Progressives, the marginalized, and the poor have often drawn much undeserved flak for purportedly not following the “laws” of the land. Why are they fighting for their homes sitting on lands that are not theirs? Why can’t they follow the demolition notice? Why are they holding rallies? Why can’t they just look for jobs?
The list of questions can go on and on.
Upholding the so-called “rule of law,” for some, is the be-all and end-all of what it takes to fully transform this long-besieged country away from the widespread poverty and gross inequality. But last week, in a forum organized by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyer, human rights lawyers have put a spotlight on the “rule of law,” where irony was ever present all throughout the day. After all, lawyers are expected to espouse and promote the so-called rule of law.
But how can one turn a blind eye on how the “rule of law” is being used as a tool of repression and fascism?
A glaring example is how the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law with a thrust of upholding the “rule of law” on one hand, while the other was busy committing countless human rights violations and pocketing billions of public funds.
Today, the very same “rule of law” is used to harass and deport Australian missionary nun Sr. Patricia Fox, citing that as a foreigner she should be banned from joining so-called political activities. Meanwhile, the United States continues to meddle in the country’s political, economic, and even military affairs while China destroys our reefs.
Still, the “rule of law” is used by the economic elite to control and monopolize resources while peasants are landless, urban poor are homeless, and workers are receiving a pittance. Rule of law, too, is used to impose heavy taxes on the suffering Filipino people while the very few rich are getting tax exemptions.
Just last week, government workers were banned from using their personal social media accounts to campaign for those vying for public office. Yet, the country’s top government official, no less than President Rodrigo Duterte, joined his aide who filed a certificate of candidacy and vowed to campaign for him.
As a result of the people’s arduous struggle for change, there are laws that provide much-needed relief or somehow serve the interests of the marginalized. But these laws are often found in the backburner, without a single centavo to implement reforms it hope to see through as in the case of the Magna Carta on Health Workers.
Constitutional provisions that are deemed nationalist have yet to have enabling laws. And yet the present administration is already pushing to change it not for the country’s good but for their own political and economic ambitions. And let us not even get started on who crafts and passes the law. It deserves another piece.
The rule of law clearly bends, if not breaks or totally dissolve, for the ruler.
The call is clear: to confine oneself within the limits of the “rule of law” is a disservice to the country and its future generations. It is, too, an insult to those who have bravely challenged the then existing rule of law and fought for the rights and privileges we now enjoy.