Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 16      May 29- June 4, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines











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Copyright 2004 Bulatlat


‘Undeclared Martial Law’ Denounced by Civil Libertarians, Legislators
Cases of military abuse mounting

Civil libertarians, legislators, human rights lawyers, justice and peace advocates and activists last week warned that the restoration of martial law is imminent under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA). They also declared an “all-out war" against the President as they publicly announced that Mrs. Arroyo was worse than the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

By Gerry Albert Corpuz

The country’s leading civil libertarians, legislators, human rights lawyers, justice and peace advocates and activists last week warned that the restoration of martial law is imminent under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA). They also declared an “all-out war" against the President as they publicly announced that Mrs. Arroyo was worse than the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

Speaking before a full up crowd which also included former government executives, leading members of the academe and film and stage directors at the re-launching of the Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties (MCCCL) at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City on May 25, opposition Sen. Jamby Madrigal likened the present situation to the dark days of martial law under the U.S.-backed Marcos dictatorship.

The opposition senator also took the occasion to assail her colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives, including the influential Commission on Appointments (CA) saying Malacañang was using the tyranny of majority to pass laws and other legislative actions against the interest of the Filipino people.

Madrigal, who was first elected senator in May last year, said the re-launching of MCCCL was a politically correct move to challenge the revived but undeclared martial law under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. She said the “Strong
Republic” was not a strong republic but a republic for strong people in the government.

"There's travesty of justice,” Madrigal said in her first scathing attack against the incumbent President Arroyo. “There's miscarriage of justice. The Strong
Republic means repression. It is the repression of executive system, the repression of the legislative system and the repression of the judicial system. Gloria's Strong Republic controls the executive, the judiciary, the legislative, the electoral tribunal and the military."

Madrigal added: "If you criticize the government under the veil of democracy, you will be charged with sedition. President Arroyo (manipulates) the media and public opinion to justify the bullets of repression. In guise of democracy, the administration is using the military to silence critics. We are back in the dark old days of Martial Law where we have to say our piece in whisper."

Pre-emptive strikes

Martial law veteran activist Marie Hilao-Enriquez, secretary general of the human rights watchdog Karapatan and one of the convenors of MCCCL confirmed the undeclared martial law situation under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

"Mrs. Arroyo is launching pre-emptive strikes to silence critics and legitimate opposition,” Hilao-Enriques said. “The take-no-prisoner policy is being implemented to sow state terror and violence against political activists, lawyers, human rights workers, church people and journalists exposing the regime’s crimes and atrocities against the people."

In a power point presentation, Karapatan said in the first quarter of the year (January to March 2005), 39 activists and ordinary people were brutally killed and summarily executed by alleged members of the military and AFP-backed death squads. Thirteen of the activists killed during the first quarter of 2005 were all from Central Luzon, including Tarlac City Councilor Abelardo Tadena and parish priest Rev. Father William Tadena, both active supporters of striking farm workers of Hacienda Luisita which is owned by the family of former Philippine President Corazon Aquino.

Karapatan said 24 of those killed were leaders and mass members of progressive party list groups like Bayan Muna (people first) and Anakpawis (toiling masses) and other left-leaning cause-oriented groups affiliated with the militant alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-New Patriotic Alliance).

The human rights group also said since 2001, 59 coordinators of Bayan Muna and 19 coordinators of Anakpawis party list had been killed by alleged members of the military and AFP-backed death squads across the country. Karapatan said a total of 19 human rights workers were killed since President Arroyo assumed the presidency in January 2001.

The non-government human rights organization documented 4,144 cases of human rights violations also under the Macapagal-Arroyo regime. The group said, all cases implicated top military and police officials who had been tagging officers and members of militant groups as front men of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People's Army (NPA), enemies of the state and serious threats to national security.

Karapatan's Enriquez said these killings and other acts of state terrorism and military directed assaults against political activists, lawyers, journalists and critics of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration were
sanctioned by the Office of the President and the military generals inside the inner circle of Mrs. Arroyo and were all attuned to the U.S. war of aggression under the pretext of fighting global and domestic terrorism.

Situation merits MCCCL revival

Bayan Muna party list Rep. Satur Ocampo on the other hand said the prevailing state of political repression in the country merits the revival of MCCCL.

"The assertion of basic freedom rights under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration becomes a paramount concern for all freedom-loving Filipinos,” Ocampo, himself a long-time political prisoner during the Marcos years, said. “The situation calls for the mass campaign and the mass education of the masses, the professionals and members of the opposition parties to counter the resurgence of state fascism and dictatorship which we fought more than 30 years ago."

Ocampo, a former newspaperman of the Manila Times, recalled how the rising tide of the anti-fascist and anti-dictatorship movement during the Marcos era moved and mobilized Joaquin “Chino” Roces, publisher of the Manila Times, former Sen. Jose W. Diokno, former Sen. Lorenzo Tañada, Joaquin Po and National Press Club (NPC) officers Amando Doronila, Jose Burgos and Antonio Zumel to the cause of civil liberties and basic human rights.

