The Arroyo government and its allies say that the Filipino people are tired of people power. Does this mean that the Filipino people are tired of condemning massive electoral fraud, putting a stop to extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, resisting repression, fighting corruption, struggling against hunger and poverty? That is wishful thinking on the part of the Arroyo government and it goes against the tide of history.
BY BENJIE OLIVEROS
Vol. VIII, No. 4, February 24- March 1, 2008
Twenty two years ago, the Filipino people, in a collective expression of disgust, gathered at EDSA to protest against a family’s greed and their disdain for the people’s rights. This greedy family had dipped their hands into almost all government contracts and denied the people their most basic rights. In three days, the resoluteness of the Filipino people enabled them to succeed in ousting one of the most brutal regimes in the country’s history the Marcos fascist dictatorship.
Fourteen years after, the Filipino people gathered at EDSA once again to show their anger at the brazenness by which corruption is being committed, and how the president’s allies in Senate then, especially the troika of Juan Ponce Enrile, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and Tessie Aquino-Oreta, were using their numbers to suppress the evidence and prevent the people from knowing the truth. In a matter of days, the Filipino people were able to remove from Malacañang one of the most popularly-elected president in the country’s history Joseph Estrada.
Now, we have a president; who was never popularly-elected (if elected at all); whose administration made a mark internationally for the impunity in the commission of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances targeting activists; and is known to be one of the most dangerous places for journalists. We have an administration with a propensity to curtail civil liberties at any opportunity and by any means; and which bends the laws and legal processes to run after its critics. To show its disdain for people power, it has made the EDSA shrine and Mendiola, two historical places known as sites for the people’s collective action, as off-limits to rallies. Worse, it declared a state of national emergency on the 20th anniversary of People Power 1. For aside from the Arroyo family, one of the leading figures in this administration is also one of the chief enforcers of Martial Law and an operative during one of the most brutal periods in Vietnam when killings of Vietnamese suspected of supporting the revolution were rampant, Eduardo Ermita.
We currently have a government that was adjudged as the most corrupt administration in the country’s history because of the long list of corruption scandals plaguing not only the whole administration but most especially the presidential family. We have a president who has escaped impeachment three times by bribing representatives and local officials with pork barrel funds and cash flowing as if poverty is not a prevalent problem in this country.
We have an administration that has corrupted every existing institution of democracy and process of governance to be able to keep itself in power.
But the Arroyo administration says that the Filipino people should no longer act so as not to reverse the gains of the economic growth, which it claims to be the highest in three decades; or so they claim, despite the worse, longest-running unemployment and underemployment figures in the country’s history, the free-falling incomes of middle and lower income families, and the widespread hunger and poverty.
The Arroyo government said that if the people have evidences to prove that the presidential family is involved in corruption they should go to court. This, despite the clear and credible testimony of a former government official Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada – who was kidnapped to prevent him from testifying – that a grossly disadvantageous contract, which was overpriced to the tune of $130 million, was being imposed on the Filipino people, with the participation of Jose Miguel Arroyo, the president’s husband, and the approval of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself. But they never did give the more than a thousand activists who were extrajudicially killed and forcibly disappeared their day in court. They never even accorded Reps. Satur Ocampo, Crispin Beltran, Liza Masa, Joel Virador, Teddy Casino, Rafael Mariano, and now Randall Echanis, a decent court proceeding, if not for the intervention of the Supreme Court.