Malaya Editorial 4 January 2006
AN ASSAULT ON THE BILL OF RIGHTS
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."
That's Section 5 of the Bill of Rights, a provision that that has remained unchanged from the 1935 Constitution which was adopted during the American colonial era to the 1973 Constitution which was adopted at the height of martial law. That provision springs from the fundamental rights of man, and has been hallowed by tradition and remains a powerful check to the abuses of the State.
So if the charter has to be changed, that particular provision - along with the rest which are enshrined in the Bill of Rights - would be the last that should be monkeyed around with, right?
Those "geniuses" handpicked by Gloria Arroyo to propose changes in the 1987 do not think so. They have come up with a proposed amendment that would emasculate the exercise of such right.
The proposal reads:
"No law shall be passed abridging the responsible exercise of 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."
Does that mean then that under the proposed new charter laws may be passed abridging the irresponsible exercise of the freedom of speech, of _expression or the press of the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances? That's the only reasonable explanation for that proposal.
And who then would define responsible or irresponsible exercise of such right? Presumably parliament.
A more direct assault on fundamental rights we cannot imagine.
We can understand why the pro-fascist administration of Gloria would emasculate freedom of speech, of the press and of peaceful assembly. Remember the CPR (calibrated preemptive response) policy on mass actions? This administration is deathly afraid of the truth, of criticism and dissent.
What we cannot understand is why those purported "wise men" who had been picked to draft the proposed amendments went along with this throwback to the Malolos Constitution of 1989. (The Malolos charter recognizes these rights, but with the qualification that their exercise "shall be subject to general provisions regulating the same.")
History is said to be the chronicle of man's march toward freedom. Gloria, through her handpicked architects of the proposed new charter, would seek to reverse history's trajectory.
She has robbed us of the truth, of our right to elect our leader, of the taxes we pay. She wants to rob us of our freedoms, too?
Now we understand why people find her more execrable than Marcos.