Sereno ouster jolts a complacent public

Photo from Mae Paner's Facebook

Democracy in the Philippines did not die last Friday.

It was beaten up and trampled upon by President Rodrigo Duterte through his Solicitor General Jose Calida and executed by the eight justices of the Supreme Court (remember the names: Noel Tijam, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Samuel Martires, Andres Reyes Jr., Alexander Gesmundo, Lucas Bersamin, Diosdado Peralta and Francis Jardeleza) but we deeply value democratic values we will not let them kill it just like that.

What happened last Friday when the eight justices blatantly violated the Constitution they were sworn to uphold and ousted Supreme Court Justice Lourdes Sereno, whom Duterte publicly tagged as “enemy’” last April and declared that she be “out of the Supreme Court" was not a surprise but it was still traumatic.

By the way, remember also the names of the six who tried but failed to save the High Court’s ignominy: Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Marvic Leonen, Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Mariano del Castillo.

Maybe it had to happened to jolt us of our complacency the last two years even when Duterte was destroying the country’s democratic institutions – treating members of Congress like his minions, berating officials of the Commission on Human Rights, an independent constitutional office, to mention just a few.

We turned a blind eye even when Duterte’s agents went on a killing spree in the name of war on illegal drugs.

The general public’s complacency emboldened Duterte to do what he does best: being a tyrant.

But as we say in Tagalog, “Ang lahat may hangganan (Everything has its ending).”

We can feel it. Whereas before, we get disappointed, even frustrated, with the lack of outrage of people, even among our friends, we are heartened by the reactions we see towards the Supreme Court’s shameless obeisance to Duterte.

Last Saturday night, I went to the American Songbook concert and on my way out of the theater, someone I recognize as a regular in classical concerts, pulled me aside and told me, “We will be there in the streets. This is getting too much.”

There was also a religious minister who greeted me with the question, “What’s happening to us?” He answered his own question with the vow: “We will fight.”

Things are coming together.

The Social Weather Station released the results of its First Quarter 2018 survey, conducted last March 23-27, 2018, showing a 12-point decline in the Duterte administration’s satisfaction rating.

It’s still “very good”atplus 58 but a 12 point drop is a drop. It’s no longer excellent under strongman Duterte.

The one issue where the respondents expressed dissatisfaction was in “ Fighting inflation.” The Duterte administration’s score isdown by 18 points from the moderate +24 in December 2017. This is the lowest in almost two years, since the neutral -3 in April 2016”, “SWS said.

In the end, it’s the hungry stomach that will make the people rise up. Sereno might just provide the rallying figure that an awakened public needs.


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