Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Statement of the UP LSG

We, the University of the Philippines Law Student Government, in light of the recent events and confusion which has gripped our Country in the past few days, make this statement:

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s declaration of a “state of national emergency” is a mere superfluity, as formerly held by our Supreme Court. Her declaration served only to confuse and scare the public. Moreover, Proclamation 1017 simply outlined her powers and merely emphasized that she, as the president, is not afraid to use them. Yet, the declaration, being only superfluous, and the proclamation, being confusing and frightening, are not bases for a declaration of unconstitutionality.

But this does not mean we do not condemn the acts of the Executive. What is reprehensible is the abuse of the Executive of its powers with respect to making arrests and meddling with our constitutional rights to freedom of speech and _expression.

Whether the proclamation was purposefully calculated to be vague, we can only speculate. But the president should realize by now what a dangerous animal she unleashed last Friday. Its vagueness paved the way for confusion as to its meaning and implementation, even within the Administration itself. It paved the way for arbitrary arrests and baseless attempts to influence media broadcasts. It paved the way for suppression of our constitutionally granted freedom to participate in rallies and peaceable assemblies. The NTC’s and the military’s acts and “pleas” for “balanced” reporting, which in effect intervene in the workings of the press, constitute prior restraint on free speech. Any attempt to influence the content of news reports is an affront to the spirit of our Constitution – a Constitution which was specifically drafted as a reaction to the abuses and disregard for basic human rights during the Martial Law regime and to protect us exactly from situations such as this.

We call on our fellow students of law not to stand idly by while the highest office of the land cannot fulfill its mandated duty to uphold the Constitution. One cannot be allowed to hide behind policies pursuant to improving national economy while trampling on our citizens’ Constitutionally protected rights. It is our duty and our right to let our voices be heard. No order or proclamation can rob us of that.


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