Critics of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte came out in full force on the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law under former President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972. Typing the number 45 made me realise how ancient that occasion was. Nevertheless, a lot of people still have hang-ups about it. They still whine about it as if Marcos is still alive today. They are starting to come across like people with mental health issues who need professional help. These people need to realise that Marcos is dead, Martial Law is still allowed in the current constitution “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it” and more importantly, Duterte hasn’t violated any laws.
The declaration of Martial Law itself was not illegal, but the abuses perpetuated by the rogue members of the Philippine Constabulary then under its Chief, former President Fidel Ramos in subsequent years make some people paranoid. To be fair, their reaction is not without merit. A lot of members of the military and police today still have the tendency to abuse their power. However, with today’s environment especially with the advent of social media, abuses would be easier to expose and dealt with. Furthermore, the 1987 constitution written during the late former President Cory Aquino’s term already has provisions to avoid a repeat of a dictatorship. Which makes all these protesters carrying placards saying “Never again!” and “No to Martial Law!” look a bit silly.
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In the first place, the President alone cannot proceed with Martial Law without the concurrence of members of Congress. If majority in Congress are not happy with the Executive’s report justifying his declaration of Martial Law, they can revoke the proclamation. Duterte’s declaration of Martial law in Marawi City and of the entire Mindanao was approved by Congress. They even agreed to extend it until the end of the year after its 60-day effectivity as required by the Constitution expired. This is proof that the Philippines is not under a dictatorship, which again makes the protesters singing songs from the Broadway musical Les Miserables and mimicking The Hunger Games salute sign look ridiculous. Their lack of originality just tells us that they don’t really understand the issues they are complaining about. They already contradict themselves by calling Duterte a fascist while enjoying their freedom to march and protest on the streets without getting harmed.
The truth is, the anti-Marcos/Duterte protesters are so uninspiring. They are chanting the same slogans as if they were back in the 1980s. They have nothing to work with. Even I, as a pundit, have little to work with in analysing their behaviour. They should change their tactic to be more effective. As someone wise said earlier, these protesters have gone nuts. They are protesting something that happened more than 40 years ago. Meanwhile, they are not doing anything about the real issues plaguing the nation today like electoral fraud, patronage politics and incompetence of public servants especially in Congress. Those are the real threats to democracy. Electoral fraud means the people’s votes don’t really matter. Voting has become an expensive exercise in futility since the votes are sold to the highest bidder. And those who dismiss allegations of cheating during elections seal the country’s doom. Members of Congress who dismiss the impeachment bid against Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista for his alleged hidden wealth are guilty of this.
Yes, the real tyrants come from Congress. Some of these bastards unite for or against allies they think can help them win or lose in the coming elections. The people should be protesting against them.
Speaking of allies in Congress, members of the Liberal Party also came out in full force to attend a rally at the University of the Philippines on the same day. Former President BS Aquino was seen attending a mass at the university chapel for what they call “Misa para sa Katarungan”. How ironic considering a lot of people did not receive justice during his term.
People have noted that BS Aquino and the rest of the Liberal Party mates have ditched wearing yellow shirts and pins. They were all wearing white shirts instead. They must have finally decided to rebrand. Goes to show that they lack conviction. While they finally accepted that being labelled “yellow” has a negative connotation, it also means that they do not stand for anything of substance since they can easily switch colours. They may have changed their colour from yellow to white, but they have not changed their style of leadership and policies. Their party is still based on nothing but patronage politics. What a waste. The costs of manufacturing those yellow shirts must have come at the expense of the taxpayers too. Now they are going to end up as rags or in the Filipino term “trapo” just like those that wore them.
A lot of Duterte’s supporters also came out to show their appreciation for the President. They looked more organised and united compared to the anti-Duterte crowd. The latter came from different groups with different ideologies. Some of them believe in communist ideology, some are just against Martial Law and some, well, some don’t even know why they were there because they were just brought in to add to the numbers.
While his critics and supporters gathered at the Luneta on the Day of Protest, a photo of the President was shown on the same day with his military men who are still fighting the terrorist group Maute in Marawi City. The President knows he needs to show them his support. For as long as the military is on his side, protesters shouting and whining against his policies won’t bother him.
In life, things are not always what they seem.