All of them spoke of just how alarming our current situation is, how the suppression of our rights is illegal, presidential proclamation notwithstanding. According to them, the "chilling" effect was already being felt by the media. A sad revelation was that the first in line for intimidation would be the news media's corporate owners and publishers, network heads. Having biases of their own, whichever the slant would determine the vigor of the resistance. The lawyers on the panel stressed that the suppression of our civil liberties was illegal, but seemed to have little faith in the Supreme Court's ability to rule fairly on the matter. At some point, it was pointed out that finally, some unity was being achieved by normally divided entities, a gratifying turn of events.
A call was made to the public at large, especially to the silent, apathetic majority. No matter their stand, the guests repeatedly asked that the public make one, lest they lose the freedom to make any kind of choice. They reminded us of the oppression of martial rule and their sadness at how the youth seemed oblivious to its dangers.
One amusing observation - fora like these bring a lot of people together. Apart from the usual, it was interesting to listen in on a few of the conversations that were going on before and after the forum. Here are a few of the tidbits we picked up (aw, come on, admit it, we really are a nation of gossips!):
- One lady mentioned that she was irate over Speaker Jose de Venecia's seeming docility over the imminent arrest of five solons on really old, unsubstantiated charges. She remembered that the House was up in arms when then Rep. Mark Jimenez was being extradicted to the US for illegal campaign contributions. (anyone remember Rep. Jalosjos' case?)
- A little birdie twittered in another's ear that a major TV network had been intimidated into cancelling a public affairs program for fear of reprisals under PP1017.
- Someone was fuming over how "unfriendly" the EDSA Shrine had become under the dispensation of its present shepherds, especially last 25 February. Apart from not allowing the singing of Jim Paredes' anthem to People Power, "Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo", during the mass, Mrs. Aquino was not allowed to speak at the end of the mass, breaking a tradition. Tsk, tsk, tsk.