Tuesday, July 12, 2005


AFP & PNP should put policy in practice by not disrupting and breaking up peaceful assemblies.

Date: July 12, 2005
Ref: Omeng / (02) 5526731

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today challenged the Armed Forces and the National Police to resist the temptation of succumbing to the "eroticism of violence" and to allow the people to freely exercise their freedom of assembly and speech.

Pimentel said the holding of a major protest rally by the mainstream opposition and multisectoral groups in Makati City on Wednesday will serve as a litmus test to the policy laid down by Gen. Efren Abu, Chief-of-Staff, that the military will not intervene in the crisis but will keep its sworn duty to uphold the Constitution and protect the people and leave the current political exercise to politicians.

During an AFP command conference at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City last week, Gen. Abu declared: "The soldier has the duty to protect this political exercise. He is not expected to intervene in it. To do so would betray the trust given to him by the State.

"Pimentel urged the AFP to put this policy in practice by not disrupting and breaking up peaceful marches and rallies which are among the means by which the people can openly express their views and grievances.

"As guardians of the rights of the people, the AFP should allow thepeople to speak and demonstrate freely," he said. I am afraid that it is easier to engage in the forcible use of state power to suppress rather than uphold unorthodox views of the people.

The minority leader said government troops should be deployed in the vicinity of the mass actions only to maintain law and order and to prevent any outbreak of violence.

Pimentel bewailed the fact that the Armed Forces and the National Police, acting upon orders of MalacaƱang, had employed scary tactics by dispersing protest rallies even in freedom parks in blatant disregard for the people's constitutional right to assembly and speech and to redress of legitimate grievances.

As Jacobo Timerman, the eminent political dissident warned of the escalating violence that engulfed his native Argentina in the '70s, "no one is immune to episodes of violence and terrorism, yet, it should be possible at least to avoid a situation in which terrorism and violence are the sole creative potential, the sole imaginative emotional, erotic expression of the nation."

He said even local chief executives have allowed themselves to be unwittingly used by MalacaƱang to suppress these sacrosanct rights by denying applications for rally permits based on whimsical and illogical reasons.

Pimentel also reiterated his appeal to the army and the police to take steps to neutralize any attempt by extremist groups to prevent a peaceful transition to a new government.

"We call on the military and police to guard against saboteurs from their own ranks or elsewhere who might do a Marcos pre-martial law scenario," he said.

Pimentel said potential troubles could emanate from elements within the military and police who may be in league with certain groups in pursuing their own political agenda. They should avoid doing a fake ambush like that of the car of the then Minister of Defense (nowSenator) Juan Ponce Enrile that triggered the imposition of martial law on Sept. 21, 1972.

He said the threat of a military coup, revolution and other extra-constitutional methods of seizing power could be averted if President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Vice President de Castro will voluntarily resign and pave the way for a bloodless change in nation's leadership.

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