Friday, March 17, 2006

Churchpeople's Urgent Call to Action Against Arroyo Dictatorship

Urgent Call to Action Against Arroyo Dictatorship

Without elaborating details of his decision to resign, Solicitor General Alfredo Benipayo made it known to the public during the oral arguments at the Supreme Court that he himself thought that Mrs. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo’s Proclamation 1017 was wrong.

Since February 24, 2006, as our nation was placed in a state of emergency, de facto Martial Law was essentially enforced. Warrantless arrests, cancellation of all permits to rally and threats against all government critics were spelled out in Malacañang’s orders. The Daily Tribune, Abante, and most recently, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, cried foul over the repressive guidelines issued by the government, surveillance and deployment of state’s armed forces in media offices.

Indeed, it is difficult to justify Arroyo’s Proclamation 1017 and General Orders that spelled a throwback to Marcos’ Martial Law. No freedom-loving Filipino could ever find legal and moral justification for the wave of warrantless arrests, press freedom
repression and over-all suppression against groups and individuals expressing dissent against a fraudulent government. In the guise of maintaining peace and order, such abuses have been committed mainly against the leaders and members of people’s organizations and political parties that continue to demand proper closure on the issues of Arroyo’s legitimacy amidst the fraud, corruption and human rights violations committed by her regime.

The victims of grave threats against life and liberty include Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran who was unjustly arrested since February 25, and the so-called Batasan 5 who are currently under protective custody – Bayan Muna Representatives Satur Ocampo, Joel Virador and Teodoro Casiño, Anakpawis Representative Rafael Mariano and Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Masa. The six progressive parliamentarians are known advocates of people’s issues like wage increase, junking of oppressive taxes, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, Oil Deregulation Law and other anti- poor government policies. No wonder that the Arroyo government is doing everything to criminalize the genuine representatives of the common people.

In fact, whenever a ‘state of emergency,’ ‘state of rebellion’ or ‘state of lawlessness’ is declared by Arroyo, expect a wave of warrantless arrests, heightened repression against government critics, zoning of entire communities, curtailment of press freedom and various forms of violations of due process and civil liberties. Recall the wave of indiscriminate arrest of innocent Muslims during the government’s so-called pursuit of terrorists in Mindanao; the checkpoints and zoning in communities during peak of mass rallies, among others.

From 2001 to present, militarism and human rights violations, including the extra-judicial killings of over 300 activists, make the Arroyo government the worst human rights violator in the post-Marcos years. And despite so- called lifting of Arroyo’s Proclamation 1017 on March 3, political persecution and extrajudicial killings continued – with the chairman of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Malolos chapter and a peasant leader in Bohol as the latest victims.

Under Arroyo, 12 clergy and lay members of the churches who were active in human rights advocacy were brutally killed. Thus, Bishops of the member churches of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) who attended a dialogue with Malacañang representatives expressed protest at the latest government schemes as they strongly pointed out: Even before Proclamation 1017, our pastors and members have been killed!

All these violence and repression are acts of selfish desperation of an illegitimate president who refuses to heed the people’s demand for her to step down. Like Cha-Cha, Proclamation 1017 aimed to cover up the electoral fraud and other issues hounding Arroyo. Surely, the extremely unpopular president will continue to order the military and police forces to suppress all forms of dissent against her grave misdeeds. But nothing can stop the wave of a united people who long for truth, justice and meaningful change.

We, church people, having experienced the brutal years of the Marcos dictatorship, must add our voices and concrete actions to stop the return of dark days when political activists and supporters of people’s movements demanding regime change are arrested without warrant, brutally killed and forcibly disappeared; when freedom of the press is suppressed; and when all instruments of the state are directed to quell the dissent of people seeking urgent political and socio-economic reforms.

Now, more than ever, the ARROYO DICTATORSHIP must be ousted by all freedom- loving Filipino people. We stand for democracy and we believe in the people’s will for decisive actions just as we successfully triumphed over the Marcos dictatorship!

Join the Ecumenical Gatherings and Multi-Sectoral Rallies:

Stand for Democracy!
March 23: 9 AM, Plaza Miranda

Support the Workers’ Fight for Just Wages, Job
Security and Social Justice!
May 1 International Labor Day Rally: details to follow

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