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Privilege Speech of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, November 6, 2006

Posted: August 6th, 2008 @ 1:17am

A lot of significant events affecting the nation as a whole have happened since Congress went on recess last October. With your kind indulgence, I humbly take the floor and invoke my personal and collective privilege as a senator and as a proud member of the Senate that has lately become one of the few remaining standing fortresses in our ongoing battle to defend our Constitution, our democracy and our nation of eighty million Filipinos.

Mga kaakibat at magigiting na mga halal na Senador ng bayan at mga kapwa tagapagtanggol ng ating namimiligrong Saligang Batas at demokrasya, nais kong talakayin ang ilan sa mga mahahalaga at napapanahong paksa na maaring maging dahilan ng pagkawasak ng ating bansa.

In 2004, during my first privilege speech in this Chamber, I denounced the suppression of our democratic rights, particularly our freedom to peacefully assemble for purposes of redressing our grievances against this repressive regime, as protesters and demonstrators were being cruelly and brutally dispersed after being denied of a rally permit. In my speech, I warned our people about a creeping and virtual martial law being foisted and unleashed by the usurper in Malacañang to quell the rising voices of dissent and the swelling ranks of the opposition to her administration.

Since the vicious and bloody dispersal of EDSA TRES in May 2001 and up to the present, many of our concerned countrymen, who were merely exercising their democratic rights guaranteed by our Constitution, were being injured, maimed, intimidated, tortured, kidnapped, and even summarily killed by the death squads of the great pretender in Malacañang, and by her power grabbing coconspirators and vote-snatching allies in the military and police establishments.

Thereafter, this Representation kept on denouncing and condemning inside and outside this noble Chamber the unrelenting repression and iron-fist policies of our infamous fake President who has single-handedly transformed Malacañang from the people’s palace into a pseudo-garrison, as the illegal arrests, detentions, tomes, extrajudicial killings of militant activists and other personalities critical of her regime continued.

Fortunately, my fellow defenders of democracy, our gallant and heroic stand against Malacañang have gained widespread support, so much so that we have caught the attention and the grave concern of the international community, local human rights groups and advocates; thanks in part to our very own Commission on Human Rights, which has strongly condemned, in international circles, the Arroyo regime’s culture of impunity.

We have also exposed and denounced the widespread and shameful corruption in this administration, from the scandals and ownership of the not-so-secret Jose Pidal accounts and the rampant big-time smuggling; the overpriced and expensive Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard and other infrastructure projects; the mind-staggering commissions and kickbacks on the IMPSA and other government contracts; the 2004 election fraud that ramified into the fertilizer fund scam; the Garci tapes scandal; the road-user tax scam; and the OWWA-Philhealth scam; and so many others. The latest in Gloria’s litany of corruption and crimes against the people was the multibillion peso malversation of public funds to finance the Malacañang initiated “People’s Initiative.” The evidence in these cases are so glaring that no amount of subterfuge can cover the stench.

Pero hanggang ngayon, may naparusahan na ba sa mga malawakang pagnanakaw na nagaganap sa pamahalaan at sa paglabag ng mga batas na nagtataguyod ng mga karapatang pantao? Ano po yung ginagawa ng ating Ombudsman?

And yet, for cases of misconduct and allegations of ghost employees without any specifications, without any particulars, without solid evidence, Malacañang and the Ombudsman go to town to suspend local officials, particularly those who they deemed are thorns on their side.
For all these anomalies and scandals, it is the usurper in Malacañang who deserves to he put on preventive suspension so that she cannot use the powers and authority, the influence, and the vast resources of the presidency to cover up the crimes she committed against our people.

The law is clear, Section 22 of Republic Act No. 6770, also known as the Ombudsman Act of 1989, states that ‘The Office of the Ombudsman shall have the power to investigate any serious misconduct in office allegedly committed by officials removable by impeachment, for the purpose of filing a verified complaint for impeachment, if warranted.”

But can we expect Ombudsman Gutierrez to lift a single finger against her benefactor in the palace?

On the other hand, the specters of tyranny, authoritarianism, and of blatant government corruption and abuse, continue to haunt our already destitute and forsaken land today.

We console ourselves with the fact that Malacañang had continuously tried, and yet it has been rebuffed by the Supreme Court, through the vigilance of our heroic people, in many of our battles before the Courts of Justice.

We should never forget the barrage of treacherous attacks against our Constitution: from the declaration of the state of rebellion; the issuance of Presidential Proclamation 1017; the unleashing of the calibrated preemptive response; the destabilization of the legislative process through Executive Order 464 and Memorandum Order 108; and last but not the least, the “grand deception” according to the Supreme Court, known as the people’s initiative brouhaha.

Our magistrates should be congratulated, especially those who voted against the people’s initiative, for seeing beneath the veneer of this sham. They have shown that our Supreme Court remains fiercely independent and cannot be influenced even in the face of extreme pressure, quoting the statements of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban himself.

