"The coming elections is an opportunity for the people to strongly assert our power to direct our country."
2019 may spell a difference in how the country is being administered if the electorate uses its right of suffrage responsibly and intelligently. The midterm elections in May is of paramount importance if Filipinos want to reverse the trajectory the country is headed led by this administration.
Major challenges beset us. The 1987 Constitution, the basic law of the land, may be thrown to the trash bin and replaced by one crafted solely by vested interest groups whose interest is not only to effect a shift in our system of government to federalism, but also to weaken guarantees of the people’s human rights, and further strengthen the ruling class’ control on government power.
Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 15 authored by Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been endorsed to the plenary of the House of Representatives (HOR) for consideration. This document, apart from changing the form of government to federal, has removed the term limits for congresspersons and senators. This means that they can run for office and stay in their positions until kingdom come.
Moreover, the Arroyo draft Constitution does not have any provision against political dynasties unlike the present Constitution that explicitly prohibits the reign of political families and clans. Even the Duterte-appointed Consultative Committee’s (ConCom) draft Constitution provides for some regulation (though not prohibition) of political dynasties.
Clearly, lawmakers pushing for RBH 15 want to stay in power perpetually. Needless to say, if their draft Constitution is approved, our democracy will be significantly weakened.
We need government functionaries who will protect the present Constitution and our democratic gains.
President Duterte’s war against drugs continues to kill people, mostly the poor. Journalist Inday Espina-Varona, in a Facebook post said that under Duterte, more than 27,000 people have been killed. Included here are 12 mayors and 6 vice mayors; 172 farmers; 3 priests; 34 lawyers; and 12 journalists. The list grows daily as killings continue.
The scariest thing is, many of those who perished died in the hands of the very people mandated to protect them – the police. Life in this country has become very cheap. It seems that everyone has access to guns. With a president who, in his speeches encourages violence and killing, this culture of violence is further strengthened.
Very sadly, it seems that people are becoming accustomed to the killings that the public outrage and protests are weakening.
We need people in government who will go against this penchant for killing. We need public servants who will protect our right to life.
China continues to occupy and militarize parts of our territory. We are losing what we own, and what we won. Duterte’s administration does not seem to mind that our sovereignty is blatantly violated and disrespected by a country our President considers as his friend.
We cannot just stand by and allow our country to be occupied right under our noses. We need to put in position people who will protect our land and waters. We need leaders who will exhaust all means to stop China’s occupation of the West Philippine Sea.
The freedom of the press and our right to free expression are being repressed. We continue to see how legitimate media organizations are threatened with lawsuits and non-renewal of franchises. The former Chief Justice who stood up to strong-arm tactics was removed via a very questionable means.
Even elected officials are hounded and put to jail. Senator Leila de Lima remains behind bars. Another critic, Senator Antonio Trillanes is harassed continually.
Duterte’s men are moving heaven and earth to also put him in jail.
Without freedom of the press and free expression, democracy will die. We will be like robots or servants who will follow and believe whatever is told us.
Our human rights are sacred. They dignify our humanity. However, our Constitutionally guaranteed rights are being consistently disrespected and eroded. Women are subjected to blatant misogynist remarks from no less than the highest official of the land almost on a daily basis. This president is single-handedly destroying the gains achieved by Filipino women through hard work for many decades.
Moreover, human rights defenders and advocates are vilified by this administration in an attempt to intimidate them into silence.
We need government officials who will champion our people’s rights. We need progressives who will fight with the women in the protection of our rights.
Philippine economy has significantly deteriorated. Capital flight is real. Our foreign debt has ballooned significantly. The value of the peso continues to go down, and inflation rates remain high. The poor continue to be poor, and many of those in the middle class complain of the high cost of living.
The Filipinos’ quality of life is not improving. With the impending implementation of TRAIN 2, it is hard to be economically optimistic this year.
We need to put in position people who will seriously look after the people’s welfare and work to put in policies that will help improve our lives.
Much rests on the choices that the Filipino electorate will make come the midterm elections. If people want to retain our democratic gains, restore faith in our justice system and the police, protect our sovereignty, respect human rights, particularly women’s rights, improve our quality of life, and overall change the country’s course, we need to be very careful in who to vote for.
The coming elections is an opportunity for the people to strongly assert our power to direct our country.
The Senate is particularly important because it is the body that can possibly thwart the threat of Charter Change, oppose repressive policies, protect our independence and sovereignty, promote human rights, and put in place laws that will look after people’s welfare.
We need principled and progressive senators who know and are capable of doing the work. We need to make the right choices. Vote for the Filipino people. Vote Philippines.
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