To all Overseas Filipinos, their families and friends:
You can do your part to stop this travesty by sharing this letter to Filipinos who care for our country; send this to your representative to Congress who may have voted in favor of House Resolution 1109.
To the Members of the House who sponsored HR 1109:
We write this letter in the knowledge that within our inalienable right to free speech, we have the right to condemn, to dissent, and to express. We believe that dissent and disagreement – as well as anger – is warranted for the events of June 2, 2009, 170 Representatives. A ruthless, rude, and repugnant resolution fuels our rage.
On that night, you held a marathon session to pass House Resolution 1109. The House majority have passed the resolution to set up a constituent assembly to open up the Constitution to changes that endanger Philippine sovereignty, and the rights and liberties, granted to us in this country because of selfish interests. The possibility of “Gloria Forever” haunted a sleeping nation. The House overstepped its bounds in a claim to power, and to usurp the present decay of political institutions of this nation.
The resolution was rammed through, railroaded, and passed without regard to objection and without respect to the Constitution. More than an agenda of “Gloria Forever,” it was a slap in the face to the ideals that this nation stands for: enshrined not only in the Constitution, but in the values and mores of Filipino society. It was a black eye to democracy, to prudence, and to dialogue.
An embarrassment, a farce, and a shame. A derisive and deliberate attempt to subvert the laws of the land: the very Constitution that you, members of the House, swore to protect when you assumed office.
The Constitution is a defining moment in history. It is the height of creating a politics of freedom, identity, and national strength, 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. It sets a precedent for justice and fairness, and is the building block of democracy in free nations.
June 2, 2009 was a defining moment in history. It is the height of a politics of ignominy, imprudence, and insolence; the approval of a shameless and ambiguously-worded resolution that threatens the very existence of this country’s democracy. One that sets a precedent for injustice, unfairness, and opens the doors for corrupting, unchecked power. You made a grip on the very throat of this country’s democracy, and choked it.
Shameless. That resolution will be tested in the Courts, and perhaps maybe even struck out of the record one day. Forgotten, perhaps, but it should stand – and it 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 us. Yet without the benefit of prudent dialogue and evaluation, the wisdom of Constitutional amendments – or 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. If the integral document of a nation is going to be altered by people of questionable integrity, Constitutional amendments and Charter Change are questionable.
The time for amending and changing the Constitution will come. Yet that time is not now, and that process… not this way, ladies and gentlemen. Not this way. Not through a farce, a sham, and an embarrassment.
In a free country, the citizens are – and should – be open to debate. Yet our arguments and sides should always be framed by what is truthful, just, and fair. It is not sufficient or adequate to railroad the passage of this resolution if the rush and haste cannot be justified. In a free country, in a democracy, the will of the majority will always be framed by the will of the minority. There is a right time and a right place for the changes to take place knowing that those who perpetuate these changes are beyond doubt, beyond question, and have the integrity needed to challenge and amend a very integral document.
This is the spirit of consensus. It is something that is not achieved when you railroad a bill, a law, or a resolution.
We ask: Have you no shame?
Have you no shame that on that one day, you shot democracy dead? 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? You disrespected the very foundations of what this country stands for.
Have you no shame or sense of accountability to the Filipino people? You did not listen to the righteous indignation of the many Filipinos who have called you out on your do-what-it-takes attitude to cling to power. You railroaded Constitutional change, yet did 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? Members of the House, show us – show the Filipino people – your shame.
The absence of integrity in the House of Representatives came to light on the 11th hour of June 2, 2009. 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. It was in railroading the passage of an ill-willed resolution, dismissing dissent, and playing numbers games that the possibility of “Gloria Forever” becomes a haunting specter. 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.
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 an exercise of shame. It is what politics in this country has degenerated into: the tyranny of deceit, the rule of disrespect, the noise of impunity, and the triumph of ignominy. What you did was a clear violation of the dignity of this nation. What you did was to kill democracy. We 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, we 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. Through that symbolic gesture,
May your shame be damned.
Thank you for your patience, your time, and thank you in advance for your shame.
“Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws–but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted–when we tolerate what we know to be wrong–when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened–when we fail to speak up and speak out–we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.”- Robert Kennedy
(Rashid Fabricante is a Senior Action Officer, V-team for Advocacy & Community Service, Volunteers In Service to Filipinos, Middles East Bureau.)