Like most of you, I don’t have answers. I only have questions. I ask them all the time, increasing in frequency and frustration. Like you, I am emboldened because I know that I am asking the right questions. I know that I am holding the right people accountable. I know that I am being force-fed information that is false. I know when I am being lied to, when my taxes are being stolen, when the very people sworn to protect me are the same ones who are out to get me.
And just like you, I feel helpless because no one seems to give a flying f**k about it.
It has only been 1.5 years since President Duterte came to power. I think many of us will agree that this is 1.5 years too long. The others who don’t, well, I quite frankly don’t know why that is. You don’t have to support the President or hate him to see what is going on. The police are dirtier than ever, killing alleged criminals and innocent teenagers like flies. Meanwhile, a man accused of smuggling billions of pesos worth of drugs gets to defend his innocence, simply because he is the son of the most powerful man in the land. The opposition is smeared for their plots to overthrow the administration — never mind that these “plots” seem to exist in the same dimension as George R.R. Martin’s next book. (Sorry, GRRM.) Meanwhile, a bureaucrat in a wig is caught shamelessly plotting the downfall of a political enemy, then claims that he’s been wiretapped simply because their smartphone fonts are at 72-point Helvetica. Early this week, the House of Representatives defunded three government agencies — including the Commission on Human Rights — and reduced their budgets to a laughable P1,000. Meanwhile, Oplan Tokhang was awarded P900 million to “reload” its drug war operations.
I wish I could tell you that there is comfort to find amid all of this. I wish that all the crazy things I’ve just mentioned didn’t happen in the last month. I wish I could say that these are the only bad things happening in our communities, that we didn’t just honor a dictator’s birthday, or that we awarded a billion pesos to a public entity that never bothered to learn what the Labor Department’s logo is. I wish I could say that things were any better in the previous administrations, that we were never lied to before or robbed of our hard-earned money. I wish that we didn’t have reasons to be so goddamn angry anymore.
We can’t afford that kind of privilege these days, I’m afraid. We can no longer hide in our comfortable homes and pretend that none of this is happening. We can’t afford to be silenced after being accused of being pro- or anti-government, just because other people (read: older people) think there is no place for us in politics. It is not a time to hide nor should we regress to our old, ignorant ways.
Our generation was born with a power that the old guard didn’t realize we could wield: information. As much as the word grosses me out, we have the ability to be — sorry in advance — woke. We ought to use it to our advantage. We have the power to make them realize that they are just as vulnerable as they make us feel, because we have an eye on every dirty trick up their sleeves. To paraphrase writer Alan Moore, why should we be afraid of the government, when the government should be afraid of us?
Like I said, I don’t have answers, only questions. So now, I pose this challenge: what do we do? The first step, I believe, is anger — either stay there or get there. Channel that rage into holding those in power accountable. Contact your representatives; demand that your voice be heard. Speak up in the face of injustice, stand up for those who cannot do so themselves. I can’t guarantee that this will be easy, and there are days — many days — when our efforts will feel worthless. Even when we feel like winning, sometimes it will feel like no one gives a f**k anyway.
That is not true. We do. So tell them.