Democracy is what Filipinos signed up for. Facebook (FB) and every other social media platform give every citizen the avenue to express themselves publicly with nationwide reach. The fact that several institutions and personalities are expressing alarm and rage over the comments recently issued by a La Salle (Bacolod) student against the country’s “VP” is a sign that Filipinos are showing less tolerance for free and unbridled expression.
Free Speech In Peril?
We all know Filipinos love the word “Free”. But could this be a movement towards curtailing the freedom of speech Filipinos value so highly? Will the country soon adopt laws that prohibit the free flow of ideas and opinions? Do we need to go to the extent of policing and criminalizing certain words and thoughts? What’s ironic though is that the Reds and Yellows (those “Never Again” Martial Law crybabies) apparently are the ones crying foul the most.
If these Filipinos want speech under control, then are they suggesting authoritarian/dictatorial rule is really what best suits them and is the type of government they deserve? There are gag orders that inhibit talking about certain topics, red-tagging is becoming a big “no no”, and there are screening committees in FB in the guise of “fact checkers”. If we believe Filipinos are spinning out of control in expressing themselves, then don’t let these kids play with the media gun called Facebook.
Johnrey Apellido has just insulted the second most powerful official in the land, who FYI also happens to possess the “woman card”. If he does not apologize or retract the statement, the University of St. La Salle, Bacolod which has been dragged into the controversial statement might choose to disown the student.
Kantutin mo si Leni Tatay Digong para mataohan na yan kulang sa dilig kaya nagiging bobo.
For one thing, an apology, just like respect, shouldn’t be demanded; it should be given willingly, not out of compulsion. In our effort to inculcate GMRC (good manners and right conduct) in our youth, they must be taught to do so from the heart. Otherwise, we are just moving from one form of Martial Law to another.
If Filipinos cannot bear the freedom to insult public officials, then democracy is not for them. Or maybe Filipinos are not yet ready for democracy. Democracy is for societies that have evolved to be advanced enough to issue responsible/respectable statements, and like adults engage is civil conversations.
Lack of Respect
A more fundamental question is: why do Filipinos elect officials they can’t respect in the first place? Recall how people freely called the previous president “Abnoy”. In some more traditional/conservative countries, a simple expression of disrespect to the king or president will not go unpunished. Somehow it makes sense, since how can soldiers follow their commander if they can’t even respect him?
We may have to give this young collegian some slack for honestly expressing his feelings. He could just be that little child in the tale of “the Emperor’s new clothes”, who had the simple-mindedness to say what everyone else was too ashamed to express out loud. The root issue may not be the lack of good manners among the youth, but rather – why some leaders are deemed not worthy of respect.
Leni’s biggest problem these days is all the negative labelling that has stuck to her face which just won’t go away: “Fake VP“, “Lugaw Queen“, and now “Bobo“. Once you are labeled this lowly, it is almost a death sentence to one’s political career. Being the biggest and likely only bet of the Yellowtards this upcoming May 9, 2022 presidential elections, it seems to be “mission impossible” to get her act together in time to salvage whatever positive image she has left.
Nevertheless, being perceived as “bobo” was her own undoing. Leni (who captured the VP seat just because her husband Jesse died) took her role as lead opposition so seriously she made it her crusade to put the Duterte administration (which she in fact a part of) in bad light not just to fellow Filipinos but moreover in the eyes of the international community. Talk about an administration allotting a budget to systematically shoot itself on the foot. From the get-go, she has been a loose cannon that just kept firing at the administration on every turn: how to more humanely handle the drug issue, how to efficiently handle disaster relief, how to more compassionately handle the pandemic… Quite frankly, the only ones who appreciated Leni’s nagging unsolicited advice to administration officials running the show were those still living in the sinking Yellow submarine.
There was a group of scientists and engineers building a communications satellite. It was so sophisticated it was taking them months to complete. Then came the VP of the aerospace company (who just inherited the position because his Ph.D. father died) who suddenly issued a memo to everyone: “I strongly believe that it would be better if the satellite was launched on a rocket and made to orbit the earth in space, rather than being made to sit inside the building.” Puzzled by the seemingly grade-schooler-level official pronouncement from the top, a newbie engineer asked the program’s chief architect about the memo; the latter just told the young promising worker: “lad don’t mind that ‘VP’ too much; she has no idea how complex our work here is. Just focus on finishing the thruster assembly in time for the scheduled tests before launch date”.
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