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[Message from Liza Maza]

This speech was delivered by Representative Liza Largoza Maza of the GABRIELA Women’s Party at the Congress of the Philippines as elements of the military and police waited to arrest her and four other representatives of the progressive political parties Bayan Muna and Anakpawis. Ms. Maza is also Vice-chairperson of the GABRIELA Philippines National Women’s Alliance.

Privilege Speech

By Rep. Liza Maza
Gabriela Women’s Partylist
February 27, 2006

Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues:

I rise today on a question of personal and collective privilege, with much alarm, indignation and defiance over the recent actions that the Arroyo government has taken in the past three days.

On Friday, in the midst of commemorations of the 20th anniversary of the People Power uprising, Malacanang (Presidential Palace) issued Proclamation 1017, placing our country in a State of Emergency. The irony is not lost on us. That we are being placed under Martial Law as we commemorate the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship is not only ironic, it is tragic as well as unforgiveable.

Saturday morning, we awoke to reports of the raid on the newspaper Daily Tribune and the arrest of our fellow representative in this assembly, Anakpawis (workers) Congressman Crispin Beltran who had been rudely picked up, illegally arrested and invited for interrogation by elements of the CIDG.

Call it what you want, Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, what was done to Representative Crispin Beltran was a testament to the Arroyo government’s lack of respect for the rights of the members of this Congress and of the people in general.

At the end of the press conference by the House Minority members, we learned that we – myself, Representatives Satur Ocampo, Rafael Mariano and Teddy Casino – were slated for arrest outside the Sulu Hotel that evening. Because we knew that what the police and the military wanted to do was unwarranted, illegal and outrightly violates our rights, we deemed it best to look for other ways to exit the place, thus avoiding the Arroyo regime’s minions who were attempting to pick us up illegally that Saturday.

Last night, in the middle of what is now known as the Fort Bonifacio stand-off, Presidential Chief of Staff Mike Defensor announced that the Arroyo government was intent on arresting me and my fellow representatives Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casino and Rafael Mariano. Representative Joel Virador has already been arrested this afternoon.

If to rise in this Congress on behalf of womankind is a crime, so be it.

As the women’s representative even during the 12th Congress, I have been among those who sponsored and fought for two pieces of legislation for women: the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act. I was also among the authors of the Juvenile Justice Act, which is close to approval by this congress and which will respond to the issue of children who are in prison for crimes. I was also chosen to be part of the bicameral committee which will tackle the said bill.

As representative of the Gabriela Women’s Party, I have persevered, within this congress, in advancing and fighting for legislation which will both bring relief and respond to women’s complaints: the 125 pesos increase in the minimum wage for workers and 3,000 pesos increase in the salary of government employees. Our party also continues to call for the junking of E-VAT (12% tax on everyday necessities) and for price controls on LPG (cooking gas) and kerosene.

On Wednesday, first day of March, women’s month begins. This March 8th, the whole world will celebrate International Women’s Day. This is a day made historic by the principled stand of women workers for wage increases, better working conditions and decent livelihood – calls which remain alive today and which continue to be fought for by womankind and by the people. The tradition of a hundred years of struggle symbolized by March 8th will continue so long as the reasons to struggle remain.

Mr. Speaker, fellow representatives, I am among the many and increasing number of women who are speaking out, who want and are calling for change. Is this a crime? Shouldn’t arrest and punishment be inflicted upon those who implement policies depriving women and their families of their basic rights?

The women’s call for food, shelter, jobs, wages, health and education is just and legitimate. Is this what the Arroyo regime wants to suppress?

Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, to dream and to struggle for a better society that I can leave my children, our children and the future generations is not a crime. It is a noble cause that all of us, women and men alike, as members of this chamber and as citizens of this country, must espouse, take to heart and act on.

I really might be arrested by the Arroyo regime’s iron hand after this speech, per the announcement last night.

But even then, it will not mean that women will fall silent or will be afraid. Mr. Speaker, fellow representatives, expect the women’s call for basic rights, civil rights and true freedom to continue and indeed grow louder.

The Gabriela Women’s Party and countless women will rise up to defy repression and to trash Proclamation 1017, in defense of our rights. The call I will leave you tonight is the same that women will continue to call out, in the dark of our state: MAKIBAKA, HUWAG MATAKOT! Dare To Struggle, Do not fear…

KMU update and action alert

Two leaders of the Alliance of Nationalist and Genuine Labor Organization (ANGLO-KMU) arrested while negotiating to visit Rep. Crispin Beltran in Camp Crame.

