Editorial: Impunity is abuse of power

THE fact that Maria Ressa still had a platform to speak from and Pia Ranada has been allowed to speak to the President is what the masses see, and that is where the masses make their conclusion. They are right, too.

There are just things many who have the power, including the power of the pen, have taken as their entitlement because the 1986 Philippine Constitution guarantees the Freedom of the Press and of Expression.

The issue is with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the same Constitution's prohibition on foreign ownership of media operations. The issue is how Rappler tries to weave its own story by slipping in and out of the crevices in the Constitution, and telling all and sundry that they are in the right and that they should be defended.

A long time ago, when smoking was banned in all public places in Davao City, a friend from Manila asked, "Wasn't there any protest against this?"

We replied, "There were a few who challenged it, but the protest soon died down because people knew there was wisdom in it."

"Ganun lang?" the friend persisted.

"Yes."

When all kinds of pyrotechnic materials -- whether exploding or just lighting up -- were banned through an executive order Christmas season of 2001 and through a City Ordinance by 2002, very few disobeyed, and these few were arrested. Again, like the smoking ban, there were those who tried to appeal to the erstwhile Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte, asking for exemptions, asking for special arrangements, like maybe just an extension because they already bought the stocks, or allow designated fireworks area or centralized fireworks displays.

We remember too well what Duterte said over his Sunday TV program, "Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa": He will not grant any exemption because when exemptions are given then everyone will find a way to be exempted. The ban will have to apply to all, and that is how it has been ever since. As a result, not one child had lost his eyesight nor fingers nor life because of firecrackers and fireworks since then.

The greater good has been served.

It's sad, however, that in many interest groups, the media included, the greater good is very rarely the focus. It's always what's in it for us, and now that the "what" has been distributed to all and not just the powerful, wealthy, and the corrupt, the cry of the once entitled is reaching the highest decibels. That is what happens when laws are implemented in its original spirit.

Many a law has been passed, all for the greater good. But very few have been implemented, simply because the greater good is really nothing but rhetoric intended to make someone look good, but, it's not something that those used to clutching tight to power and wealth would readily abide with. For many who have reigned over the streets and the halls of power, it is unthinkable to be called on to do as what they have espoused to, expect protests. But the masses are not blind, they were just muffled, and now they know better.

Bottomline, you do not need to be as powerful as the Ampatuan clan were before the Ampatuan Massacre yanked them off from their untouchable pedestals for you to break the law with impunity. You only need to do as most Filipinos have done and the few protesting ones are still doing: ignore the laws, circumvent these, or cry injustice when called out.

For a change, let's try: Let's obey the laws.

If this does not bring the greater good, then let's all protest.
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