Don't let GMA get away with PP 1959
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-12-15

Patriotic Filipinos who truly care for their country, especially the Justices of the Supreme Court, should not take that “moot and academic” attitude towards Presidential Proclamation (PP) 1959 (imposing martial law in Maguindanao) despite its termination last Saturday.

No doubt that many compelling reasons forced Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) to terminate PP 1959 after just one week and after two very enlightening Joint Sessions of Congress last December 9 and 10. The admissions of her Executive Secretary, Eduardo Ermita, and Justice Secretary, Agnes Devanadera, during the Congress Joint Sessions last week that there was no actual rebellion to comply with the requirements of the 1987 Constitution for the imposition of martial law doomed any attempts to justify and legalize PP 1959.

On top of that, the emerging operation of a sinister administration plot, as exposed by Senator Rodolfo Biazon, to acquit the alleged culprits behind the Maguindanao massacre through the filing of false rebellion charges could fully unravel with more Joint Congress Session discussions and thus lead to devastating repercussions for GMA.

Not wishing to have the Supreme Court confirm her violation of the 1987 Constitution, GMA’s best move was to end PP 1959 soonest and press the High Court to just drop the case and call it moot and academic. That way, she still has elbow room to make a similar act in the few months left in her administration.

Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Kiko Pangilinan had bared during last Thursday’s Joint Congress Session that the evidence acquired during the PP 1959 period violated the Bill of Rights and will thus render these evidences as inadmissible in court.

Some Filipinos initially accepted the imposition of martial law in Maguin-danao because of their desire to see the barbaric mass murderers punished. Once the people realize that the administration had concocted PP 1959 not to punish but to acquit the mass murderers, there will be an even more passionate outrage to face.

Considering that it is the Queen of Impunity — Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo — who is behind PP 1959, Filipinos cannot assume that she’ll know better next time and will not try to pull the same stunt again. Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago could be right when she claimed that there is a conspiracy to set the stage for a wider coverage of martial law — PP 1959 being only the first stage of the plot.

For national security, for the protection of our democracy, for the successful holding of the 2010 elections — the Supreme Court should hear the case for and against PP 1959 and decide if it was truly legal or violated the provisions of the 1987 Constitution. Just as the Supreme Court acted on PP 1017 in 2006 despite the fact that it was already withdrawn — this Supreme Court must tell the nation if PP 1959 was above board.

To simply dismiss this as “moot and academic” is to leave room for another dangerous misadventure. At this time, there is a great national passion for the advent of change and reform through the 2010 elections. There is also a great fear among our present rulers that once change occurs on July 1st 2010 there will be hell to pay when the people make them account for all their sins.

It is human nature to seek extreme remedies to avoid the looming prospects of severe punishment for an extraordinary, nagging guilt that reverberates in a criminal mind. Thus, for the Supreme Court to leave this issue unsettled, to leave it undefined whether the administration abused its power to impose martial law or not – is to be party to whatever destructive and very possibly violent repercussions that this could provoke.

Our noble Senators, whose brilliant questions and propositions during the December 9th and 10th Joint Congress sessions exposed the flaws of PP 1959, should conduct investigations to dig deeper into the alleged plot to create a wider scope for martial law and to acquit the alleged mass murderers through the acquisition of inadmissible evidence and the filing of false and weak rebellion charges.

If there is one investigation where the Senators cannot be accused of partisan activity, it is the probe of these national security matters from whence a civil war could erupt if the 2010 elections are disrupted – especially if this leads to perpetuating the evil misrule in the land. Democracy and country are on the line here. On issues such as these, there should be no room for administration or Opposition interests.

Because illegally acquired and inadmissible evidence and false and weak rebellion charges will end up acquitting the alleged Maguindanao mass murderers, the Supreme Court, the Senate and the public must cooperate to ensure an honest-to-goodness prosecution of the cases. In the light of the suspicion of an administration plot to acquit the accused, the Justice Department should not be trusted and left on its own to handle these cases.

The Senate may also want to invite the Ampatuans, chief suspects in the Maguindanao massacre, to attend and testify in its investigation. Who knows — the Ampatuans may want a forum to come clean with the Filipino people with what they did and for whom they did it during the 2004 and the 2007 elections.

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