Press Release
July 26, 2009

Press statement of Senator Loren Legarda


What our people need from President Arroyo in today's (July 27) SONA is the truth. But because of their past experience with the President over the past nine years, our people have come to expect less than the truth or the opposite of the truth from her.

A survey by Pulse Asia last May showed that only 26 percent of Filipinos approved of the President, 46 percent disapproved and 27 percent were undecided. The President received the lowest trust rating among top government officials in the executive office, judiciary and congress.

But since this is constitutionally the President's last SONA in ten years in office, the President owes it to the country to tell the truth about our economic, social and political condition. This would serve as a guide to the next administration in its task of improving the living conditions of our people, especially the growing number of the poor.

That is if she truly loves our people and cares for the future of our nation.


I call upon our military and the police to exercise maximum restraint and to give full opportunity to our people to express their sentiments or grievances on the occasion of President Arroyo's state-of-the-nation address today (July 27).

It would be better to err on the side of leniency than to exceed the power of force in dealing with protesters, who after all are only exercising their rights under the Constitution. And the military and the police have all sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution.

In the light of past experience when the military and the police have exceeded their authority in dealing with protest demonstrations especially during President Arroyo's SONA, it could be a welcome change if the law enforcement authorities would give full sway to our people in expressing their sentiments and grievances.

After all, the military and the police are sworn to protect the people in the exercise of constitutional rights and liberties.

On Right to Reply

The House of Representatives is reportedly set to take up next week the Right to Reply bill that would force the media on pain of punishment to publish or broadcast the reply of those who believe they have been unfairly treated in published articles or broadcast news or commentary.

The media have already recognized the right of individuals to reply to any item they consider unfair to them. The media have said so in their Code of Ethics, obliging themselves to grant this right. But when this right is enforced from outside, fettering the prerogative of editors, columnists, commentators and broadcast practitioners on the manner by which such right shall be granted, it becomes an intrusion on the fundamental right of freedom of the press and expression. Thus it violates the Constitution.

It must be borne mind that the freedom of expression does not belong to media alone. It belongs to our people. So if this bill passes, a fundamental right of our people shall have been abridged.

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