Press Release
October 31, 2006
People's Permanent Tribunal
2nd Session on the Philippines
(30 October 2006)
The Hague, Netherlands

Speech of Sen. Madrigal on the People's Permanent Tribunal

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Peoples Permanent Tribunal:

The Filipino people and their posterity have great need for the efforts of this tribunal, and its labors to secure our common objective of exposing to the people, just how deeply and thoroughly the President of the Philippines has betrayed her office, the public trust, and the humanitarian principles to which Filipinos have been committed since independence.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has publicly called for prudence and discernment, so that the institutions of the State and secular society will have an opportunity to assume responsibility for the search for the truth, with fairness, charity, and justice in mind. The President of the Philippines has trivialized and sidestepped proposals such as a Truth Commission; she has actively thwarted impeachment; she has treated the efforts of the Citizens Commission for Truth and Accountability with contempt and more.

The purpose of this exercise is: to engage the legal profession, the clergy and religious, the bishops, and the laity, and to confront them with the true meaning not only of recent pastoral statements from the clergy, but to use secular law for moral objectives; to eliminate the rule of law or simply, the law, as a monopoly of the President of the Philippines or any state leader; to engage the Presidents partisans in an active defense of her, against evidence and testimony already subjected to the most rigorous legal analysis and interpretation; and finally, to provide a means that is of permanent record, portable, easily distributable, and difficult to misinterpret, throughout the length and breadth of the land and the world.

Such an exercise will take a few months, to be sure, but it will prevent Mrs. Arroyo from saying she has achieved normalcy; it shines the harsh light of the law on the issues, it exposes the evidence, it makes them available to all, including the skeptical, fearful, or indifferent.

Since 2004, the Filipino people have been a people demanding answers, and yet unable to get a frank, democratic response from our leaders. Mrs. Arroyo has led the way in substituting confusion for clarity, replacing faith in our people with cynicism towards their democratic demands, and demonstrating hostility rather than dedication to the rule of law. She tramples human rights and yet preaches she loves her people.

I believe what my countrymen and all those in solidarity with them believe: that the truth can be found, and that it is the obligation of every Filipino and every person in the world dedicated to truth, justice, human rights and the creation of a democratic space, to find it. Only then can we be truly democratic, and free, for we would be equal in knowledge, and liberated from doubts concerning our government.

Mrs. Arroyo has brushed aside accusations she is plundering our country and murdering those who dissent. She claims the Philippines is peaceful, prosperous, and that tranquility and normality are the defining characteristics of her rule. But what, in fact, is Mrs. Arroyos definition of normalcy?

Normal, to her, is a perpetual state of investigation and intimidation with regards to Philippine media.

Normal, to her, is depriving our Indigenous Peoples of their hard won equality, by stripping them of their hard-won rights, and reducing them to the status of second-class citizens in the interest of economic plunder.

Normal, to her, is the continued harassment of oppositionists, whether belonging to progressive groups, or to the mainstream political parties. She denounces the party list representatives, then confers heroic status on them by ordering their arrest.

Normal, to her, is sending of more troops to Metro Manila, their continued garrisoning in the capital, and the creation of mock investigations in order to defuse the tensions created by the successful efforts at probing abuses like the Fertilizer scam.

Normal, to her, is to subject people who openly oppose her to all forms of harassment and oppression. This she does without regard whether you are a man of the faith or a respected political leader.

I myself experienced this first hand. As a Member of the Senate, I together with a former Vice- President of the Republic, three (3) Bishops, two (2) members of Congress, a former Cabinet Secretary and a man of the cloak were subjected to a water cannon by state agents for leading a peaceful religious rally for truth and peace in October last year. And as if this was not enough for them, charges were also filed against all of us for violating the so-called Public Assembly Act.

A few months after this incident, the crescendo of discontent hit a different note, when Mrs. Arroyo imposed her so-called state of emergency in February of this year. She imposed this ironically on the day the Philippines was to celebrate its bloodless revolt against the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was also indicted by this Tribunal in 1981.

But even as Mrs. Arroyo lifted her self-proclaimed state of national emergency, she continued her policy of aggression towards all who are in opposition to her, and who possess an independent mind. Those whom she calls enemies of the state.

