The 31st anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution showed us how divided this country remains to be.
There were 23,000 Duterte supporters who rallied in favor of the President’s war on illegal drugs and of the restoration of the death penalty. Whether or not they were recipients of the conditional cash transfer program, and whether they were paid or brought there through their local government units, are all matters of speculation.
In another rally, there were also Yellowtards led by former President Benigno Aquino III and his cohorts in the Senate. They were fewer, and conspicuously so. They lambasted the extrajudicial killings that have become the new normal. They also attacked the arrest of Senator Leila de Lima, who served as Justice Secretary under the Aquino administration. They said it was political persecution.
De Lima, who also used to be chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights. She is now detained at Camp Crame for her alleged involvement in the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison. She is accused of obtaining money from inmates to fund her senatorial run—definitely a crime.As expected, they also used the occasion to oppose the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
And then, there were the usual militant activities that continued to deplore the Martial Law regime and the lack of grand celebration of Edsa One. They are trying to make themselves still relevant!
We elected a city mayor who we thought could help unite the country and heal our political wounds. Unfortunately, we now have problems like extrajudicial killings.
Now we hear from so-called whistleblowers who claim they used to be members of the Davao Death Squad, headed by no less than President Duterte. But since it is a personal attack on the credibility of the President, it needs to be looked into by the Senate.
We also have former drug addict and Ananda Marga follower, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, heir to the Lopez clan, a staunch anti-mining advocate who is trying her best to kill the mining industry. She does this while protecting her family’s interest in the geothermal industry. And then, that pipe of the First Philippine Holdings of the Lopez clan has made the West Tower building in Bangkal, Makati uninhabitable.
Now we are told that Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto “Jun” Yasay Jr. used to be an American citizen. He was still a US citizen when he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He has denied this before the Commission on Appointments. There appears to be conflict. Is he stateless? Do we have a stateless Foreign Affairs secretary?
What is happening to our country?
The nation’s biggest problems, to my mind, are poverty and joblessness. Terrorism and climate change come next. What is President Duterte doing about these? Nothing—because he is so focused on the war against illegal drugs.
I believe though that this problem will persist even after he steps down in 2022.
These problems make the country ripe for another revolution. Still, no amount of people power will succeed unless there is a military component.
Thus, I believe that the President can sleep well at his rest house at Malacañang Park or his home in Davao City. He still has the support of the majority. At the same time, he must realize that despite his zeal to eliminate illegal drugs, he must address all the other problems of the country such as poverty and unemployment.
I also know that Mr. Duterte knows that Filipinos are like the carabao. It will not react even if you beat and abuse it—until it has had enough. And then it will charge.
The President was elected because he promised us change. But the more he talks about change, the more things stay the same. He should listen to the well-meaning advice of those who have had experience in dealing with these issues.
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While I would like to say that I admire the courage and fortitude of Senator de Lima, I cannot fully say I am with her. We know too well how she defied the Supreme Court by preventing former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from leaving even though the latter was going abroad for medical treatment.
De Lima was also instrumental in having Chief Justice Renato Corona convicted during his impeachment trial. His conviction broke his heart and led to his death. Likewise, De Lima sent three senators—Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla—arrested and detained in relation to the use of their pork barrel funds.
And now De Lima and her cohorts are crying out persecution?
At least she will be given her day in court to answer the charges against her.