Monday, January 21, 2008

“Partly Free”

There are things which are well distinct from the nature and qualities of a guava, a bibingka, a plate of pancit. All these may come as a whole or divided in big or small parts. But realities like truth, justice, freedom—these are either whole or nothing. Something partly false is definitely not true. In the same way, small or big injustice cannot be justice no matter how one argues to the contrary. Women who know better, do not dare say that they are a "little pregnant"—or something the like. It is either they are or they are not. Period.

The same can be said about freedom which during these times is particularly equated with self-determination of people according to what is true, right and just—without fear of reprisal, oppression or revenge specially from political authority with its tightly held power and influence. Citizens either enjoy the realty of freedom or suffer for lack of it. Nowhere in the civilized world is there be a ruling government that cries for lack of its freedom. The truth is that authoritarian—if not actually despotic or dictatorial—governing public authority rejoices when it takes control and command of the country while the citizens remain subservient, restricted and wherefore un-free.

Recently, a certain foreign civil entity called "Freedom House” boldly came out with the formal pronouncement that the Philippines, i.e., the Filipinos, are but "partly free". Needless to say, a member of the ruling administration was quick in answering: let those saying go and “jump into the ocean"—or something the like. Previously, when a group of local media practitioners expressed their dissent over a threatening ruling about the latter's presence in critical events, it was said that the same person told them to "jump into the river"—or something like that.

Question: Is the "Freedom House" correct in saying that the Philippines is but "partly free”—based on the well known extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances, the murder and handcuffing of media people, not to mention the use of barbed wires and water cannons to stop rallies and marches? Answer: The "Freedom House" being a foreign based organization, is politically correct. It would be considered too daring and very imprudent for it to say that the Filipinos are completely denied of their freedom by the present government. But neither would it be correct even in the realm of international politics and diplomacy for the said entity to claim that the citizens of the Philippines are "completely free".

In the world of reality nevertheless, to say that the country is "partly free" and wherefore partly un-free, is trying hard and being to cautions to be truthful—to no avail. This is like saying that the water is clean because it's only a little dirty, that someone is honest whereas it is but somehow corrupt. This is asking too much for rational thinking to really accept and truly understand.

One thing is certain: When army trucks and police tanks are out in the streets, when soldiers in full battle gear are walking in and out of cities and municipalities, when check and choke points are put up one after another, it is incongruous to say that freedom reigns in the place.

21 January 2008