Saturday, February 25, 2006

Speaking Out

I never intended for this blog to be about politics. I thought I could take my slice of the cake while neatly removing the things that are bad for me - the fattening whipped cream with its overdose of sugar, the preserved fruits that do not do justice to the original taste of the freshly-picked ones, even the nuts that are too tough to crack.

But just as there cannot be a schizophrenic Christian (as Fr. Steve put it), there cannot be a schizophrenic Filipino. I cannot monitor events for almost an entire day with visions reminiscent of the First Quarter Storm and then pretend the next day like nothing happened, that February 24, 2006 was just a nightmare that would go away. I could go to the mall later, but my indignation stays.

I cannot regard the Arroyo administration with apathy and indifference anymore, because the day that they manipulated the provisions of our Constitution to protect their own interests by writing a patently invalid proclamation, and then proceeded to act based on such an unconstitutional law, to arrest people who had dared speak openly against them (or should I say, "her") and closed down a newspaper (The Daily Tribune, my father's favorite pro-Erap publication) in blatant disregard of the constitutionally-enshrined freedom of the press, it was the day that I realized I had to think about this. I had to use my education, my conscience, and my voice.

Try closing down the Internet, Mrs. Arroyo, because we are free to speak out here. We respect your position, our Constitution, and the Filipino people. This may be what Gen. Senga and the rest of the military mean when they say they respect the "chain-of-command". It's not personal, and could never be. We don't have to personally like you and blindly accept the atrocities that your administration is committing on our people, on the very anniversary of the re-birth of our freedom at that! To say that the situation is ironic is an understatement.

In the first reading today, we are exhorted, "Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray" (James 5:13a, NAB). We are suffering, and we are praying, Mrs. Arroyo.

But we are also watching, studying, and arming ourselves, not to reclaim our freedoms and rights through violence, but through the use of our minds and the guidance of our hearts.

You cannot play around with our laws and expect us to thank you for it. The nation was not in a state of emergency yesterday, even if your administration was. There was no way that the Constitution would allow you to single-handedly crackdown on every potentially subversive person or publication. You have to respect the requirements of the law - have you truly met the conditions that would allow you, as you and your advisers claim - to exercise the powers that you have taken by force? Have you forgotten that you are just a branch of the government, and that the judicial and legislative arms have, or should have, equal and supreme powers in their own sphere, in order to check your actions and give the appropriate consequences to them?

Are you not a mother who should be after unity, not anarchy, in her family? When your opponents give you no peace, and when the truths they expose are enough to disturb our peace as well, should you not listen to the voice of our grandmother, and make the supreme sacrifice of resigning?

I have objected to several statements and actions of Atty. Rene Saguisag in the past, but once more we are in agreement in this one. We are baffled, Madame President. You have invented the term "state of national emergency" and invoked the Constitution as your shield.

The Constitution, however verbose it may be at present, is not your shield, Mrs. Arroyo. It is the Filipino people's. And it does not grant you supreme powers. It does not make you queen of this country.

Those who want to be first must be last. We claim to be Catholics, you and I, Mrs. Arroyo. Well, Jesus, the man we both follow, has taught us that servanthood is the essence of leadership. We should be washing the feet of those whom we serve. We do not get sticks and beat those feet up when they try to stand up to voice out what is in their hearts and to question the actions that our cohorts have concocted in the dark.

This nightmare that you started cannot last forever. God will not allow it. We will definitely pray against it.

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