[OPINION | NEWSPOINT] Coming together

On Monday evening, April 2, more than a hundred leaders of organizations protesting against the excesses of the Duterte regime came together agreeing to forge a united front. It was an impressive response to a first and quickly mounted effort to collect in one place, at the same time, and for a common purpose representatives of groups that, for all sorts of reasons and excuses, including internicine ones, had acted on their own, although sometimes with certain other groups, but never all together.

I myself, with my wife, attended the occasion, but not to represent any group. While we may have joined more protest rallies than many others have, we don't really belong in any of those groups, not exclusively, anyway, as they may have jealously preferred.  

In fact, we signed up with all groups that came enlisting for causes that resonated with us. Two – Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) and Tindig Pilipinas – were among the ones that would not be caught protesting alongside each other even if they were protesting against essentially the same thing. 

But what righteous reason is there to justify any reluctance to stand up against tyranny, which both groups advocate, yet wouldn't do so actively together?  

Soon enough after signing up with with MAT and Tindig – and others, too – we found out that our septuagenarian knees, a generation older since the 1986 people power vigil against Ferdinand Marcos, had been over-enlisted, overexerted, having to drag us to rallies of which a good number were superfluous and could have been merged and thus made bigger and impactful. A case is the separate commemorations of that precicse vigil organized by MAT and Tindig for this year, in Februrary. Both were set around the same spot of EDSA, which, being the original historic setting, is difficult to escape; but they were held a day apart, a variant that does not really deviate from the original vigil since it happened over four days, a ready though flimsy excuse for the separation. 

At a MAT meeting, I raised the probability that I was typical of my generation of protesters and asked for some considerateness, but I did so mainly to segue into larger questions: Why the divisions between us when one fight clearly overtops all others? Is there any doubt our nation has begun its descent into authoritarianism? 

What manifestation yet is needed? 

People go to prison on trumped-up charges or get executed on summary or arbitrary judgments, while others get away with murder, not to mention other crimes. Freedom is curtailed for the critical legitimate press, yet generously expanded into license for the friendly media, including pseudos like bloggers and trolls. Territorial sovereignty is surrendered to a modern-day colonial patron, and the nation's future is also being hocked to it. 

Meanwhile, oversight institutions, notably Congress and the Supreme Court, allow themselves to be coopted into the Duterte regime in an arrangement that transforms coequality into conspiracy. 

Undeniably, the fight on our hands is the ultimate one – for freedom and justice, indeed for democracy. It in fact began once Duterte took office less than two years ago, and he has since been warning us, repeatedly, expressly, that martial law or revolutionary government or some form of dictatorship or other is what we deserve. That he has not imposed anything of the sort officially does not mean he's backing off; he simply finds no need for an edict to get his way. 

That's how far we've been set back from democracy, and we can only guess how much we've contributed to that setback by default. That's why coming together as we did on that one recent evening felt like the beginning of self-redemption. 

Of course, coming together is one thing, working and fighting together, another. – Rappler.com