My State of the Nation Address

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Anti duterte rallyists march along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City during the third State of the Nation Address of  President Rodrigo Duterte (photo by Nonoy Lacza)

Since I can remember, I have always equated the fight for our rights and freedoms with hope. For what use would struggling for our freedoms have if hope leaves much to be desired? If pessimism and cynicism had taken root and all we could do now is show our scorn?

Little can be had by believing that our country’s redemption from poverty and corruption lies in the hands of those who brought this nation to its knees in the first place. Hope tells me that such a redemption lies in the hands of the people.

That is why we fight. And we don’t fight because we need to wrestle this future from the hands of the powers-that-be; rather we fight to convince people that our future and freedoms are in our hands and that all we need to do is acknowledge and realize them.

With little more than skin and bones to call our nation, still I will not go so far as to believe that the Philippines has no future. True, our country is suffering under one of the darkest moments in our history.

Today, the very roads Filipinos walk on rumble and break from the cries of tens of thousands who were murdered for mere suspicion. There is no way of proving if they were guilty or innocent all because they have been denied their right to due process. Should they’ve been found guilty, our Constitution still requires that they be given their day in court.

For weeks, we’ve been battered by rains, thunderstorms, and flash floods, turning our humble homes and our cities into reservoirs of floodwater and disease. Many provinces have been under a state of calamity.

Inflation and the TRAIN Law forced many Filipinos from all levels to rummage for resources and food with the little savings they have.

Our cities are crumbling due to the utter and deliberate incompetence and neglect of government who’d rather watch a Manny Pacquiao match than accomplish their mandate.

Our indigenous peoples, the lumad, are not only being forced out of their ancestral lands in favor of logging and mining industries, they are being harassed, raped, and murdered. Children are no exception.

Metro Manila is slowly being turned into a police state with thousands still held in jail for an “offense” no law can subscribe to. Children are not only caught in the crossfire of the war on drugs, many have already been murdered as mere suspects.

Drug addicts still roam and wreak havoc in our cities, drug laboratories populate villages, and drug lords set free regardless of the promise of the President to rid the country of crime in a matter of six months after assuming office.

Officials charged with corruption have been reinstalled in other government agencies while police officers with criminal records reinstated in higher positions. As of this writing, former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, once charged with plunder, is now being sworn in as Speaker of the House, to the obvious consternation of former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Laws like the Human Security Act are being amended to satisfy the tyrannical ambitions of Duterte, even going to the extent of tagging anyone who dissents as a “terrorist”.

Some in our armed forces and police units are playing footsie with the President and his minions, the latter rewarding them with cash incentives should they agree to stand as the government’s private army rather than protector of the people.

The country’s history, fragmented as it already is, is being rewritten to suit the claims and ambitions of a former dictator’s son to sit in the highest office of the land.

China’s illegal incursions are putting Filipinos under threat of invasion or being stateless.

The country is on the brink of being divided through a change to Federalist constitution—leaving us broken into smaller parts so that a united dissent, among other things, wouldn’t be possible.

A “Magna Carta for Media Workers” is purportedly being pushed to control freedom of speech and the press via the regulation of membership in the journalism profession. For now, our interview with Joel Sy Egco says otherwise.

We remain, today, under a declaration of national emergency (this administration never lifted it) with the continuing threat of a nationwide martial law if things get any worse. Problem is, this administration has been busy creating an atmosphere not only of lawless violence but of impunity.

While it is true that this administration has had some “accomplishments,” like free education and the rehabilitation of Boracay, they can never be used to justify the blood in our streets.

Yes, the Philippines is in the middle of one of the darkest moments of its history. But I and many others will not, for one moment, lose hope.

Each day, many Filipinos struggle to make sense of what is happening. They wake up each morning, already burdened by the rigors of daily living, to show their resistance against a tyrannical government in spite of the threat of incarceration or murder.

Struggle is precisely this: that we recognize, as our aspiration, the goal of enjoying our freedom while still in thick of fighting for it. Because without this continuing dream, this aspiration and hope fueled by love, then what the hell are we fighting for?

To display a defeatist attitude helps the oppressors’ goal of convincing the masses that salvation lies with those in power, not in the struggle for our rights.

There is more honor in Duterte’s supporters who hope for their President to succeed, no matter how misguided and confounded they are.

I will not mince words: to all who feel there is no hope for the Philippines, you can go ahead and rot in your own little cynical lavatory.

How dare you spit on the faces of Filipinos who choose to wake up daily only to struggle for what is theirs by constitutional right? How dare you mock Filipinos for clinging to hope, for joining the struggle and for not losing our bearing, for fighting for our homes, families and children?

We don’t need the likes of you.

Because for as long as there is one Filipino standing up against the wiles of tyranny and impunity, regardless of whether he or she will win or lose in the end, hope remains.

How many times has history attested to the ability of one person to change the course of abusive regimes?

We are many. And the protest march on the day of the SONA proved this. G



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