Friday, December 15, 2006

The long hot winter monsoon season

UP Lantern Parade Cancelled!, Prayer rallies

In an unprecedented move, University of the Philippines (UP) Chancellor Professor Sergio Cao and the deans decided to cancel this year's Lantern Parade scheduled for today. They cited as reasons "threat to life and property". This December is turning to be a long hot yuletide and amihan (winter monsoon) season and this is not due to global warming. In the national arena, protests are set to rail against the Arroyo administration's attempt to railroad changing the constitution (cha-cha). The public has noticed the game plan all along. First was the people's initiative (which the Supremes declared unconstitutional), then the undue haste of the House to declare itself a Constitutional Assembly without the Senate's concurrence. Civil societies and the Catholic, Born Again, Mainline Protestant and even the Iglesia ni Cristo churches have decided to hold prayer rallies. The Catholic led one is estimated to gather a few hundred thousand people.

This has got the government running scared and even its apologists seem to have stopped publishing their blurbs. What I find disturbing is the threat of police to arrest politicians going on stage at the Quirino Grandstand prayer rally. If they arrest anyone doing this, those arrested can easily claim that the State has started to proscribe religious expression. The lawyers will have a field day. The police should refrain. Will the Arroyo government precipitate religious repression to ensure its hold on power?

You can be sure that I will oppose that. I am under oath.

At the UP the cha-cha, the tuition fee increase and the alleged suppression of the university student blurb "Collegian" have come into confluence. There have been two incidents that the chancellor was physically harrased by protesting students. I think this is beyond the limits of free speech. The egg-throwing incident at the College of Arts and Letters pales in comparison.

The Lantern Parade is the first casualty. This is tragic and ironic since even in the "darkest nights" of the Marcos dictatorship, the parade still went on.

The Left in the University should take responsibility. After all you may win a revolutionary victory with a mob, but it is unlikely that you will hold power without discipline. It seems that the students lack that. The Fall of the Republic's Consulate was inevitable and Napoleon just "picked the crown from the gutter"

The university will have to reflect on this. Students seem not to have ideologies that they are willing to suffer the crunch. To endure needs discipline.

Dec 15, 2006 is a sad day for the University of the Philippines. Fear has trounced reasoned debate on important issues. That fear wins the day is the essence of fascism, whether this is of the Left or Right. Fascism can only thrive in an atmosphere of fear.

You will be sure this writer will combat that.

As for the Arroyo government, when the situation begins to end up in confluence, we are indeed in interesting times.

But I doubt it if many in the government are historically literate. Certainly none of its apologists are.

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