Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Saan Aabot ang Isang Libo?

This morning, I was met with a lot of saddening news: the plight of typhoon victims, a killed soldier in Marawi, an accident between a bike and a motorcycle, and some more. What is greatly saddening is the news that the House of Representatives exhibited power tripping worthy of a separate Meralco transmission line.

I am appalled.

I am no fan of politicians. It is always so hard to decipher their actions knowing that majority of the decisions they make are targeted at preserving their votes in the future.

I am no fan of this current President of the Philippines. Imagine my kid asking me what P***** I** means. I answered that it was a bad word that is inappropriate for kids. And when I asked where he last heard it, he said, "President Duterte." How can I justify not using the word because it's bad only for him to hear it no less from the President himself.  I have learned to accept the fact that whatever he says would be interpreted correctly by the media, then his minions would later on come up with their own interpretations just to prove that their President meant something else and the media got it all wrong. Despite this, I believed that he should still be given a chance to prove his detractors, me included, wrong. Heck, I even tried to apply for work in a Presidential office just to understand his philosophy and attitude. 

I am no fan of  the President's minions in the Cabinet. Hmmm. Let me think... An Ex-Assistant Secretary, and now Undersecretary, uttering a child porn joke at the European Union. Rude and unbecoming! Another ex-sexy starlet in a regulatory body who bypassed a lot of more qualified persons just because she has thousands of followers on her blog... oops, she's an Assistant Secretary now. A Cabinet Secretary who is supposed to dispense justice but is the first one making sure that justice is forgotten. What a joke! But still, I am patient.  I can ignore the rationale for their respective appointments. Maybe the President had a grand apparition from another dimension where he was told to appoint these kinds of people.

I am certainly no fan of those in the Congress who grovel at the President's feet despite all his callous acts and braggadocio.

But not being a fan does not mean I will not respect the wishes of the majority who voted for them. We have a democracy, after all. So I just let them to do their "jobs" in the belief that they really are serving the country.

A year or so had passed and this President claims that the crime rate in the country has gone down. Maybe that applies for all other crimes except murder. As if that would solve the case. If that were so, then all these murders related to the drug war would have been solved already.   I have gotten tired of watching news reports about the killing of a person being caught on CCTV.  I try to avoid barfing every time I hear on the news that a person was killed because after being arrested, he fought it out with the police. "Nagtulak, Nahuli, Nanlaban, Patay." Come one. Is there anyone in the Philippines who actually believes that?

One of the few things that comfort me despite these things is the presence of a watchdog in the government whose existence is to find out if human rights are still being observed. As a college lecturer for more than a decade, one of the things I have taught is the Philippine Constitution. I have always stressed to my students that the Bill of Rights is there for a reason. If the Constitution says that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law, then everyone should observe that. If there had been any violation of this basic human right, there's a Commission on Human Rights which will investigate to ensure that nothing like that would happen again.

Ever since the extrajudicial killings started to pile up, the CHR has reiterated that it will investigate the thousands of deaths happening in our neighborhood. The CHR was created as a means of check and balance so that abuses by the other branches of the government, or even other individuals, would be prevented. It gives aid to people who have been victimized by violence, torture and other abuses.   Recently, it made a stand against the reinstatement of the death penalty.

That the House of Representatives gave the CHR a measly budget of P1,000.00 for 2018 is, to borrow the words of my good friend, Toie,  power tripping at its finest.  Such power tripping could bring electricity 24/7 even to the poorest islands. I could choose to believe that this wasn't a vindictive action after the CHR had made its stance against the thousands of unsolved extrajudicial killings ever since this President sat in power. But no.  The President's stooges in the Congress have made it clear before that there will come a time that the CHR would have to bear the brunt of their wrath for standing in favor of human rights.  There were two other agencies which were granted the same pathetic budget allocation. I really don't care about them. For me, their existence does not precede the CHR's.

Is the drug campaign the end all and be all of this administration?

Ever since the drug-related killings started to monopolize the news, I have feared for my family going out at night to take a bite to eat.  I see a lot of check points everywhere and it doesn't appease me. In fact, it scares me even more as I feel that no one is safe anymore as long as these people who are authorized to carry guns and enforce peace and security are the ones being accused of doing the extra-judicial killings themselves. I fear that justice will never be dispensed for the victims' families as long as this President is in power. He assured every police officer that as long as he is President, no policeman will be jailed for killing a drug pusher. Sadly, there is not even enough proof that all those who are killed are indeed drug pushers. What happened to the doctrine of presumption of innocence? What happened to the principle that each person should be given his day in court?

Killings are bad per se, especially when there is a law that provides for the dispensation of justice, and there's a judiciary to interpret the proper application of the law. But when killings are done by the police themselves, because the suspect had opted to fight, instead of surrendering, and the President believes the former's statements without an iota of doubt; when killings become an excuse to stop more killings; when the killings become more valued as when Judiciary draws the ire of the Executive after pointing out the essence of human rights in a civilized and democratic world; when the killings are justified by the lawmakers who enjoy millions in salaries, bonuses and budget allocation without question and give only P1,000 to an entire institution whose sole purpose to preserve our fundamental rights; who can say that we are safe in this country?

Saan aabot ang isang libo? Sa kandila?


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