (Acts  5:29)

It is very worrying that the idea of Revolutionary Government is being floated around – as a joke, as an option, and even as a threat.

All elected officials, including the highest elected official – the President – are elected under the constitution and they have sworn to protect and promote the constitution. The Revolutionary Government is not within the constitution. It fact, it is a rule outside of the bounds of the constitution. It is therefore an immoral rule, as it is imposed forcibly. It is a rule without mandate. It is usurpation of power. As such it has no binding power except force or violence. No one is morally obliged to obey it.

Not even the supposedly “will of the people” can give it mandate, as the “will of the people” is given parameters and meaning by the constitution.

The supposed destabilization of the state does not warrant a revolutionary government. The constitution has mechanisms to deal with threats to the state, with necessary safeguards to curb abuse, and the revolutionary government is not one of them.

If the government has plans, and even allegedly good ones, to pursue for the people, it should be within the parameters of the constitution. The end does not justify the means. No good should be pursued by bad means; a revolutionary government is a bad means because it is dictatorial and very much open to abuse because there is no check and balance mechanisms to guide it, except the whim of the one in power.

Let us not forget the wise observation of Sir John Dalberg-Action: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.” We not only have observed this. We have experienced it in our recent history. Let us not be complacent. Let us not be forgetful. Let us always be vigilant. The prophet Isaiah already warned us of “those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness to light, and light into darkness.” (Is 5:20) Let us be one in denouncing evil schemes, and in our present situation Revolutionary Government is one of them!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Who can stop people from complaining?

Christian ethics is clear: there is the priority of human beings over the state. The state’s purpose is to promote and protect the human rights of each person. Each person too is unique and each one has the same dignity as any other. So it is not right for the state to kill an individual in the name of protecting itself, or in the name of furthering its programs, no matter how “good” they may be.

The problem with many people is government, especially those who have authoritarian tendencies, is that they identify themselves as the state, and their welfare and safety as that of the people. So when people criticize them, it is taken as a criticism against the state. Much worse! They claim that the state is being destabilized! We refuse to accept that the government people are the state. They are not! Much so since in many cases what they promote is not even the common good but only their own selfish interests. They are so ready to switch loyalties just because of expediencies—their own expediencies. They even break their promises to the people! They have no loyalty at all to the common good, much less to principles.

 The War on Drugs is this country is not a war to eliminate drugs but a war to eliminate the poor drug users. The target is the poor, who are tagged as drug users. Even if they are involved in drugs, which can never be proven, why only the poor? There are also people in the ABC social classes who use drugs, and who even peddle drugs, but they are not targeted. The poor are easily to blame because they are without voice and without defenders. Once the rich are touched, they have a lot of influence and friends and families who are influential, so they can fight back.

 This War on Drugs, as it is being pursued now, is unwinnable. In fact it is not waged to win. It is waged to give vent to the dictatorial tendencies of the present leaders of our government. They have the lame excuse to use force and violence to induce fear and compliance among the people. Anyone who questions them or who is against them can be accused as drug coddlers, as obstructing their kind of justice or even as people involved in drugs!

 Now, however, in spite of their violence and false accusations, more and more people are having the courage to speak out against the government. Another then ghost is being floated—the ghost of destabilization. The pretext of destabilization is being leveled against the critics of this government, and the threat being brought out to stop these “destabilizing moves” is revolutionary government, which is just another term for dictatorship, pure and simple!

 But criticisms cannot stop because the government has nothing to show that it is bringing about any significant change for the good in the life of the people. In fact the people are finding the economy worse – higher prices and bad basic services. The MRT is worse than before, so is the traffic in general. Joblessness is rampant, and ENDO or contractualization is as before in spite of the swearings to take it out. Who then can stop complaining in this situation? People are complaining in spite of the killings, in spite of the drug war, in spite of the threat of revolutionary government!

Federalism, the Trojan Horse

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