10:45 a.m. – Two leaders of the KMU federation Alliance of Nationalist and Genuine Labor Organization (ANGLO-KMU) were arrested while they were negotiating to visit Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran in his detention cell in Camp Crame.

Dennis Maga and Marcial Dabela, Secretary General and Vice President for Organization respectively of ANGLO-KMU, were brought to Camp Karingal in Quezon City immediately after the arrest.

The two were part of about a hundred protesters from KMU and Anakpawis who marched to Camp Crame to demand the immediate release of Ka Bel. Ka Bel was illegally arrested and detained last Saturday, Feb. 26, a day after Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared PD 1017, putting the country into a state of national emergency.

The protesters were blocked by anti-riot police in the intersection of Camp Crame and Santolan Avenue in EDSA. The negotiating panel, of which Maga and Dabela were part of, said that they also intend to visit Ka Bel to show support for him, especially since Ka Bel is the former national chairperson of ANGLO-KMU. The police responded that the protesters are too many for the ‘supposed’ visit. Both parties then agreed that 3-5 leaders would be allowed to enter and the others would have to move back. As the other protesters were moving back, the police hastily arrested the two leaders, breaking the earlier agreement.

“The arrest not only shows how treacherous this government is but more so, how dangerous is PD 1017 and how it can be subject to grave abuse. It is so disgusting that you can be arrested even when all you want to do is visit an illegally detained political figure,” said KMU Chairperson Elmer Labog.

“We will not be cowed by this kind of intimidation. We would be readying for more protests in the coming days, until our comrades Ka Bel, Maga and Dabela are released and until PD 1017 is revoked. We will continue to intensify our mass actions until Gloria is ousted,” ends Labog.

The following actions are recommended:

1. Send protest letters to the Philippine president and other concerned government agencies
2. Send solidarity message
3. Hold protest actions in front of the Philippine Consulates
4. Hold dialogues with Philippine Ambassadors
5. Any pertinent actions you may deem necessary

Send protest letters to:

H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila
Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
Mobile: (+ 63) 919 898 4622 / (+63) 917 839 8462
E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

Hon. Avelino J. Cruz, Jr.
Secretary of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, E. de los
Santos Avenue Quezon City
Voice: +63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax: +63(2) 911 6213
Email: osnd@philonline.com

Hon. Purificacion Valera Quisumbing
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City
Philippines
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: drpvq@chr.gov.ph

You can send solidarity messages to:

Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
Email: crispinbeltran@gmail.com

Dennis Maga & Marcial Dabela
ANGLO-KMU
Email: kmuid@tri-isys.com

Please furnish the KMU (kmuid@tri-isys.com) with any actions you may take.

Thank you very much for your support to the Filipino workers and people!

In solidarity,
Kilusang Mayo Uno

[Senate of the Philippines] Senate Condemns Illegal Acts Under Proclamation 1017

The alleged illegal acts and excesses committed by government forces such as the warrantless arrest of political opponents of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, including a member of the House of Representatives, and the police takeover on the Daily Tribune newspaper were condemned in a resolution introduced in the Senate this afternoon.

In a resolution principally authored by Liberal Party leaders Senate President Franklin Drilon, Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan, Senators Mar Roxas, Rodolfo Biazon as well as independent Sen. Pia Cayetano, the Senate condemned the “raid and exercise of control over print media, the warrantless arrest of several citizens including a member of the House of Representatives, and other similar acts carried out by the government pursuant to Proclamation No. 1017 issued by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.”

Drilon said several other senators, including those from the majority and the minority, have signified their intention to co-sponsor the resolution.

“During these difficult and uncertain times, we must prevent the weakening of our democratic institutions and protect civil liberties as the cornerstone of our democracy,” Drilon said.

The Senate President explained that as “the elected representatives of the people, senators can not stand idle while overzealous functionaries of President Arroyo trample upon the bill of rights of our people under the guise of a real or an imagined national emergency.”

In the resolution, the senators claimed that “these acts carried out by the government pursuant to Proclamation No. 1017 on its face contravene the fundamental guarantees of the Constitution particularly the basic civil liberties enshrined therein and deserve outright condemnation.”

