Protest marches stopped by threats and force. Rallies violently dispersed notwithstanding pleadings and promises. Water canons aims at anybody and everybody.
Prayer rallies. Public processions. Church grounds as gathering places of protesters. Holy masses attended by the opposition. The Malacaňang becoming a garrison: nobody allowed to go in or out.
Again? These events already took place. They are rather familiar. It was martial rule regime then. The State was preoccupied with protecting itself. It looked at the citizens as its enemies.
Philippine history seems to be repeating itself. Human rights are violated. Freedom of assembly must have a permit as to exact date, time and place. Peasant leaders are gunned down.
Those who know the truth are either made to disappear or simply gagged. Those who have the truth had to leave public service. Those who tell the truth are penalized.
These were the events that generated public anger and despair during those martial law times. These are exactly the same events that now make people frustrated and exasperated.
And the recourse of people is also the same. They pray. They hold processions. They attend holy masses. They hope that the State would respect their faith. They believe that the government would not violate them when they pray, when they are in church.
There are indications however that Malacaňang thinks otherwise. It seems to be toying with the idea of violating even people’s faith. If this is true, then those now helpless will eventually become powerful. And the addicted holders of power ultimately leave holding nothing.
The signs of the times are clear. The State is becoming the master of the people. The people will ultimately free themselves of such an onerous yoke. It already happened before. Why not again?
+ O. V. CRUZ, D.D.
4 November 2005