You know how it is when the only thing on the table is bitter gourd? And you don’t eat gourd. And so you gulp it down with water, and then put on a false front, that lingering taste still in your mouth?
Well that’s how I feel about the president elect. I am without choice except to graciously accept that this is what’s on the table, and I’ll have to shove it down my throat the next 6 years. And yet, I am willing to hang around. Sit. Sometimes, it takes more than just a bite to have a taste for something. You need to nibble, chomp and grind your teeth. I wonder if I could hack my taste and begin to like what I currently dislike. And my fellow citizens (at least 40% of them) will say I can’t have my democracy cake and eat it too.
And so if I had the honour of dinner with the presumptive president, I might say this bit:
[If you hate dissent, the kind that holds your President as a public servant and accountable, please do not read beyond this line.]
We are your sovereign. All your authority emanates from us. You said so yourself. Thus, please stand for us. Think, feel and then act carrying that mandate we have granted to you. Hand over the reins of our most vital departments to those who will embody our aspirations, they be friend or foe. That power belongs to you for now. Change the crumbling institutions at the core. Do not let it be a mere changing of the guard.
Ease away from that leadership that claims force or the threat of hanging will keep us in check, and hand you a peaceful country (in chains.) Trust us enough. Stop hammering into our heads that we are in dire need of watching over. You do not want a docile yet compliant citizenry. Instead, inspire us to our highest possibilities. There may be the lawless and the stray among us, but be a shepherd, not the wolf.
I implore you, think twice before you pronounce the curbing of personal autonomy with more bans and curfews, or a return to death penalty. Some of us take you on your word. Seriously. And for us, these as shackles on the very freedom we shed blood and offered rosaries for.
Hear the pulse of the land before leading us further into more and more restraints on civil liberties. For y I dare say our greatest threat is poverty; our greatest peril, corruption. And often, poverty begets crime. Let us begin then by combating destitution. Embark on staking out the bigger thieves. Then perhaps, peace and order will follow.
Ours is a republic with 3 co-EQUAL branches of government. You are the executive. We do not have a monarchy or a dictatorship. Not just yet. And so the Senate, the House, the Judiciary, they remain equal to you. They will tell you when you do wrong. You can tell them when they do wrong. Please do not padlock them if you feel ridiculed or if you don’t get your way.
The Legislature enacts the laws, you execute (and please not by hanging) them. And if someone does wrong, the People of the Philippines will take them to the court, and the Judiciary will apply the laws of our land. Please do not determine guilt or crime. Not you. Not your police.
Policemen may justifiably use proportionate force to repel force, proportionate violence to repel violence. But please do not nonchalantly proclaim they can “shoot to kill” if a criminal resists arrest. The legal authority to take someone into custody is a powerful charge. But that same power can be gravely abused. Especially when armed. Most especially if they are already exonerated for a homicide they have yet to make.
Also remember one is not a criminal. Not just yet. Until beyond any reasonable doubt, the People of the Philippines have proven him guilty. Until then, he is suspect. No matter what your own investigation says. Despite probable cause. And yes, I subscribe to that despite the number of felonious people tramping the streets. My right to life, liberty and property depends on it.
And I know you take these liberties to heart too. We’ve set them in stone, enshrined in our Constitution. That supreme law you swore by as a public servant. The same law you will swear by, as you assume your high seat.
Lastly please, grant me my right to freely speak. I come to the table. Hoping you are not going to lord it over me, with the same iron fist that propelled your campaign.
Because when you do offer me lasting change on a platter, I will graciously eat humble pie.
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” ~ John Lennon