ONE OF MY elderly friends who is not on social media likes to talk politics with me whenever we see each other. (“Halika nga, kwentuhan mo ako. What’s the latest?”) One of his greatest anxieties is the lack of public outrage over Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial policies and pronouncements. “Bakit parang walang pakialam ang mga tao? Bakit parang walang sinasabi? Ok lang ba sa kanila ito?” he worries.
I assure him that the outrage is there, only he does not see it because he is not cyberconnected. Netizens know how disgusted people are, but we also know how high the wall around Duterte is and how many (besides the paid trolls) are sincerely backing it up. I used to minimize my friend’s concerns because of the vociferous opposition that I see daily in various FB political groups. But I realize now that this is a rather contained opposition; its voice is trapped in what seem to be echo chambers and, as I am learning, it is only dimly heard beyond those walls.
My sixty-something brother is also not cyberconnected and is as worried as my friend. He complained to me that the millennials in his office are clueless about martial law and so are rooting for Bongbong Marcos to capture the vice presidency. I was miffed that he hadn’t read my recent piece Hope where I described how the millennials at the November 3o rally courageously received the torch we EDSA veterans passed on to them. I told him not to worry, the millennials are definitely waking up. But why hadn’t he heard about it?
If my friend and my brother are representative of a significant sector of society, then this is a situation that needs attention. We face many grim issues today that are sadly reduced to partisan politics, although they actually transcend them: the re-imposition of the death penalty, the rising number of extrajudicial killings, the challenges to our basic rights, the continued victimization of the poor, increasing militarization, injustice at every level. These involve the huge topics of life and liberty and the right to human dignity, and if any one of these is infringed, we should loudly raise our voices in protection and protest. Why, then, is our objection couched so softly?
One of the misdirections used by today’s peddlers of lies is the allegation that if you are not pro-them then you are a yellow(bas)tard and do not deserve to be heard. Of course, this is ridiculous. Yet to avoid being labeled, many who are disgusted by the present dispensation (not because they are partisan but because they are rational) have hesitated to speak up. I admit, the effort to reasonably discuss issues is exhausting, mainly because there is so much deceit and stupidity to cut through, simply to make a statement. But the effort is worth it and must be made.
I submit that we have reached a point in this administration where all good people must denounce the insanity and inhumanity taking hold of us. We must cringe at the horror of the killings committed daily and force ourselves to look at the pictures and read the stories and listen to the wailing of the bereaved to avoid becoming desensitized. And our revulsion must push us to speak. Not only on social media, but everywhere we can raise our voice.
We have to let the deception of the trolls, the pseudo-journalists, and the self-promoting, pseudo-intellectual exponents of falsehood nauseate us. Instead of suffering them in silence, we must express our abhorrence of them and demand that they be prohibited from polluting legitimate news portals and other venues where “truth must prevail.” This is why I am appalled that the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star have given valuable column space to Martin Andanar and Mocha Uson, two of the most prolific taleweavers of the Duterte administration, who in all likelihood do not even pen their own columns. In lending them legitimacy, these publications have discredited themselves. What a shame. These two papers were banners of truth during the fight against the dictatorship and the dawn of freedom in 1986. How the mighty have fallen. We need not fall with them.
We must recoil from the verbal trampling of our rights by the chief executive who should be the chief enforcer of the Constitution and its chief protector, and yet is its chief denigrator. We must not only be repulsed by his cavalier pronouncements, we must demand that he desist from further insolence out of a proper humility and a becoming respect for the people whom he serves.
This is no longer merely about politics, though we must work within the realm of politics. We must communicate to the government that there are matters that must urgently be corrected, and that these must be addressed regardless of the political color (real or perceived) of those making the appeal. Let us not be cowed by bullies; rather, let us put them in their place. There are great destabilizing ills menacing us today, robbing us of peace. We must not meet them with whimpers and whines but with an overpowering, unanimous, militant cry of outrage.
A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
– Luke 6:45