THE Filipino people will face a very crucial mid-year elections this year. The results will determine whether the country can survive politically and economically. The 2019 mid-year elections will actually be a referendum on President Rodrigo Duterte.
I think that the two important issues that confront us as we cast our votes this year are: 1) whether we will allow President Duterte to continue in his assault on the rule of law, and 2) whether we are contented with his performance in solving (or not solving) the nation’s economic problems.
The rule of law has been under siege since President Duterte assumed the presidency on June 30, 2016. Violation of human rights has become rampant with more than 20,000 victims of extra-judicial killings of suspected drug pushers and drug addicts.
Sometime in February 2017, Amnesty International, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977, and with 7 million supporters in over 150 countries, released a report on Duterte’s war on drugs which would shame every civilized Filipino. The title of the report is “If you are poor, you are killed: Extrajudicial Executions in the Philippines’ War on Drugs.”
Amnesty International’s investigation disclosed a chilling fact that killing a suspected pusher or user meant extra money for cops. Since they are paid per dead head, “there is no incentive for arresting,” said a police officer and that extra-judicial killings are actually state-sponsored.
Duterte’s contempt for human lives and human rights is matched by his disrespect for the Constitution that resulted in the further weakening of our political institutions.
His successful ouster of then Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno through his minion, Solicitor General Jose Calida’s notorious quo warranto proceedings, his unsuccessful attempt to oust former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, and his successful incarceration of Sen. Leila de Lima are alarming signs of a looming authoritarianism.
The Achilles heel of this administration in this year’s mid-term polls is the growing economic crisis brought about by the uncontrolled rise of prices of prime commodities due to the notorious Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) law and the incompetence of Duterte’s economic managers.
The price of fuel has aggravated the hardships of the people. According to the latest survey of the Social Weather Station 52 percent of Filipinos consider themselves poor, and that 13.3 percent or an estimated 3.1 million families experienced involuntary hunger.
The issues, therefore, in this year’s polls are the survival of our democratic system and the growing economic misery of our people.
Shall we help open the door to authoritarianism? Shall we allow the rise of the prices of prime commodities to continue? On both questions, my answer is a resounding No!
I will, therefore, vote for all the senatorial candidates of the opposition and reject all those who are endorsed by the administration.--Democrito C. Barcenas