Withdrawal

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    ‘Many lawmakers have been roused from their political subservience with the real danger of allowing the state to pick up any so-called terror suspect, which may include any of them in Congress.’

    UNIVERSITIES and colleges are coming together with numerous associations of lawyers and civic groups to protest the Anti-Terror Bill. Several congressmen have withdrawn their “yes” votes. Principal author Rep. Ruffy Biazon has recalled his “yes” vote, claiming it was “not face-saving but a matter of principle.” Rep. Loren Legarda, listed as co-author of the controversial bill, denied this and said she voted against it.

    Many lawmakers have been roused from their political subservience with the real danger of allowing the state to pick up any so-called terror suspect, which may include any of them in Congress. Knowing the character of this Congress, it is not far-fetched that something “happened.”

    The feisty oppositionist Rep. Carlos Zarate will certainly be a target, especially with his progressive beliefs. A multi-sectoral group that calls itself the “People of Pasig” has openly opposed the support of Rep. Romulo, saying she does not represent the strong sentiments of the people of the city against the bill. Rep. Lawrence Fortun of Agusan Del Norte is now seeking the recall of the bill due to the increasing number of congressmen who have withdrawn their “yes” votes. He is “appealing to the House leadership and his colleagues to listen to the opinion of experts, the clamor of several sectors, and the sentiments of our very own members.”

    Biazon was dismayed that Congress virtually abdicated its mandate to refine or modify certain provisions without as much a care in the world from the 173 who rushed to vote “yes.” The reality of political dominance and the huge money it still brings seems another world from the mayhem and barbaric injustice that the enforcement of the Anti-Terror Bill cannot hide. Philosopher Alexander Bekman once wrote that “Violence is the method of ignorance, the weapon of the weak. The strong of heart and brain need no violence, for they are irresistible in the consciousness of being right.”

    ***

    This virus scourge has cheapened the lives of many of our countrymen, and occasionally we are besieged with the thought that if only we could have done something, especially for the suffering and stricken. Many of us still remain confined in the comfort of our homes, but plagued with the curse of helplessness and meaninglessness.

    A 33-year-old woman who could not leave abroad as an OFW just wanted to be with her four children in Calabanga, Camarines Sur after COVID-19 broke out. Michelle Silvertino had applied for work in Saudi Arabia last September but was denied the chance due to her bad health caused by water in her lungs. She instead worked as a maid in Antipolo to provide for her children. She asked permission from her employers to leave for Bicol and take care of her children.

    Last May 31, a day before the general community quarantine took effect in Metro Manila, her boss took her to the Cubao bus terminal but it turned out there were no regular trips to Bicol. Carrying her baggage she walked all the way to the Pasay terminal where she waited for five days for a bus going to Bicol. She stayed at the footbridge near the terminal, calling the attention of some concerned citizens who alerted tanods of Barangay 159 on June 5.

    According to a police report, the tanods did not give any assistance. Since arriving in Pasay she had not received any text message from any of her family or friends.

    Silvertino was unconscious when the police found her and brought her to a hospital where she died. She was seen on social media very weak and famished while being interviewed by a news reporter. In her death certificate, Silvertino’s cause of death was probably the virus that causes COVID-19. A close friend said she had lung problems for a long time. Her remains were buried in a cemetery in Pasay. Her 11-year-old daughter’s only wish is for her remains to be brought home.