Lawyers Group Warns Arroyo Could Still Tinker with Constitution

Mar. 07, 2006

Bayan calls lifting of Proclamation 1017 deceptive

By Cheryll D. Fiel

DAVAO CITY A group of lawyers in Mindanao warned Sunday that the non-resolution of the petitions by several groups questioning the legality of Proclamation 1017 before the Supreme Court may embolden the administration to further tinker with the 1987 Constitution and the peoples civil liberties.

The Union of Peoples Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM), in a statement, implored the Supreme Court to resolve the issues. It pointed that the lifting Friday of Proclamation 1017 should not be made a ground to set aside the constitutional issues that hounded such a blatant betrayal of the true spirit of the EDSA People Power Constitution.

Despite the lifting, it added, there is still a clear and present danger to the civil liberties of the Filipino people. It said the non-resolution of these petitions was like the sword of Damocles. Hanging over the head of the public.

On Saturday, Senate minority leader Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. said he doubted that the Supreme Court will rule on the petitions. I am quite certain that the Supreme Court, judging from its decision on a previous similar case, will rule that the issue has become moot and academic after 1017 was withdrawn by the President, Pimentel said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Southern Mindanao said the lifting of Proclamation was deceptive as it was meant only to appease the growing clamor of the influential church, business sector, academic institutions, lawyers and other professionals to end the martial law-like repression.

Ariel Casilao, the groups acting secretarygeneral, said that even with the lifting of Proclamation 1017, the armed forces was still actively putting under surveillance and harassing members of the media and the political opposition.

Apart from this, Casilao said, the justice department is still hell-bent on pressing charges against progressive party-list representatives.

Casilao said with or without Proclamation 1017, a virtual martial rule was prevalent in the country, citing such policies and decrees as the Calibrated Preemptive Response (CPR), which allows authorities to arbitrarily and violently disperse protest actions; Executive Order 464, which prohibits government officials from testifying in congressional hearings without the presidents approval; and the impending approval of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, which provides authorities with sweeping powers that have implications on human rights and civil liberties, such as warrantless arrests.

Casilao reiterated that the basis for their call for Arroyos ouster were the questions on her legitimacy, the worsening economic crisis and the search for meaningful change. These, he said, remain more valid than ever and are compelling the people to use the pressure of the streets to topple this regime. He cautioned the people to be vigilant and not be hoodwinked by President Arroyos scheming ways to survive the political crisis. (Cheryll Fiel/

comments powered by Disqus