An international press freedom watchdog on Saturday called on President Arroyo to drop sedition charges against a newspaper publisher and two columnists who have been critical of her government.
Ninez Cacho-Olivares, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Daily Tribune, and columnists Herman Tiu Laurel and Ike Señeres were charged last Wednesday for writing articles and editorials allegedly aimed at stirring dissent.
The three have vowed to fight the charges and said the Arroyo government’s move went against freedom of speech in a country that is one of Asia’s most free-wheeling democracies.
“Resorting to sedition charges against journalists who are critical of the government smacks of overreaction and outright intimidation,” Joel Simon, the executive director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said in a statement.
“The Arroyo government should drop these charges immediately,” Simon stressed.
The government last year raided the offices of the Tribune after Mrs. Arroyo invoked emergency powers to quell a coup allegedly hatched by political figures close to the newspaper, disgruntled military officers and leftist insurgents.
Some 28 officers, including two generals and several highly decorated colonels, are now being tried in a military court, while some 16 civilians, including six leftist politicians, were arrested but later freed.
CPJ noted that the raid on the Tribune offices was ruled unconstitutional by the Philippine Supreme Court in May of last year.
Senior state prosecutor Phillip Kimpo, in announcing the charges last Wednesday, said there was “probable cause” that the three accused had incited to sedition, which is a criminal offense in the Philippines.
According to Kimpo, reading of the questioned articles “reveals some grossly or obscenely abusive libels against the government and its officials.”
He cited an article written by Olivares on Dec. 11, 2005, in which she stated that the “military willfully engages in illegal activities and follows illegal orders from the Commander-in-Chief.”
Ito ang ikinagalit ng Malacanang sa mga sinulat ni Ninez:
The first of the editorials cited by prosecutors, entitled Candles for Truth was published on September 2005 and described the Arroyo administration as having “turned into a government to buy the people.”
“She (Arroyo) cannot exercise the rule of government except through the buying of support. That was the way she swayed Congress to her side. Support was bought, directly or indirectly, through early release of pork barrels or commitments for such and that should not be denied by those who accepted the virtual bribes.”
Particular mention was made by the prosecutors of a column last Dec.11, 2005 where Olivares stated “that the military willfully engages in illegal activities and follows illegal orders from the commander-in-chief.”
At ito pa, from the Malaya report:
Kimpo said Olivares fueled disenchantment at the Armed Forces, Congress and the Supreme Court by insinuating that they no longer deserve the respect, trust and confidence of the people.
Kimpo said a column written by Olivares on Dec. 11, 2005, said the military willfully engages in illegal activities and follows illegal orders from the commander-in-chief.
He said Olivares categorically said that the incumbent president is a bogus president.
In the same column, she also supposedly maligned then Armed Forces chief Gen. Generoso Senga by saying he was unprofessional and a protector of criminals in the military establishment.
Here's my initial reaction nung nabasa ko yan.
Ang masasabi ko lang is that i don't see anything wrong sa mga sinulat ni ninez tungkol sa corruption, election rigging, at kung paano ginamit ni arroyo ang COMELEC at military sa dagdag bawas operations nila.
So Ninez's columns in the tribune continue to "undermine" the people trust and faith in the arroyo administration? Naku, kasalanan pa pala ni Ninez kung bakit konti lang ang tiwala ng tao sa administration ni Arroyo.
Eh paano naman yung mga columns ni Conrad de Quiros, maam arroyo? Sample:
The administration does have superior political machinery, but that machinery isn’t given to organizing or campaigning. It isn’t even given to acts of vindication or revenge, especially after government got a sound beating from the Supreme Court on the Charter change issue. That machinery is given only to cheating. That machinery is eager to get back at the opposition not by means fair or foul but by means foul or worse.
We have seen how that machinery was put to work in 2004: it was used to siphon off all monies from government offices to pay for billboards -- yes, the same ones they now want to put down -- and an unrelenting barrage of TV ads, and to give fertilizer funds to congressmen overseeing urban jungles. Ask that big joke, Jocelyn Bolante. It was used to ransack even money of overseas Filipino workers, a good portion of the fund of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration being used to buy off voters through the PhilHealth cards that had Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s grinning face on them rather than the forlorn ones of their beneficiaries. It was used to manufacture votes in the Central Luzon area, including Metro Manila, to give Arroyo an artificial lead.
