Why we need to fight for our democracy
On the evening of April 1st, President Rodrigo Duterte made a surprise and impromptu press conference to address the current state of the country, or more so the current state of his regime. About eleven hours before his speech, the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) violently arrested 21 residents of Sitio San Roque in Quezon City after clamoring for the lack of food and assistance during the lockdown. Seven hours after the QCPD dispersed the San Roque residents, the National Bureau of Investigation anti-graft division sent a letter to Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto to explain his side regarding possible violation of the Bayanihan Heal as One Act, despite the mayor being one of the most competent and focused in addressing the pandemic among local government units (LGUs). These two vital events in one day caused unprecedented rage among netizens who are locked inside their homes and under quarantine.
Yet with the enraging fire among the Filipino people, Duterte just guiltlessly added fuel to it by holding an immediate press conference just to threaten those who oppose his orders. “Kung gusto ninyo ng gulo, guguluhin ko ang bayan natin,” he blatantly stated pertaining to those who riot and dissent against the incompetence of his regime in handling the pandemic crisis. He also ordered the police and military to arrest, detain, and shoot anyone “causing disorders” that is clearly a threat among the Filipinos.
In times that we are being challenged by our own leader, this is a sole reminder that we are a democratic country.
It is our responsibility as citizens of this country to condemn the incompetence, corruption, and fascist attempts of the government in claiming powers they never own in the first place.
As a youth who had seen the struggles of marginalized sectors of the society, understanding the roots of their social and economic problems, I am aware that we are powerful enough to carve the path of this country towards the democracy we have always fought for. History has been on our side and we have the choice to put it in our hands this time again.
When Duterte said “do not intimidate the government, matatalo kayo diyan”, I only thought of one thing: The Filipino people are the government. We elected them to serve us and not the other way around. Thus, it was a completely audacious statement for a supposed leader to threaten his countrymen. After all, his people are just asking for the immediate release of food, transparency with the emergency fund, and concrete solutions in dealing with this crisis.
In these trying times, we do not deserve violence; we deserve security. And clearly, the government does not give a damn if people are demanding for food by addressing their hunger on the streets. For the regime, anything that is beyond their orders is an attempt to disobey them. This clearly explains their reliance on military violence to maintain “peace and order”. Sounds familiar? We historically had it before, almost 50 years ago when the country was completely placed under military rule. And at this moment, the state entirely uses the same apparatuses—the police and military—to post intimidation and threats among the Filipino people.
Our frontliners, countrymen, and democracy are dying. Everything is happening right before our very eyes, and it seems like we have nothing left to do. Yet I see vigor in everyone—from my fellow campus journalists to the activists I met on the streets, to the farmers who fought for their lands and our women who vilified patriarchy and abuse. I see vigilance and strength from the Filipino people who are resisting this pandemic—our health professionals, delivery drivers, traffic enforcers, store workers, journalists, and you, the one who stays home to contain the spread of the virus; we are all resiliently making efforts to save the lives of each and everyone.
This is just more than the public health crisis. This is a glaring attack on our rights and a barefaced threat to our democracy. I refused to believe that we are uneducated, gullible, and controllable. We exactly know the pain of hunger, the burden of inaccessible healthcare, and the effects of corruption. We all know how politics works, and this is just a deceiving trick of a magician that we will all soon discover and expose.
We know that we are in agony under this regime. And that is exactly what we have to fight against. It is up to us if we are going to protect our country, our future, and most importantly, our freedom.
But for now, I am placing my bet to the Filipino people.