“Despite Malacañang’s claim that Proclamation No. 1017 was a mere statement of fact, alarming acts have been carried out pursuant to said Proclamation, including: (1) all scheduled rallies, with or without permit, were cancelled; (2) some protesters, including UP Professor Randy David and Akbayan President Ronald Llamas, were apprehended for inciting to sedition and violation of the Public Assembly Act; (3) the National Telecommunications called a meeting of the members of the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcasters sa Pilipinas (KBP) and discussed the possible revocation of franchise or take-over of media companies that engage in biased reporting or publication of matters affecting national security; (4) a 6:00 p.m. curfew was imposed on the press corps of Malacañang; (5) one major newspaper, The Daily Tribune, was raided and other major dailies were placed under surveillance; and (6) Party-List Congressman Crispin Beltran was arrested based on a warrant of arrest issued during Martial law, while other lawmakers are under threat of arrest; (7) attempted arrest of Bayan Muna partylist Representative Satur Ocampo; (8) retired Police Major General Ramon Montano was likewise arrested while other lawmakers and opposition leaders are under threat of arrest,” the resolution said.

The resolution noted that on February 24, “even before the issuance of Proclamation No. 1017, officials of Malacañang categorically declared on national television that an attempt to overthrow the government has been successfully quelled and restrained.”

The resolution cited that Article VI, Section 23 of the 1987 Constitution, “allows the Congress to authorize, by law, the President to exercise certain powers during times of national emergency, for a limited period and subject to restrictions set by it.”

“In accordance with Philippine constitutional practice and precedents, the declaration of a state of national emergency does not in any way suspend the Constitution and does not limit the civil liberties, basic human rights, freedom of the press and other fundamental rights enshrined therein,” it added.

The resolution also noted that Congress, as a separate and independent body, “has a constitutionally mandated duty to ensure that the demarcation defining the powers of the three branches of government are maintained and ensure, as part of the democratic checks and balance, that the acts of any other branch do not transgress.

The resolution noted that President Arroyo’s declaration of a State of National Emergency under Proclamation No. 1017 “was a statement of fact and does not entail the President’s exercise of additional powers.”

“Pursuant to Proclamation No. 1017, the President issued General Order No. 5 calling “upon the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to prevent and suppress lawless violence in the country” and directing “the Chief of Staff of the AFP and Chief of the PNP to prevent and suppress acts of terrorism and lawless violence in the country,” the resolution said.

“The directive issued under General Order No. 5 gives the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine national Police (PNP) and the PNP unbridled and broad discretion to carry out the supposed policy of Proclamation No. 1017, possibly opening boundless opportunities for abuse and violation of fundamental human rights,” the Senate resolution pointed out.

Reference: Lyn Eyana (0916-7068148)

KMU third update and action alert

Another militant Party List Representative arrested; DOJ files rebellion charges against party list reps, tags KMU and other progressive legal organizations as CPP fronts

3:30 p.m. – Bayan Muna Representative Joel Virador was arrested in Davao City this afternoon. Sketchy reports said that he was arrested at the Davao International airport. He was immediately brought to Camp Leonor but Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte took Rep. Virador into his custody. Duterte said that he will personally surrender Rep. Virador to House Minority Leader Francis Escudero and House Speaker Joe de Venecia tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casino, and Gabriela Womens Party representative Liza Maza, opted to go to the Congress and wait for their warrant of arrests to be served. A commotion ensued when policemen tried to prevent their supporters from entering the House. The police also attempted to arrest a staff of Rep. Virador but failed.

This morning, the PNP filed rebellion charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against 51 so-called “reds”, which included leaders and members identified with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), partylist representatives, and other militant leaders.

In its complaint, the PNP named 41 individuals and several John and Jane Does. Among those charged were Jose Maria Sison, founder of CPP-NPA; National Democratic Front (NDF) chairperson Luis Jalandoni; and partylist Representatives Beltran and Mariano (Anakpawis); Ocampo, Casiño and Virador (Bayan Muna); and Maza (Gabriela).

It also tagged as legal fronts of the CPP-NPA organizations such as Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), Gabriela, and PAMALAKAYA, among others.

Last Saturday, Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran, also a veteran labor leader, was arrested outside the gate of a subdivision in Bulacan, north of Manila, where he resides.

At 6pm tonight, KMU will launch a “Candle for Democracy” campaign. Simultaneous candle lighting will be conducted in front of factories, offices and residences to protest the blanket martial law that the Arroyo government is implementing under PD 1017. KMU is calling on the people to go out of their houses, offices, factories and communities at 6pm tonight and everyday and light a candle until PD 1017 is scrapped.

We are encouraging our international network to join us in this campaign.

In solidarity,
Kilusang Mayo Uno