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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Velez: Look at us now, divided and deluded

LOOK at that video, that viral one during the EdsA celebration, where Edsa-apologist-OPM icon Jim Paredes goes in-your-face ranting against members of the Duterte Youth who crashed into their rallies.

Listen to their "debate" and cringe, how Paredes in the heat of passion chide them as "duwag (cowards)," "robots" and asked them how they can support a leader who allowed 7,000 people killed in his war on drugs, and all that his opponents could muster as an answer is to say, "our place is peaceful now."

It was amusing, and painful to watch. Somehow that is what we are now. Thirty-one years after Edsa, we are a nation divided by loyalties, icons and Facebook.

We were divided before Edsa, a divide between Marcos-generals-cronies-loyalists and the people. We are still divided after Edsa. Between the oligarchs-apologists-elitists who couldn't care of people living in the slums, getting stuck in traffic, getting mugged and getting killed for standing up for one's rights. If there's class struggle, the struggle is real.

What's bad now is that we are divided, and we are deluded. We believe icons would make our lives better and how that has made a discourse over issues impossible. Look at that video again. One side argues passionately about the senseless killings, and the other simply replies, "peaceful naman barangay namin ngayon (our barangay is peaceful now)."

That kind of argument is repeated many times on Facebook threads and the barrage of answers (thanks to trolls) fails to answer the question: "Why, were things better before this war?" (false dichotomy) "16 million voters can't be wrong" (appeal to popular opinion). "You're dilawan, bayaran, Dutertard" (guilt by association), "De Lima slept with her driver, she's guilty." (poisoning the well). "What about the LRT, traffic, laglag bala? Why you didn't make a fuss?" (introducing a different argument), "Aquinos are worse, because Marcos' times were better" (fallacy of composition).

And the biggest argument now is this: "All criticisms are a plot by the Yellows to oust the president. Defend democracy by defending Duterte." That was what the Duterte Youth crashing the Edsa rally was all about. That was what the Duterte Rally was all about.

But let's get one thing clear. I don't want to be defined by both sides. One is the elitist revisionism of Edsa without making any changes for the people, except for themselves. The other hasn't made a remarkable mark for change either, and is fanning a bandwagon mentality, and a senseless divide.

Seriously, democracy is not defined by this. Democracy is when leaders listen to their people, and I think what the people want is not many likes on a Facebook meme or video. Democracy is when Luisita or Lapanday is given back to farmers, jobs and industries are giving people jobs, Lumad ancestral lands are protected from mining and plantations, young people are working and not engrossed on Facebook.

And we need to take a better look at these things that matter. Look again. Isn't this the change we want?

tyvelez@gmail.com
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