Trampled Rights

Oh.

Didn’t know that the police (sometimes violently) dispersed rallies (AKA peaceful public gatherings for people to speak on certain issues) because such public events inconvenienced others. I thought the reason for the government dispersing such mass protests (even those with permits!) was political in nature — ruling classes hate opposition. A power struggle. One squashing another.

I guess politics is also not the reason there are no fire trucks, no police with shields and truncheons to “clear away” this week’s fresh crop of protesters. After all — the rally was only held at a major artery of Metro Manila during a payday Friday night, the start of a long weekend for most Metro Manila. I bet no one was inconvenienced enough for the rallyists to be dispersed.  

PS.

“With the street demonstration held by the INC members against the government’s pledged religious persecution, Roxas said the policemen have the responsibility to preserve peace and order with maximum tolerance.” (That’s from DILG)

I remember what “maximum tolerance” meant during college. That meant that the fire truck parked nearby may or may not spray water. It meant being stopped in your tracks by rows of policemen with only a placard to defend yourself with. Let’s see what it means in this context.

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Remember Hacienda Luisita

I remember the first time I got involved in the movement. I was in college at the Ateneo when I heard about Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. I learned of the killing of the field laborers and farmers, the slow deaths of their starving families. And if I, a mere bystander cannot get those images out of my head, their pleas out of my heart; imagine the horror they still live with each day.

The incident at Hacienda Luisita was not, by far; an isolated one. That it was well publicized does not warrant exclusivity. Every day, thousands of farm laborers suffer in different haciendas all over the country. Each day, a child goes to the fields instead of to school to support their families.

Millions of Filipinos die because of starvation, lack of opportunity, the absence of good governance and the cruelty of landlords.

16161_1057726701155_1765517524_120480_6128060_n PAGBAYARIN ANG BERDUGONG PAMILYA COJUANGCO! HUSTISYA PARA SA MGA MANGGAGAWA NG LUISITA!

Never Mind Hate Mail: 5 Reasons Why I Won’t be Voting for Noynoy Aquino

Some things, I just can’t ignore.

Almost every news item that comes my way segues into the 2010 national elections.  Campaign season is here and try as politicians might to reinvent themselves; their tactics are all old hat.  But there’s something new: now, young people are actively campaigning.

In a surprising turn, Liberal Party’s Mar Roxas has made way for Noynoy Aquino’s bid for the presidency. A lot of my peers and colleagues welcome this development. Those whom in their former lives did not care for political events are doing a 180 degree turn. Facebook is now littered with “Lalaban Tayo” slogans. Twitter pages are likewise filled with commitments to (finally) register for the elections; now that Noynoy Aquino (someone presumably worth registering for) is running.

First off, people should not “need” a reason to vote. We, as citizens should vote. To vote is a constitutional right, it is a patriotic act. It is the very foundation of democracy: the right to choose our leaders. It sends a message: I have the political will to get out there and cast my lot for this country. To be of voting age and not vote is still something that repels me; compels me to ask: “now what are YOU complaining about?”  But I digress.

Since apathy is still very much the mod, I am usually glad when people take part in politics. And I likewise welcome this change in the political atmosphere because it is better than nothing.

Now that Noynoy Aquino might be running for president, people are heralding him as the moral choice. He is Ninoy Aquino’s heir, one who will continue the 1986 EDSA Revolution legacy. Short of calling him Jesus Christ, many are saying that Noynoy Aquino will bring the moral renewal our country needs.

I don’t believe any of it.

Risking the barrage of hatemail that’s sure to follow, I give you: 5 reasons why I won’t be voting  Noynoy Aquino in 2010.

1.    He’s not Ninoy and he’s definitely not Cory. Noynoy Aquino does not have the political acumen or the fire of his father. Neither does he have (pardon the term) the tragic “winnability” of his mother. To say that Noynoy’s parentage is part of his credentials is encouraging nepotism. This skewed Filipino tradition must be stopped. If Noynoy is as ethical as he is perceived to be, he will not ride on his parents’ names to succeed politically. Indeed, he will emphasize that he is his own person…not bring People Power up every time he has the chance.

2.    They say Noynoy was pushed to the plate. That like his parents history has put him in this place. It is his destiny to stem the tide of evil in this country. But in reality, it was Mar Roxas who did the pushing. Roxas was not selfless when he did so. He was cutting his losses. He didn’t just congenially “give way” while on a winner’s roll. He conceded. He knew well enough he was on the loosing end. Rather than loose face (and spend all that campaign money); Roxas opted to “selflessly” endorse the man of the hour.

3.    The Philippines needs change. But one doesn’t need to be president to change this country. Noynoy Aquino has been elected to powerful positions twice before. How much power does one need to push for change? History has shown us dozen of people who inspired (and incited) change. Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Andres Bonifacio, Helen Keller…so many non-presidents have changed the world. How many Filipino presidents can stand up to their records? Change doesn’t come from government offices. Change comes from the willingness to serve the masses, to put others first. Change comes when people stop politicking.

4.    Corollary to my earlier point, what kind of change wil Noynoy Aquino bring, exactlyt? Our country’s problem is systemic. We are firmly entrenched in a centuries old semi-feudal and semi-colonial society. Noynoy Aquino is part of the few beneficiaries of this systemic problem. To say that he is broke or that he is not rich enough to run for president is slapping millions of impoverished Filipinos in the face. I doubt Noynoy can stand up to this systemic problem. His place in society, his political gaunt and his financial interests are firmly planted in this system. He is part of what  has enslaved countless Filipinos.

5.    Remember Hacienda Luisita. Ask yourself: wasn’t the farm workers’ uprising People Power in its most basic form? Where were the Aquinos then?  What was so ethical about letting those farmers get killed? Where was Noynoy Aquino’s moral fiber when families mourned and children starved in Hacienda Luisita? Where was the Aquino legacy then?

I am not asking people to boycott the elections because there are no worthy candidates. All I ask is for people to think hard and long.

Taking part in the elections is a start to changing the way this country is run. But it is by no means an end. What we need to ask ourselves is: “Why are we pinning all our hopes on Noynoy Aquino?”

As one song goes: “And the names and the faces of the tyrants change. But poverty, hunger and murder remains.” (The Jerks)

A new president is nothing but a new face for an old problem.

Electing a new president will not eliminate poverty. But fighting semi-feudalism in the countrysides will. Electing a new president will not free us from US imperialism. But speaking out against imperialism will.

Countless Filipinos live in poverty and dehumanizing conditions. These Filipinos have rights that must be upheld. To do so, to fight for the masses is the true moral choice. Noynoy Aquino is but one person. He is not the revolution this country needs.