It is officially 2017. As expected, social media has been full of greetings, good wishes, and hopes for this brand new year. As tradition goes, many of the greetings (intentionally or not), gave the impression that a new year can bring good luck, love, success, wealth, health, and all those things people wish for.
This is tradition. But reality is different, very different.
In real life, a new year cannot do anything by itself. It cannot “bring” us our wishes. It is not magic. What a new year gives us, is time. It gives us another opportunity to make things happen, to realize our hopes, whatever these are.
A new year is an opportunity for us to do better as individuals, and as citizens of this country and the world.
My favorite among the many social media posts I read is from someone I know quite well both personally and professionally. Executive Chef Giney Villar wrote on her Facebook page, “A new year is the universe’s way of telling you that no matter how “it” ended, you can begin again. Now shine.” I could not have said it any better.
Indeed, no matter what happened in the past year, 2017 is a chance to start again and achieve what we set out to achieve in whatever field we choose. This time, with the lessons learned from 2016, and even the years before. We need to go at “it” in a smarter, more informed way. We are given time to undo wrongs (that can still be undone), pursue dreams we have long aspired for, or even take a different direction from the ones we have tried before.
A new year cannot make us shine. We need to exert effort, work, to become a rock star.
Many have repeatedly expressed that 2016 was not a good year. Not because 2016 willed it, but because of events that happened, many of which were caused by people’s actions or inaction, and decisions.
In our country, we lament the more than 6,000 people killed in the name of government’s “war on drugs.” 2016 did not murder them. People did. And it is also the people, those who believe in due process, the rule of law and human rights, who can stop this terror. Those killed cannot be made to come back BUT the criminals who did these horrendous acts, whoever they are, should be made to face justice.
Equally important is for people to speak up and act to halt the killings. We are not a country of barbarians. We have laws to rule us and must be followed by everyone, especially those in government. The Executive Department’s main mandate is to implement laws. The president, voted into power by 16 million of our citizens, is there to protect the welfare of more than 100 million Filipinos.
If we all appeal to the Chief Executive, there is no way that he will not hear us.
The. Killings. Must. Stop.
2016 saw the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos “buried” in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. 2016 did not make this happen. It was the country’s president and the Supreme Court Justices who made this possible. The case remains to be in the hands of the Magistrates of the highest Court of the land. Those who oppose said “burial” can still make their voices heard. The Justices are people, too. If they remain true to their honorable title, they will find a way so true justice prevails.
Whatever happens to this case, the Filipino people need to remain vigilant to protect, maintain, even strengthen our democratic gains. Tens of thousands were tortured and thousands offered their lives in the struggle against dictatorship and the return of democracy in our land.
Whatever the shortcomings and failures were of previous administrations after 1986, we cannot give up on our democratic freedoms. We cannot allow Martial Law to happen again. We cannot have another dictator rule our country. We, the people should make this clear this year.
2016 also saw women’s rights disrespected and outright violated. We did not have a shortage of misogynist attitudes, words, and actions from government officials and personalities. Slut-shaming became a tactic to pressure and harass women from both pro- and anti- administration.
We witnessed how President Duterte himself catcalled women journalists. We saw how men of power, “HONORABLE” lawmakers ridiculed, made fun of, and feasted on Senator Leila de Lima and her relationship with a former lover in the halls of the House of Representatives, during formal hearings no less. We heard of malicious pregnancy rumors spread by opponents of Vice President Leni Robredo. Almost nude photos of Mocha Uson are virtually permanent fixtures in social media.
People have forgotten that women’s rights are human rights. We have forgotten that wherever we stand on issues, we cannot violate human rights. We should rather stick to the issues at hand.
2016 also saw the Supreme Court disregarding women’s reproductive health and rights through its August decision. Thanks to our Justices, a total stock out of family planning contraceptives, used or needed by more than 14 million Filipino women, is now possible.
This decision, if not reversed, will surely result in more unwanted pregnancies, teenage pregnancies, unsafe abortions, poverty, and maternal deaths. The SC has dealt women a huge blow.
2017 should be a year of women (and allies among men) making our voices heard loud and clear. We are not going to idly stand by while our rights are being violated, most especially by those who are supposed to champion us in government. This year, women must demand respect for our rights, including our right to decide to family planning.
2016 left us with important issues that need addressing. 2017 is the year to do this. We have this time, this opportunity to make things better.
@bethangsioco on Twitter
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