Media itself is not spared of her. Where occupation of the Tribune newspaper did not work when the state of emergency was proclaimed, she instructed her lawyers to file cases of sedition against Ninez Cacho Olivarez and two other columnists of the Daily Tribune. Her husband is setting a new world record in filing libel suits with potentially dire criminal consequences, on their critics.

And where a broad effort to cow the press failed, she had her factotums go forward with threats against not only national, but also provincial media. And when threats fail, bullets and grenades are permanently fatal substitute utilized with impunity.

Ladies and gentlemen of this tribunal, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyos coarse ambitions and naked aggression, makes her comparable to the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Before history reduced him to where he is now, an ill fated, posturing buffoon, Mussolini was actually taken seriously. He impressed Italy and the world; his countrymen found themselves living under the ruthless heel of his terror. It was Mussolini who first (and then repeatedly) applied the idea of totalitarianism to the Fascist Italian state. In a speech of October 28, 1925, the fascist Mussolini said Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato (Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State). This formula was, however, more than simply extreme statism; at the same time Mussolini and other leading Fascists pro-claimed their feroce volont totalitaria (violent totalitarian will) and talked about the totalitarian program of our Revolution. The slogan of Fascist black shirts became, Mussolini is always right. And his propagandists and their foreign fellow-travelers praised him, saying, At least Mussolini made the trains run on time. Those trains that the Italian fascists made punctual, efficiently and punctually delivered Italian Jews to Hitlers concentration camps. The phenomenal will, discipline, and iron rule so widely admired subjected Italy to slavery. So thoroughly have Italians rejected that era of Fascist repression that they have endured revolving-door governments for fifty years, rather than go back to the false certainties of the Fascist era. Like Mussolini, Mrs. Arroyo is attempting a Fascist march on Rome. She is attacking and destroying every institution of the state and trampling every right to ensure total control for her party, her allies, and herself.

Mrs. Arroyo thinks she is the state; and as the personification of the state, she proves herself, every day, and in every way, allergic to the truth, and comfortable only with the Big Lie. Mrs. Arroyo has not paused, will not pause, and in fact, continues to vigorously pursue a totalitarian effort to subvert and erode the free institutions of our Republic. She has recklessly magnified whatever threats that exist threats, we all know, are of her own making- and tried to alarm the population to the extent that it will blindly support her in her actions. The country and the world have shown it sees right through the charade. Ask the media. Ask selected representatives of workers and peasants such as Representative Crispin Ka Bel Beltran, kept under hospital arrest for months on end. Ask the University of the Philippines community, which has had two of its students adducted on June 26, 2006. The two students were politically active and critical of the present government. The students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeo were staying at a house in Purok 6, Barangay (village) San Miguel, Hagonoy, Bulacan when armed men believed to be from the military forcibly took them. Cadapan was pregnant at the time of the incident. When a political associate of theirs, Manuel Merino, confronted the attackers to help the victims he too was bound and was taken together with the victims. They remain missing to this day.

Ask the members of the Philippines Senate, which includes this representation who had to wage a legal case against an Executive Order issued by Mrs. Arroyo to curtail the legitimate right of Congress to conduct inquiries, and an attempt to tinker with the constitution to perpetuate herself in power.

Ask all people of goodwill if Mrs. Arroyo has, indeed, returned our country to normalcy, and they will say, as this tribunal must say, she has not.

She never will. She never can. And so long as she persist in trying to ignore reality, and turn her back on the consequences of her actions, she, and we, will never find peace. She has put the country in a permanent state of national emergency; she has permanently put this country on a war footing. We are, each one of us, in this hall and outside, thus required to place ourselves in a permanent state of mobilization.

In coming here today and to be with you, I do not know what form of threats and stealth tactics will again be employed against me. Will I again be labeled as a traitor, in the same manner that I was called when I first visited the Netherlands a few months ago, or will they now arrest me for speaking in the interest of the truth. Whatever they do to me, I shall accept it for the sake of the Filipino.

Andres Bonifacio, the father of the Philippine Revolution and Democracy wrote, It is time that light of truth should shine; time that we should show determination, honor, shame and mutual cooperation. The time is come now to diffuse the gospel that shall tear the tough web obscuring our intellect, and that the islanders should see whence come their misfortunes.

For the defense of liberty and democracy, requires no less: and as Filipinos have done, now we ask this tribunal to do. Indict Mrs. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo. Indict her regime. Indict those who aid and abet it; and by so doing, bring justice and hope to millions of Filipinos.

I thank you.

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