When I was in college, I joined the League of Filipino Students (LFS), a group known for protesting against state injustices and fighting for the rights of the poor and marginalized Filipinos. It never felt like it was a good fit for me.
During discussions about how certain laws were supposed to be unjust, I found myself being the devil’s advocate. I would always argue for the debated law and how it could be beneficial if only it were implemented properly. I further affirmed that I was wrong for the movement on the first rally that I attended when we had not even gone beyond University Ave in UP Diliman and I thought, “Ay, ang init. Kayo nalang.” I then promptly left, enjoyed a cake at the Chocolate Kiss Cafe, and ended my rather short stint as an activist. Or so I thought.
Then the age of Duterte came like a looming dark cloud over the Philippines. Armed with a potent political campaign that understood the power of the internet and capitalized on an army of online trolls, Duterte took the highest post of the land despite or even because of his alleged ties to an infamous death squad. He promised a bloody yet uncompromising change that appealed to millions of Filipinos who may have suffered injustice or have yet to feel the gains of the country’s growing economy in their own lives. With all of his bravado magnified and his inappropriateness defended by an organized online team, his constant proclamations encouraging killings, his orchestration of the burial of a dictator, and his obvious vindictiveness against political enemies have all come to pass with no consequence and little resistance.
Emboldened by the people’s blind loyalty, Duterte’s grasp has resulted to thousands of deaths – drug suspects murdered in cold blood without the benefit of due process. Reports claim that Duterte’s Death Squads have now invaded the entire country as they have once ruled Duterte’s Davao. The infamous DDS are now supposedly made up of hitmen for hire and even cops who receive cash incentives when they kill. And while there were a few that dared to speak up, they had been silenced by the very inquiries that were supposed to shed light and bring justice for the people, discouraging other potential witnesses to come forward. So how do you fight against injustice when the alleged mastermind sits in the Palace that rules the land?
In July, Duterte reinstated Marvin Marcos et al, found by the Senate and the NBI to be guilty of murdering a drug suspect from his jail cell. Duterte’s top lackey, Rogelio dela Rosa, announced that Marcos may even be promoted following his reinstatement further proving that justice is dead in the Philippines.
In August, a defenseless 17-year old was killed in Manila, with CCTV footage and witness accounts affirming what we have long known about the murderous drug operations of the PNP. It was a significant death because for once, the people have something concrete to prove the blatant disrespect for life that has been hailed as doctrine by the Duterte administration.
On the night of August 21st, I joined thousands of people as they expressed outrage against the injustices perpetrated by our own government. Under the rain, the people vowed to be vigilant and fight for those who are seen as mere collateral damage and dispensable by this administration. Contrary to what trolls claim online, majority of people who attended the rally were plain citizens like you and me. People who were not born activists but were ‘woke’ to the bloody reality of life in the Philippines right now.
I have posted this before but I’ll post it again. I hope that one day, more people will wake up and realize that the divisiveness in the country goes way beyond political colors. One day, more people will realize that their political idols have corrupted their spirit. When that day comes, we will still be there fighting and we hope that they (you) join our ranks.