The regime personified

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The lawyers’ group Counsel for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL) is urging Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to retire Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez. But I’m afraid it might as well ask for the moon–or the resignation of Mrs. Arroyo herself.

Twenty-nine lawyers including two judges convened Codal last year in response to their perception, amply validated since then by Proclamation 1017 and its implementation, that the regime has an alarming tendency to savage civil liberties. In addition to lawyers, Codal now includes among its members law students from the Ateneo de Manila University, the University of Santo Tomas, Arellano University, San Beda College, and the University of the Philippines. Continue reading

Above the law

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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. Continue reading

Malice

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Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo doesn’t understand or appreciate the role of press freedom in Philippine society, the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists said on May 3rd, World Press Freedom Day. This could imply that plain ignorance is the reason for the Arroyo regime’s assault on press freedom and its refusal to do much of anything to punish the killers of journalists. In that case the only thing we have to do is educate it in the fine points of media appreciation.

But is ignorance its only offense? And is it even educable? Mrs. Arroyo and her Bill of Rights wrecking crew may not appreciate press freedom, if by “appreciation” we mean the state of mind that’s grateful for it, and realizes its value. But judging from the acts and statements of Mrs. Arroyo, Mike Defensor, Raul Gonzalez , Norberto Gonzales and her police and military henchmen, they do understand that press freedom is at the heart of democratic governance and society. Continue reading

The coup this time

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This column was being written on Monday, May 1st, amid government threats to re-impose the state of emergency it declared last February 24. If by the time this column sees print a declaration to that effect has been issued, and the Constitution further threatened or even abolished, it would not be in response to any armed threat to the regime, but because it is what it has wanted since February. But it would also mean that the regime is risking not only a military rebellion, but also the displeasure of the United States government.

There is no mistaking the regime’s contempt for democratic rights ever since 2001. But this disdain became even more evident when free expression, freedom of assembly and the free press became an inconvenience in the regime’s efforts to remain in power after the tainted elections of 2004. Continue reading