And when all that still failed, Arroyo called up Election Commissioner Virgilio “Garci” Garcillano.
That machinery has not been dismantled. That machinery exists intact, and can be employed with the same ferocity to produce the same results. We count the votes right next year, and the opposition will very likely trample all over the administration the way the Liberals trampled all over the Nacionalistas in 1971. But that is like saying that if we had counted the votes right in 2004 Fernando Poe Jr. would have, if not routed Arroyo, at least had her biting his dust. What was done before can be done again. No, more than that, what was done before demands to be done again. Getting away with murder is an open invitation to murder again and again.
What’s to prevent it? The Commission on Elections (Comelec), which played the role of conspirator rather than arbiter during the last elections, has not been revamped. No one even knows whether the canvassing will be computerized or not, which is openly courting nasty surprises at the end line, the kind Benjamin Abalos and company sprang on the unsuspecting public the last time around. I haven’t heard any furious discussions about plans to stop cheating. I have not heard any demands from the opposition for an international delegation to monitor the elections the way Cory Aquino and company did during the snap elections of 1986.
More than this, as I said some weeks ago when Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos and Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz were predicting there would be no more “Hello Garci’s” because the military would no longer be used in elections, why should that be so? The generals did not call up Garci, Arroyo did -- and she hasn’t been punished. The only way crime stops is when it is punished. Crime gets rewarded, it will riot like weeds in an untended garden. The fact that Arroyo remains president assures there will be massive cheating in next elections. Look at the nurses and see if cheating has not become the accepted norm in this country.
Which brings me to my completely immodest proposal. That is for the elections next year to be held not just as regular senatorial elections but to be turned into a presidential election. No need to call for snap elections if the problem is time and money. We can always turn the regular elections next year into a special one to resolve the problem of a fake president.
Or this one: Importations
Eduardo Ermita and company say a replication of the Thai coup is impossible in this country. Well, if it’s so, why do they keep saying it, as though they want to convince themselves of it?
And Edcel Lagman says such a coup is impossible in this country because of “a popular aversion to extra-constitutional means of subverting the status quo.” Well, he’s right about the popular aversion to a coup, or an extra-constitutional means of seizing power. That is why there is a popular aversion to the regime he is determined to serve, the GMA regime, which is a coup regime, one wrought by ballots instead of bullets. The surveys bolster that fact. The overwhelming majority of Filipinos do not think GMA is the President and a clear majority wants her ousted from power. You can’t find clearer proof of the popular aversion to a coup or the forcible seizure of power than that.
But which is why another coup is not just possible in this country, it is probable. If not soon at least down the line. The specter will always be there. It can only be a counter-coup to end a coup, and if it keeps along the lines of the Thai coup, it will be more than accepted, it will be embraced. There is no question about public resistance, there won’t be any. The only question is the template, there doesn’t seem to be any either.
Maybe, we should import some Thai generals?
Or this one: Cheating
Well, what was the last presidential election all about? It was a case of massive cheating. It was a case of someone in whose hands would be left the care of a sick and dying country proposing to hurry it up to its grave. Never mind the nurses who might not add to the remittances Pidal means to loot because of the flawed exams. Mind only the 85 million or so Filipinos whose lives have just been made hell.
Can anything be more hysterically funny, or a brilliant if unwitting exercise in self-satire, than Arroyo telling the prospective nurses they have to take the exams again because many of them cheated in the last one? The same reasons for requiring new exams are the same reasons for requiring new elections. No, they are more than the same reasons. Far, far more. The stakes in elections are higher. The price to pay for cheating in elections is steeper. If this country cannot survive the reputation of having fake nurses, it will survive even less the reality of having a fake president.
