Parts of the Whole

Originally posted in my Facebook on June 13, 2009.

The recent announcement that GMA will run for Congresswoman of Pampanga in 2010, the passing of House Resolution 1109, the murder of a peasant and church leader in Negros after their Wednesday anti-Chacha rally, a military raid on a meeting of partylist groups in Isabela province on the same day, and three impeachment complaints against GMA. What do these things have in common?

Simple. They’re parts of the whole design to keep GMA in power beyond 2010. First, the motive: GMA has set a record for impeachment complaints in world history. The only thing that protected GMA was the fact that her allies dominated Congress, thus preventing any impeachment complaint to reach the Senate. Once GMA is no longer head of state, she loses immunity from criminal suits. The many corruption and human rights cases against her no longer have to pass through the needle’s eye that is Congress.

It’s a simple case of “eat or be eaten”. Unfortunately for us, GMA is not someone who will let herself be “eaten”.

GMA’s official parrots are quick to deny this. They cite as proofs GMA’s intention to run as Pampanga congresswoman, and the provision in HR 1109 which prevents it from extending the terms of elected officials. Something they conveniently forget to tell us is that a Prime Minister in a parliamentary government does not have a specific term. He/she is elected by members of the Parliament, not by voters. If GMA becomes a congresswoman of Pampanga, she can easily be elected as Prime Minister, and hence, no term limits.

Yes, we can more or less expect the tong-gresistas to keep their word: they will not pass any amendments extending the term of the President of the Republic of the Philippines. But you won’t hear any promises from them that they won’t change the form of government to a parliamentary one.

The unspoken reaction of GMA’s regime to the growing anti-Chacha protests show her equally growing desperation: Mere hours after attending Dumaguete’s own anti-Chacha rally last Wednesday, suspected military men shot peasant and church leader Fermin Lorico. At midnight, military men were also behind a raid of a meeting between officials of the Isabela province chapters of partylist groups like Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, & Kabataan. In Cavite, the police barred people from joining their local anti-Chacha protest.

II. Cyber-activism/rallies is being touted by a few as a “viable alternative” to the massive street protests required to stop Charter Change and force GMA out of power.

The benefits of such protests are many, according to their advocates. For example, it allows people from all the country and the world to participate. Just as long as you have an internet connection, you can “protest”. And it doesn’t take a lot of time and money. For example, once you join an anti-Chacha facebook cause, you’re in there for the long run. Whereas you have to spend time and money to go to every anti-Chacha rally.

A good Christian friend of mine had this to say: Would GMA step down if we all “poked” her in Facebook?

Good point. It’s doubtful that a President who ordered a campaign of systematically killing and abducting her critics, will be moved by a Facebook campaign that contains 100,000 members. It’s not purely about numbers. It’s also about the quality of numbers. The final blow to Erap wasn’t the hundreds of thousands massed up at the EDSA Shrine. It was the hundreds of thousands that stormed Mendiola and threatened to forcibly and personally evict him. The final blow to Marcos wasn’t the fact that more than a million people had surrounded the failed coup plotters. It was what that million could have done had Marcos chose to “hold his ground”.

Cyber-activism does have its benefits. But it is only a part of the whole campaign needed to stop Charter Change, or for that matter, any campaign in general. It allows us to reach out to a certain section of our society quickly and cheaply. But it doesn’t reach everyone, not even a majority. It doesn’t reach the peasants in the countryside, the urban poor in their slums, and the workers in their communities. Only the “old-fashioned” method of national democratic activists of “arouse, organize, mobilize” can reach out to these peoples.

Following the principle of “parts of a whole”, one cannot beg off joining the “parliament of the streets” by claiming he/she has an alternative way of protesting. Has anyone heard Juana Change or Gabe Mercado (as the fictional presidential candidate ‘Paquito Yu’) say that? Or Cabring and Datu’s Tribe? Or Chikoy Pura and The Jerks? Or Bobby Balingit and The Wuds? Or Jess Santiago?

No.

If they did believe in that, then they would certainly not have participated in the June 10 rally and other previous protests. But they know that their expertise leads to the decisive weapon against Chacha, not the decisive weapon itself. Their art/talent capture an audience and introduces the possibility of raising the political awareness of their consciousness. If it happens, then there is one more “street parliamentarian”. One more drop in the needed tidal wave of protest.

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