I don’t know about you, but I know I don’t always have my priorities straight. Shoutout to the short attention span social club members out there: Productivity ain’t always on our side but hey, we don’t let that distract us from delivering.
But when you’re a public figure whose job literally has lives on the line, it’s only natural that people hold you accountable for your priorities. And if you’re looking for accountability right now, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has only three words for you: “Babagsak po kayo.”
This was after students from Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) participated in a mass student strike protesting the government’s “criminal negligence” amid the ongoing pandemic and the aftermath of two strong typhoons.
“Bilang isang dating propesor, kahit anong dahilan ang sinasabi niyong strike, ‘pag di kayo sumunod sa mga academic requirements, mawawalan kayo ng kinabukasan, ‘di kayo makaka-graduate sa Ateneo,” Roque said after a weekend of enjoying a warm home-cooked meal in the comfort of his home and having the privilege of “unloading” with a karaoke night after a hectic week.
This isn’t to say that Roque has no right to unwind. He’s a human being too, and as human beings, we get stressed and tired from overworking ourselves and need to rest. We do encourage self-care and mental health breaks in this house, after all.
But Roque should probably take his own advice: Yes, there are more pressing things we should focus on. Instead of shifting the responsibility to ordinary citizens who go out of their way to donate (when, get this, they don’t actually have to and it’s not their job), a concrete plan from the people in power would be much appreciated.
Students asked for accountability, compassion and empathy. Many of us may have grown up with the pressure to do well in academics, but we keep forgetting that education isn’t a race. Finishing our studies has no expiry date, but our lives sure fucking do.
People are literally starving, drowning and dying. Let’s focus on that and mean it. People want to see this government being proactive, transparent and accountable with all the emergency powers in their hands. Calling out the government for not doing any of that is part of people’s role in a democracy.
To borrow the lyrics of Roque’s karaoke song of choice: “O, diyos ko / Ano ba naman ito / ’Di ba, ’tang ina / Nagmukha akong tanga / Pinaasa niya lang ako.”
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Art by Yel Sayo