Repression invites more resistance than fear, and usually succeeds in achieving the exact opposite of its intention to intimidate.
By the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CENPEG)
The Arroyo regime is focused on survival, but is instead succeeding in strengthening already widespread opposition to it. The reason for this is simple and fundamental: it cannot confront head-on the issues that have bedeviled it since May this year because, as many suspect and as is probably the case, it did steal the May 2004 elections.
Over the last five months the Arroyo regime has therefore done its all to (1) prevent the truth about the May 2004 elections from seeing the light of day, in the furtherance of which it has been led to (2) suppressing the right to free expression.
Last summer it threatened to charge the media organizations that dared air or print the “Hello, Garci” tapes with violating the anti-wiretapping law, and the protest groups demanding Arroyo’s resignation or forcible removable from office with sedition and inciting to sedition.
The Justice Department’s National Bureau of Investigation also raided a printing press for the alleged offense of printing posters that depicted Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as a viper-haired Medusa, after arresting and charging with sedition three young men it accused of pasting the posters on metro Manila’s grimy walls.
Indeed the justice department has been busy trying to find loopholes in the country’s laws that would enable the regime to prosecute its perceived enemies. What it cannot find in the laws, it has itself concocted.
Only a month or so ago it unleashed Executive Order 464 under the provisions of which no official of the Executive Department can testify in any hearing in the House or Representatives and the Senate without Arroyo’s permission.
Before EO 464 the regime had announced a “no permit, no rally” policy in blatant violation of Article III Section 4 of the Philippine Constitution which expressly prohibits the passing of any law infringing on the free press, free expression and the right to assemble peaceably for the redress of grievances.
Eventually it went even further, announcing some weeks ago the now infamous CPR (Calibrated Preemptive Response) policy towards demonstrations and other street mass actions.
Both supplanted a supposed “maximum tolerance” policy that was only sporadically implemented, and allow the dispersal, most of the time violent, of demonstrations and rallies.
It was under the authority of the CPR policy that the police, incidentally with undisguised glee, turned fire hoses on a prayer rally last October 14 in which former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Senator Jamby Mardigal, Party List Representatives Satur Ocampo and Joel Virador, and Bishops Antonio Tobias and Deogracias Iñiguez were in attendance..
As anyone–apparently except the curious assortment of “exes” (an ex-anti-dictatorship President’s daughter, ex-journalists, ex-activists and ex-Marcos generals) that now run Malacañang—would have expected, the attack on the prayer rally has aroused widespread outrage and begun the process of unifying a divided Church. Even El Shaddai’s Mike Velarde, an Arroyo ally, has in fact expressed outrage over the incident.
As Bishop Tobias pointed out during the weekend, the attack is also uniting the Catholic bishops, who only last July 8 had hesitated in demanding the resignation of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Expect attacks similar to Friday’s to continue and to worsen. The one thing one can rely on about the Philippine political elite, particularly Arroyo and company, is its incurable reliance on repression and more repression in answer to the legitimate grievances of the citizenry. But expect too the growth of resistance to the regime’s suppression of free expression, and, quite possibly, the unleashing of the Second Wind of the oust-Arroyo movement.
The obvious and historical fact in this country and elsewhere is that repression invites more resistance than fear, and usually succeeds in achieving the exact opposite of its intention to intimidate. Arroyo and company should review their martial law history and learn from it if they expect to avoid repeating that part of it which ended with Ferdinand Marcos’ fleeing the country in well-deserved disgrace.
Contact Person: Luis V. Teodoro, Executive Director
Oct. 20, 2005