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PHILIPPINES: On Makati Siege; A crisis of institutions

AKBAYAN (Citizens Action Party) | 30.11.2007 02:03 | Analysis | Repression | Social Struggles | World

The incident unfolding in Makati City today is not surprising. It is a logical conclusion to the abuses committed by the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) administration, from the dismissal of the impeachment complaint to the clamp down of democratic and constitutional processes.

PHILIPPINES: On Makati Siege
PHILIPPINES: On Makati Siege

The situation is a result of the refusal of the government to address allegations of fraud and corruption squarely. The administration has evaded and manipulated constitutional processes to hold GMA accountable for allegations of monumental fraud. It compromised attempts to investigate with impartiality allegations of corruption involving the National Broadband Network (NBN) deal; what we have witnessed instead is the brazen giving of pay-offs to legislators and local government officials. It manipulated the military and used coercion to persecute the opposition, as evidenced by the spate of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

Sen. Trillanes is an elected public official, and his mandate to serve is clear and not clouded by cheating and electoral fraud. He was elected with 11 million votes, and even the Senate, through a resolution, affirmed his right to represent his constituency and voted in favor of his serving as Senator. His election reflected the predominantly anti-administration sentiment of the people, and yet the GMA government continued persecuting him and the Magdalo soldiers, with their politically-motivated trial dragging for four years and Sen. Trillanes himself blocked from serving in the Senate.

The nation must root out the problems that have led to this incident. The ‘Hello Garci’ controversy , the onerous NBN deal, the alleged bribery of legislators and governors, the sham impeachment complaint filed against GMA, and the politically-motivated trial of soldiers involved in the Oakwood mutiny fueled this confrontation, and the crisis would continue to fester as long as the corruption charges and legitimacy questions leveled against the GMA administration are not resolved with credibility.

AKBAYAN (Citizen's Action Party) urges all forces to seek a peaceful and civilian solution to this incident. We must avoid bloodshed at all cost, and democratic solutions to this problem are only possible through non-violent means. No deadline should be imposed on the Magdalo soldiers since it would only create a climate conducive to a bloody confrontation between the soldiers. A deadline should be imposed for the realization of democratic, peaceful, and credible resolutions to political crisis, and not on a crisis situation that could potentially be violent.

We warn the administration against the use of force to end the situation. The withdrawal of support has so far been peaceful, and the AFP and PNP must not initiate a violent response to the crisis. We warn the government against using the situation to enforce authoritarian measures against the opposition and the public in general.

We support efforts for negotiation to avoid bloodshed. However, negotiations must be founded on a more lasting resolution to the conflict: a credible closure to the allegations of fraud and corruption against the GMA administration, an end to extrajudicial killings, and the strengthening of our democracy.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

AKBAYAN condemns detention of journalists and warns govt against another crackdown

AKBAYAN Party condemned the arrest and rounding up of journalists and civil society leaders and warned the government today against using the Manila Pen stand-off to launch another crackdown against opposition, saying that it should instead face the issues that led to the stand-off squarely.

"The people will not tolerate another attack on democratic rights. The government is already insinuating that the stand-off is a conspiracy between civil society groups and the Magdalo soldiers, even making this insane accusation that the annual November 30 workers' rallies is part of the stand-off," Deputy minority leader and AKBAYAN Rep. Hontiveros said. Rep. Hontiveros also condemned the arrest of Bishop Labayen and Fr. Robert Reyes. "The warrant of arrest for the Magdalo soldiers was issued for contempt of court. There was no legal basis to arrest and handcuff Bishop Labayen and Fr. Robert Reyes," Rep. Hontiveros said.

For her part, AKBAYAN Chair Emeritus Etta Rosales said that the detention of journalists and confiscation of their equipments is isolating further an already politically discredited and a morally bankrupt administration. "We have to thank the soldiers and policemen who are detaining journalists and civil society leaders for showing the bankruptcy of the administration. This is bringing together various forces and sectors, making them realize that it depends upon them to change the status quo."

"We will also push for a congressional inquiry on the violation of the rights of journalists who were simply in Manila Peninsula to do their jobs. It is unlawful for the AFP and PNP to detain these journalists and to confiscate the tapes and other properties of the media persons in the area," Rep. Hontiveros added.

Rosales said that the conduct of the assault demonstrated anew the propensity of the GMA administration to resort to draconian measures to stifle dissent.

"GMA mangled our constitution and our laws to evade accountability and accused the Magdalo soldiers of violating the rule of law. Yet the stand-off was a product of the administration violating the rule of law – it resorted to pay-offs to escape allegations of fraud and corruption and it condoned extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances to stifle opposition," Rosales said.

She warned the administration from using the stand-off to launch a crackdown against anti-GMA forces.

"She should instead come clean and allow efforts to hold her accountable for allegations of fraud and corruption. Declaring another state of emergency or martial rule would not be tolerated by the people. This has gone too far," Rosales added.

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