THE DESPERATE HAND OF THE USURPER
SEPTEMBER 28, 2005
Posted: March 6th, 2012 @ 12:21am
Mr. President, distinguished colleagues of this august body. I once again rise today on an urgent matter of personal and collective privilege.
Last September 22 of this year, barely three weeks after the allies of the usurper in Malacañang Palace tolled the death knell on the impeachment complaint and in an apparent and vulgar attempt to assure that her continued stay in power, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called on the country’s police force to put into place the “rule of calibrated preemptive response” or CPR.
Such rule is the newest tool that this administration has pulled out from its bag of tricks and allegedly aimed at prominent figures in the political opposition among them former President Corazon Aquino, Susan Roces, retired police and military generals and even our very own Senate President.
According to the Executive Secretary, Eduardo Ermita, this rule of calibrated preemptive response is now in force in lieu of maximum tolerance and that the police will strictly enforce the “no permit, no rally policy”.
I need not underscore the terrifying underpinnings of what this bodes for every freedom loving Filipino.
The term itself is foreboding.
• CALIBRATED – from the word “calibrate” which means to adjust precisely for a particular function; to standardize (as a measuring instrument) by determining the deviation from a standard as to ascertain the proper correction factors. To my mind, this policy is designed for a specific purpose – that of gagging legitimate voices of dissent; and for specific targeted persons, probably the leaders of the opposition.
• PREEMPTIVE – defined as an act seizing the initiative. In my humble opinion, this means to prevent the exercise of legitimate dissent through any means available even before such dissent is exercised.
• And RESPONSE – to my mind, and validated by the actions of this administration in the past, that this is the only response the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is prepared to give anyone who does not tow the administration line.
Mr. President, I now take this opportunity to stand before you in this august hall to strongly denounce, in clear and in no uncertain terms, the blatant, vulgar and desperate attempt of this administration to muffle the voice of dissent guaranteed no less by our fundamental law.
I strongly denounce this not only as a senator of the land, but also as a Filipino who holds the democratic ideals that has nourished this nation for generations close to his heart.
This administration has gone far enough. Emboldened perhaps with the anti-climactic death of the impeachment complaint in the lower house, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo must have the erroneous notion that nothing now stands in her way towards consolidating her hold on power. A power, which she has allegedly attained through cheating, lying and stealing.
Mr. President, the untimely demise of the impeachment complaint has now given Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the impudence and the audacity to now close down on the opposition by removing the other viable alternative available to the people dismayed over the demise of the impeachment complaint. She has now trained her hired dogs on mass protest by instituting a new policy of calibrated preemptive response or CPR.
Mr. President, it is not the opposition who needs CPR but her administration. Slowly, she has been beset by resignations by members of her official cabinet and key players in government disillusioned at the manner she runs the government.
If her own people are disillusioned and nauseated at her program of governance, how much more the plethora of people our fellow Filipinos trying to make out a living in a country now made desolate by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s misdirected policies and misguided intentions.
And this policy – the rule of calibrated preemptive response, Mr. President, where a “no permit, no rally” policy is strictly enforced against legitimate dissent, is one of them.
I repeat Mr. President, this latest move by this administration, is illegal not to say immoral as it violates with impudence and insolence one of our basic rights.
Mr. President, the constitution is very clear:
“No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances”
This constitutes the fundamental and basic right of every citizen to air their insights to authorities and leaders on matters that touch the very core of the political and social fiber of the nation. This is one of the mechanisms instituted by the constitution for people to voice their concern and interests with the end in view of protecting civil, political and economic rights.
Such right, Mr. President, is not subject to prior restraint. It has never been and shall never be subject to prior restraint. What this means is that the exercise of this fundamental right cannot be condition upon the prior issuance of a permit or authorization from government authorities.
Moreover, it would be noteworthy to state that aside from our very own constitution, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
Article 20 of said Declaration further states:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association”.
But that is not all Mr. President, under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the government as a party to said covenant has the responsibility to uphold the following rights as follows:
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
This Covenant further provides that “the right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interest of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”
Let is be known, Mr. President that under the principle of pacta sunt servanda, we have an obligation and the responsibility that these provisions are faithfully observed and respected. An obligation and a responsibility that this administration obviously has no intention of fulfilling.
• Instead of observing the constitution particularly the Bill of Rights it has turned the other way and snatched this very fundamental right from the people seeking redress of grievances.
• Instead of observing its international commitments under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it has blatantly ignored the same.
Mr. President, in its desperate attempt to cling to power which it does not deserve, this administration is introducing a new concept – the calibrated preemptive response – which to me is a dangerous concept.
I stand before you today and denounce this policy. There are no standards in place that would fully delineate and determine what this new concept means. Worst, this policy goes against Section 3, paragraph (b) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 880, otherwise known as the Public Assembly Act of 1985, the very law that enshrines the constitutional guarantee and right of our people to peaceably assemble for redress of grievance and mandates the use of maximum tolerance in handling mass actions of dissent.
Moreover, the same law also provides that law enforcement agencies shall not interfere with the holding of a public assembly.
We find solace in the words of the Supreme Court when it ruled in Primicias v. Fugoso and subsequently in Reyes v. Bagatsing:
“If the assembly is to be held in a public place, a permit for the use of such place, and not for the assembly itself, may be validly required. But the power of local officials in this regard is merely one of regulation, not prohibition.”
Mr. President, I am alarmed at the series of events the latest of which is the desperate attempt of the usurper to shut down all avenues for dissent.
Is the usurper so afraid that she would use all means – legal and illegal – in order to perpetuate herself in power? Is she so deaf to the pleas of the people for her to be held accountable for acts that had violated the sanctity of our constitution that she would be willing to violate the same constitution in order to shield herself from accountability?
Is she so blind as not to see the suffering she has caused on our hungry masses – the unemployed, the poor, the malnourished, the uneducated, the hopeless – that content in such blindness she continues to savor the amenities and comforts of an office to which she has no legitimate claim?
As a Filipino, a dutiful father and a humble son, I will not stand idly by and allow the usurper to obliterate whatever vestiges of our democratic institutions remain so that she may continue to exploit our country’s wealth and despoil our ideals and vision.
No, Mr. President, the untimely demise of the impeachment complaint may have emboldened the great pretender in Malacanan but her recent acts which constitute clear violations of law and of the constitution will continue to haunt her forever.
I now call on my fellow colleagues of this honorable chamber – to remain steadfast and vigilant. The Senate still remains the last bastion of representative democracy in this country and we have a sworn responsibility to protect the people from abuses of government.
And this appeal goes beyond the revered halls of this institution. My appeal goes to every Filipino who still cherishes the noble ideals spawned by Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Manuel Quezon, Claro M. Recto and Benigno Aquino to remain vigilant and not to allow the coercive forces of this administration to fully muffle legitimate voices of dissent.
Let us not allow the democratic ideals that have made this nation great be desecrated by an administration bent on pursuing its own selfish agenda.
Thank you and good day.