We acknowledge that there are citizens who are no fans of the present dispensation, who are as outraged over what’s going on as the rest, but who question whether rallies are worth it. What of the economic dislocation, the traffic, and the discomfort rallies cause, they ask?
We do not know of any functioning democratic country – whether the United States, the United Kingdom, France or South Korea or even Japan – where the exercise of fundamental freedoms is questioned instead of the officialdom that has provoked public protest. Protests must be peaceful, but they are not a picnic. Nor should they be, for they are meant to serve notice to our rulers that an issue has so captured the public imagination that it cannot be ignored.
What’s more, in this particular case, the country must be called upon to reflect on the price it will pay, if it sets aside protest today on the pretext that it’s not worth it to be inconvenienced. Consider the supposed irritation a well-publicized, peaceful rally could possibly cause compared to the non-stop inconveniences an emergency situation arising from a constitutional crisis will create.
Today is the beginning of a public appeal. That appeal will manifest itself in weekly actions throughout the country, culminating in a nationwide noise barrage on the weekend before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delivers what should be her final State of the Nation Address.
The young, in particular, will be taking center stage today, which is as it should be. Their idealism still untarnished, and their spirit still uncorrupted by the avarice, cynicism, and blasa mercenary calculations of their elders in the House, they will do as Pippin the Hobbit did in that famous scene from “The Return of King.” After Pippin bravely climbs a cliff to light one of the seven signal-beacons between Gondor and Rohan, Gandalf exclaims, “Hope is kindled!”
And so should it be tomorrow, as hope is rekindled by means of the protests in the cities of Makati, Quezon, Bacolod, Iloilo and Davao, and in Bohol. A series of signal-beacons will warn the public that the forces of darkness are gearing up to march. We can only hope that The People will thunder a response as determined as King Thaoden’s, when he saw the signal-beacons aflame. “And Rohan,” he said, summoning the riders of his kingdom, “will answer!”
Twenty from the National Capital Region (NCR). Five from the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). Eleven from the Ilocos Region. Six from Cagayan Valley. Seventeen from Central Luzon. Thirteen from Calabarzon. Five from MIMAROPA. Ten from the Bicol Region. Fourteen from Western Visayas. Eleven from Central Visayas. Twelve from Eastern Visayas. Six from the Zamboanga Peninsula. Eight from Northern Mindanao. Eleven from the Davao Region. Four from SOCCSKARGEN. Seven from CARAGA. Six from ARMM. Five from party-lists.
My fellow electorate, let us exercise the same persistence at getting through to our congressmen as our congressmen exercised in getting this bill passed in the Lower House. Let us find a way to get in touch with them. Visit them. Text them. E-mail them. Snail-mail them. Send them smoke signals. Let us let them know that we – their constituents – believe that their actions should reflect our will. Let them know that we have just much a stake as they do in our shared political future, and maybe even more.
We appeal to you, our dear 172 congressmen, please do not push through with the constituent assembly in July. Because if we careen down this path, the ending to this political flashpoint might turn out like the latest film by Brillante Mendoza.