Unless there was widespread cheating and fraud last May 13, the Philippine electorate has apparently elected to the Senate enough Duterte candidates for that body to be fully under administration control.
Some 1,800 new lawyers have just passed the 2018 bar examinations. Will they be going into the practice of law — or had been moved to take it in college — only to advance their interests no matter what the cost to the public and Philippine society? Or will they practice the profession in behalf of the urgent need of defending the laws that Philippine experience and history have demonstrated as necessary in the making of a just society?
The Philippines is one of the world’s most lawless countries. But it’s not because it has too few laws or none at all, but because it has too many that are often interpreted in favor of the powerful so as to bring about the exact opposite of their intention, are selectively implemented, or hardly enforced at all.
It isn’t only the powerful who mock the very laws they either passed themselves or which they’re mandated to enforce. There’s the same lawlessness among many ordinary folk that’s manifest not only in such transgressions as smoking in enclosed spaces, but also in selling their votes come election time.
World Press Freedom Day has always been the occasion for responsible journalists to re-examine the state of one of the fundamental needs of ethical practice. This year as in 2018, May 3rd was not so much an occasion for celebration as for alarm. As in many other parts of the world, the independent press is under siege from a government that has made it its life work to harass, restrict, threaten and silence it, and to even arrest practitioners for daring to report the truth.