Saturday, September 24, 2005

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to ban street protests

Moves by Malacanang to muzzle street protests, stemming from a statement from her Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita riddled with bureaucratese saying that the "rule of calibrated preemptive response in lieu of maximum tolerance", are all but the rage among Glorietta coffee shop coup plotters and it must have been the same kind of talk making its rounds among cab drivers.

I don't know what it is, but I can't seem to escape the murmurs of martial law's second coming and everybody I talk with seems fearful that under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, martial law will bring more blood than boon.

Her hold on power seems solid enough but I am a common observer and I suspect there might be a lot of things I don't know about. So I tend to doubt my own observations and instead ask, why would she attempt to officially ban street protests (and there is already a virtual ban on it) by having her top aide declare that the days of maximum tolerance are over.

Then again, it seems to be an unnecessary tack and she might be playing to an audience we don't know about.

Maximum tolerance is a funny way to describe the anti-riot squads who already pummel and bash street protestors in an effort to disperse them -- now that calibrated pre-emptive response will be the order of the day, should be expect people to get killed for voicing their dissent?

Maximum tolerance is an even funnier way to describe the manner in which Gloria herself not only tolerates but completely IGNORES calls for her to step down.

The better question, I suppose, is 'how do we equate the official banning of street protests to the second coming of martial law?'

Well, I understand that Gloria's moves virtually takes away our right to 'free speech'
and 'freedom of assembly'... If she can do that then she can do a whole lot of other things and she has.... In the Philippines, you can be jailed for 'rebellion' -- though, strictly speaking, no one has to be convicted of 'rebellion' before they are jailed... They are just picked up and put in prison (ask Ronald Lumbao).

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