The verdict is in. The Sigaw ng Bayan signatures are as fake as the pirated discs in Carriedo and Divisoria and as counterfeit as the confiscated coins apprehended by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Congratulations should likewise be given to all our colleagues in this Chamber for unanimously standing up against this constitutional mockery being foisted upon our people. May the Senate continue to he a shining bastion and symbol of our constitutional democracy.

Unfortunately, and I would like to emphasize how unfortunate this is for our democracy, the same accolade and congratulations that this humble Representation has just poured and conveyed to the magnificent members of the Judiciary cannot be extended to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Why? Is it because Malacañang has already succeeded in desecrating, and some people would even venture to say, prostituting, the once sacred and independent institution known as the Office of the Ombudsman?

Ayaw ko nang magpaliguy-ligoy pa. Hindi naman kaila sa ating mga kababayan na ang kasalukuyang nanunungkulan bilang Ombudsman, na si Atty. Merceditas Gutierrez, ay tuta ng Malakanyang na handang gawin lahat ng utos ng kanyang amo, lalung-lalo na ang asawa ni Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Marahil ay ito ang hindi masikmura ni dating Ombudsman
Simeon Marcelo, na dating partner sa law office ni Defense Secretary Avelino CNZ, kaya tuluyan na silang nag-resign.

Marahil ay hindi rin inaasahan ni Kalihim Nonong Cruz na walang pakundangang gagamitin ni Ginang Arroyo ang makinarya ng pamahalaan. pati na mga pamahalaang lokal, kasama na ang bilyong-bilyong pondo ng bayan, para sa pagsulong ng isang hangaring pang-personal, ang ‘people’s initiative” dikuno ng taong-bayan.

Kaya ipinaaabot ko ang aking paghanga at pagpupugay kay Kalihim Nonong Cruz sa kanyang pagbibitiw ng kanyang tungkulin biiang Kalihim ng National Defense. Sapagka’t sa kanyang maginoong pamamaraan, sa kanyang delicadeza, kahit hindi siya gaano nagsasalita, mas malakas ang pagsabog ng kanyang mensahe para sa taong-bayan ukol sa kanyang pagkadismaya kay Ginang Arroyo at sa kasalukuyang rehimen.

Despite my initial opposition to his appointment as defense secretary, Nonong Cruz turned out to be a revelation in the defense establishment with his laser focus on the modernization and professionalization of the military, and his efforts to insulate it from future election anomalies and partisan politics.

Palace insiders have reportedly said that he averted a major disaster for the country early this year when he vigorously opposed the proposal of other Cabinet secretaries to have Mrs. Arroyo declare martial law. Many have confirmed that the soft-spoken and low-profile secretary is no sycophant, and he is reportedly one of the few Cabinet members, if not the only one, who could say no to personal and political agenda of Gloria Arroyo and Mr. Mike “Jose Pidal“ Arroyo.

And this can be attested by no other than one of our esteemed colleagues, Sen. Franklin Drilon who has quoted in the The Philippine Daily Inquirer published today, and I repeat: “Sen. Frank Drilon said Cruz is the only Cabinet member who could say no to the President. He objected to the plan to declare martial law last January.” Kung hindi pala dahil kay Secretary Cruz, under martial law na pala ang buong Pilipinas.

Secretary Cruz has proven his mettle as a topnotch lawyer for adhering to the rule of law, and for valuing his good name and reputation over and above partisan politics and personal ambitions. We need a few more good men the likes of Secretary Cruz, who has a sense of decency even though he has been closely identified with long-time clients in the persons of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Mr. Mike Arroyo, who apparently have no delicadeza and sense of decency whatsoever.

I call on all the few good men and women in the Arroyo administration to follow the example of Secretary Cruz, and those before him, to tender your resignation and withdraw your support from the illegal, unpopular, oppressive, and morally bankrupt regime of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

At para kay Ginang Arroyo. nais kong ipaabot ang isang hamon. Ngayon na mawawala na si Kaiihim Cruz sa iyong Gabinete sa katapusan ng buwan, wala nang malaking hadlang sa iyong kagustuhan na magdeklara ng martial law. Hinahamon ko po kayo, Ginang Arroyo, sampu ng iyong rnga malalapit na tagapayo, na magdeklara ka ng martial law upang matapos na ang inyong kalupitan sa mamamayan at pagsasamantala sa kaban ng bayan.

Dito natin makikita kung ang mas nakararaming matitino at mapagmahal sa bayan na mga pinuno. mga kawani at mga kawani ng pamahalaan ay susuporta sa inyo o sa pwersa ng masang Pilipino.

Tinitiyak ko na sa pagdedeklara mo ng martial law ay bulkang sasabog ang galit ng mamamayang Pilipino, na hanggang sa ngayon ay matiising naghihintay at taimtim na nananalangin na kusang magbibitiw ka na at payapang bababa sa pwestong hindi naman sa iyo.

Sa iyong paghahangad na lalo pang tumagal sa kapangyarihan, pwersahan ka nang patatalsikin at palalayasin ng mga mamamayang mulat na sa katotohanan. At walang magagawa ang iilang mga nakapaiigid sa iyo na mga tiwaling kasamahan mo.
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Copyright © 2008 Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada

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