Lessons from the past

ANC viewers watching the interview of Metropolitan Trial Court Judge Jorge Emmanuel Lorredo by Willard Cheng aired live on the lunchtime news “Dateline” Wednesday last week were puzzled why it was abruptly cut.

It was the part when Lorredo was warning about the return of martial law. Lorredo, by the way, is the judge that stirred public attention with his unusual May 4 order for the arraignment of Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada on the perjury case filed by Mike Defensor, former presidential chief of staff.

I asked a friend close to Lorredo and she shared with me Lorredo’s ruminations about the topic that is being mentioned when talking about the direction of the Arroyo administration but is not quite taken seriously because people can’t seem to imagine the depth of her obsession to stay in power.

My friend said Lorredo mentioned martial law in relation to the case of Jun Lozada which was in danger of being pushed into martyrdom at the Manila City jail. If something bad happened to Lozada under the custody of the police, protests would be mounted by opposition groups.

“People power worked against Marcos. People power worked against Erap. This time, people power might be used as basis for martial rule. People power might be interpreted by Malacanang as invasion or rebellion under Sec. 18, Art. VII of the Philippine Constitution.”

Sec. 18, Art. VII of the Constitutions states that “The President shall be the commander-in-chief of all the Armed Forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.

“In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under Martial Law…..”

My friend said Lorredo asked her to “ Please tell your friends to spread my message not to go to the streets and invade Malacanang or commit rebellion. Be calm, use the courts, use legal remedies against any abuse committed by Malacanang between now and May 2010. That is such a short period; it will come soon. What we want is for there to be elections; we do not want martial law.”

Aside from the Lozada case which is in Lorredo’s sala and will have its pre-trial hearing on May 28, my friend said the judge is worried that there are so many potent issues up which could spark trouble. “For example, if the scenario feared by Comelec Chairman Melo comes true; that is, no elections in May 2010, then according to Melo there will be ‘revolution.’ That is precisely my point, we should not fall for the bait to impose martial law. Tell the people not to revolt. If there is an injunction or restraining order preventing elections, the people should not revolt. The lawyers should move to quash the injunction or restraining order. Again, do not fall for the bait to implement martial law.”

I have no doubt that Gloria Arroyo will use all means to hold on to power. There is nothing in what she is doing that suggests she is planning to step down from the presidency she stole, in the words of Susan Roces, “not once but twice.”

In fact, many of her actions supports the suspicion that she is working on perpetuating herself in power like movements in the military that strain the institutions merit and seniority system but place in strategic positions people who are seen as blindly loyal to her.

At this time when many of the things that are happening do not make sense, it’s good to draw lessons from history.

Twenty-seven years ago, on May 19, 1972 Eduardo Quintero, a delegate from Leyte to the Constitutional Convention, revealed in a speech that he had received P11,150 inside 18 envelopes on 18 different occasions, from people he identified as Malacañang’s couriers. He said the money was to buy delegates to vote in favor of a constitutional amendment to change the system of government from presidential to parliamentary to allow President Ferdinand Marcos to extend his stay in power beyond 1973.

Four months later, on Sept. 21, 1972, Marcos declared martial law.

Arroyo, which has been in power since 2001, has only one year left of her stolen six-year term. Billions worth of pork barrel have made many congressmen prosperous in the past three years that impeachment complaints were filed against Arroyo.

The House of Representatives is now deliberating on amendments to the Constitution, one of which is a shift from presidential to parliamentary form of government.

The French have a word for it: déjà vu .

Wait, there’s more!: Buy her a gift this Valentines! or send her flowers!

Journalist in AFP’s order of battle

Carlos Conde’s statement on AFP’s “order of battle”

I am Carlos H. Conde, a journalist based in Manila.

I found out yesterday that my name is included in the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s “order of battle,” specifically in a document titled “JCICC ‘AGILA’ 3rd QTR 2007 OB VALIDATION RESULT” purportedly prepared by the intelligence staff of the armed forces’ 10th Infantry Division in Southern Mindanao.

In this “order of battle,” more than a hundred individuals – mostly leaders and members of progressive and leftist groups like Bayan, Bayan Muna, among others – are listed and classified as “organized,” “dominated,” or “targeted.” As far as I can tell, I am the only journalist on the list, which classifies me as “targeted,” whatever that means.

It would seem that the army considers me an enemy of the state, as the document, which shows the alleged links of these individuals with the communist movement, seems to be implying.

Needless to say, this “order of battle” has caused anxiety and fear in my family because, as we all know, an “order of battle” in the Philippines is a veritable hit list. Indeed, at least one of the individuals in the document – Celso Pojas, a peasant leader in Davao City — has been assassinated and several others have either been attacked or subjected to harassment and intimidation by agents of the armed forces.

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