EDITORIAL: Drive vs Misgovernmentis Not Anti-Government



Given the numerous issues raised by the petitioners in questioning the constitutionality of the Anti -Terrorism Act, the Supreme Court decision declaring the constitutionality of two sensitive provisions leaves so much to be desired.


This is so because many other challenged provisions of RA 11479 have been declared to be constitutional, so much so that the petitioners are still questioning other provisions which are of “dangerous” nature, thereby allowing state security forces to detain suspected terrorists for up to 24 days, notwithstanding the absence of charges or court order.


Delving on the legal rigmarole is still premature. Be that as it may it is now very timely to emphasize that activism against misgovernment and abuses of those in power, through peaceful means, should forever remain not an act of terrorism. Rather it is patriotism in action.


For this reason, those vested with authority and responsibility to safeguard national security and protect law and order need to disabuse their minds from entertaining the thoughts that civic campaigns against abuses and irregularities of those in power are anti-government. Those tasked to protect the government need to conduct themselves with unadulterated loyalty to the Constitution.


With no offense to anyone not involved, there is that growing perception that some of those within the uniformed service (AFP and PNP) have their respective hidden agenda in pushing for an all-out drive focused against activists, to such extent that they no longer know the distinction between allegiance to the Constitution and the government, as against personal loyalty to erring government officials, with the end view of landing into juicy positions, or earning yet undeserved promotions.


Such overflowing ambition is the root cause of abuses by those responsible to protect national security and promote law and order.


In not a few instances uniformed personnel and officials extend blind loyalty to their civilian superiors, casting aside basic principles applicable in rendering government services conscientiously. The basic mandate to extend allegiance to the fundamental law of the land is disregarded and in the process loyalty even to the extent of effecting questionable, abusive or even in violation of due process is resorted to.


This practice has become almost the norm in contemporary events given the oft-repeated expression by President Rodrigo Duterte using the term, “sundalo ko” or “pulis ko”. As if those in uniform are under his private employ.


Gone are the days when military officials or police officers opt to enjoy their age of retirement in private. These times some prepare themselves to land into a civilian post, which sends a danger sign particularly given the fact that they used to conduct themselves while still in active service in a manner that is mission oriented, come what may.


As a consequence, once occupying a civilian position they still conduct themselves in a militaristic style.


The danger becomes more real when men and women in uniform turn their eyes upon positions of power that traditionally belong to the civilian populace. The spectacle of one holding a position that is purely of civilian character but with domineering mentality sleeps with former military men and women now occupying civilian positions is very alarming.


Their combination is a poisonous blending of autocracy in the making.