By Leandro DD Coronel
Anti-Duterte elements in society are hoping the killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos at the hands of the police will jog us back into consciousness and rise up against the budding dictatorship in our country.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas has instructed the parish priests in his jurisdiction to have their church bells rung every day as a protest against the EJKs. Antonio Cardinal Tagle, too, has called on the flock to protest the killings.
But, what about other civic and professional leaders? The lawyers, doctors, teachers, and others? The various civic organizations, like the Rotary Club, Jaycees, and others have been silent. Protest from the academe has been sporadic.
The Philippine Bar Association has been notably quiet. Despite the apparent violations of the law by the police, and indeed the chief executive for siccing the police on drug suspects, the country’s lawyers have not protested, or at least reminded the administration, that they are flirting with obstructing the law.
The same applies to the President’s pledge to pardon policemen found guilty by the courts. Indeed Duterte has expressed satisfaction over the killing of 32 people by police in a single week, and wants more of the same. Sensing the broad disgust over Kian delos Santos’ murder, Duterte has stated erring cops will be thrown in jail. Belated consolation, and probably an empty one, after the thousands of killings before Kian.
In reaction to the killing of Kian, leaders of the Catholic Church are calling for prayers for enlightenment, both of the people and also the people in government.
But prayers and ringing of bells are inadequate to bring sense to a blood-thirsty President. This President is a bully, and mere words don’t scare bullies. In fact, Mr. Duterte has dared activists to go out into the streets and protest all they want, and it wouldn’t bother him.
As the nursery rhyme goes: “Sticks and bones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It will take more than words from prelates to scare this President. It will take more than street rallies to unnerve him.
For reasons of his own, Duterte has opted to divide rather than unite us. And he’s been able to impose his will on us so far. But how long can he have his way? It will depend on whether we Filipinos have learned our lesson from the Marcos dictatorship or whether we’re all cowards behind the bluster.
I’ve said in this column that four sectors will be key in the coming months: The Catholic Church, which has been speaking out but mutedly; the academe, which has to provide the intellectual rationale versus Duterte and provide the warm bodies in street ferment; the media, which has been co-opted by Duterte so far; and the military, which is still struggling with its dilemma of whether to obey an autocratic leader or move against him when the right time comes.
Civil society seems to be experiencing protest fatigue. The Left, as it did in the past, vacillates between militancy and cooperation. Has Duterte hoodwinked them to submission? Meanwhile, mainstream political leaders are steadily creeping into irrelevance for their inaction.
The people are increasingly feeling angry over Duterte’s unfulfilled promises, incoherence, and profane ways. What about the 16 million who voted for him, how many of them have realized they made a mistake?
Duterte is a bully who will not change his ways. He’s too hard-headed and too proud to change and accept the error of his ways and means.
Will the Filipinos quietly accept the tag of being cowards again? Or will they somehow find their courage and tell Duterte, “Enough is enough!”
Tantrum Ergo. Senators are outraged over the killing of Kian delos Santos. The EJKs have been happening in our midst for the past year and they’re just concerned now? Or, are they just making pretend they’re indignant?