WHEN kids in the 80s play on the streets, they would chide a playmate who bend the rules by calling out, "Walay Marcosay!"
Nowadays, we adults have to watch out with a president toying with the rules and the history of our land. A president whose double-speak earns a phrase of his own: “Na-Duterte na naman.”
And this coming September 21, as we mark the 45th year of the declaration of Martial Law by the "greatest president" Marcos, Duterte does his double-speak again.
He warned that if rallies on September 21 turn violent, he will not blink by declaring a nationwide martial law. But on the next day, he said he will not stop people from joining the rallies.
He said September 21 would not be a holiday, but there would be no classes or work. But there will be a disaster drill. Then last Monday, he said September 21 will be a National Day of Protest. He even wants to join too because government workers have "meager salaries" "no equipment and no allowances".
Ano daw? This is Duterte-speak in overdrive. But more than that, this is Duterte toying again with our collective memories on Marcos and activism.
His presidency has displayed such vacillation. From proclaiming himself to be with the Left, he allowed leftist cabinets to fall prey to his rabid loyal-House who kicked the left away. Then the Makabayan bloc bolted the supermajority.
What Duterte has been consistent is his swing to the authoritarian right. From accommodating the Marcoses for the Libingan, the Marcos’ centennial and impunity against suit. Then there is his cabinet full of ex-generals.
Duterte tries to be both a leftist and a bully and it’s consistently inconsistent, and fearsome.
Now there are mixed signals this September 21. We must remember in 1972, a fake ambush triggered Martial Law. What will it be this time, a fake protest?
But let not his toying around away what September 21 really means. The fact that his last word about September 21 is a Day of Protest is a recognition of its historical truth.
This is about remembering the victims and survivors from Martial Law who suffered and fought, it means the cases against Marcos's stolen wealth are still a continuing fight.
This means all other protests are to be heard, the families fighting against the authorities' abuses of Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Double Barrel, the urban poor fighting against the demolitions in Manila, the farmers fighting against the oligarchy of landlords.
Most of all, it will be a protest of the Lumads who are losing their communities, their schools amidst the Oplan Kapayapaan and martial law that has displaced them and killed their kin. And the Moro people protesting the siege in Marawi, the "war on terror" that torn their land and identity.
September 21 shall be remembered and retold as struggles are rekindled. And to a president and a government that wants to flirt with authoritarianism, we have to let them know this is no child’s play.
Or as the kids use to say: "Walay Marcosay."
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on September 20, 2017.
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