Arroyo is the Greatest Threat to Democracy
The greatest threat that constitutes a clear and present danger to Philippine democracy is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo herself and not the rightist and leftist alliance that Malacanang claims aims to overthrow the republic. In fact Mrs. Arroyo’s downfall will be brought about by her own doing due to her insistence to institute martial law under the guise of the illegal and unconstitutional Proclamation 1017.
Proclamation 1017 is unconstitutional because by virtue of this proclamation Mrs. Arroyo has cracked down on legitimate dissent that resulted in the violent dispersal of rallies, arrests of six partylist representatives and a raid on the offices of the Daily Tribune. These punitive actions of the Arroyo government have effectively undermined the freedom of the press, curtailed free speech, and prohibited the exercise of the right to freedom of assembly- rights that are enshrined in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution.
Proclamation 1017 is illegal because Section 18. Article VII of the Constitution states that; “The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In the case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines under martial law.”
This provision does not include the declaration of a state of national emergency as part of the powers vested on the President as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. What the constitution provides for is the declaration of martial law – something that Mrs. Arroyo would be hard put to declare since it would need congressional approval before it could be implemented. Martial law would surely galvanize the Filipino people, who do not want to see a return to authoritarian rule.
By violating the rights guaranteed by the constitution and circumventing the legal system to perpetrate her continued hold to power, Mrs. Arroyo has effectively supplanted the “rule of law” with her own tyrannical rule. Mrs. Arroyo’s government is illegitimate because it has resorted to the arbitrary exercise of state power and interpretation of laws.
Such arbitrary nature of Mrs. Arroyo’s government must be met by a determined and consistent assertion of the people’s will. If Mrs. Arroyo persists in this track then human rights defenders and progressive forces will have no other choice but to once again launch massive protests against Arroyo’s authoritarian rule.
Never Again to Martial Rule!
Defend Human rights and Democracy!
Sr. Crescencia Lucero, sfic
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines