STANDPOINT | On the eve of a Duterte presidency: Chance has come

Jun. 29, 2016

By Atty. Edre U. Olalia, NUPL Secretary-General

Tomorrow is the start of the end as well as of a new beginning. After six years of a nightmarish ride marked by corruption, incompetence, subservience and insensitivity by an administration run by a cacique leadership, we as a people will wake up to a new dawn of promises and new sights and sounds.

But before we gaze forward, we must look back and take stock, measure, take to task the BS Aquino joyride in a tortuous road of suffering and misery for the greater majority. It should face the music so that chains will come
for the serial bungles of Luneta, Yolanda, DAP, Mamasapano, EDCA and a long list of other aggravations and crimes against the people in almost every front and facet of the Filipinos’ lives.
indeed good riddance. And thanks but no thanks for the ride.

Now comes the checkered and unique incoming Duterte presidency, a leadership that can be the antithesis of the preceding reviled regime by teasing that
change is coming.

President Du30 is certainly no messiah but his pronouncements on peace negotiations, political prisoners, corruption, drugs, mining, select cabinet appointments, even queues, traffic, red tape and simple living and unpretentiousness seem to provide a much needed respite or whiff of fresh air.

Yet these popular, patriotic and even progressive stance go side by side with cute and populist – some say misconstrued if not outlandish – tales on human rights, due process, death penalty, Marcos burial, GMA pardon, media killings, foreign ownership, neoliberal economics, sexist trash talk and other images of a wild, wild east.

But at this crossroads, the incoming President can be an instrument to have change.

And that chance has come.

On top of a myriad of concrete recommendations and platforms for real change and reforms by progressive groups which we share and subscribe to, we as lawyers would like changes that will make the law, legal remedies and the justice system truly accessible, simple, fair, quick but just.

We wish an end to impunity and double standards even as we uphold rehabilitative punishment more than retribution. We want individual and collective rights of the people to be respected, not the least the freedom of assembly. We wish bail is indeed a matter of right and not of might.

We wish there will be political prisoners no more who face trumped up common crimes. We want a penology system to be humane. We wish an end to legal acrobatics that delay and frustrate justice for the poor and oppressed. We wish no more disappearances, illegal arrests, torture, labelling, demolitions and discrimination of the underdog.

We like consumer rights and basic services treated as paramount public interest. We wish socio-economic rights are legally demandable as a matter of course.

In short, we want to be “jobless” soon, less time defending and parrying and more time nurturing rights and reconstructing the wear and tear of so many ills and wrongs in society.

In the end, for as long as the social and economic reasons and forces that engender violations of the rights of the people especially the many poor, hungry, inconsequential and unentitled remain, we will be keep our jobs and we will be busy.

We will help and cooperate in bringing change in the corridors of power, in the streets, factories, farms, schools, and communities, across the negotiating table, and even in the countryside into the cities if need be. Yet we will be ever watchful, vigilant and principled.

Let us give change a chance.
The chance has come. (e)

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