Press Release
March 2, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today called on the elected representatives of the people in Congress to take the lead in resisting Presidential Proclamation 1017 and to knock down the unconstitutional, unabashed, unilateral attack upon the civil liberties of the Philippines.

Pimentel branded Proclamation 1017 as a mask for martial law which must be stopped at its tracks before it is too late.

The minority leader said that Arroyo has in fact imposed martial law without using the name. He said that Proclamation 1017 betrays the hand of the president when she commanded the Armed Forces to implement the proclamation and exact obedience by the people to her decrees. Nothing in the Constitution says that she can issue decrees but she tells the military in the proclamation and in General Order No. 5 to compel the people to obey her orders and decrees.

For exercising a power that is not hers, she violates the constitution and should be impeached.

He said Proclamation 1017 was issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for three reasons:

1. To better deceive the people;

2. To better erode their freedoms and civil liberties; and

3. To better subjugate them completely when the time comes for Mrs. Arroyos ultimate power grab.

We need not wait until we see its evil effects before we confront 1017 even as we do see them now in the forcible dispersal of peaceful rallies, the beating up of peaceful demonstrators and the threatened arrest not only of members of Congress but their allies as well, Pimentel said.

The minority leader urged the Senate to act like the kindly woodsman who knocked the gluttonous wolf silly and saved the Little Red Riding Hood from being ground to death by the sharp fangs of the wolf.

Pimentel said that it is not true that the senators, in assuming the role of the kindly woodsman, are powerless to act against an executive who is running amuck.

While it is true we do not have any army or a police to confront the executive mano a mano, we do have the moral suasion to tilt the balance of popular support in our favor in the democratic discussion of matters of national interest, he said.

Pimentel said that although the President denies she has imposed martial law, she prohibits protest rallies and disperses them no matter how peaceful. He assailed the President for revoking rally permits issued by the local governments although she has no right to do so under existing laws. He said the power of the President over local governments is only that of supervision, not control.

Although the President assures the people that all is well within her governance, he said she stifles the freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, rights that assure the free-flow of vital information and discussion.

Without free speech, intelligent judgment on matters of state can hardly be arrived at. Without free assembly to petition the government for redress of the peoples grievances, government become authoritarian and tyrannical, Pimentel said.

He said that by diverting the attention of the people from the patent illegality of Proclamation 1017 and also of Executive Order 464, Mrs. Arroyo tries to assure all concerned, including the Supreme Court, that what is to be safeguarded against is the oppressive use of the presidential acts.

She assures everyone that despite the pointy ears, the big eyes and the sharp teeth that are manifest in 1017, the people need not be alarmed because it is a benign proclamation.

Pimentel said Proclamation 1017 and EO 464 are oppressive since these are not sanctioned by the Constitution and by the laws of the country.

He said the Proclamation 1017 and EO 464 are oppressive by themselves because they constitute an illegal expansion of the powers of the president.

They are oppressive per se because they constitute an illegal diminution of the powers of Congress. They are oppressive per se because they constitute an illegal invasion into the rights and liberties of our people that are guaranteed by the Constitution, he said.

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