I, Filipino citizen  

Posted by Laya in

I, Filipino citizen, taxpayer, blogger and patriot, herein hereby invoke my rights under Article III of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, which is valid and subsisting at the time of this writing, and until amended or revoked by the proper authorities. I specifically invoke my rights, under Section 4 of said Article III, to my freedom of speech, of expression, of the press, as well as the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. I as well specifically invoke my right under Section 7 of the same article, to information on matters of public concern. I invoke these rights not only in my own name, but also in the name of my fellow citizens.

Last night, literally at the eleventh hour, the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 1109 calling for a constituent assembly to amend the 1987 Constitution, without the participation of the Senate. At first, they barred the media from sitting in on the deliberations, then later, when it was too late, allowed them to enter. There were no representatives from mainstream media to cover what had happened; only reports from those bloggers who had managed to attend the proceedings. Were it not for them, we would not have known the details of what transpired that night. We would have known the bare bones of what had happened, yes, the parts they wanted us to know. But what about the parts they would not have told us about?

Dear legislators, why are you so eager to hide your actions? You know why many of us do not want the amendments that you propose to the Constitution. Why should we allow foreigners to own land in this country, when many of our farmers do not even have land of their own to till? We could not compete with them financially. Should we wake up, then, to a day when we find that we are considered squatters in our own homeland?

The issue on foreign ownership of Philippine land is only one of the reasons. We do not want the Charter Change that you are pushing because we suspect that it will be used to further purposes that are inimical to the public interest and the public good. Last night, you only gave a token nod to opposition before you went ahead and did what you wanted anyway. To make matters worse, you completely disregarded the fact that you are not the only house in Congress. You want a constituent assembly in order for the Senate to vote jointly with you on the issue, which would completely negate their existence as your co-equal house.

Today, you are telling us that what you did doesn't matter because it will die anyway. You assure us that your little exercise was just the creation of a “justiciable controversy.” Controversies may be decided one way or the other, right? According to you, it has been created. There is, then, a 50 percent chance that the decision is in your favor, as good odds as any. And you tell us soothingly not to worry. We should not be concerned about it.

It is our right to be concerned. It is our future at stake. It is the future of our children. It is our voice that should be heard, not silenced. The days of the rajahs and the datus, the dons and the senyors, who made decisions, gave edicts, and expected the peasants to follow them, are long gone. You officially obtained your positions not through some accident of heredity, but through the votes of your constituents. We are not your peons and your villeins, nor your timawa and alipin; we are the people who made it possible for you to be where you now are. When we speak, you have the obligation to listen, when we ask you for the truth, it is your obligation to give it, because you owe your positions to us. The taxes that are deducted from the money that should feed and educate our families pay for your salaries in Congress, and that of your staff, as well as for the upkeep of your offices and your jaunts abroad. Those same taxes pay for your pork barrels, as well as for the projects that you sponsor, as well for the kickbacks that some of you might receive. If there is anyone who should feel entitlement, it is us, not you.

Instead of listening to us, however, you persist in going ahead and doing what you want. You say one thing and then do another, and expect us to accept your inconsistencies. To make matters worse, you are proposing to muzzle us little by little, on the pretense of fair play. Our journalists and activists are hunted down and killed for daring to speak out, and no real efforts are made to obtain justice for their deaths. Now that we ordinary citizens are turning to the blogosphere, your Right to Reply bill, once passed, would also impose penalties on us for saying what we think, when you do not even have to include us in that bill, for our blogs have the right of reply already built into them in the form of comments.

Dear legislators, why is it so important that we be kept dumb and ignorant? Is it because, once all of the people know that power in this country is vested in them and not in you, you would lose your privilege to act with impunity? We do not need you to extend your terms. We are looking for what you should have done in the terms that you already had.

Our people barely have enough to feed and educate their children. Many have no jobs; many of those who have jobs are not happy because they are not working in the fields that they really want. Our schools are sadly lacking in books, our public clinics lacking in medicine and personnel. Many of our farmers have no land, and can barely afford to buy seed, fertilizers and pesticides, let alone farm machinery. Many families have no homes of their own, either due to natural calamities, war, or plain poverty. Are these not important enough issues for you to tackle, instead of scandals and jaunts? Where are the programs for agriculture and small entrepreneurs that are badly needed? Where are the laws on women's rights, on gender rights, on reproductive health? Why do our people need to go abroad and hire out as servants to other nations just to give their families better lives?

We do not need you to tell us what you may have possibly done, dear legislators. We do not even need you to show us. We just have to look at our country as it is today, and the state of our land and our people speak more volumes than your words. Right now, you do not need to change the Constitution, or the system. You are the ones that should be changed.

Note: A list of the legislators who endorsed HR 1109 can be found here.

Photo 1 by °м!мoji° on flickr; copyrighted.

Photo 2 by ossiak on flickr; CC License BY-NC-ND-2.0.

This entry was posted at Wednesday, June 03, 2009 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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