We have the word of Raul Gonzalez–for whatever that’s worth– that the five party- list representatives who have been in the “protective custody” of the House for over two months may leave the premises without being arrested. But Gonzalez says that’s only for the moment, and that the Department of (in)Justice may have them arrested anyway once he decides to take “legal action” against them.
Gonzalez and the regime he serves have a problem. They’re eager to kill the spirit and practice of the party-list system that allows marginalized sectors representation in the elite-controlled House of Representatives, and to restore total dynastic dominance in the House. But a Makati court has refused to include the five–Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casino and Joel Virador of Bayan Muna; Liza Maza of Gabriela; and Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis–in an amended rebellion charge originally filed against Congressman Crispin Beltran of Anakpawis and Army first lieutenant Lawrence San Juan.
Gonzalez can thus be expected to look through his law books and whatever other material he can find in the coming days, weeks or months for something–anything–that can achieve the purpose of keeping the House and the elite interests it protects safe from Ocampo et.al.
If this sounds as if he and the regime are using the law for their purposes and whenever it’s convenient, it’s because they are. Gonzalez’s statements when he announced the decision not to arrest the five are themselves proof enough of the whimsy with which he and his regime cohorts regard the law.
Gonzalez’s concern was thus the media and not the law. The regime doesn’t want to “play a role” in a “script” that would “dramatize their situation,” which would in turn be picked up by the media, said Gonzalez. It isn’t because the law is with the five. It’s because, if the five were arrested once they left the House, the media would “lap it up,” thus the decision not to arrest them because that way, “after two days the story will be dead.” Once the story’s dead, implied Gonzalez, the DOJ can devise some other charge and arrest them anyway.
Gonzalez himself was playing up to the media, swaggering for all he’s worth and claiming that “the law is on [his] side” when it obviously isn’t. But beneath the comic bluster seethes not only the arrogance of power but also a single-minded focus on achieving piecemeal an authoritarian regime premised on an acquiescent press and a silenced opposition.
It is now evident that Proclamation 1017 was the midwife that would have given birth to that regime. Press and civil society vigilance as well as a divided police and military helped prevent the genesis of a monster similar to the Marcos terror regime last February. But its vile would-be parents have not given up. Instead they have spared no effort—despite press and civil society criticism, despite police and military restiveness, and despite the Supreme Court, the Constitution and the very laws they’re supposed to implement—in their campaign to end all meaningful protest and opposition so they usurp all power.
The regime’s and its officials’ cavalier attitude towards the law is among the many indications that in their mind Proclamation 1017 gave them powers beyond whatever control the Supreme Court and even the Constitution may devise.
Exhibit A is the reference in Proclamation 1017 to “decrees” the putative president of the Philippines was apparently thinking of issuing. In Exhibit B are the continuing attempts to intimidate the press and citizens in general via gross violations of the Bill of Rights. And Exhibit C are the arrogant statements from Gonzalez, the Palace and the regime’s police and military officers which uniformly suggest that they can take the law or leave it—it’s up to them whether to observe the Supreme Court ruling on EO 464, and the Calibrated Pre-emptive Response, no-permit- no-rally, and arrest without warrants policies.
Thus did the Senate committee on ways and means end up with the subalterns of three department secretaries they had asked to testify, not on a political issue, but in behalf of legislation on tax, smuggling and other financial matters. Thus have police spokesmen announced that CPR would continue to be in force, and thus has Gonzalez and company continued to justify arrests without warrants as well as to insist, despite the Makati court decision, that Ocampo, Maza, Mariano, Casino and Virador are involved in the “continuing crime” of rebellion.
This insistence on their interpretation of the laws, their powers, and their prerogatives is occurring in the context of Supreme Court and other courts’ decisions denying them and Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo those very powers and prerogatives.
The conclusion is inevitable. It isn’t the “Batasan Five” who’re following a script, it’s the regime that’s persecuting them and everyone else who dare protest its policies, question its legitimacy, or even insist on their rights. The regime and its officials apparently think themselves above the law, because a coup did take place last February. But it wasn’t the coup Proclamation 1017 was supposedly pre-empting. Proclamation 1017 was the coup.