We were not yet together then, but we both tried our best, in our own little ways, to push the candidacies of the Otso Diretso. None of them got into the Senate. We were sad, of course – but we never despaired.
Had the Otso Diretso won, the state of our country would have been different. The Senate would have been the independent institution it was once, a check on the power of the President. The government response to the COVID-19 pandemic would not have been to toe the Chinese stance. A more competent approach would have been demanded. The Anti-Terror Law would not have passed so swiftly, like a thief in the night while the nation was reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alas, the Filipino people had spoken. We want our voices heard, but we are just two of the many.
We expect future days to be darker. Perhaps the new Anti-Terror Law, with its 14-day warrantless arrest extendible by another 10 days without judicial oversight will be used against our friends and acquiantances, not because they are terrorists, but because they speak truth to power or dare to voice out for the poor and the down-trodden. Perhaps we will only know about their incarceration upon their release. Maybe some of them would end up disappeared, or dead, their physical bodies thrown in some desolate place. We are afraid, as most of our friends and acquiantances are.
But we will continue to speak truth to power, to advocate for the least among us, to empower those most oppressed by this unsustainable inequitable system that we have. We cannot be paralyzed by fear. If there is a love greater than we have for each other, it is our love for this country, and we only wish that when our earthly lives are done and we return to the Father, this country will be a society where human rights are supreme and where the rule of law is paramount, a more “just and humane society” than when we were born.