About the military's role in the gloriagate dagdag bawas operations:
“HELLO GARCI WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN,” predicts Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz. That is so in the light of the Comelec resolution to limit the role of the military in elections. No more will soldiers take part in counting and canvassing votes, choosing precincts, transporting ballot boxes and carrying election materials and results. Henceforth, they will merely man checkpoints and enforce the gun ban. And only 10 percent of them will be involved where before the entire 125,000-strong Armed Forces of the Philippines was.
Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos agrees enthusiastically: “Garci is gone, there will be no more Garci.” He adds jokingly, “There will only be ‘Hello Brawnie’,” in reference to Romeo Brawner, a newly appointed Comelec commissioner.
So all’s well that ends well?
Not really. All sucks that ends badly.
I grant that limiting the military’s role in elections can have tremendous salutary effects. Especially given that today’s AFP is controlled by the generals mentioned in the Hello Garci tapes as having cheated for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, chief of them Hermogenes Esperon. They were all rewarded, and not punished, for that monstrous act of infamy. But limiting the AFP’s role in elections won’t exorcise Garci from the face of this earth, or even come close to it.
Lest we forget, there’s an exchange in the “Hello Garci” tape, where GMA worried about not getting enough votes in some parts of Muslim Mindanao and Garci responded by saying, as you know Ma’am the military isn’t really good at rigging things, “di gaano marunong gumawa,” but that generally speaking the effort to pad her votes was being executed well, “’yung hong pagpatataas sa inyo maayos ho naman.” That is a breathtakingly revealing statement in more ways than one. The least of what it reveals is that the soldiers are not the Einsteins of cheating in elections, people like Garci and his boss, GMA herself, are.
On comparing Arroyo with Marcos:
Is Arroyo another Marcos?
Good question to ask today, the 34th anniversary of martial law, and the year Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo unleashed 1017 and other martial law-like edicts. My answer to it is yes and no. But lest readers take comfort in that answer, the “no” there is an even greater source of dread.
The yes is patent. Arroyo is another Marcos in many respects.
Marcos became an illegitimate ruler after September 1972, ruling without the mandate of the people. Arroyo became an illegitimate ruler after May 2004, ruling without the mandate of the people. However she twists in the wind, Arroyo will never be able to escape the ghost of the “Hello Garci” tapes. Her allies in the House of Representatives may refuse to accept that as evidence to impeach her, but the public will always find in it a reason to revile her.
Marcos wanted to rule forever, Arroyo wants to rule forever. Not quite incidentally, Marcos also tried to circumvent the ban against a third presidential term by bribing the Constitutional Convention to shift the form of government from presidential to parliamentary. His plot was foiled by an honest old man named Eduardo Quintero who exposed the bribe. His legal avenues closed to him, Marcos took the illegal route of declaring martial law.
The Cha-cha (charter change) prospers, and Arroyo can rule after 2010 by becoming prime minister. Of course, Jose de Venecia thinks he will be it, but he has always been horribly deluded. Of course, too, the transitory provisions say Arroyo can only name the prime minister and not be it, but the last elections also say Fernando Poe Jr. and not Arroyo won, and she has been it. Indeed, the whole trajectory of Arroyo’s rule suggests she does not mean to give up power ever. The scale of the killings, which opens her up at the very least to legal retribution from her victims in the form of a class suit not unlike the one the martial-law torture victims lodged (successfully) against Marcos and at the very most to physical reprisal, must suggest so.
Marcos ruled by force, Arroyo rules by force. That follows from the fact that both were/are illegitimate. The only way to maintain illegitimate rule is by force. Marcos unleashed a scale of killings unprecedented in postwar Philippine history, Arroyo has launched a scale of killings unprecedented since Marcos. The object of the killings then as now is the same: to wipe out opposition from the face of the earth. The only difference is that Arroyo does so indirectly, by sending a chilling message to critics via her death warrant on the New People’s Army.
Marcos was obsessed with power and broke all the rules to get what he wanted, Arroyo is obsessed with power and is breaking all the rules to get what she wants. Both lied through their teeth. Lying was Marcos’ favorite pastime, too. When I was writing the book on martial law, I toyed with the idea of titling it “Lying in State,” but my publishers thought it either misleading or grim. But that was what Marcos did more than anything else: he lied relentlessly about matters of state.
