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Protest Emergency Rule in the Philippines

Posted to the IUF website 26-Feb-2006

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The following appeal was issued by the Alliance of Progressive Labor, Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN) and Global Network (Philippines) following the proclamation of emergency rule on February 24 by President Arroyo of the Philippines. The IUF has written the Philippine authorities to demand an immediate end to all emergency measures. We encourage the widest possible diffusion of this appeal.

How Arroyo killed the spirit of People Power 20 years after

Dear friends, colleagues and comrades,

Early morning on the eve of the 20th year anniversary of the People Power revolution in the Philippines, 24 Feb. 2006, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared a State of National Emergency. Arroyo issued the 'state of emergency' under Proclamation 1017 claiming an on-going plot to overthrow the government from the military, opposition politicians and communist rebels.

This declaration became the mantle of authority for the government and the military to violently disperse all civilian demonstrations held yesterday in commemoration of the 1986 People Power revolution. Arrests without warrants of demonstrators, trade unionists, political activists, and opposition legislators were conducted by the police and the military within 24 hours of the issuance of the state of emergency. An opposition daily newspaper was also raided and taken over by the Philippine National Police (PNP) without any legal document to search the premises or any explanation to validate the take over. Arroyo, upon proclaiming the state of emergency, claims that this empowers her to take over public utilities, including media corporations, to authorize the military to arrest without warrants and detain opposition leaders whom she deemed dangerous to public interest.

However, various legal opinions and analyses from human rights lawyers countered that this proclamation is baseless and unconstitutional. In a state of national emergency, no additional powers are given to the President unless the country is in a state of 'lawless violence, invasion or rebellion'. Definitely, these grounds do not exist, hence the absence of legitimacy of this proclamation. Arroyo's proclamation only heightened the threat to democracy by curtailing the people's basic political rights and repressing freedom of expression and dissent. Before the situation becomes worse, we are calling on Arroyo to withdraw the declaration and stop the arrests without warrants of the political opposition.

Furthermore, the government in collusion with the military has issued General Order No. 5, a directive to the military and police to quell lawlessness and restore peace and order. This order however, is currently interpreted by government officials and military as outlawing all political rallies and public demonstrations. Ironically, a similar General Order No. 5 was issued during the Marcos dictatorship declaring peaceful and public rallies or demonstrations as illegal. These government directives point to parallelisms in the time of the dictatorship when the government uses all repressive means to kill the people's democratic rights just to prolong its illegitimate political survival.

As our partners and comrades in the struggle for democracy and trade union rights, we urge you to join us in condemning the Arroyo government in issuing the state of emergency. Specifically, we urge you to put political pressure on your respective governments not to support Pres. Arroyo's declaration. We also request you to manifest your support for democracy by calling on the Philippine government to withdraw the declaration of state of emergency. We urge you, dear comrades, to support the fight for democratic and trade union rights not only in the Philippines but also in all corners of the world.