"The people's rallying call against the dictatorship led to the transformation of NPC as a major hub for anti-fascist and anti-dictatorship forces at the height of the Martial Law regime," Ocampo said.

Another stalwart of the martial law era, Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo, convenor of the anti-corruption watchdog Plunder Watch and MCCL and concurrent chair of Bayan noted many similarities of the pre-martial law era and the present situation under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

"The similarities include but not limited to the escalating murders of activists and journalists, moves of the administration to impose a national ID system and anti-terrorism bill which are both seen as threats to civil
liberties and the labeling of administration critics as enemies of the state," Araullo said.

She said the killings have not stopped and that the administration is putting more repressive measures against the people. Araullo also said the economic and political crisis brought forth the conditions for heightened repression in the country.

"It appears that the only way the administration can survive the crisis is through the use of iron-fisted rule. The administration is so paranoid that dissent is no longer tolerated and is branded as destabilization," Araullo stressed.

Terrible times

"It seems like we are living back to the terrible times of martial law. That's why we have this gathering which appears to me as an alumni homecoming of anti-Marcos activists," said Mother Mary John Mananzan, OSB, former President of St. Scholastica College.

The activist nun, who was with the workers of La Tondeña when the first labor strike during the Martial Law era broke out, rallied colleagues in the civil liberties movement to go forward and start building a broad resistance against the looming undeclared martial rule under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

"We must reject the concept of Strong
Republic and junk the recycled militarist solution being carried out by the administration of President Arroyo," Sr. Mananzan said. She also cited the role of the United States in the ongoing campaign of the government against legitimate dissent and mass protest.

Mananzan said the
U.S. knew of Marcos plan of declaring martial law. The U.S. supported Marcos' plan because he was still then a reliable ally and puppet of Washington. "But later the U.S. government dumped Marcos because he has become an extreme liability to American business and military interests in the country. The same might happen to Gloria," she said.

Clear and imminent danger

The clear and imminent danger of martial law or a situation worse than martial law was seen by former UP Law Dean Pacifico Agabin in the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill (ATB) currently being debated at the House of Representatives. The MCCCL, according to Dean Agabin should look into the vague, overbroad and ridiculous terminologies used in the anti-terrorism bill, which he summed up into one solid word – “repression.”

"Every innocent action can be classified as act of terrorism under the terror bill being proposed by Malacañang for legislation. Even smoking in private and public places can be classified by the state as act of terrorism because it might endanger people's health or sabotage the operations of public or private interests," Dean Agabin said.

Agabin said strikes staged by jeepney drivers and other mass transport groups against successive oil price hikes can be considered as acts of terrorism because these can be declared as unlawful by the Macapagal-Arroyo administration through the Department of Justice and the Anti-Terrorism Council under the Office of the President.

The former law dean also said military and police operatives can also perform surveillance operations against suspected terrorists without probable cause and can secure a court order based on narrow assumptions and subjective assessments.

Powerhouse cast of defenders

The re-established MCCCL, aside from Rep. Ocampo, Dr. Araullo, Sr. Mananzan, Dean Agabin, human rights activist Enriquez, includes a powerhouse cast of convenors led by former UP President Francisco Nemenzo Jr., Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas Movement and Jesus is the Lord Fellowship,
former Senator Wigberto ' Bobby" Tañada, former IFI Obispo Maximo Alberto Ramento, nationalist Renato Constantino Jr., Sr. Emelina Villegas (ICM), activist priest Fr. Jose Dizon, UP Manila Chancellor Dr. Marita Reyes, Prof. Joi Barrios, UN Ad Litem Atty. Romeo Capulong, former Labor undersecretary Amado " Gat" Inciong, former Nueva Viscaya Rep. Carlos Padilla, former Solicitor General Atty. Frank Chavez, National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) Secretary General Sharon Joy Ruiz-Duremdez, Atty. Eduardo Araullo, Atty. Marvic Leonen,  Fr. Rudy Abao (MSC), Dr. Ernesto Gonzales (UST),  UP Dean Luis Teodoro, Bro. Edmundo Fernandez of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) and former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) commissioner Atty. Nasser

Representing the people's organizations are Danilo Ramos, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP- peasant), Elmer Labog of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU-Labor), Emmie de Jesus (Gabriela-women), Cosain Naga of Moro Christian People's Alliance (MCPA), Biyaya Quizon of (KKKP) and Jose Cosido of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP).

Film artists and stage directors Joel Lamangan, Bart Guingona and Ben Cervantes and political personalities like Congressman Herminio Teves, actor Rez Cortez, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomiya (KME) convenor Jimmy Olegario, ex-Navy Capt. Dan Vizmanos, Ramon Magsaysay awardee Bien Lumbera and noted opposition leader Linggoy Alcuaz graced the affair in solidarity with the civil liberties activists. Bulatlat




© 2004 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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