Friday, February 19, 2010

One of Asia's freest press is the Philippine's rambunctious, noisy press

Bohol Chronicle Editorial: To be able to live and breathe democracy, after 14 years of Martial Law, is a luxury many have often taken for granted. But we should not.

A Congress to make laws and democratically-elected LGUs to govern communities, by and large, are there to see. One of Asia's freest press is the Philippine's rambunctious, noisy press. Largely, there is freedom of expression - let us cherish that.

Philippine elections showcase this type of democracy, though sometimes marred by guns and gold that alter the outcome of the popular will. But it can pass the test.

That is why the decision of progressive groups like those under the wings of Makabayan and Akbayan, among others, to come into the open to compete in the democratic debate of ideas through election to Congress, must be respected.

It is the COMELEC, a constitutional body, which is the only entity empowered by law to accredit candidates and their parties as qualified to run for the people's mandate - not the military nor the police. These groups should be allowed to freely campaign for the people's vote.

It would be unfair to dump all of them as communist fronts since they were precisely accredited by COMELEC since they represent a marginalized constituency that renounces violence as a method for reforms and change. That's why they run for office.

Besides, the military has been specifically mandated by law to remain non-partisan in elections but just maintain peace and order. If the Army runs after rebels asking for permit-to-campaign funds - that is their sound duty. But to discredit COMELEC approved Party List groups and other candidates as "communists" is not part of their job.

Among those parties under the Makabayan wing are: Bayan Muna, Anak Pawis, Gabriela, Kabataan and ACT Teacher. Akbayan has produced some of most avid nationalist-reformists in Etta Rosales, Risa Hontiveros and Walden Bello. Communists?

They should be allowed to say their piece in the same way that Retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan of the Bantay Party List was accredited and then elected as Party List Congressman for 2007.

Palparan was given the chance to debate with the "communists" in Congress which means that is the democratic route for reform in this country. No double standard, please.

Let us be on guard because if we sleep on our sacred duties, we could lose the cherish freedoms that our heroes and the EDSA freedom warriors had fought for.

Let us cite one other example.

The raid and detention of 43 health workers doing a seminar in a resort in Morong Rizal and detained for three days - incommunicado- is a throw back to the Dark Days of Martial Law, that we should never allow to happen again.

Reports of psychological torture and sexual harassment by their captors in Camp Capinpin, Tanay have been media subject for days.

The Military defied for days the order of the Supreme Court of the land to produce the 43 victims before the Court of Appeals. Even AFP Chief Victor Ibrado and former Defense Chief and Lakas presidential candidate Gibo Teodoro were aghast at the Military's violation of a constitutional mandates by not immediately producing the victims in court.

Talk about abuse with impunity.

The Military accused some of the 43 of manufacturing bombs (during the seminar?) and as being active members of the NPA.

If that is so, why the need for interrogation and detention when the Military could just throw the book at them and jail them if indeed the Army had the goods on them?

If only some of them were suspect, why then hold the entire 43 health workers in detention -blindfolded, forced fed and mentally tortured?

Martial Law had caused us so much loss - that of our freedom and bread.

We have not regained the bread - for many are still poor - and now our precious freedom is slowly being carted away with impunity.

In Bohol, seven reformist-leaders have disappeared or died from assassins' bullets.

Today, there are talks that armed men have landed on our shores for the May 2010 elections - which can therefore become bloody.

That is the reason the Sanguniang Panlalawigan had endorsed a Motion to place the entire Bohol under COMELEC control. Fine by us, actually.

That might be the only way we can maintain the respect for democratic space on our way to national reform and progress.

No comments: