THE Senate today is the last bastion of democracy in this country. The Executive Department which is the most powerful of the three branches of government is under the thumb of the incumbent President. The Supreme Court is supreme only in name, having surrendered its independence to Malacañang, with its record in the case of detained opposition leader, Sen. Leila de Lima; its ouster of Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno at the behest of the Solicitor General with his infamous quo warranto proceedings instead of impeachment; its decision to allow the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani; and its decision to extend martial law in Mindanao.
Historically, the House of Representatives has always been an extension of Malacañang. Lately, under the leadership of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, it passed a resolution for charter change by removing fixed term limits of incumbent officials, and the prohibition on political dynasties; and in case of vacancy in the office of the President, allowing the Senate President, instead of the Vice-President, to succeed.
President Duterte and his minions are hell-bent in pushing for charter change and other measures that would tighten his authoritarian hold on the nation. This could be done with his complete control of the Senate after the midterm elections. This is the reason why the coming May 13, 2019 polls are very crucial to the nation.
The principle of checks and balance in a republican system of government will totally be eliminated in case a majority of the administration bets will be elected.
On the other hand, if most if not all of the opposition candidates for the Senate win, the independence of the Senate will be assured thus preventing a slide to dictatorship.
It is, therefore, imperative that we must support all the candidates of the Otso Diretso, namely, Dean Chel Diokno (defender of the poor); Samira Gutoc (peace advocate); Gary Alejano (advocate for national security); Eric Tañada (the farmers’ champion); Mar Roxas (outstanding economist); Bam Aquino (author of the free college education); Romy Macalintal (exponent of senior citizens’ rights}; and bar topnotcher Pilo Hilbay (fighter for the eradication of poverty).
Their sterling records as human rights defenders, their honesty and integrity, their unquestioned patriotism, and independence of mind will assure us of a Senate that can say NO to authoritarianism. (By Democrito C. Barcenas)