Thursday, September 29, 2005

Martial Law's here

We need to speak. We need to shout.We need to oppose.

We need to depose GMA and her cohorts.



by Conrado de Quiros
There's The Rub, Sept 29, 2005


I don't know if it's just me, but don't you find anything odd about the decision of Malacañang to protest the grilling of National Security Adviser Noberto Gonzales by the Senate?

If you recall, Gonzales was caught with his pants down-my apologies for spoiling your breakfast with that figure of speech-selling the country to, well, if not the enemy, to an American lobby group named Venable. Venable was supposed to lobby the US Congress to fund Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's plan to change the Charter. Last we looked, of course, the Charter was still an exclusively Filipino matter and the United States was not part of the Philippines. Apparently, the national security chief thought we had annexed that country while the world slept.
At the Senate hearing, the senators heard nothing. That was because the national security chief said nothing, figuring his own security, and that of his boss, was in dire peril. Either that or he was scared that the senators might find out he was no more the guardian of this country's security than his namesake Raul Gonzalez was the guardian of this country's justice, than the bishops were the guardian of this country's morality. Or he might have remembered Mark Twain's famous aphorism that it is better to keep your mouth shut and look like a fool than to open it and confirm the fact.

Gonzales has committed a monumental -- well, the official term is -- "lapse in judgment," by asking the US Congress to help us write our fundamental law; Gonzales has lapsed into a profound silence concerning a matter that threatens the security of our nation; Gonzales has delivered a master stroke by suffering a minor stroke. And whom does Malacañang want to punish for this?

The senators.

Astounding as that is, there is something even more astounding. That is not the fact that many commentators on TV and radio and the newspapers are enthused by the sagacity of this thought, agreeing wholeheartedly that Malacañang's move champions the separation of the branches of government. It is not the fact that many lawyers in this country are full of praise for the wisdom of this thought, arguing earnestly that Malacañang's move champions the rule of law. It is not the fact that many bishops and businessmen are full of whatever and find absolute merit in this thought, thundering that at last we are glimpsing the light of reason amid the chaos.
What is most astounding is that you, the citizens, find this the most natural thing in the world. I take this by your silence. As profound as Gonzales being struck dumb by the march of truth, or the seriousness of Joker Arroyo -- whichever he found more terrifying. I take this by your inaction. As staggering as the bovine indifference of animals being led to the slaughter or the unfathomable stillness of the cosmos -- whichever is the more mind-boggling.

Gonzales' lapse in judgment is but the latest in a series of lapses in judgment that is causing this country to lapse into a coma. Individually, these lapses in judgment do not just gnaw at the foundations of democracy, they strike down the foundations of decency. Yet, you stand by and do nothing. Ms Arroyo lies about not running again, and you do nothing. Ms Arroyo cheats you of your vote, and you do nothing. Ms Arroyo steals your right to gather to protest, and you do nothing.

I don't know which scares the hell out of me more, the period before martial law or today. At least before martial law, one worried only about what Marcos would do. One worried what new and devious plot he was hatching in his tortuous brain. One worried what whole new dimensions of oppression he was bent on springing on an unsuspecting public. Today, one worries not just about what Ms Arroyo would do, what new threshold of good manners and right conduct she will overstep. Today, one worries as well about what you, the citizens, will not do. One worries about what new slap in the face you will be willing to take, what new imposition you will be willing to suffer.

People have been warning loudly that if Ms Arroyo makes the mistake of declaring martial law, she will have doomed herself, this country will not take it sitting down. I am not so sure about that.
At the very least, that is so because you learn to live with new levels of intolerance each day, saying what else is new, that is to be expected from Ms Arroyo, and you will get the worst and not find anything new in it. People do get inured to flogging, the hides on their backs thicken, and they do not feel anything anymore when the whip bites into their flesh. That is how tyranny flourishes. All it takes is to reconcile yourself with the first lie or act of injustice. The rest follows easily.

At the very most that is so because I don't know that you will recognize martial law when it stares you in the face. If even your bishops have lost the faculty to see the truth about Ms Arroyo's illegitimacy, notwithstanding the "Hello Garci" tape, notwithstanding her apology, and notwithstanding God's writing on the wall ("Signs of the Times," I recall, was the title of their pamphlet during Marcos' time, resonating with prophetic vision), then I wonder if you haven't too. As it is, martial law has already crept up on us. In lieu of a muzzled press, a bought one; in lieu of civil liberties, banned rallies; in lieu of spreading fear, eroding values; in lieu of justice, the law of the Firm; in lieu of "vox populi, vox Dei," "vox Aroyo, vox Garci." And you do see nothing.

There is only one thing worse than being silenced, and that is being mute. There is only one thing worse than being blinded, and that is being blind. There is only one thing worse than chafing at your chains, and that is loving them.

There is only one thing worse than Ms Arroyo ruling by fiat. That is a people not caring that she does.

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