Freedom may be stolen again from the people
Eighteen days before his term ends, President Benigno Aquino III gave his final warning to a looming dictatorship that may see freedom stolen away from the people again. The outgoing head of state addressed hundreds of diplomats and government officials today, Independence Day. June 12 is the day we celebrate independence from Spain as a free nation after colonization. Aquino took the time to discuss about martial law.
"Nangyari na ito. Minsan nang inagaw ng kapwa natin Pilipino ang ating kalayaan. Ibig sabihin, kung hindi tayo magiging mapagmatyag, maaari uli itong mangyari," said Aquino while showing a video about their family's experience under Martial Law.
While not directly mentioning his successor, Rodrigo Duterte, Aquino throughout the campaign has been vocal about losing the freedoms gained by the country after martial law. Aquino has criticized Duterte for hijacking the democratic process with his explicit language that would silence critics and seemingly condoning extra-judicial killings. In short, Aquino has been implying that the rise of Duterte would see another Martial law take over the country.
Duterte, for his part, has called himself a "dictator", is in favor of burying Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and is possibly offering a Cabinet post to Marcos' namesake, Bongbong Marcos.
When it was clear on election day that Duterte had won, Duterte was calling for unity and healing. But in recent statements, Duterte has denied VP-elect Leni Robredo a cabinet position, has enraged anti-martial law activists, and even cussed at the United Nations.
Aquino continued that a new chapter in Philippine history is being written, and said that we should remain steadfast and guard our freedom.
"Ngayong papasok tayo sa panibagong kabanata ng ating kasaysayan, nawa’y hindi natin malimot: Ang kalayaan, kailangang bantayan at alagaan. Ang lahat ng mahalaga, kailangang pagsikapan; kailangang ipaglaban," he said.
The president quoted Edmund Burke, saying: "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
Part of Aquino's speech was also to emphasize on the progress and reforms the country has undergone both in his administration as well as after Martial law.
"Naabot natin ang lahat ng tinatamasa natin ngayon nang gumagalang sa proseso at sa batas at sa karapatan ng bawat tao. Nagawa natin ito nang hindi sinisikil ang tinig nino man, at binibigyang halaga ang kalayaang ipinaglaban ng mga nauna sa atin," he said.
In an apparent swipe against Duterte's slogan, "Change is coming", Aquino said: "Naninindigan pa rin tayo: Walang mararating na tunay na pag-unlad kung isusuko ang ating dignidad at karapatan."