Press Release
October 18, 2006

Binay's suspension betrays Malacañang 's
intolerance to criticisms, says Drilon

Former Senate President and Liberal Party (LP) head Frank Drilon today expressed fears that the unpopular suspension of Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay only betrayed Malacañang 's growing intolerance towards criticism and that President Arroyo would not hesitate to abuse her presidential prerogatives to quell public dissent.

"I appeal to Malacañang not to be onion-skinned because they know that public criticism will always be part of governance. I urge the President and the officials around her to stop this senseless abuse of presidential powers to persecute leaders of the legal opposition," said Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, in a prepared statement

Drilon said he agreed with the observations of his LP colleagues that Malacañang 's persecution of opposition leaders was creating more political tension and would only worsen the country's image of instability in the world financial community.

Earlier, LP Secretary General Bukidnon Rep. Neric Acosta said nobody seemed to be buying Malacañang 's claim that no political considerations were involve in the suspension of Binay, leader of the United Opposition (UNO) and one of the staunchest critics of the administration-led People's Initiative to amend the 1987 Constitution.

"The seemingly mad rush of suspensions of Arroyo administration critics is a throwback to an authoritarian past where dissent is not tolerated," Acosta said. "Instead of advancing good governance, this spate of illegal suspensions of local officials erodes the public's faith in due process and only increases the prevailing cynicism towards government and politics in general."

Acosta noted that the political unrest in Makati, being the country's financial center, was being reported widely by the international media and the "negative publicity of wanton abuse of presidential powers would certainly contribute to the already poor image of political instability and ineffective governance in the Philippines."

Senate Majority Leader Kiko Pangilinian, who is also LP National Chairman, said Binay's suspension order would only increase the political tension in the country.

"It would be best for the administration to rethink its policy of clamping down on legitimate political dissent. It should exercise greater restraint in dealing with those critical of its policies and programs," Pangilinan said.

"Legitimate dissent exercised within the confines of the rule of law, no matter how abhorring it may be to those who wield the awesome powers of government is essential, if our constitutional democracy is to remain relevant and healthy," he added.

Isabela Rep. Manuel Mamba noted that "Malacañang 's penchant to abuse presidential prerogatives against the opposition was tantamount not only to political harassment but also political terrorism."

LP Vice Chairman Tarlac Rep. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino II echoed Mamba's view that Malacañang was sending a clear message to local government officials that those "who would not toe the line" would face prosecution similar to what his happening to Binay and the other critics of the Arroyo administration.

Binay said he would lodge another petition before the Court of Appeals (CA), this time for an injunction against the suspension order on him, maintaining that the suspension order served by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) early Tuesday morning was "illegal and highly irregular."

An injunction is defined as a judicial process or order requiring the person or persons to whom it is directed to do or to refrain from doing a particular act. Earlier, Binay asked the court to issue a TRO against the suspension order but the CA's justices failed to act on the motion Tuesday afternoon.

The Makati mayor has remained in the City Hall grounds despite an attempt by the DILG to enforced a suspension order on him and 17 other city officials. The order was based on the unverified administrative complaint for alleged grave misconduct, abuse of authority, and for conduct prejudicial to the public filed by a Binay political rival, former Makati Vice Mayor Roberto Brillante.

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