With the opposition’s unabated posturing and grandstanding in an effort to bring down the regime of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, it is not farfetched that some of her supporters are now beginning to imagine a better day for her rule.

Already, there is talk that an emergency rule of some sort will give her an advantage in dealing with this political sore of her own making that continues to pester her despite her renewed alliance with the bigger bosses of the First World when she was rotational chair in the UN Security Council meeting.

The source of the news of the up-and-coming rule with an iron hand is dubious at best. However, there is a sinister agendum in this news.

We cannot trust the opposition as well in much the same way we cannot trust outright the Arroyo presidency when it comes to this new tactic to manipulate us into remembering the fear we felt with the Marcos martial rule. The stale history of self-aggrandizement by the opposition and the crisis in the legitimacy of the Arroyo leadership are ugly social realities that we need to contend with —and the much-touted emergency rule becomes uglier every day.

With the emergency rule, we can expect a respite from the street-smart protests in Ayala staged by those who have the money and the political reasons to join the ranks of the opposition.

Of course, some people join the opposition to save their skin or to protect their own selfish interest and their position and privilege. The sad thing is that many of those in opposition now are also the very people who are responsible for the many abuses done against our people.

Well, many of those who lend their life and limb to join the rallies-for-a-show are doing not out of love for country as claimed by their handlers but out of economic necessity. Many are under the employ of their handlers. Imagine the payoff equivalent to half-a-sack of rice just for shouting “There is no glory in Gloria!”

With the emergency rule, the megaphones will go silent and the streets will be back to the usual traffic jam and the traffic of people who are ruminating about getting out of all these and move elsewhere, away from these big-mouthed liars and opportunists.

The opposition will group and regroup clandestinely and will pray for the opportune time to either find their way into the corridor of power or simply buy their way to a seat in the dreamed-of Parliament.

This imagined emergency rule is tough luck for the Pinoy. It is possible that it is the opposition’s trial balloon just to test whether President Arroyo knows the logic of repression or the illogic of democracy. Both ways, it is murder—and it is the murder of dissent if ever this happens.

We understand the frustration of the people.

We understand their disappointments because of what is happening.

We understand the connection between rallies—real or staged—and economic growth.

Moreover, we understand that disappointment and frustration can build up and any leader may be tempted to find the easier way out to respond to the chaos.

However, for President Arroyo to clamp down the disconcerting voices of those representing the various political spectra opposing her rule is clearly not in accord with the workings of a democratic life.

The other half of the conjugal dictatorship tried it out on us for almost two decades and the productive years lost and the brilliant young sacrificed in the altar of peace and order are enough lessons for us.

The night of rage will haunt us again if we allow President Arroyo do to so. What she needs to go now is to make amends and govern well.

For one thing, she ought to spend lobbying money in dollars for a better lobbying job with the people: To put together an honest government.

Emergency rule, well, she should not even try. There is no need for this if she is able to govern well.

Published in the Inquirer, V1N14, Sept 2005

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