Friday, December 11, 2009

Malacañang lashes out at critics of martial law

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:55:00 12/12/2009

Filed Under: Martial Law, Congress, Maguindanao Massacre

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines – Smarting from the tough grilling at Congress’ joint session, Malacañang on Friday lashed at critics of martial law in Maguindanao and said they were virtual backers of the clan believed responsible for the Nov. 23 massacre of 57 people in the province.

“A vocal minority has joined agitators outside and inside the halls of Congress in condemnation of President Macapagal-Arroyo. The crisis in Maguindanao, for them, has become fresh fodder for their political black propaganda,” Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said.

“Are they now shedding copious tears in sympathy with Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., others in the clan and some 160 individuals who have been arrested or are about to be arrested for planning or directly participating in the gruesome massacre?”

Palace officials led by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita have endured hours of intense grilling by lawmakers in the last two session days on the imposition of martial law in Maguindanao.

The joint session convened on Wednesday to revoke or approve Proclamation No. 1959 declaring martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the province.

Ms Arroyo issued the proclamation on Dec. 4 to quell a “rebellion in the offing” by armed groups loyal to the Ampatuans.

But why politicians?

Remonde said it was easy to understand if the Ampatuans petitioned the Supreme Court to declare the proclamation unconstitutional, but not politicians.

“[The Ampatuans’] awesome power to defy lawful authority is slipping away, and their ability to evade criminal responsibility is in jeopardy. But what are we to make of the politicians who have taken the side of this powerful family?” he said, reading from a prepared statement.

“They do not say it out loud, but a Supreme Court decision favorable to their cause could nullify the arrest of the suspects and may render the evidence against them inadmissible,” he added.

Remonde said that contrary to the arguments of the petitioners, including politicians, martial law posed no danger to human rights.

He said policemen and soldiers were only going after the perpetrators of the massacre.


“So, are they now so concerned about the welfare and well-being of the suspects in this gruesome crime?” he said.

Remonde said it was up to the public to judge the lawmakers’ actions.

“As they were also trying to picture things in their own perspective, we also felt that we have to picture things from our own point of view,” he said when asked whether he was in effect boxing in critics of martial law.

He said he pitied his colleagues in the Cabinet who were asked the same questions over and over by lawmakers “who were not willing to listen.”

“That’s part of the democratic process. We have no regrets about that. Truth to tell, I pity my colleagues. And I admire them for their fortitude in defending the government,” he said.

Original Story:

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