The fight for our personal rights has never been more apparent with the recent events that transpired in our country over the past few months. First, the Philippines handled the COVID-19 pandemic terribly. Second, the government is keen to prioritize the needs and wants of the elite class more than the masses. And third, ABS-CBN shut down even as it was guaranteed an extension to operate.
Right in front of our very own eyes, we watch as our own freedoms vanish into thin air. We watch as own our safety, privacy, and security disappear like it was snapped out of existence by Thanos. This administration is a threat to the democracy that had long persisted in the country. Like a thief in the night, the Duterte administration was able to kill whatever glimmer of hope I have for the Philippines.
I had long been critical of Duterte and his way of handling the national and local affairs of the Philippines. When he won back in 2016, I was cautious about this man whose demeanor towards sensitive topics such as rape has been more than disappointing. And my fears and disappointment just grew when he let the burial of the corrupt and tyrant former president Marcos into the Libingan ng Mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).
As the body count from his poorly-planned drug war starts to rise, so do my frustration and weariness towards his ability to run the country continues to grow. Duterte is not the man I was hoping to be. He was not the man I was hoping that will effect change in the country. Now, I realize that change is not coming at all. Rather, “change” is scamming.
And what anger do I have for this man for completely kowtowing to China? By now, all hope is lost for the islands we’ve fought in the West Philippine Sea. The ruling that should have been enforced is now completely shelved, and the Chinese military had completely taken over those islands. Worse, China has slowly crept its way to the political machine and social affairs of this country. The majority of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs) are under the control of some Chinese businessmen, and a majority of workers on these facilities are not Filipinos at all.
The government’s priority is much clearer when it allowed these POGOs to operate despite the implementation of strict lockdown measures. The news reports are clear writing on the wall: ordinary Filipinos who violate the measures are immediately arrested, while the workers in POGOs continue to do business as usual.
This administration is also more than willing to protect the needs of the elite class and the corrupt and erring politicians who serve only their whims. It’s obvious from the get-go: Filipinos who break quarantine rules due to desperation to meet their daily needs are arrested and even punished. Meanwhile, rich people line-up scot-free in posh restaurants even when they broke the rules. Worse, a senator even managed to have his wife prioritized by a hospital hours before knowing that he is positive of COVID-19.
The government’s response to this pandemic is nothing but a disaster. Who cares to listen in Duterte’s late-night rumble anyway? No concrete plans regarding mass testing, no talks about the economic situation and plans. And unfortunately, he is more concerned with ending the communist insurgency now than ending the rise in COVID-19 cases.
The government’s response to COVID-19 has never been so clear to me. It has been silencing critics in the hope of dashing any tumultuous malcontents. This trick has long persisted and has been reused from the time of the tyrant Marcos administration. With more powers being granted to the police force, the silencing efforts just leveled up. Now, a regular citizen who just had posted that Duterte is crazy can be arrested. The charge? You guessed it — cyber libel and inciting sedition. 🤦🏽♂️
Why is the government more than concerned with protecting its own image? Seriously, I’m at a loss of words.
With COVID-19 cases still on the rise in the country, Duterte’s flip-flopping attitude is not just acceptable — it is detestable. As our country lifts and eases restrictions, anxiety lingers on. What will happen now to the millions of my fellow countrymen whose job was shattered by the disease? Are we prepared now to deal with the infectious disease that has killed thousands around the globe?
These questions won’t matter now as clear answers are cut-off by the shutdown of ABS-CBN. The network that had become a primary source for many Filipinos was the ultimate victim of this administration’s crusade against press freedom. The Marcos playbook for controlling the media was used once again by Duterte. Now, millions are reeling from the lack of information regarding the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines.
The worst part about this? Duterte clearly showed no regard for the importance of a major network to remain on-air during a crisis. Instead, he and his minions were more concerned with saving face and putting blame on each other. Blame is their game, perhaps. Trolls and spreaders of misinformation want everyone to believe that it was all ABS-CBN’s fault: their permit has expired, and they didn’t anything on their power to extend their franchise. “Dura lex, sed lex”, they say.
The facts, however, are clear: the bill regarding the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise had been filed since 2017. And no, the law is not the law when it tramples upon the individual’s freedom to life and liberty. It is not the law when it is abused and utilized to scare people on doing the whims of the powerful.
But perhaps, the trolls are right. The law is the law. We elected a president, and here we are. Maybe my rage was all just redirected. Duterte remains popular as ever, even if those who root for him are the first to take the shot from his unfortunate policies. Who knows, 2022 is right around the corner and we can expect a better president.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Each day, more and more people grow discontented. And as long as the fire of discontent burns like a glowing amber on a cold night, there’s hope. There’s hope that my rage is not a misplaced one. My rage, after all, is justified.
Duterte is the worst president we had in years. Period.