What is Happening Here?



“Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” These are lines from “For What it’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield, a protest song in 1967.

What is happening here? My chest hurts and I don’t like it. I get the same feeling when a suspense movie reaches its climax and the antagonists seem to be getting the upper hand. It’s different when the same happens in real life. I could only take in a deep breath and exhale a sigh of resentful helplessness.

Maria Ressa along with Rappler writer, Reynaldo Santos have been convicted with cyberlibel. The technicalities have been successfully driven around to get Ms. Ressa incarcerated. For so long a time, stones have been continually thrown against Ressa and Rappler. People who don’t like the Rappler head have pulled out all justifiable junk from Pandora’s box to toss at her. All previous assaults she have effectively dodged. There was even a time when she was arrested just before her flight was about to take off. Then she posted bail soon after. But this time, I guess they have managed to find the right weapon to have her locked up.

What is happening here? Despite a Senate resolution for NTC to definitely grant provisional franchise to ABS-CBN, the agency still managed to have the network shut down. Now, as Congress deliberates on the company’s license to broadcast on free TV, all joust that can be considered justifiable are laid (which sometimes veers to personal and preposterous); seemingly saying ‘no’ to whatever the applicant may say or do.

What is happening here? In the middle of Covid-19 and its economic repercussions, when economic policies could be realigned, public transport needs assistance, chain of infection needs to be contained and a long list of potential policies could be passed for the nation’s recovery, the government deems it higher priority to pass legislation against supposed terrorists or those who make stands against the state. While Covid cases are climbing closer to thirty thousands, industries are hurting, public basic education is at a loss, our leaders are more concerned with anti-terror law.

What is happening here? In the early part of the quarantine, NBI had its investigation set on Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto for allowing tricycles to transport passengers around his city, under the rationale of prevention of infection. Later, a high ranking police official slides off with his birthday party which could have instigated infection. Some months prior, Vice President Leni Robredo was assigned as drug czar and removed from position in less than a month. I have never seen the government made a playground of public service for whims and caprices. I’m actually surprised that they seemed to have stopped harassing her.

That which is happening here has been happening way back farther than recent memory. Former Sen. Bong Revilla has been acquitted and released from prison despite confirmation of PDAF from him going to fake NGOs. Many Filipinos seem to have forgotten of the greatest mockery of the judiciary branch of the government when then Chief Justice Sereno was expelled from position due to a minor technicality and a rare legal maneuver. Let us remember the first one that they hit. Former Justice Secretary and Sen. Leila de Lima has been in prison for almost as long as the current administration has been in position. Through these events, current OWWA Administrator Mocha Uson has been jumping government agency head positions; although her credentials for which may raise eyebrows.

I grew up through EDSA Revolution and in the last years of the Cold War. Even as a child, it had been a comforting thought that I had grown up in the side of democracy, allied with the free side of the Iron Curtain, after Martial Law, in which opponents operating under the rule of law are safe from political persecution, legal enterprises are allowed to operate without harassment, public officials who perform well are respected despite being affiliated from different parties, cronies became a negative term for friends, appointment to government positions are esteemed with solemn deference, the institutions of government and fundamental rights are respected despite opposing stands and opinions; because those are simply embedded in a democracy.

Which would you rather have? A wolf in sheep’s clothing or a wolf in its own clothing? Would you choose that a suspected wolf be devouring among us, yet could be comforted with the benefit of the doubt that it’s actually stray sheep gone rogue? Would you choose that a wolf plainly reveal itself for what it is?

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3