* – from “Wake Up” by Rage Against the Machine
I was walking around Ortigas Center awhile ago after putting in another day at work when I felt a stabbing pain in my wrists and fingers. I don’t know if it’s carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive stress injury, bone spurs, or the remnants of neuralgia from years past. Unless I’m typing, the most comfortable position for my hands right now would be to clench them. I know that if I buckled and cried from the pain, not a soul in any given building in Ortigas Center or the Republic of the Philippines will give a damn. So I guess that for the lack of money to pay a chiropractor, I might as well clench my hands.
Clenched fists mean a lot of things, not the least of which is fighting. The clenched fist is a symbol of resistance. To clench your fist means to stand up for what’s right because you believe in it, not because you feel like it.
One thing that has not been hurting, though: my conscience. You can beat up my hands, but you cannot beat up my conscience.
I think that when you blog about political issues and social issues, you cannot treat citizenship, political participation, and social obligation from your blogging. When we say something or write about something, we should be able to act on it when the situation calls for it. Our words shouldn’t be empty; we should be able to stand by our principles. It’s not a matter of winning or losing, revolution or insurrection, cost or benefit.
Fairness, justice, and freedom are more than just words; they are perspectives.
– V, V for Vendetta
Today, a group of independent, free-thinking bloggers, led in part and represented by Manuel Quezon III, Edwin Lacierda, and Jeremy Gatdula, filed an intervention to the impeachment complaint against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; an intervention that asserts that the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity Memorandum of Agreement (BJE-MOA) was an impeachable offense that directly violates the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Philippines. The intervention holds that:
- The BJE-MOA is a clear and direct violation of the Philippine Constitution, set back the peace process, and the secretive and deceptive manipulation and railroading of the MOA seriously compromised and threatened the sovereignty and unity of this nation.
- The President, as a vanguard and protector of Philippine sovereignty and unity, should be held accountable to the people for the consequences that led to the tragic loss of life, and preventing prosperity and peace, in Mindanao.
- The President should be held accountable to the people for ceding sovereign territory and violating the trust vested in her by the people to protect and stand by the Constitution, the laws of the land, and the will of the people.
I was one of the bloggers who signed that document, along with Arbet Bernardo, Ria Jose, and Richard Rivera. Many have already said that we “made history” today in what the Secretary-General of the House of Representatives calls an “unprecedented” move – that ordinary citizens like ourselves filed an intervention – yet I do not call it that. I was just doing what any free-thinking Filipino will do. I was just doing things out of principle. I signed that document because of my convictions, not for money, not for ambition. I’m just a twenty-something who makes an honest living.
I signed that document because I believe that it is right, and I believe that it is time. Revolution? To some, yes, but to me, it was a simple matter of doing the right thing.
It’s not easy to stand up for what you believe in. Sure, it’s easy to blog about your political beliefs, but it’s not easy to stand by them when the time calls for it. After all, people will just accuse you of being “used by power-grabbers.” People will call you names, people will look down on your convictions, perhaps even spit on it. Or mock it. Or tell you to shut up, because you can’t do anything about it.
I believe that when the President recklessly compromised the security and sovereign integrity of this nation through the BJE MOA-AD, she violated the very spirit and soul of our nation’s unity. The law – and the spirit of this nation’s unity – doesn’t say that we should let the President’s transgressions pass. The irresponsibility of the BJE MOA-AD is not only to be found in its insincerity, but in its ill motive and lack of concern for the people of Mindanao.
The question is not who we will replace the President with, but to find the President guilty or not guilty of the charges pressed against her. Not the least of which is the charge that she deceived the public – and compromised the integrity and sovereignty of the Philippines – through the BJE MOA-AD. If she is, I believe that she should face the fair and just consequences of her actions. I believe that justice is not about personalities, but about doing the right thing.
Those are the things I believe. I believe in doing the right thing. I may not do it all the time, but when I signed that document – even with painful hands – I knew I did the right thing. If I didn’t, what would be my excuse? It’s not because I’m a hero or because I’m a martyr, but because I am a Filipino.
In my eyes, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo compromised – no, threatened – the survival of my country.
Had you been there, you would have felt the same thing, perhaps even made up an excuse to chicken out and forsake your responsibility to this nation. I know: I was that close to doing it. What motivated me was not a sense of blow-hard patriotism, but a sense of obligation. People lived and died that this country remain whole, united, strong, and be held under one flag. What, I ask, prevents me from doing the same thing? What’s my excuse? What makes me think for one second that only heroes and patriots, or politicians with official ambitions, have the right to speak out against the injustices and excesses of the regime?
Now, I think it’s time for our honorable Members of the House to do the right thing. It is not right to wait for the President to finish her term; what is right is whether she has two years left or two days left, she should be held accountable. The Members of the House should know that justice is not about numbers or pluralities, but about morals and sensibilities. It is about fairness, justice, and freedom: words and perspectives that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo no longer represents, at least in my eyes.
The Members of the House should know that while history will forget that a Marck Rimorin has signed that document with a clear conscience and my integrity intact, the Arbet Bernardo’s, the Ria Jose’s, and the Richard Rivera’s of the Philippines will not forget what the President has done. I certainly wouldn’t; I won’t regret a moment I raised my fist in the air in a land of hypocrisy.
* * *
Postscript: To my family and friends, I hope you realize that there is no shame in – and I’m not ashamed of – what I did. If you can find it in the goodness of your heart to forgive me, I won’t ask for it, because if it were a grievous sin to stand up for something bigger than myself, I don’t deserve your forgiveness.
All I’m asking for is for you to know that for the first time in 23 years, I actually stood up and stepped up for something that I believe in. I hope that you can have a sense of pride for your son, your friend. That’s all I ask.