Divided country

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - March 3, 2017 - 12:19am

Never before has our country been so divided than under the present administration. This situation is really quite unfortunate since this government is barely more than seven months old. But most unfortunate here is that our disunity is primarily because of how our present political leadership rules our land and exercises their powers.

We are supposed to be a democratic republic where sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them. In this kind of democracy as envisioned by our Constitution (Article II Section 1), we the people should have unity amidst diversity. This simply means that, despite our differences of opinions and clashing of views, all of us have a common purpose; to build a “just and humane society and establish a government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure for ourselves and our posterity the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice freedom, love, equality and peace” (Preamble, 1987 Constitution).

At present however, we have disunity amidst diversity. And obviously, this divisiveness and discord is due to the fact that the present leadership believes that they are the only ones who are right and who are promoting the best interests of our country and our people. They look at others who disagree with them or who may have another point of view, with disdain and resentment. They do not listen to the suggestions coming from people who are not their known followers and part of their administration.

The worse part here is that based on news reports the present leadership, particularly the incumbent president, perceives those criticizing him and pointing out his alleged mistakes or past indiscretions and supposed involvement in crimes and corruption, as enemies out to destabilize his government. So instead of addressing the issues and convincingly rebutting the charges hurled against him with adequate proof, he and his officials have filed serious and non-bailable charges against these critics and accusers so that they will be immediately incarcerated and put to public shame. Records are also dug up for review of the legality of acts taken by previous administration regarding the amnesty given to one of his arch nemesis for possibility of putting him back to jail.

Of course, it is also of common knowledge as of now, how our president reacts against those who disagree with him or criticize him and his moves. Invariably, he picks up a fight and ridicules, curses, insults them and calls them all sorts of shameful and embarrassing names. This method of attacking the persons instead of credibly and sanely refuting the issues raised against him, has somehow rubbed off on his avid followers especially in social media. These followers now known as his social media “trolls” have engaged in more vicious attacks against critics and oppositionists instead of sticking to the issues and using reason, logic and legally sound arguments, thus further sowing deep division and disunity in our country.

But the most alarming and the worst part in our present situation is the use of popularity, or the larger number of supporters, to advance and to get what they want or to suppress their perceived enemies and objectors. This is very evident during the commemoration of the 31st people power revolution at EDSA last Feb. 25, when the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) urged the leaders of local government units (LGUs) to attend a counter rally at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta. Apparently this rally was organized to show that Duterte has more supporters than those who attended the rally at the people power monument whom they believe are destabilizing Duterte’s government. Actually however, they were out to desecrate and debase the real purpose and spirit of EDSA which spontaneously happened to throw out an oppressive and rapacious regime that had committed atrocious violations of human rights. Once more such Luneta gathering shows that the present administration wants to rehabilitate Marcos and justify his dictatorial regime.

Also obvious in the use of force of numbers to justify the action of this administration is in the revival of the “Oplan Tokhang” to fight the drug menace in our country. This oplan was suspended because of the increasing number of unsolved killings of mere suspects who are poor and defenseless. It was also stopped because of the perceived involvement of some PNP members in said killings. Besides, it is obvious that despite the killings, the drug problem remains unsolved. This undeniable fact clearly shows that tokhang is not the solution. The war against drugs would have been more effective if the government concentrate on, arrests and/or destroy the drug syndicates and the drug lords transporting, selling and distributing dangerous drugs which are the source and root cause of the problem. Apparently the government would like to fight the pushers who are mostly poor and defenseless. And to justify the revival of tokhang, a survey is being undertaken in social media on whether people are in favor or against its revival. This is another instance of using popularity to justify its moves.

Most obvious and the worst example about using popularity or a larger number of supporters to ram through its desired plan is in the legislation proposing the re-imposition of the death penalty for some crimes. Recently, the majority in lower house belonging to this administration passed on second reading a law re-imposing death penalty on crimes involving illegal drugs. Obviously this decision was made not because the death penalty really deters the commission of crimes as shown by past experiences both here and abroad. On the contrary experience has also proven that the death penalty law might even result in mistaken execution of convicts especially the poor who cannot afford competent legal assistance or because of the flaws in the administration of justice. But instead of addressing these defects first, majority of the members of the lower house passed the law using their superiority in numbers rather than the superiority and reasonableness of their grounds.

At this stage therefore, let us hope that Duerte recognizes these divisiveness in our country and the causes behind it. He has only been in power for seven months so there is enough time for him to succeed if he will change his attitude and reactions by getting rid of his arrogant self righteousness.

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Email: attyjosesison@gmail.com

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