THE STATE OF NATIONAL EMERGENCY: A SETBACK IN DEMOCRACY
The declaration of a State of National Emergency through Proclamation No. 1017 by the regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on the very day of the commemoration of the EDSA People Power Revolution that dismantled the dictator Marcos 20 years ago is a great setback in democracy in the country. It was as if history was fast-backwarding itself. It was a flashback to September 21, 1972 when a corrupt autocrat declared Martial Law through Proclamation 1081. This Proclamation banned all rallies and resulted in the violently dispersal of any political action, when all political opponents and activists were picked up and arrested without warrants, and when independent newspapers were closed down. It was a time when the autocratic ruler in Malacanang Palace, could no longer cajole and deceive the people who began to withdraw their support and sovereignty from the autocrat, and so that autocrat had to rely on the sovereignty of the police and the military. The current autocrat in Malacanang palace who is now perceived by most Filipinos to have cheated her way to win the 2004 Presidential Elections after the “Hello Garci tape” scandal, is now trying to hold on to power and prevent the sovereign people from unseating her. Idealistic and uncorrupted members of the military’s officers’ corps are beginning to realize that sovereignty resides in the people and not in their illegitimate commander in chief. This is what is happening in the current political crisis in the Philippines.
Rallies and political action are now being banned. A known opposition daily newspaper was raided and closed down, the national police chief is now warning national media to follow the government’s edicts on “media discipline” otherwise they would face closure too, and opposition leaders including members of Congress are being arrested. Government or the state is not anymore defending itself; it is defending an illegitimate ruler in the eyes of the Filipino people.
We must not allow the democratic space which was hard fought and won by the blood, hardships, sacrifices and tears of the Filipino people to be snatched away from them just like that. People’s organizations and NGOs which had institutionalized people’s power over the years must remain vigilant and use creative tactics to thwart the ambitions of another Marcosian dictator in the making. And if need be, we must prepare for another, long, hard night of dictatorial rule and repression where our torches and candles will be needed by the Filipino people.
* Article by Roland G Simbulan – For a full professional background of Professor Roland G. Simbulan (Click Here)