Resistance is duty

As I write this, memes have hit the Internet portraying Duterte’s eerie similarity to Thanos in his quest to possess all the infinity—or impunity—stones and obtain ultimate power. Only, instead of the six infinity stones scattered all over the galaxy, the impunity stones in this story are the three branches of the government. And after Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was ousted from her position by the Supreme Court via quo warranto on May 12, it’s become more and more clear that the Thanos of this story is in full possession of a fully activated infinity impunity gauntlet and with the snap of his fingers, might very well evaporate democracy as we know it.

The debate over Sereno’s case has dominated social media in the last few days, with both sides debating over the constitutionality of the decision. The law is clear—the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court can only be ousted through an impeachment trial at the House of Representatives and conviction at the Senate, not through a quo warranto decision by the Supreme Court. But this column, my last for The HERALDO FILIPINO (HF), isn’t about that—it’s about what comes after.

In the wake of the case that shattered every preconceived notion we had about Philippine democracy, slowly but steadily, it’s becoming clearer that there is a game afoot and we are all merely pawns in this elaborate scheme of the ruling elite.

One by one, the institutions of government are bending—or breaking—from the pressure of the Duterte administration like a bad episode of Game of Thrones. From the House of Representatives’ move to abolish the Presidential Commission on Good Government, a government office tasked to retrieve the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos’, to the notorious victim-blamer Senator Vicente “Tito” Castelo Sotto III being elected Senate President—chaos seems to be brewing in this country under an administration dead set on denouncing and discrediting any ounce of resistance. Yet in this chaos is where we must find our place to stand unmoved against the tide of violations to human rights, rule of law, and democracy.

As Lasallians, we are the privileged few with the opportunity of being heard when we speak—something we must not take for granted when this is lost to majority of the masses sitting at the bottom of the social ladder. Now the question remains, as the youth set to inherit this nation, will we sit silently in the dark as the chaos rips apart the nation around us, or will we stand up and be counted as the progressive voices speaking for those who can’t?

Because who we are and what we stand for will shine brightest in our darkest days.

As each wave of shocking news from the Sereno Ouster to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s promise to protect Duterte from moves to remove him from office, the quote “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty” by Thomas Jefferson has started swarming the web and seating itself firmly in the minds of citizens. People now realize that when we do nothing, we allow injustice to do everything. When you have the ability to prevent something from happening, and you don’t move, they happen because of your inaction—because you let it.

Will we sit silently in the dark as the chaos rips apart the nation around us, or will we stand up and be counted as the progressive voices speaking for those who can’t?

In my four years as a campus journalist and student activist, I’ve heard the comments before—why do people protest online and offline when nothing will ever come of it? But I’ve always had the same answer—what do we have to lose? Should we roll over like well-trained dogs and accept the death of democracy? Should we follow order like mindless sheep to the slaughterhouse? Or should we strive to alleviate the struggles of the disenfranchised and leave a mark that matters—one that says we stood on the right side of history?

As my life in HF comes to a close, it is in these trying times that everything this organization has instilled in me is put to the test—and time and again, my one fundamental learning from this publication manifests: Serve the people. Perhaps I’m an idealistic youth, still believing in the best in the people and this country, but this organization has taught me that we must serve a cause greater than ourselves and become part of the collective that understands that the history of liberty from oppression is a history of resistance to tyranny.

Unlike Marvel, there are no superheroes to save the day—no time stone to reset the timeline. Only us—and our decision to either join those that would destroy what we hold dear, or stand or fall by the fearless few willing sacrifice and struggle for the Philippines we know is worth dying for.