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Our issue for April 1, 2006

PHILIPPINES FREE PRESS

April 1, 2006 Issue

Main Features

1.Cover: Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, Day of Reckoning

The dismissal of the impeachment complaints, the mailed-fist policy against protest rallies, the obstruction of the Arroyo tapes investigation in the House, Executive Order 464, Proclamation No. 1017, the continuing harassment of opposition leaders, the intimidation of the press—all these will come to a confluence and, Sen. Rodolfo Biazon says, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will her “day of reckoning.? The military is a veritable tinder box and despite Gen. Generoso Senga’s five-point “guidance? Biazon, a former Marine commander and chief of the military who still has connections in the armed forces, knows the ranks are seething with anger. The administration had better be careful with handling the “case? of former senator Gregorio Honasan who, according to Biazon, has a following in the military and in the civilian populace who may react if the government insists on putting Honasan away. Honasan has denied involvement in the July 27, 2003 junior officers’ mutiny, but he is a veteran of the coup attempts against the government of President Corazon Aquino and he has gone into hiding since the government brought coup d’ état charges against him in February. The military is bringing charges against Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim before a court-martial for planning to lead the Scout Rangers in a march with the people on February 24, an action construed by the military and the administration as a coup. Under investigation and possibly facing charges is Col. Ariel Querubin for leading the Marines in protesting the relief of their commander, Brig. Gen. Renato Miranda, on February 26. The military is investigating the extent of the action that had been planned against Mrs. Arroyo. Senga, who reportedly refused to join the march, says in his “guidance? that the military should be apolitical and the troops must defend the Constitution. Biazon says Mrs. Arroyo, by proclaiming a state of national emergency and even after lifting it continues to intimidate the opposition and the press, has violated the Constitution. He says it is time to remind the soldiers that “anyone who violates the Constitution is your enemy.?

By Ricky S. Torre

2. The People’s Voice

The latest Pulse Asia poll shows that 65 percent of the Filipinos want Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo out of power—by any means, even a coup or foreign intervention. This finding should make the Palace think, but no—Malacañang insists polls have no relevance to this government and the presidency is not a popularity contest. That’s what they think Filipinos are doing, rating Mrs. Arroyo negatively in a mere popularity contest?

By Guiller de Guzman and Nati Nuguid

3. Against Our Rights

A group of civil libertarians has brought a complaint in the United Nations Human Rights Commission for the arbitrary detention of Party-list Rep. Crispin Beltran, as the government continues to force a case against five other party-list representatives in an effort to intimidate the political opposition. The administration, however, is not worried, and insists that the rule of law still prevails in the Philippines. Yes, trial-and-error style, that is, we pick you up now and you can go to court; if you’re right, you can go; if we’re wrong, we’ll try again.

By Guiller de Guzman and Wendell Vigilia

4. Success of Obstruction

The five committees of the House of Representatives that investigated the Arroyo tapes have adopted an official version of the investigation report that proves disappointing to the opposition and the nation. Instead of finding the tapes evidence of electoral fraud, the committees have found that there was a conspiracy to overthrow President Arroyo using the tapes. The committees, however, have found an attempt by Malacañang at a cover-up. The minority on the committees will write its own investigation report, one that would show how the search for truth in the hearings was obstructed.

By Guiller de Guzman and Wendell Vigilia

5. In His Own Defense

Joseph Estrada takes the witness stand in his Sandiganbayan trial (testimony on Wednesday)

By Guiller de Guzman and Nati Nuguid

6. The Privileged Sex

In the Buddhist- and Muslim-dominated Southeast Asia, where most rural wives are still obliged by culture to lug the load and walk behind their husbands, the Christian Filipino women emerge as the most privileged of their sex. Nowhere else in this part of the world has the presidency been occupied by two women, or congressional and cabinet offices filled by so many women, or nearly an equal number of men and women share powers in business. In other words, Filipino women are the freest in Asia. But how come they contribute little to the development of the Philippines’ economy?

By Ramiro C. Alvarez

7. Call for Trees

The landslides and floods that have been ravaging the eastern part of the Philippines since November last year show the failure of the government’s reforestation program. Despite years of trying and billions of pesos being spent for the reforestation program, 8.4 million hectares of once pristine forestland remain denuded. The government just cannot do it alone, this is now clear, so private groups have started their own reforestation projects. One of these groups is the Couples for Christ, which has launched a five-year program under which the group’s members would plant 25 million trees.

By Ramiro C. Alvarez

Two (2) editorials

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