Lacierda should know better

I rarely blog about current events and politics nowadays, for I thought that with friends and acquaintances on the administration, the country is in good hands. I still think that we are in the right track, but it can be expected that there will be goof ups, and there will be times when we have to correct the course if we go astray.

I actually dread the day when I have to call out people I know, and what I dread most is the day I have to part ways with friends over differences in opinion. But if I am to be a good friend and a good citizen, it is my duty to point and to dissent.

I’ve known Atty. Edwin Lacierda during the last three years of the Arroyo regime. I’ve been reading his blog back in 2005, back when Arroyo’s been pushing the limits of her powers and burning government institutions to the ground. I’d met him one time at a rally along Ayala Avenue; the last time I met him was at the Palace by the Pasig. I’d like to consider him as a friend but I won’t presume as such – I don’t even know his email address.

Anyway, yesterday, he was quoted as saying the following:

“It won’t win them brownie points … The better venue for them is to really show their protests in a proper forum.” (Emphasis mine.)

I find it ironic that he has to use a phrase that is synonymous with the Arroyo regime. For those who had forgotten: every time there was a complaint/protest against Arroyo, her allies would always tell the opposition (not necessarily those elected officials who were against her) to bring/prove them in the proper forum. As someone who pointed out the mistakes of the Arroyo regime, and to be told that phrase, I find it ironic for Lacierda to tell the anonymous hackers to go to the proper forum.

As a lawyer, he should know that the proper forum is still not an accessible one for people of little means. Hiring a lawyer is like gambling all of your resources to an uncertain outcome. Pro-bono lawyers are very few, and they have a lot of cases to deal with. Docket fees are prohibitive. And government officials can always sit on complaints or use the tyranny of numbers to quash them, as we had seen in the House of Representatives of the years 2006-2009.

The only way common folks can air their grievances is to go to the streets and protest – and we all know how effective it can be. Arroyo invented the calibrated preemptive response (CPR) to deal with street protests. While a legitimate form of dissent, a lot of people would rather do something else than go to the street.

And now, with the cybercrime law, the government is armed with other means of shutting out another avenue for dissent and airing of grievances – the Internet. Some government officials and lawmakers are asking the citizenry to give the law a chance. Yet, by reading the law, you’d see that giving it a chance means giving up this last space for free exchange of information and opinion.

I find it sad that Atty. Lacierda had to say that phrase. It brings back bad memories of a lost decade, years of frustration and of lost chances. He should know better.