This is the time in the history of human civilization where technology is at its peak and technological advances continue to rise in myriads. This is also the time when democracy in the Philippines faces one of the greatest challenges in its existence after it has been restored from the iron claws of a dictator.
Democracy as defined is a government by the people, for the people, and of the people. Yes, by the people whose inalienable right to suffrage has been the accessory or accomplice of the corrupt officials in pushing through their vested interests and motives. Massive vote buying and vote shaving and padding become the barometer of most national and local winners whose rise to power was aided by the political alibi to alleviate poverty. Eventually, these so – called leaders thwart the essence of democracy.
The country may have made economic gains in recent times, but to declare them as proof of a “strong democracy” belies democracy’s true meaning. The strength of democracy is measured, not by economic gains, but primarily by the strength of the country’s rule of law and its justice system.
Just recently, Dennis Alcoreza, Manila District I councilor, suffered unjust treatment perpetrated by the Manila police in the violent takeover of their business for alleged violations of their contract. Policemen bodily carried them out of the Vitas slaughter house in Tondo.
It is difficult for an ordinary Filipino to believe that a democratic system functions in the Philippines. The cited instance above is just one of the many reasons why. In years, a lot of arbitrary and unlawful killings have been taking place whose victims are journalists, leftist and rightist activists, .
Who could still remember a police officer who shot and killed environmental activist Elpidio de la Victoria in Talisay City, Cebu? The police officer was convicted and was sentenced from 20 to 40 years in prison.
How about the two members of the Philippine Army who were charged with murder for the killing of Ricardo Ramos, a leader of the sugar workers’ union at the Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac Province?
A lot of human rights abuses have been perpetrated by the police and military. The inability of the country’s political and judicial systems to adequately respond to this violence subverts democracy when perpetrators particularly the police and military are not punished and victims of human rights violations and their families are denied the possibility of redress and justice, distrust and skepticism among them intensifies. These cases deepens distrust of the justice system. This is considered the greatest challenge to restoring democracy and the rule of law in the Philippines.
It is not the absence of solutions but rather the continued inability of government officials to take action to implement any solution and to ensure through continued and serious monitoring that action occurs. The Filipino people have realized how defective the country’s system of justice is and how the failure to correct this dysfunctional legal system is subverting the fulfillment of genuine democracy. However, the government seems oblivious.