I COULD not help but feel a surge of emotion while I surfed the Net yesterday and made sense of yesterday’s protest actions, both in Cebu and nationwide. In a way, President Rodrigo Duterte hit the bulls eye with his hastily cobbled National Day of Protest declaration. Yesterday was truly that, and more.
The surge of emotion came from both the remembrance of a past struggle while viewing the images of the present one and the realization that every generation always have a segment willing to rise up to a challenge and doing it on its own terms. Now the people are speaking up and battling impunity and that’s good.
The rain fell hard in Cebu yesterday afternoon but because a group or two held the protest action separately, some were able to complete their activities before the streets got flooded. Some of my friends and acquaintances, many of them younger than me, joined the protests. I know they were not able to join the rallies of the ‘80s so I am glad they are experiencing now what we experienced before.
In Metro Manila, what caught my attention was the participation of the academe, which means that students were at the forefront of the activities. It was almost like in the early ‘80s when the anti-Marcos movement was still in its nascent phase. When the youth is involved in protest actions, the struggle has the potentials to expand and strengthen.
What I could see from yesterday’s activities is that the political opposition, civil society and the militants are slowly regaining their form and advancing once more the causes that are being assaulted since Duterte took office. But this is just the beginning. Even then, the notice was already served on the Duterte administration: the days of its strutting around like a peacock may be over.
It wasn’t House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who announced the Lower Chamber’s (pun intended) decision to restore the budgets of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples but Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, chair of the House Committee on Appropriations. But I would have liked to see Alvarez make it.
Alvarez is the classic fly that thinks he is a carabao because it is perched on the animal’s back. He caught the ire of well-meaning people who lambasted the House’s ill-advised move to give a P1,000 budget to the CHR and the two other agencies for 2018. I would have wanted to see his face while announcing the recent turnaround.
The way out for the House majority led by Alvarez is supposedly the fact that the heads of the three agencies appealed for the restoration of their budgets. But who would believe them? The truth is that the condemnations of their decision were already too much for them to bear. Besides, they probably didn’t want the Upper Chamber (again, pun intended) to get the praise on this one. Senators have announced their intention to push for the restoration of the CHR budget.
I say the turnaround can be described as a slap on the face of the arrogant. Again, with the people no longer cowed, the days of this administration strutting around like a peacock may be over.