A plot is afoot to stop the holding of the 2019 midterm elections. But that already base scheme doesn’t stop there. Once constitutional amendments are approved, or a new constitution is in place, during the transition period to a federal form of government the masterminds also want the terms of the elected government officials who are currently in office, particularly congressmen, senators, and the president, extended for as long as ten years.
Almost every government official has the same message whenever the birth or death anniversaries of the country’s heroes are marked: it is to remember what they did for the country, and to emulate their patriotism and devotion to the welfare and betterment of the nation.
On the 121st death anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal, for example, President Rodrigo Duterte told Filipinos to remember the national hero’s “ultimate sacrifice for the sake of our country,” and to “reflect on his patriotism as we strive to continue his work of building a more united, peaceful and prosperous Philippines.”
The year 2017 isn’t exactly auld lang syne, or good old times, and 2018 is not only likely to be a repeat of it. It could even be worse.
As 2016 ended a year ago, the new year of 2017 was welcomed with optimism by most Filipinos, in the probable belief that thinking so will make it so. The feng shui and other creatures spawned by the Philippine culture of confusion, who claim to have the power to foretell the future, weren’t helping any. Neither were the survey firms, which as usual regaled the citizenry with their cheery polls on the average man-on-the-street’s fact-defying optimism.
There was hardly any question about it. The dominance of the Duterte “supermajority” in both houses of Congress made the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao certain, and even the members of the political opposition in the House of Representatives and the Senate, who nevertheless voted against it, predicted congressional approval of President Rodrigo Duterte’s request.
Mr. Duterte’s Congressional allies had the numbers but apparently neither the welfare, peace of mind, safety or rights of the Mindanaoans and the country in mind, nor the legal justification on their side — or even a sense of history.
The reformists and revolutionaries of the late 19th century; those who fought the Japanese invader so during World War II; and the professionals, workers and farmers who comprised the core of the resistance against the Marcos dictatorship understood only too well the role of information in exposing the injustice and racist assumptions of Spanish colonial rule, the brutality of Japanese militarism, and the illusory promises and barbarism of home-grown despotism.