Retrospective

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Cham Clowder on WordPress. The first entry.

CHAM CLOWDER turns one year old today. In a year, I have reflected on commercialism at Yuletide, the Mamasapano debacle, the Bangsamoro Basic Law, challenges to the environment, issues of patriotism and national sovereignty, government inefficiency, traffic, the changing cultural and social milieu, various personal intimations, some reminiscences, and of course, politics.

As a matter of course, I have taken off from the week’s news to applaud, assess, or vent my frustration on official decisions or directives. My point of view is that of the middle class, because that is where I belong. I have tried to air our complaints and voice our aspirations in the hope that someone somewhere is listening. I also hope those similarly situated who are resigned to their plight might take heart that someone is speaking up for us. If they cannot find words to express themselves they only need to “like” or “share” and make common cause with me, if they are so inclined.

Prominent on the news this week was the (not so) surprising announcement by Davao mayor Rodrigo Duterte that he is running for president. I was expecting this. The rigmarole involving erstwhile PDP-Laban candidate Martin Diño was a very thin smokescreen. I am rather offended that these politicians think we are so gullible.

Many Filipinos believe that Duterte is the last hope of the nation. We have such a sorry set of presidential candidates that I can’t blame them. I do find much to admire in the man – but I also find much about him that alarms me.

It is true that he has swept Davao clean of misfits and criminals, and has the ear of the NPA and other outlaws. This makes him a cut above his rivals and lends credibility to his promise of peace and order.

I am concerned, though, about how he hopes to achieve that.

He has blatantly, even smugly, admitted his bloodthirsty tendencies and extrajudicial manner of dealing with suspected criminals. As president, will he flout the Constitution and blithely violate the Bill of Rights that is available to all citizens of this country? Will he arbitrarily decide who is guilty or innocent, who loses his freedom or not, who gets to live or die in the name of purifying the Philippines of criminal rot?

Many people will disagree, but I do not believe that that end justifies this means.

It seems that people are looking for a hero who will compel discipline; yes, this appears to be the holy grail. But should not our greater passion be to become more disciplined ourselves, to espouse sterling social mores and live by them? I truly feel this is the goal, rather than finding that one person we can saddle with the huge task of reform.

I am not sure Duterte’s substitution for Diño will be allowed by the COMELEC; I recall it was reported that Diño made some errors on his certificate of candidacy. But it is very likely that those slip-ups might be overlooked and the substitution allowed.

I maintain, though, that we cannot expect our president to substitute for us where responsible action and reform are required. We cannot relegate these matters to the executive, nor to the other branches of government, and watch them go at it like boxers in the ring while we eat nuts and drink beer with nary a care in the world.

We cannot assure peace and order merely by electing a tough-talking maverick who might trample on the rights and guarantees we enjoy. We elect such a champion to our detriment and inevitable regret. What a dictator curtails for criminals he will curtail for us all.

This is an unpopular position because it involves a popular man. I feel obliged to take it, nevertheless, to sound a tocsin for our freedoms.

I will not buy “peace and order” at the cost of my liberty. I still remember a slogan from my childhood “Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan.” That was the excuse for executive legislation that caused the death, torture, and incarceration of so many.

Instead of looking for a hero, I will strive to be one myself, in my own sphere. I can make a difference if I do not give in to cynicism and apathy. There is hope if one has faith. As often and as long as that reminder is required, Cham Clowder is prepared to make it.

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The famous quotation attributed to Edward Everett Hale.

“According to your faith will it be done to you”

Matthew 9:29

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