Friday, March 02, 2007

A Democracy Under Siege

The government is suppose to allow democracy to evolve and mature. But the current dispensation is actually stifling democracy. The extra-judicial killings and the harassment of its critics undermines our democracy. After Dr. Alston and the Melo report pointed to the military as culprits in the killings, there are now reports of harassment of partylist members.

In a true democracy, all ideas are welcome. But what is happening here is the hypocrisy of government. Anyone who espouses social reform is met not with understanding but with outright rejection and worse, the barrel of the gun. Our constitution assures us protection from harm and allows us to do or say as we please within the bounds of law. It also allows the representation of the different sectors of society. It assures equality among its citizens.

But what do we do when the state mocks the real essence of democracy? What do we do increasingwhen the state and the supposed protector of the people are the ones perpetrating crimes against its people? This is what is happening now. Are we to allow this culture of impunity that pervades our land?

Now even the supposed to be apolitical military is dipping its dirty hands in politics. They justify their killings in the name of insurgency. Before Sec. Nonong Cruz resigned, he and Com. Abalos of the COMELEC signed a MOA regarding the responsibilities and neutrality of the military. Apparently, Esperon just waited for the the people to settle down. With the appointment of Ebdane, the military hierarchy quickly moved and seems to have redefined the MOA.

Activists are now lumped together with the NPAs, the left-leaning partylists too are now considered enemy of the state. Dr. Alston pointed to the stifling of the partylists by the government. It seems his perception was accurate after all. Military units are now in the metropolis to intimidate members of these progressive groups. Even the media is now being shadowed by military operatives.

Is this the democracy Gloria continues to brag about? As the elections draw nearer, the killings of partylist members are escalating too. The impending signing of the Human Security Act of 2007 may soon uncloak its true intention. Now, anyone can be a target for the military death squads. The killings so far are in the far-flung areas, soon, it could be at Metro Manila's doorstep.

While many still believe the government propaganda about the Reds, it maybe too late for them to realize that we are now in a semi-dictatorial state. From the "state of denial", the government is now in a "state of justification". The AFP propaganda machine will not stop at nothing to destroy these progressive groups. They recently showed a video of Joma Sision supposedly naming, Bayan, Gabriela and LFS as communist front. The video is 20 or so years old. While it may be true 20 years ago, it certainly isn't now. The Communist Party was legalized during Pres. Aquino's time. The constitution also encourages the progressive groups to join the political mainstream through sectoral representation.

So it seems that the government must try to justify the continued killings to avoid increasing international pressure. They have to link those killed to the insurgency. This is what they want the international community to believe. We no longer live in a democratic state but one which tries to make it appear that we are. When a government suppresses and oppresses its people, then its now a dictatorship. Some of you may say hat we are free, I would question that. When journalists are either sued or killed, we cannot call it freedom. When even the youth mysteriously disappear for criticizing the government, it is not freedom. When any form of public expression/assembly is met with violent force it is not freedom. What we have is a democracy on paper not a true democracy.