What is the common perception? A government that is suspect in legitimacy and discredited in integrity. An administration that exploits the poor and the helpless through relentless taxation while providing miserable public service. A national leadership that is addicted to the tenure of might and influence and wherefore paranoid about Pedro, Tomas and Juan and others all considered as power grabbers.
What is the reality? Many, loud and repeated public manifestations of dissent. Noisy rallies here and there. Open violations of human rights. CPR. E.O. 464. P.O. 1019. Extrajudicial killings of cause orientated people, farmers, media practitioners, pastors. Abduction, disappearance and torture. Priests and nuns in the streets. Revival of the practice of seeking church sanctuary.
There appears to be a re-enactment of the martial law spirit. There seems to be but a presumed democracy contrary to the actuality of martial law events and practices. There is the persistent feeling that the present administration has already adopted the odious and dangerous principle of wining people over or simply eliminating them in whatever way.
The atrocious and remembered practices of the martial law regime all had one common denominator: violation of fundamental human rights. And these gross violative practices were three: killings, disappearances, huntings. All this inhumanity to man had the distinct trademark of the law of guns and bullets. And their victims became more and more in number and cruelty—until a much stronger composite moral force said: “sobra na, tama na.”
The signs of the times are not that hard to read. There is much discontent. There are more and more anti-government groups. There is a multiplication of red flags. There is an all-out war where civilian casualties are simply considered as “collateral damage”. There is fear in the air, anger in the radio waves, nervous jokes in text messages. These are ominous signs.
These are the days that try men’s souls. There is neither peace in the land nor rest in the mind. What happens next is anybody’s guess. One question however is certain and central: Quo vadis, Malacañang?
21 July 2006