Senator Joker Arroyo is right. If there is anything about which everyone can agree when it comes to the present crisis of Philippine democracy, it is on the indifference of most Filipinos, particularly those we might safely describe as “middle class.”

Senator Arroyo observed the other day that the government is “committing one violation of the Constitution after another” by dispersing demonstrations and rallies, intimidating the media, and arresting people without warrants. Continue reading

No reason in this madness


Although media repression is a close contender, what’s happening to the six party-list representatives demonstrates, more than any other event in the last two weeks, how quickly the democratic space has contracted, and how fragile indeed is Philippine democracy. But it is also likely to fuel further crisis.

Five party-list members of the House of Representatives are trapped in the House, unable to leave its premises because of the threat that they will be arrested. The offenses they’re accused of committing include acts of resistance to the martial law government of Ferdinand Marcos. Continue reading

Other voices


Secretary of Justice Raul Gonzalez is correct. Despite the lifting of Proclamation 1017 last March 3, the laws on sedition, inciting to sedition and libel remain in place. Gonzalez was answering questions on why the government was still monitoring the media, particularly seven print and broadcast journalists, for possible violation of Article 142–inciting to sedition–of the Revised Penal Code.

But while, as Gonzalez said, those laws remain in place, it is decision and policy makers who interpret them and other laws that have a bearing on free expression. Such laws may be interpreted according to their spirit or their letter, or liberally or restrictively. Continue reading

Unity at last


The Arroyo regime’s wish for unity, unity and unity–a tune it’s been playing since the “Hello Garci” scandal blew up in its face last year–is being realized at last. But most Filipinos are not uniting behind the regime. They’re uniting against it in opposing the systematic assault on civil liberties that’s taken cover behind Proclamation 1017

For example, practically the entire studentry, faculty and non-teaching staff of the University of the Philippines Diliman walked out of their classes and offices in the afternoon of February 28th in a demonstration of unity that hasn’t been seen in UP Diliman for years. Continue reading