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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Martial Law or Rev. Gov’t?

"Our elections are problematic because of poverty"

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Santa Banana, in the wake of a failed bidding for the lease of Smartmatic counting machines by the Comelec for the 2022 elections, there are now talks of a possible extension of the May 9, 2022 elections, or no election at all.

And if there is no election or if there is an extension of elections—which means the extension of the terms of incumbent elected officials, including the President, Vice President and Senators—just in case there is unrest, there are scenarios of the declaration of Martial Law or a revolutionary government, which means the abolition of Congress, even the judiciary, including the Supreme Court, and all elected and appointive positions by the President.

All these scenarios were in fact the subject of discussion in last Saturday’s virtual 365 Club Zoom meeting, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic which would prevent voters from going out to vote. 

My gulay, these scenarios were discussed by former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and former Nueva Ecija Rep. Rene Diaz, together with BIZNews publisher and Manila Standard columnist Tony Lopez and yours truly. If there’s no election or the possibility of the extension of elections, it’s likely that the people will rise up considering the fact that the term of office of President Duterte, Vice President Leni Robredo and the Senate will be extended. To prevent anarchy and unrest, the President would then have no choice but to use his ultimate power by declaring Martial Law or imposing a revolutionary government which would mean suppression of civil rights and all freedoms. It would be a repeat of the Marcos declaration of Martial Law, which lasted for 20 years. My gulay, Duterte would have no choice but to “ride the tiger” as it is from which he would not be able to alight to restore order, otherwise the “tiger” would devour him if only to restore order. Without order, there could only be anarchy.

Should the country go through that again like during the dictatorship of strongman President Ferdinand Marcos? The President can always promise elections within two years or more. But, God forbid, personally, I don’t like my freedom of expression or freedom of the press curtailed, especially now at my late age of 94 years. 

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In my more than seven decades as a lawyer-journalist, and having covered 10 presidents, there is actually nothing new about election promises, Santa Banana!

I heard them all, from promising that this country will be great again, that we can end corruption by electing honest men with integrity. Candidates always offer us a new beginning from what I really don’t know. They also promise to solve the country’s endemic problems of poverty and joblessness, providing housing for the poor with what, I really don’t know and, ending other problems like illegal drugs, which resonated with the people when President Duterte did upon assumption of office which resonated with the people in three months, then six months promised to end it, my gulay. But, the illegal drug problem is still there. All these promises if there will be elections on May 9, 2022.

But, is the country better off than it was after the Japanese Occupation? Have any of the Presidents we have elected solved the country’s endemic problems like graft and corruption? Has any of the Presidents ended them? Santa Banana, right after the dictatorship of strongman, we all thought that Cory Aquino’s two-year “revolutionary government” and her reign for another six years would be better, but is the country any different from what it was before Marcos? Yes, the country has restored its freedoms, especially press freedom which I now enjoy.

Now, we hear the drums of Martial Law again even for the filing of certificates of candidacies in October by would-be presidential and vice presidential candidates.

Take for instance President Duterte saying that he is running for vice president of the country as if he is the only Filipino who loves his country. He also said that there must be a continuity of his administration. Continuity of what? Of his failed war against illegal drugs and against graft and corruption, having the mistaken knowledge that he could run the country like the city of Davao.

Let’s take one example of an election promise which cannot be fulfilled, like that promise of Senator Manny Pacquiao of giving homes to all the country’s informal settlers and squatters. He also promised condominiums. Supid! Not all the billions of Pacquiao will achieve that. Truth to tell, the housing problem of the country is a social problem about to explode.

Senator Ping Lacson, as presidential candidate, presents himself as a champion against graft and corruption having exposed anomalies in the government. But, is that all that it’s required of a President that this country needs? I am against graft and corruption, and so is every Filipino who pays his taxes dutifully and religiously since it’s his money that is abused and stolen.

Whenever I see those street people living under bridges and overpasses, my heart bleeds for them. My gulay, we have a secretary of Health having three Lamborghinis, and a list of taipans and tycoons having billions and hundreds of billions, and our country is suffering from extreme poverty with millions more hungry. And here we have a would-be President claiming to solve the country’s problems if elected.

I hate to say it but we Filipinos actually deserve the kind of Presidents or VIce Presidents, the Senators, the representatives, the governors, vice governors, the mayors and vice mayors we elect since most of our voters are blinded with money and promises. And that, my dear readers, is the problem of our kind of elections because of poverty.

I have seen it all. For instance, I know a congressman who gets reelected and after him, his wife gets elected, and after the wife’s term, the son or brother, or an in-law is elected as a councilor. Santa Banana, it’s a dynasty. Why? Because the people think that by electing members of a dynasty they can have free meals, free transportation, and free money for their needs, without thinking of the common good.

I know that we are not living in an Utopia. But, at the age of 94, I dream of seeing my country prosperous, and my country happy for electing their leaders who fulfill their dreams. I dream of a leader who is both moral in character and in practice, God-fearing, really honest and with integrity, not living with a mistress, or having several wives. And that is often the problem of our country, believing in macho leaders. We glorify them. I am no saint myself, but I would like my President, leaders to be examples and with integrity, and somebody we can respect and believe in. For how can we respect and believe in a leader who keeps a mistress, curses and tells the police to “kill, kill” people. But then, am I dreaming?

We should not believe all election promises especially so if we know that not only are they impossible to fulfill, but outright silly and stupid, as impossible to be achieved. Santa Banana, the critics and the oppositionists could be even worse.

Of all the election issues, it’s always the gut issues, like food, shelter and jobs that resonate with the people, considering the fact that poverty and hunger stalks the land, taking into consideration that the bulk of the over 60 million voting population are the “masa,” who could care less with issues on the West Philippine Sea. It’s only the A and B and the Upper C category of voters who would understand the issues on the frequent intrusion of China on the West Philippine Sea.

The issue of graft and corruption also resonates with the people because they know and realize that it’s their money which would otherwise have been spent to give them food on the table that’s being stolen from them by thieves and crooks in the government.

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Presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has come out with a statement that since her father, President Duterte, has accepted the endorsement of the PDP-Laban to run for vice president, she will no longer run for president. At least Sara makes more sense than her father because two Dutertes running for the highest positions would make them so hungry for power. I doubt she will no longer run but I admire Sara for that.

I don’t know what President Duterte wants to prove in running for vice president. Certainly, no longer to have immunity since no less than Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had told him that the vice president has no immunity, Vice President Leni Robredo had been sued for sedition in the “Bikoy” case for sedition.


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