Have You No Shame? An Open Letter to the House of Representatives
This entry was first posted at Filipino Voices. I decided to post it here because I have a new awesome theme, and that awesome image by Andrew dela Serna. I suggest you right-click that image right there and save it on your blogs.
Meanwhile, the embarrassment, sham, and injustice at the House of Representatives last night, where HR 1109 was railroaded, warrants this blog post. For all the shamelessness that took place, allow me this instance to shame.
Again. – Marocharim
To the august and honorable members of the House of Representatives,
I write this letter in the knowledge that within my inalienable right to free speech, I have the right to condemn, to dissent, and to express. My knowledge is limited, and my grammar is flawed. My eyes are not privy to law books, nor am I an expert in the terms and procedures surrounding a pending resolution in the House. Yet I believe my heart is in the right place, my anger is warranted, and my dismay and disdain for the events of June 2, 2009, 170 Representatives, and a ruthless, rude, and repugnant resolution roots my rage.
Last night, you held a marathon session to pass House Resolution 1109. The august and honorable members of the House majority have passed the resolution to set up a constituent assembly to open up the Philippine Constitution to changes that endanger Philippine sovereignty and the freedoms allowed of us in this country because of selfish interests. Last night, the possibility of “Gloria Forever” haunted a sleeping nation.
More than that, the resolution was rammed through, railroaded, and passed without regard to objection and without respect to the Philippine constitution. More than an agenda of “Gloria Forever,” what happened last night was a slap in the face to the ideals that this nation stands for. Ideals enshrined not only in the Constitution, but in the values and mores of Filipino society. What happened last night was a black eye to democracy, to prudence, and to dialogue. What happened last night, to my mind, was an embarrassment, a farce, and a shame.
The Constitution is a defining moment in history: the height of creating a politics of freedom, identity, and national strength. It is created and ratified on the basis that one’s country is not designed and built on whims, but that of foresight and the common good. One that sets a precedent for justice and fairness. It is the building block of democracy in free nations.
Last night was a defining moment in history: the height of a politics of ignominy, imprudence, and insolence. All for the approval of a seemingly harmless – yet shameless – and ambiguously-worded resolution that threatens the very existence of this country’s democracy. One that sets a precedent for injustice and unfairness. You made a grip on the very throat of this country’s democracy, and stifled it.
What you did last night was nothing short of shameless. That resolution will be tested and perhaps maybe even struck out of record one day. Forgotten, perhaps, but should stand – and will stand – as a testament to shame.
Honorable Representatives, the wisdom of amending the Constitution is not lost on anyone, and it certainly is not lost on me. Yet without the benefit of prudent dialogue and evaluation, the wisdom of Constitutional amendments – much less Charter Change – must be questioned. When the passage of a resolution that endangers democracy is made possible because of the maneuvering of the majority, the intentions and effects of moves to amend the Constitution must be questioned. And if the integral document of a nation is going to be altered by people with questionable integrity, everything about Constitutional amendments and Charter Change are questionable.
I do not intend to sow fear. In a free country, the citizens are – and should – be open to debate. Yet this debate should come with the curt and fair warning that our arguments and sides should always be framed by what is truthful, what is just, and what is fair. It is not sufficient or adequate to railroad the passage of this resolution if the rush and haste cannot be justified. That in a free country, in a democracy, the will of the majority will always be framed by the will of the minority. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the spirit of consensus. Something that does not take place when you railroad a bill, a law, or a resolution.
To railroad the passage of HR 1109, without regard and respect for this country’s constitution, and without regard to other august institutions, is nothing short of disrespectful. There is a right time and a right place for the changes you want – most especially the changes necessary – to take place. These changes take place in discussion, no matter how slow it may be, and with due respect to the branches of government involved. These changes occur with the knowledge and wisdom that those who perpetuate these changes are beyond doubt, beyond question, and have the integrity needed to challenge and amend a very integral document.
I ask, again: have you no shame?
Have you no shame, august and honorable members of the House? Have you no shame that on that one day, you shot democracy dead? Have you no shame that by railroading a questionable resolution, you railroaded a most questionable future for our country? Have you no shame to turn deaf ears to voices of dissent and disagreement, but welcome with open arms those who nod in agreement? Have you no shame to disrespect the very foundations of what this country stands for? Have you no shame to listen only to your voices in the speaker systems of the Batasan, but not listen to the voices of Filipinos who are against what you have to say?
Have you no shame to the righteous anger of the Filipino people who have had enough of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo? Have you no shame not to listen to the righteous indignation of the Filipino people who have called you out on your do-what-it-takes attitude to cling to power? Have you no shame that you railroad Constitutional change, yet not exercise the same sense of urgency for reproductive health and agrarian reform and poverty alleviation programs? Have you no shame in the power you throw off the balance? Honorable members of the House, show me – show us – your shame.
The absence of integrity in the House of Representatives came to light last night. The sworn protectors of the Philippine Constitution – those who swore upon that document when they assumed office – are now those who seek to subvert it and silence all opposition by railroading the passage of an ill-willed resolution, by dismissing dissent, and by playing numbers games instead of reflecting on the causes for, and consequences of, the change they so want to enforce and shove down our throats. More than “Gloria Forever,” the railroading and ramming through of HR 1109 is a clear indication that the public interest is secondary to personal political interests, or at the very least, ill-defined ones.
I reiterate, members of the House of Representatives, in a most humble – and humbling – tone: to change an integral document, you need to have integrity. Last night, honorable members of the House, you demonstrated a complete absence of it. The constitution is our document: it is the testament that we are a sovereign people. You do not tamper with this integral and integrating document if your integrity is in question.
It’s more than “Gloria Forever,” more than the compromising of sovereign territory, and more than technical squabbling on the form of government we’ll have. The railroading of HR 1109 is a clear exercise in what politics in this country has degenerated into: the tyrrany of deceit, the rule of disrespect, the noise of impunity, and the triumph of ignominy. What you did last night was a clear violation of the dignity of this nation. What you did was to kill democracy. I refuse to be represented by those who demonstrate that kind of politics.
A sham, ladies and gentlemen. You have no shame.
With much respectful indignation, this is as much as I can do. I respectfully demand that you tender your resignation letters, or voluntarily leave office for what you have done to the people and their Constitution. The night of June 2, 2009 will forever be inscribed in the annals of this country’s history as the day you stopped being august and honorable. If only for that symbolic act may your shame be damned.
August and honorable members of the House of Representatives, I thank you for your time. Thank you, in advance, for your response.
(Added September 1, 2009: For purposes of verifying nominations for the Ten Best Posts of the Year for the 2009 Philippine Blog Awards, this code: PBA0944r752r)