PHILIPPINES FREE PRESS
May 6, 2006 Issue
1.Cover:Lakas–CMD Rep. Faysah Dumarpa of Lanao del Sur
Rep. Faysah Dumarpa is a Muslim and she should be opposed to the broad coverage of the proposed terrorism bill because, among other possible applications, her people are vulnerable to the stereotyping of Muslims as terrorists. But she supports the bill. “Terrorism is the scourge of the 21st century,” she says. The Philippines needs a law that would make the country extremely effective in fighting this new enemy.
By Diony Tubianosa
2. Bitter Defeat
Malacañang is forcing a positive spin to its loss in the Supreme Court. Administration officials says the opposition won but the government also won. But how can the administration have won when it is the very reason for Executive Order 464 that the Supreme Court has struck down—the protection of government secrets by preventing government, military and police officials from appearing before congressional investigations without President Arroyo’s permission? Rarely are government officials called to the Question Hour in the House or the Senate and this has to do mostly with matters that involve congressional oversight. No fireworks there. The fireworks are in the investigations into alleged irregularities in the government that the House and the Senate hold for the maintenance of the checks and balances principle without which the administration can just do what it pleases as if it’s unaccountable to the people. Accountability is what the Senate is forcing on the Arroyo administration, but administration officials think the courts are in the government’s pocket so that they push their luck too far. Now listen to the words they say about the Senate investigations into the Northrail contract, the Venable contract, the P728 million fertilizer scam and the Arroyo tapes. Their bitterness show they are hurting and their promise of continuing to fight the investigations only say they really have something to hide. They lost the fight, that’s clear. With Executive Order 464 out of the way, those investigations will continue and all the officials concerned had better come forward with the truth.
By Ricky S. Torre, Butch Serrano and Wendell Vigilia
3. Death to Death Penalty
Expanding her attempt at mollifying the Catholic Church, President Arroyo is certifying legislation that would abolish the death penalty. She won’t meet even a bit of resistance in Congress: the opposition in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate support the abolition of capital punishment. The division is in the public. The families of heinous crime victims and the Chinese community oppose the proposed repeal of the death penalty law. The Chinese fear that with the death penalty gone, the police will step up attacks on the children of wealthy businessmen or the businessmen themselves. With their income from illegal gambling seriously threatened, the police may indeed resume kidnapping wealthy people.
By Guiller de Guzman and Wendell Vigilia
The Justice Department brings rebellion charges against former senator Gregorio Honasan and party-list Representatives Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casiño Rafael Mariano, Liza Maza and Joel Virador for attempting to overthrow the government of President Arroyo. Still developing.
By Guiller de Guzman and Wendell Vigilia
5. How About a New Election?
With Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo controlling Congress and the people angry but not moving, the opposition is talking about forcing an early presidential election. But how do they go about it? There is no law that would allow unscheduled elections, although the Commission on Elections says it could be done through an amendment to the Constitution through people’s initiative. To be sure, the opposition can gather more than enough signatures for a people’s initiative and the exercise would be legal. With 12 percent of all voters asking for it, the Comelec could call a plebiscite for the approval of the amendment. But where would the money come from to finance a plebiscite? Even if the opposition can produce the money, how would they stop the fraud machine called Lakas-CMD from sabotaging the plebiscite? Joseph Estrada will surely run in an early election and the polls say he will soundly defeat Mrs. Arroyo. Malacañang, however, will never risk it. The remnants of the Marcos rule in the administration still remember the “snap” election that Ferdinand Marcos called as a fatal error. Mrs. Arroyo, Palace officials says, has snap election option. But maybe pressure is building from outside, as it did during Marcos’s time. After the New York Times’s pointing out what a danger to democracy Mrs. Arroyo is, here comes the Heritage Foundation attacking Mrs. Arroyo for her dictatorial strategies.
By Guiller de Guzman and Nati Nuguid