Ang Pahayagang Malaya
It’s about time the fight against the plot of Gloria Arroyo and her allies in the House to amend the 1987 Constitution be brought to the streets. The people are overwhelmingly against tampering with the Charter at this time. The efforts to railroad changes by the House, specifically via constituent assembly sans the participation of the Senate, are patently unconstitutional.
Gloria and her allies, however, are no longer open to honest dialogue and reasoned arguments. They have a demonstrated history of disrespecting the Constitution, violating the laws and transgressing moral norms. It is wishful thinking to expect them to start playing the game by the rules in the twilight of their reign.
The organizers of today’s anti-Charter change rally in Makati are correct. The people must send Gloria and her allies a message via the only language they know. She was carried into Malacañang on the shoulders of the people who had had enough of the abuses of Joseph Estrada. She should be reminded that the people could bodily carry her out of Malacañang just as well.
We understand that some sections of the broad anti-Arroyo alliance are worried that carrying the fight to the streets might be premature. The rally might not attract enough warm bodies. Such a “failure,” it is feared, might only further embolden Gloria and her confederates.
Such attitude is self-defeating. Today’s rally might not be attended by the people in the hundreds of thousands. But such a “failure” should be viewed as just a dress rehearsal for more actions to come. At the height of the “Hello Garci” scandal, the mass actions calling for Gloria’s resignation were as widely attended as those mounted against Estrada in the months immediately preceding his ouster. The difference was that Gloria had no compunction in unleashing the full might of the police and the military against protesters.
She followed this up with additional measures – the preempted calibrated response and the declaration of a state of emergency, among them – aimed at sustaining her crackdown against dissenters.
No doubt Gloria would do the same if and when street protests reach a critical mass that would threaten her rule. But if there is any lesson to be learned from history, it is that repression should be met with heightened defiance. The alternative – to keep silent – is to be complicit to the very crimes committed against us.