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Public opinion gaining strength

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Leandro DD Coronel

Leandro DD Coronel

By Leandro DD Coronel

 

Is public opinion finally making an impact on the government’s actions?

Latest signs that the administration is starting to listen to the people are the about-face of the Department of Justice regarding the withdrawal of the criminal charges against Kerwin Espinosa and others on their alleged illegal drug activities.

Duterte allies are also discombobulated over what to do with the impeachment accusations against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. Public opinion is strongly favorable to Sereno, and no matter how they massage the charges, they still can’t come up with strong articles of impeachment to nail her.

President Duterte put a feudal model of governance to full use in Davao City when he was mayor there. He set out to use the same paradigm in his presidential stint.

But the whole country isn’t Davao. What worked in Davao would not necessarily work nationwide. Bullying tactics may work in the confined pocket of a political bailiwick. But the whole nation is too big and diverse to control.

In Davao, people there had to follow the dictates of the local ruler because there’s nowhere to run and hide. But not in a large constituency like the whole country. There are just too many pockets of resistance to contend with when dealing with the whole country.

Thus, public opinion plays an important role in checking potential abuse by the ruling power.

From the beginning Duterte set out to project an image of a tough and unbending ruler. Initially there was shock and silence. The people didn’t know how to react and handle the scare tactics.

But now there’s increasing pushback. More and more individuals and groups are speaking out, the dissent is getting louder. Even media pundits are getting bolder with their criticism.

The initial silence is being replaced with baby steps of resistance. My sense is that Filipinos are getting to the point of not letting history repeat itself. By that I mean martial law. Having experienced it before, the Filipino people are reaching a point where abuse will not be tolerated.

But I don’t think people want to plunge the country in an uncontrollable conflagration. I don’t think the people want to burn the nation down and rebuild anew.

I think what the people want is for democratic processes to remain in place that give all Filipinos access to justice and protection from the state. In short, I don’t think the people want a revolution.

The hope is that the administration will lend its ears to the people’s wants and aspirations, and not dash their hopes of enhanced democratic space for all to enjoy.

John F. Kennedy observed that “those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” I don’t think the Filipino people want to get to that point. Unless it’s necessary.

***

Tantrum Ergo. Presidential legal counsel Sal Panelo claims EDSAs I & II proved the Philippine judicial system is functioning and therefore we don’t need the International Criminal Court. Is he forgetting that dictator Ferdinand Marcos and Erap Estrada were forced out of office by people power and not by the courts? Estrada was later convicted for plunder in court but that was after he had already been deposed.

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