On the political killings being perpetrated by the military:
The fools who constitute the majority of the House of Representatives, who blocked the impeachment bid against their favorite tyrant would say to a man and woman that there was nothing to connect their favorite tyrant to the killings. Well, there is still something worse than being dead while being alive, and that is being a congressman who has sold his soul to GMA. There is no worse state than this—and if they themselves cannot feel the misery of it, it is only because there is no feeling left in their bodies, or souls. Some day too they will reap the whirlwind in terms of the contempt of their countrymen, the infamy to hound their names and houses till kingdom come.
Nothing to connect GMA to the killings? You have to have lost all sense of sight, hearing, smell, taste and feeling to mouth that. At the very least, what is government there for? There’s nothing more ludicrous—the kind that kills when you laugh—than GMA cajoling the witnesses in the killings to come out so she might stop the mayhem. And what, unless the witnesses materialize—something she herself has discouraged by stopping witnesses against her from appearing before the Senate—she is freed from the duty, the responsibility, the imperative, to stop the mayhem? And what, so that the witnesses, who will then have implicated themselves as being in the company of suspected NPA members, will become target practice for Palparan?
We pay taxes so that government will serve us. The least of the service being for it to keep us alive, not to kill us. There’s nothing more ludicrous as well than Eduardo Ermita saying, “But what about the killings by the NPA?” Well, what about them? The human rights groups have condemned those killings as well. I know I have, repeatedly. More to the point, we do not pay taxes to the NPA, we pay taxes to the government. We do not owe allegiance to the NPA, we owe allegiance to the government. You want us to apply the same rules to the NPA as to government, let us pay taxes to the NPA, and let us owe allegiance to the NPA.
While at that, the NPA “killing fields” is a case of the NPA slaughtering its own comrades. The day Palparan slaughters his own comrades is the day I will praise him to high heavens. The day he slaughters himself is the day I will ask for his sainthood.
But GMA’s crime isn’t just one of omission or ineptitude, it’s one of commission or direct authorship. The only thing worse than the scale of the current mayhem—which surpasses even that of martial law: then there was at least a distinction, however often blurred, between combatant and non-combatant; today even NGOs and party lists are combatants—is the ease with which Palparan is able to justify it. He openly advocates the murder of the “enemy,” that category being what and how his diseased mind decrees it, and his boss does not reprimand him, his boss praises him before the nation, before the world, before heaven and earth, for a job well done. This is not sporadic or intermittent bloodletting, this is systematic and calculated bloodbath. This is not accident, this is policy. This is not violence most regrettable, this is murder most foul.
And pray, what, the butler did it?
Not so, Mr. Speaker. The usurper did it.
On Sec. Duque's role in using the PHILHEALTH money to fund arroyo's 2004 election campaign.
In the end, Executive Secretary Ermita exudes neither confidence nor reasonability, he merely exudes foulness. At the very least that is so because he owes the OFWs an explanation for where their money went. We do know where part of it went: P530 million of it in Medicare funds meant solely for OFWs went to PhilHealth to campaign for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the last elections. That is so notwithstanding PhilHealth's repeated claims they got the checks only after the elections. Francisco Duque's letter to Arroyo saying that the transfer "will bear significantly on 2004 elections," Arroyo's executive order transferring the funds, and the labor department's approval, all done before the elections, supply the motive, opportunity and means for the crime.
Where there's smoke, there's fire. Where there is this theft (there is no other word for it), there will be more. Who cares if Owwa officials recite like a mantra that the OFW billions are intact? Intact for whom? It can't come as a comfort to a depositor that his money is in the bank but he can't touch it -- ever. Government officials continue to snub the Senate, and the OFWs may safely assume that their billions have been stolen from
them. And rage, rage, against the dying of this light.
I can go on and on about this, here, here etc. But you get the point. I've just focused on de Quiros. Hindi ko pa isinama yung mga articles ni Neal Cruz, Randy David at mga ibang PDI columnists.
But I guess it's easier to pick on the Tribune than the Inquirer ano?