The Right to Remain Silent
I am glad that the military incident and the subsequent proclamation of PP 1017 two weeks ago emboldened those of you, who previously stayed on the sidelines, to share your convictions. There are 2 emails making the rounds – “Why we are not out in the streets” and “Galing sa isang Middle-Class Pinoy” that are quite interesting.
I appreciate why people can identify with these email messages. I felt the same way during the days prior to EDSA 1. I was a middle manager at that time, trying to build a career, and when I saw the likes of Cory side by side with the reds pushing the economy to the brink as they began calling for civil disobedience, I was indignant. I told everyone I knew who participated in such exercise that it was sheer foolishness... that it was bringing the economy down. And that if they would only stop, then we can all go about our business of building up our careers, our personal fortunes, and by extension, the economy. Hard work is the key. Politics was just a necessary evil.
I did not know and didn't mind the extent of pillage of our national treasury that Marcos and his cronies committed, nor the extent of human rights violations, including disappearances, happening around me. Really, it did not affect me directly, so I did not care.
And then EDSA 1 happened. People, led mostly by the middle class, came out. I was there, too, for 2 days, celebrating with the rest of the nation the end of a dictatorship, conveniently forgetting that only a few days before, I was all too willing to let Marcos rule forever, a bit embarrassed to be called a hero of EDSA, for simply being there.
EDSA 2 followed a similar path. While a committed few fanned the flames of discontent, the middle class waited on the sidelines until the opportune time to push the envelope proving once again that people power is a middle-class act. EDSA 3 only reinforced the idea. It failed because the middle class was conspicuously absent.
And now you tell us to stop the protests, because you have no intention of coming out to the streets and therefore people power will fail. You may be right – people power could fail. But that should not give you comfort, for it only opens up other forms of revolt – a peasant revolution, a military rebellion, or a communist takeover. When you have more than half of the people living in abject poverty, a restive military, and an oppressive regime – it’s a social volcano just waiting to erupt. And this time, it could be bloody.
You ask us why can’t we just redirect our energies towards building up the economy through productive work, like you do, instead of disruptive protest actions. You might be surprised to know that this is not a full-time job for us. Like you, we have a business to run or a job we try to keep. Beyond work, there are many in our ranks who are involved in civic projects through Rotary, Gawad Kalinga, and NGOs – trying to help in alleviating the conditions of our poor. So, please… you don’t have an exclusive claim to doing good for this nation, much less to patriotism.
You accuse us of being fools for allowing ourselves to be used by the leftists, Erap and Marcos forces, and other unscrupulous politicians to advance their agenda. We are not as naïve as you think. We recognize that it is Erap’s right to dream of one day regaining his lost glory just as it is the leftists’ right to push their ideology within the bounds of law. In the same manner, we recognize it is your right to express your willingness for your basic rights and freedom to be curtailed or to settle for a president who is a cheat, a thief, and an oppressor. We may not agree with any of you, but we do not get angry like you do, when people espouse views different from ours. Such is the way of democracy. It is the same democracy that gives us the right to think of you as the bigger fools, for allowing yourselves to be used by GMA to prop up her repressive regime.
And now that you have finally decided to speak up, you claim to represent the silent majority. Where did you get this idea? The majority could be silent, but they do not necessarily share your sentiments. At least when we claim that 80% of our people believe GMA cheated and 54% wants her out, we have the surveys to back our claims. Whether or not they will act on what they believe in is another story. Soon – when the flurry of mail forwards bottom out - you will discover as we have, that this nation is hopelessly divided. And that is how GMA intends to keep it in order to cling on to power.
How, then, do we move forward?
If you, the middle class, sincerely believe that the future of this nation is in your hands, then I urge you to arise now, be heard, and take the lead. If you believe GMA staying on is the best option for our country today, then I call for leaders to rise among you, and organize yourselves to act on your belief. Lobby your congressmen to ban protests. Tell your president of your unequivocal support, regardless of her alleged cheating and thievery. Go to the streets in thousands, if not millions. But do something. Put your money where your mouth is… because forwarding email messages around and wishing the protests away will not make it happen.
If, on the other hand, you share our convictions that GMA must go, then join us now and be counted. There’s an easy way to do this through our Black Friday Protest Movement. Just visit www.blackfridayprotest.blogspot.com or send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a regular bulletin from us. You may also forward this email to friends and colleagues and urge them to join us now.
Whichever side you are in, the important thing is to come out and be counted. The time to act is now. For if you continue exercising your right to remain silent – pretty soon, it will be the only right left for us as citizens.
God bless and God save this country.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for some good men to do nothing."
- Edmund Burke